Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jamaica - part 5

No one told us we could use US currency. Instead we were awash in Jamaican dollars, of which there are about 70 in a US dollar, which creates some confusion in the vacationing brain. It didn't take long to notice that the locals favored US dollars to Jamaican, or that the favored currency of street vendors was jerk chicken. The hotel had a Cambio but no ATM, so we found ourselves walking to the nearest gas station a few times, which was a good introduction to the world beyond the resort. A sign informed us that Yellowman and Charlie Chaplin had played Negril a few nights back, something we would have liked to have seen.

Our longest excursion was a full-day bus tour to rural St. Elizabeth parish on the island's southwest coast. There were three actual destinations plus the ride itself, which provided a glimpse of the "real" Jamaica. The "real" started in the outskirts of Negril Village, where the tourist infrastructure gives way to a scattered stream of shacks and shanties and jerk chicken stands. The road got progressively bumpier, which when combined with the Third World auto emissions made me a little bit queasy. Meanwhile the guide was pointing out everything from Red Stripe beer warehouses to Breadfruit trees to the local Peter Tosh memorial.


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