Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jamaica 2016 Day 10. Ocho Rios to Mo Bay

The problem of waking up so early in the morning is that once you are ready to go and start your touristic visits everybody else is still asleep. I wanted to visit the Museum of Reggae Music, in one of the older shopping malls, but I had quite a lot of trouble finding the mall, largely because there was no one to ask for directions, and the ones I asked were not quite sure where the place was. Finally one of the motorcycle cops (we call them constables here) told me to follow him and delivered me at the door of the place. I had past it before! Yes, but it is an older mall and the sign is definitely subdued. The whole place was deserted, so I felt like a wraith as I walked its empty walkways, not finding the touted museum. I finally met someone who sadly informed me that the museum no longer existed and, no, she had no idea if it had reopened elsewhere. So I will have to remain ignorant about the truth behind reggae and the Rastafarians.

Driving through Ochi (as we locals call Ocho Rios) I somehow got on the road to Kingston and discovered a particularly pretty stretch of mountain road. It is locally called Fern Gully, and although ferns are not particularly prominent it has a certain magic to it. It is a very narrow gully (road wide) walled by vertical cliffs of hard limestone, and the temperature inside it must be at least 10 degrees lower than in the outside. My little scooter groaned as I drove up the gully, but on the way down made a passable impression of a Ducati negotiating the sharp bends in the road. Great fun!

Ochi plays an important role in the economy of Jamaica because it is the destination of the cruise ships that ply the Caribbean. In order to serve this transient population many attractions have been developed to pluck the visiting tourists of their cash, 20 dollars at a time. Perhaps the most notable of these attractions are the Dunn’s River waterfalls, which are now the centerpiece of a beautiful, relaxing park. I was one of the first ones to get there, so I had a chance to walk through the park when, all of a sudden, 500 tourists arrived all at once, creating a pandemonium among the numerous guides. The high point of this experience is to hold hands in a row of maybe 50 people, and to walk up the falls, stumbling from pool to pool. I got my feet wet, but decided not to participate in the group experience, which might had been fun in solitude but seemed a production line with the horde of tourists.

The road to Mo Bay was mostly ground that I had covered on my second day, so I don’t need to repeat it here. I got back to my villa in Mo Bay at about 3 pm, only to find the place deserted. Since I didn’t have a reservation for the night I didn’t quite wanted to get settled, but I changed into my swimming suit and enjoyed the pool until, an hour later, my host Future came back, together with former lodger Ida, who had just gotten back from Negril. It was nice to see my old friends and feel back at home.

For dinner I went back to the fish restaurant by the water’s edge, where I dined like a king, but where I realized that I was running out of Jamaican currency (the common struggle of running out of money at the end, when you don’t want to get more money for fear that you will end with a lot of money frozen in a foreign currency that you cannot exchange anywhere). Fortunately here you always have the option of paying in dollars, so I put one US$20 bill and two bills of JA$100 on the table, in time for a gust of wind to pick them up and blow them toward the water! Fortunately I managed to rescue the US$20 and one of the JA$100 before they fell on the bay, but the other JA$100 was blown far out to sea, no doubt as some sort of tax to the local spirits.  

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