I finally made it out to Jamaica… nearly two months ago!! What can I say? There are plenty of distractions in Miami outside of work that might have played some part in delaying this post.
I left on Christmas day to meet a couple friends who were flying in from Baltimore. It was my first (personal) trip to the Caribbean since I moved to Miami. As long as I’m here, I can’t complain about all the tropical destinations that are less than three hours away, and I need to do a better job of taking advantage of them.
I had been wanting to go to Jamaica for a long time – the beaches and Kingston. Although we were only visiting Montego Bay and Negril on this trip, I still had high expectations. One of the things I was most excited about was my next opportunity to take pictures outside of the US, even if I wasn’t able to get a waterproof camera in time.
I arrived about an hour before my friends. As soon as I cleared customs at Montego Bay, I went to the bar outside the airport for some Red Stripes and beef patties. I documented that whole experience via my iPhone on Instagram. I was looking forward to doing more of that, but sadly my phone did not survive much longer.
It was charging while we were at the hotel getting ready to hit the beach. As we were rushing out I snatched the phone off the table, forgetting to screw in that crucial piece on my waterproof case. About an hour later, as I laid back floating on the water, I pulled the phone out to to take a picture only to notice that the case had been completely flooded with salt water. Not cool… but needless to say, I had brought my X-Pro1 along on the trip.
The next day, I went for a quick walk up the main coastal street in Montego Bay with my camera. It was a beautiful day, and even if my immediate settings weren’t quite on par, I managed to get some nice shots.
Our hotel wasn’t too far from the public beach, which was pretty close to the airport. Although not surprised, I was immediately struck by the contrast between our picturesque beach and this one.
I wish I had gotten a better plane shot… but I’m fairly happy with the image above. (I posted some of my favorite ones from the trip on my Flickr page shortly after my return to Miami.)
Later that afternoon, we had lunch at an American BBQ place, mainly because it was right on the water with a great view of the sunset, as you can see. We would return the next evening for one of the more memorable experiences of the trip, which I’m tempted to share here… but won’t.
Before leaving Montego Bay, I wanted to buy a couple souvenirs. The day before, I had walked by a market that everyone tried convincing me to enter. When it comes to the typical Caribbean tradition of hustling tourists (or ‘white’ people), Jamaicans do better than any islanders I have been around. So that day, I went in and ended up buying a bamboo ashtray for about $5 but nothing more.
As I was walking back to the hotel, I passed a stand that I was tempted to buy trinkets from. I think the vendor’s name was Louis, and he was the most gracious salesman I met on the trip – no pressure. It’s too bad, because all I got was this picture and a request to let people know that he is right outside the entrance to Doctor’s Cove Beach Hotel in Montego Bay. He’s been working there for about 10 years, selling his own creations. Pay him a visit.
While we had fun there, we were not that impressed with Montego Bay, especially the beach. That was all about to change. We took a ride towards the Capital of Casual later that day… Hanover to be exact, just north of Negril.
It was quiet and far from all the crowds. Scenic beach walks in both directions, but one of the best views was right outside of our hotel. I was quite taken by this one boat in particular, mainly because of the conch shells in it. In the morning, it would be full of them, but at that time I would usually be out for a swim without my camera (or iPhone).
My biggest problem with the beaches in Jamaica were all the buoys, but I managed to make them work to my advantage in a few shots. (Again, I posted one of my favorites on my Flickr page.)
Every afternoon I would walk towards Negril… but not always with my camera. My favorite dred along the way seemed to be living right on the beach and whenever we would pass by, he would start shouting out about the sun shining every day on top of the world. “Rise and shine!” he would say with a big smile on his face. Unfortunately I never managed to get a shot of him.
I did get some shots of the guy a little further down. If it looks like there is a giant penis protruding from the right side of the frame in the image below, that is no mistake. He calls himself Dr Love and he seems to specialize in phallic art. Although this is as close as I got to shooting any of it, I did take some other pictures after he asked me to make him a photobook that I can send to the next Negril bound person I know. Any volunteers?
Right by Dr. Love’s cove, there is a really cool tree, one he suggested we get our pictures taken on. We politely declined, but I made sure to snap some shots when I returned there on one of my walks. For some reason, I thought I’d end up with some nicer photos, but I’m pretty pleased with this one.
There was one spot on the beach that we kept returning to. It was far enough from the hotels for us to feel alone. The only problem was all the bugs on the sand and those dropping from the trees above. One of the spot’s biggest draws was the lack of buoys. I ended up getting some of my favorite shots there. This is one of them.
This was a daily routine on that beach, like countless others I observed during the course of our stay.
The situation wasn’t nearly as bad as our last trip, but the weather wasn’t always on our side. It rained sometimes… but even on those cloudy afternoons, the scenery was spectacular.
All in all, it was a great trip and a nice way to bring on the new year. Obviously I didn’t even begin to share most of our experiences there with you all… but that was not the point of this post! Hopefully you enjoyed the pictures though. Maybe they will inspire you to visit Jamaica sometime if you haven’t been already. I’ll surely be back there… both for work and for play. And I’ll be going to Kingston.