Jamaica, part 4

Thursday 28th April, 2011.

 

 

Today, we had a bit of a lie-in, before heading down for breakfast. After breakfast Emma and I went to use the ATM, which is situated outside the main entrance of the resort. (We needed to use the ATM as we had transferred most of our money into Jamaican Dollars, only to realise that the shops in the resort and most of the people we had dealings with, preferred US Dollars.) We then had another coffee and a gentle stroll along the beach, while we waited for our minibus, to take us to the ‘Hip Strip’ in Montego Bay and the craft market. Peter, our driver, arrived on-time and Alysha, Emma, me and three American passengers were off into Montego Bay. The journey time was only ten minutes and the roads have improved considerably, since my last visit. There has been a lot of construction and infrastructure has been improved in Jamaica’s second city. Peter dropped us at some shops on the ‘hip strip’ and we were given about 20 minutes to look around and purchase items and souvenirs. We managed to find a few presents and Alysha was quite happy looking at bracelets and things, while trying to decide what to buy. Once we were happy, Peter drove us a little further into the City, where we stopped at a shop that sold jewellery and duty-free items. Although we looked, there was nothing really that we liked the look of, so we crossed the parking lot and went into a different shop. After another look around, we headed back to the bus and were transported to more shops, before heading off to the craft market. The craft market is set into the side of a hill and is made up of over a hundred wooden sheds, all painted in bright colours. It is here that Alysha managed to find the exact bracelets that she had been searching for, all morning. Now, the only problem with the craft market is you begin to feel pressured into buying things. As you look at each stall, you are constantly approached by other sellers, asking you to come and see their wares. Then, if you do want to buy things, you have to haggle. The prices start ridiculously high and you have to keep your wits about you, so that you don’t lose out. And most of them only accept US Dollars, so we constantly trying to work out the exchange rate in our head. (Roughly it worked out as £7.50 = $1000 Jamaican or $12 US.) With the heat rising to 35C, Alysha and I made our way back to the minibus to wait for Emma, who was quite happy to keep looking around. Once we were all back on the bus, Peter drove us toward the Freeport. This has moved, from where it was 20 years ago, to a new facility with more shops and offerings. A few of the Americans went to look inside, but most of us stayed on the bus. When everyone was sure that they had got everything that they wanted, Peter drove us back to the resort. The round trip of two-hours-or-so had been a nice way to spend the morning. Once we had disembarked the minibus, tipping Peter with the last of the Jamaican Dollars, we made our way to the restaurant for lunch. Alysha then disappeared off, to find her friends, while Emma and I chillaxed with a cold drink. As the afternoon drew on, clouds moved up from the South and the sky behind the resort started to darken. Alysha had already been back to the room to get changed, so Emma and I headed back to get changed for dinner. When we were ready we headed out onto the balcony in time to see the clouds roll down the bay. The sky went through a whole spectrum of colours, before settling on a deep purple. It was then that the deluge began. It lasted a good ten minutes before passing overhead and out to sea. After dinner, Emma and I headed off to our spot by the now closed pool bar and watched the lightning storm that was happening out over the Caribbean. The rest of the evening we spent wandering along the beach or sitting on the rocks, before heading to the Lounge Bar, to watch the evening’s entertainment.

 

To be concluded…

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