“left is right, and right is wrong,” were some of the first words to greet our tour group as we set out to explore Ocho Rios, Jamaica. They drive on the left side of some rather narrow streets leading to us being informed that, “the driver greased the van just this morning.”
Since we had a fairly large group Aunt Amy had arranged for us to have our own van. Our first stop was Dunns River Falls where Amy, Mike, Danny, Jarrod, and David, climbed the waterfall. Bobby, Treva, and I, stayed behind and watched from an observation deck where a seemingly euforic local tried to get us to take a stray dog home with us.
After the falls we drove through Fern Gully. This is a rainforest area which contains over 550 different species of Ferns. It is usually 10 degrees cooler in the area than in the city because of the foliage. Ten years ago you could drive through and only see if you had your headlights on. Due to several hurricanes hitting the islnad it is now possible to see daylight in the Gully.
Our guide next drove us through a local village and provided us with information about life in Jamaica’s villages. She informed us that the villages are all self-sustaining and only need help from the outside on things like emergency services or luxuries like attending theater programs. We also learned that houses are built from cement blocks and that rooms are added as money is available. It can take up to 3 generations for a family to finish their home. The guide said that it was a nice way to do things since you knew you owned it and weren’t tied to the bank. The minimum wage sallary for a Jamaican is $46.00 US a week. The exchange rate is sixty jamaican dollars to one US dollar.
Following our tour of the village, we explored the offerings of a local shopping area and craft market. We purchased some Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee, a sweatshirt for Treva, some sunglasses for me, and presents for Treva’s family.
We decided to have lunch at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant. The place was pretty nice with a pool and waterslide in the middle of the outdoor eating area. Service was a bit slow however, and we were all pretty hungry and cranky by the time our food arrived.
That’s about it for Jamaica. Others in our group went on a jungle Canape tour where they ziplined through the trees, but they’ll have to tell you all about it.
Tomorrow is Georgetown, Grand Cayman.