if you want perfection, stay in MYami
08.01.2014 - 17.04.2014
Having lived as an ex-pat in this country, I always run into the spoiled American who screams about being ripped off. Yes, there are many scammers out there just as there are in every travel spot (France, Italy, Las Vegas). However, coming to this part of the island often intimidates Americans. I've noticed the first visitors were mostly Canadian and European, with a few American's who wanted to experience the island instead of that offered at an 'all-in-CLUsive hotel'.
So, first realize, fuel is expensive. It is about 35% more due to refining and shipping costs. One fellow complained of $2.00 for a Snicker's bar. Yes, it is brought in from the US, the customs duty is roughly 35% and then is it moved from the ship to customs to the warehouse and then trucked down from Kingston/MoBay. Now, add another 20% mark-up and you have $2.00. The storekeeper is also hoping it sells as well. Now, folks, put this into everything else: bed sheets, shampoo, etc. If you wish to have your home country's goodies, then plan to shell out. Has any one ever traveled to a foreign country before? Check out 'cost of living' under Numbeo.com. Even in the cheapest countries, a pair of levi's is staggering because fuel can be expensive and item's imported are a major income producer for 3rd world countries.
All the islands are suffering due to energy costs. In the US, we pay roughly 8 cents KWH. In Jamaica, it is 32 cents US per KWH. So, visitors coming to Jamaica remark on its' beauty but are certain to scream if they do not have air conditioning in their $35.00 a night 'bargain' hotel. Wake up.
What is being pointed out is if you are going to a foreign country, such as Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Cuba or Martinque, the costs are going to vary due to energy and import duties. A good example is home building, it would have been very expensive IF we used glass windows but reasonable if wood-louvers with screens were used. You have to make adjustments.
I hear people screaming about the taxis. YES, in the tourist areas you will get ripped off - - - just like in parts of NYC or Vegas. How do you handle that? You ask the hotel you are staying in or one next door what a fair rate is and tell the taxi "$20.00 is to much, the hotel said "$10.00 - - - so, I'll wait". Don't accept it, just say "no, to much - - - I'll wait for $10.00". Can you do that with your $2.00 Snicker's bar, no, sorry folks.
Poverty is another reality. As for the people asking for money, you walk on and ignore them. That is a reality. It is not just Jamaica, it is India, Nepal, Sudan, Kenya, France, Italy, Greece, etc., etc. If you can not handle it, then don't travel, period! For those from the US, our highways circumvent the poor areas of the cities. It is a fact. Consequently, this makes it a challenge for many Americans. While in Italy, I decided to observe a woman huddled in old clothing with a cup for collections. Later than evening, she got up, brushed herself up, walked over to the street where I was standing near the Spanish Steps and got into a Mercedes Benz. If you feel better in giving, do so, it is an act of human kindness; however, if you don't just walk on or say "I don't have any more" and continue, then that is your problem.
Many Americans find it 'upsetting' that such poverty exists. IT IS upsetting; however, you have to adjust to it as you would in ANY other country. Would you feel better if the poor were shot or fenced away from certain urban sections to disquiet your discomfort? It is a reality, if you can not handle it then travel elsewhere. You will have to cross off many countries from A-Z.
Jamaica has become, just as Mexico and many other countries, a 'class country'. Get used to it, America is fast on the path to becoming the same way. It is our own making. God forbid that an American have less than 1 pair of tennis shoes but God forbid they are made in the US, the cost would be prohibitive. So, my friends, having been here for 20 + years and observed and kept abreast of much, many ex-pats need to realize there is a difference in the culture.
I could go on and provide data, research cultural observations and more; however, it is tiring to see so many ex-pats being 'shocked' at what is seen.
Travelling the South Coast is quite wonderful. You leave the perfect beaches of your perfect spa and venture into an area that is foreign.
You wonder off prescribed 'safe path' and leave what the hotelier has said, "you must remain here". Give me a break. They want you there for one thing - - - and it isn't your safety.
You meander down from Negril to Whitehouse, stay at Natania's, holding 22 guests or move along further and check out other places advertised along the road. Unplug your damn Iphone and just explore. You go up, inquire. In brief, you 'check it out'. Don't travelers realize we are being held hostage to the world of the internet? Check on their water supply, look to see if there are screens on the windows. Good forbid they don't have wi-fi, so open your cell phone, buy a chip at Digicel or Lime and buy time (it costs me about 30cents a minute to call home). Just pack plenty of OFF or JUNGLE JUICE (amazon, really great stuff) so you hand handle any swarm of bugs.
There are plenty of places around. Jamaica-beachcottages.com, about $80.00 a night, there is the South Shore, about $40.00 a night, there is Basil's Bar, about $50.00 a night on the beach and next to a fisherman's bar (yes, dear ones, very safe, just VERY JAMAICAN) or TRUELOVECOTTAGES.com, about $60.00 a night. Places to eat - - - anywhere. I manage to go to a local bar/pub (very Jamaican) for $400.00 J for great chicken, chips and salad. It is called Bryan's Cafe. You just need to explore. What happens when I've met others who have done this? There reply is "beautiful, completely different" but you need to overcome your own biases.
You meander towards Maroon Country, a step back into Jamaica past where the Maroon's fled inland to escape persecution or enslavement. They have a unique festival there in December or January, with dancing, festivities and, I believe, even an Obeyman. Head back through, see Pelican Bar and Treasure Beach (what is now what Negril was, although changing quickly). Head to YS FALLS and LOVER'S LEAP and MILK RIVER BATHS. Stop there, soak in the radioactive baths and enjoy a relatively comfortable stay near the water. Travel up towards SPANISH TOWN and then beyond Kingston to the BLUE MOUNTAINS where a frost line exists and the higher range is made up not of limestone, as nearer to the sea, but from volcanic eruptions.
So, you hit some roads that are treacherous. Have you ever heard of any tourist who drove off a mountain road? Rather rare.
Hope this helps - - - travel and explore. This applies not only to Jamaica but any country.