Just one quick pic of us, on the pier at Sandals Montego Bay the first full day we were there...
We met so many interesting people while we were in Montego Bay. I found that, in general, Jamaican people were beyond outgoing, friendly, and helpful -- way more than I expected. In fact, when we were asked (and we were asked often!) if this was our first trip to Jamaica and we answered yes, we most often got a huge smile, a handshake, and a "Welcome Home!" LOL
First, let me say that I love the music in this country. I've never really listened to a lot of reggae...but couldn't wait to get myself a Bob Marley CD when I got home! LOL The first evening we stayed, there this cool reggae band playing at the Almond Terrace at the resort:
And the second evening we were there, a group called "Children of the Drums" came. They were a tribal drumming and dancing group -- so fascinating to watch!
At the resort, we also met Jeff. Jeff was one of the locals that were allowed to sell their handicrafts on the resort property. Each morning, he would anchor his boat in the water in front of the watersports area and spread his shells out on the dock:
These were shells he had dived for himself, and every morning we would see him washing them and cutting the sharp edges off. Then he'd gather them up and set up his little table right beside the watersports area. He'd polish them up beautifully and sell them to the people staying at the resort. We'd hear him say "Good morning, my princess, what pretty shells do you like to see today?" He was so sweet!
These shells were extraordinary. He had pink and peach ones, and brown and white ones. Of course, I bought a few to bring home. I would have bought the huge ones, some as large as my head, but I didn't think I had enough room in my suitcase!
And of course, we had resident peacocks at the resort. They just walked around and did their own thing. That was very strange!
And then, we went on a Jungle Canopy Tour, by Chukka Tours. WOW! Incredible! More on that another day...but our guides were fantastic! They cracked jokes and made us laugh and taught us things about Jamaica's natural habitat, all the while swinging us through the trees like monkeys. Here we are, with Raner and Alvando, our Chukka guides.
OK, I guess this wasn't a person -- but it was cool to see! At the airport on the way home, we saw the real Jamaican bobsled. Cool, hey? I couldn't help taking a pic.
And probably one of the most moving, and humbling, experiences I have ever had was on our John's Hall tour. We took a full day tour into the mountainous area of Jamaica to a village. We saw the way people lived there, and heard the stories of how they survive with shelter, water, electricity, and food. This is one of the houses we saw in the village.
Then we stopped at Mount Olive Basic School, in that same village. I couldn't believe the barbed wire fence all the way around.
Some of the children came out to greet us, and they sang a couple songs and recited a poem for us. One of the songs they sang was "Lord, I lift your name on high" and after this experience, I will always remember these children every time I hear that song. They were so enthusiastic and sweet, despite the circumstances they live in.
We then had the opportunity to go inside the school and visit with the children for a little while. There were about 100 children in a school the size of my house! It was divided up into three classrooms, which were this size.
This school was for 3-6 year olds. We went back to the 3 year olds' classroom and this little girl caught my eye. Her smile was so engaging and the light in her little eyes just shone. I kneeled down to talk to her and suddenly I had five or six kids swarming around me!
I don't think we understood each other very well. I was speaking English and she was speaking the local dialect, Patois, but I tried to communicate with her as best I could. She loved my sunglasses and wanted to try them on so I let her. And she kept "petting" my hair and saying "Smooth! Smooth!" which made me laugh. Her hair was done up in little frizzy cornrows -- it must have seemed odd to her to feel my hair.
Before we left I gave her a big hug, and all the other children who were around me. Their liveliness and enthusiasm and gregariousness just really moved me. I'll always remember her little face smiling up at me!