Day five: Falmouth, Jamaica (April 7)

Two hundred and twenty-six nautical miles down the road, as they say, we found ourselves 90 miles south of Cuba in the birthplace of reggae and its most famous ambassador, Bob Marley: Jamaica. We docked in Falmouth on the north side of the island.

Fun fact: Falmouth was the first place
in the Western Hemisphere to have running water!

From the ship we could see the 3,000 foot limestone mountains and dense vegetation that smother the island thanks to 80 inches of rain each year. It was beautiful from the ship but rather tired and depressed once we took a closer look. Sadly things have gone downhill in some ways since Jamaica got its independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. There are lots of walls, gates, and grates seemingly for security. The streets are littered. In contrast to huge, elaborate mansion sized homes were countless shanties that were cobbled together with a mixture of scrap building materials. Small or large, they were colorful: pink, orange, bright blue. There were lots of colorful flowers everywhere.

Fun fact: Ian Fleming, who lived in Jamaica, repeatedly used the island
as a setting in his James Bond novels. Movie adaptations
of some of the books were shot there. 

Dan and I took the Go Native tour which we enjoyed a lot. We drove out of Falmouth (on the left side of the road) through the countryside to Montego Bay. Our first stop was at a small, stone Anglican church. It looked similar to others we had seen except for the two dozen steel drums situated in a balcony by the organ. We crossed our fingers there would be a little concert to satisfy our curiosity, but no. We drove out of town past dozens and dozens of vendors selling their wares in makeshift stalls. Everything from sugar cane to coconuts to clothing to flavored ice drinks.

Our second stop was at Mount Olive Basic School, a preschool for three to five year olds. The school was a single story, one room concrete building painted pastel purple and white with partitions for the three ages. All the kids were wearing uniforms and were busy at tables when we arrived. They were very chatty with us and offered high-fives when we left. One lady in our group had games loaded on her iPad and she sat right down and started playing with the kids. In less than a moment she was surrounded and the iPad was being passed around. I took pictures of the kids which I  showed to them, but that effort rated a zero when compared to the iPad games.

Our last stop was at John’s Hall Plantation. Our guide talked us through all sorts of tropical fruits and gave us samples. We fed our fruit rinds to a little burrow who was happy to gently take them out of our hands. We enjoyed watching the 600 pound pig, David, miraculously raise up on his hind legs so he could get to corn that was placed on top of a low wall for our viewing pleasure. Two male peacocks showed off their plumage to its full advantage for a single disinterested female. The stay was topped off with a jerk chicken and jerk pork buffet lunch that was served outside.

We had a wonderful guide and thoroughly enjoyed the tour. She explained Jamaica’s motto Out of Many, One People which pays homage to their mix of native, Spanish, English, enslaved Africans (emancipated in 1838), and indentured Indians and  Chinese. Although English is the official language, this mix of people, customs, and cultures spawned Jamaican Patois, a native dialect of sorts the locals speak with ease but totally stumps visitors.

Did you know: Olympic gold medalist Usaine Bolt
is a native son of Jamaica. He was center stage on lots of billboards
and much loved for the good things he does for his parish.

We made it back to the ship with plenty of time to clean up for our mandatory happy hour with the junior Mongeons. They took a different tour, so it was fun to share stores and photos. A four course meal followed and then we topped of the night with the comedian Darrell Joyce. A great day!



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