Jamaica: Day Two

We decided to get out of the resort and do a little sightseeing. So we signed up for one of the many bus trips our resort offered and headed off on a little shopping spree. We (along with 8 others) visited many of the small shops and “malls” along the main road into Negril. Many of them were the typical tourist shops you would expect to find. But there were a few that stuck out. The “Straw Market” is probably best described as a Jamaican “swap meet.”  Everyone had their “store” which was not much more than a small shack.  No concrete, no wood flooring, not even any straw. It was all dirt. I can only imagine what would happen when it would rain (which was often.)

We all got out of the bus as what seemed like a mob rushed over to our bus, each person trying their best to get our attention to come to their shack.  It was really quite terrifying.  We all looked at the other passengers, not really knowing what to do, while they looked right back at us.  Somebody made the first move away from the bus, as the rest of us followed their lead.  Monique and I began to follow some man who was trying everything under the sun to get us to following to his “store.” Not really sure what else to do we followed. He led us through a small maze of narrow alleys lined with more and more shacks. Each one’s owner assuring us they had the best deals. The closer we got, the more and more it began to smell like the famous Jamaican mary jane.  I had my camera with me, but frankly, I was too scared to take any pictures. Someone could have easily hit us over the head and taken us for all we had. We just pushed through as fast as we could. We tried our best to look interested in everyone’s stuff, but it was clearly impossible.  Then they began to bad mouth us as we walked past their “store.” “Respect, man, respect.”  It was all about respect. I remember we went into one guys store and the woman next to his got mad and started yelling at us for not showing her respect and looking at her stuff! The guy we were talking to just hurried up and tried to make his sale as quick as possible.  Looking back it was pretty scary. I don’t really know why the bus driver took us there. Maybe it’s just normal to them.  I’m glad we went though. We learned a lot.

The bus moved on and we ended up at Rick’s Café, an American style restaurant on the edge of some cliffs overlooking the western ocean.  There really wasn’t any special about Rick’s, I mean, it would tottaly blend into any mall back in the states. We were not too impressed. I guess there were two really good things about Rick’s. One, they had an awesome view of the ocean, and two: the cliff jumpers. There was a bunch of local guys who whoud stand on the cliff’s and yell at the gawking tourist, “Two dollars!” Once someone assured them of their money, they jumped.  It was really kinda cool.

Since the bus left us at Rick’s for a few hours, we became a little board and decided to check out a lighthouse about a mile away. The guards at Rick’s assured us it was a safe adventure and that we should have no problems getting there and back. Short from a few locals begging for money and  commerce, we had no issues. The lighthouse was pretty cool and gave us another awesome view of the sunset.

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Rick’s Cafe cliff jumpers can jump from all sides, each having different heights.

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From the top: this is where most of the tourist jumped. It looks much higher in person!

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The one guy would climb to the very highest point anyone could possible get to jump into the water below. He carried around a red bucket for donations. Once he reached his goal of $20, he would put on his show.

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I didn’t really want to investigate, but I’m not sure if this was the house for sale or if it was just the land and the tiny building just happened to be on it.  I really hate to think this was someone’s house.

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