Montego Bay: Friendly Natives, Soul Food, & The Quest For Wi-Fi

Surfin' to Jamaica

Surfin’ to Jamaica

December 2008

Caribbean ain’t cheap… picture-postcard-perfect swimming-pool-to-the-gods only half a day from approximately one-billion North Americans and Europeans… $50 “budget” hotels… means different things in different countries…. qualities peculiarly Jamaican: reggae, Rastafarians, and rum, the “3R’s” of Jamaican experience…

…reality on the ground in Montego Bay a bit different… MoBay a veritable cold bed of activity, which is good… Negril the hipper tourist alternative, Ocho Rios the slick uptown cousin… MoBay still manages to rock on weekends and cruise-ship days… functions as an airport terminus far more user-friendly than funky Trenchtown; I mean Kingston.

Welcome to Jamaica

Welcome to Jamaica

…still Mo Bay a bit lacking in services, like maybe supermarkets? …ever heard of those? If you don’t have traditional “green” markets, then you’re supposed to have supermarkets; that’s the deal… Thank God for the Chinese… scouring the world looking for places that need some basic mom-and-pop groceries… They even open on Sunday. They even learn patois.

…best thing about Montego Bay is that there’s a real town here… mile from the Hip Strip: hotels, bars and Margaritaville… That’ll keep the riff-raff out and restaurant prices up. A mile the other way and you’re at the airport. That’ll teach them to overcharge on airport taxis; I’ll just walk… finally find something resembling a real supermarket, so I’m excited…

…buck (butt?) naked woman walking down the street in the early morning as if that were the most normal thing in the world. Maybe for her it is. I want to stop her and get her story, but don’t want to offend her sensibilities or violate any religious taboos. I wouldn’t want to change any of the local customs, no. You’ve got to be sensitive.

Jamaica Natural

Jamaica Natural

…“jerk cuisine” not bad, something of a cross between soul food and Indian cuisine… As Chinese cooks increasingly take over local cooking chores, Jamaican food itself may be taking on some Chinese qualities.

Curries here cooked from scratch and piping hot, not perpetual stews simply ladled over and out… bakeries not bad either… meaty British patties and sweet European pastries, with biscuits both British and American to boot…

…Jamaicans genuinely friendly people, despite the hustlers… friendliness usually carries a price; they’ve all got their hands out…. me, I’m just looking for a Wi-Fi signal; if optional a year ago, then no longer so. I’ll go without cable TV.

….borrowing it where I am now… only got it on the balcony, drifting in and out of consciousness. Step inside and it’s gone. Such is love… the Information Age no longer a societal paradigm, but a personal way of life, to have info constantly at one’s fingertips, constantly up-dated and inter-active… primordial quest to control fire, create language, and conquer continents. Outer space and inner space transect right here and right now… skunky smoke pervades the atmosphere… welcome to Jamaica…