LOCATION: Montego Bay, Jamaica
Let me start this post by saying that it is not advisable to travel to Mexico and Jamaica within a 3 week period without getting suspicious questions and looks from TSA personnel. Little did I know it was going to be such a travel ordeal for me. I arrived in Jamaica and had to list that I was in Mexico less than 6 weeks ago. From there, I was pushed to a sick quarters desk where I had to list where I had been and if I had felt any symptoms. They proceeded to take my temperature and give me information on where I needed to go in case I felt ill from whatever Mexico had currently. Afterwards I was sent to a passport machine to enter info instead of getting a passport stamp. (boo for not getting a stamp!) I had no idea that the passport machine was about to take my photo. Needless to say, it was the worst picture ever and made me look like I was on crack or meth.
Probably one of my many “flagged” reasons as a threatening traveler. Once out of the airport, everything else seemed to go ok. I was in for a fun ride home though!
I embarked on my week long beach trip with Lina with a cautious mind. Several people had warned me about the severe dangers of Jamaica for tourists. I must say that my experience there was not threatening at all, except at the airport, where apparently I was the threat. HA. We stayed at an all-inclusive beach resort on Montego Bay and it was stunningly gorgeous.
Bright turquoise water and mountains surrounding the resort made for fantastic views. The people at the resort were also extremely friendly. I get these ideas in my head of how places and people will be based on movies,
and I must say that the Jamaican accent is exactly as the movies portrayed. Lots of yah mon and no problem mon was heard over the week. A very relaxed mentality was here that I think Americans are too wound up to really appreciate. We stayed at the resort most of the week except to venture out for a snorkel excursion and a trip to Dunns River Falls.
The snorkeling was ok. We weren’t taken far from the resort to do it which may be the reason the reefs weren’t as great. Plus, the water had jellyfish everywhere which left the swim to be less than desirable. Dunns River Falls is a great excursion for the area. I was able to complete my “swim in a waterfall” item from that area so you can read about that HERE. Dunns River Falls is located in the Ochos Rios area of the island which is about a 2 hour drive from the Montego Bay area.
Along the way were several colorful houses built into the mountains. You could really see the deterioration of the towns from the dwindling economy. Our first stop in Ochos Rios was to a small shopping center bustling with various souvenirs and Rum Creams. The original Rum Cream from the Appleton Estate was particularly good. Afterwards we were taking to a small craft market where we were bombarded with people trying to make you a deal in their shop.
All shops were virtually the same but you could swing your best deal in each shop. They weren’t nearly as pushy as I was warned about but still pushy just the same. Our lunch was brought to us on the bus as we left to get to the falls. I was promised an authentic Jamaica meal and I’m pretty sure I succeeded. My meal was a beef and cheese Jamaican pattie. Essentially, this was a ground up, almost liquefied beef and cheese concoction stuffed into an empanada like shell and served with bread to make a type of sandwich thing.
The result was very tasty actually and something I’ve never had before. Overall, we chose to relax most of the week on the resort as we didn’t see many options for excursions that we would be interested.
The end of my vacation was less that desirable. I had my passport checked 7 times by Jamaican TSA and each time, I was told that I needed to have an extra security screening. Getting strip searched, grabbed, and having nearly all articles of my belongings searched and swabbed for explosives while I was placed in a small deserted room for checks is not the most ideal way to leave tropical paradise. As a arrived in Baltimore I was also stuck doing it all over again and was told that Jamaican TSA reported me as a flagged threat flyer. Why, I have no idea. I was told that Baltimore TSA would fill out a report to clear my name. And here I did not even come back with anything good to be a threat. Not even a drop of rum to my name. To top off my extraordinary day of flying, Baltimore lost my bags…lost, or proceeded to search for more drugs, who knows. I don’t think I’ll be flying again for a few months, at least.
*Thanks Lina for accompanying me on this adventure!
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?: Possibly to do Dunns River Falls again, but I love Mexico and the excursion options there so much more.
HOW TO DO THIS: Sunset Beach resorts was fabulous and super cheap!