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Jamaica was my dream destination: Sun, Sand, and Surf. Unfortunately, the build-up of excitement and anticipation of getting away for a week was probably the most enjoyable part of my trip!
The constant harassment and stares received while suntanning on the beach, was extremely uncomfortable. I felt safer spending my time relaxing in the ocean while lounging on a floaty, than sitting on the beach reading a book, while soaking up the sun.
The three excursions I booked, while being very educational for the most part, each included a commentary about the history as well as the agriculture of the country. Enjoyable, but unfortunately very disorganized, each not managing to be on time. One tour guide was as much as an hour-and-a-half late in picking us up, stating that in Jamaica they have nothing but time—but when you are on vacation your time is limited and each moment wasted is a moment we cannot get back.
While I find Bob Marley's life fascinating and I am a fan of his music, I was not impressed with the constant smell and unhidden fact that marijuana was readily available to purchase, with tourists carrying joints a common occurrence at Nine Mile, home of Bob Marley.
The Cool Runnings cruise I took included snorkelling over a coral reef, which at the time was extremely shallow. We were not all provided with the proper equipment for our snorkelling adventure and there were fire corals and sea urchins all over the reef. One of the passengers celebrating her birthday on the cruise got seriously hurt by stepping on a sea urchin while snorkelling. I did not find anything spectacular about the reef, it was, in fact, a disappointment lacking in colour. I was expecting it to be teeming with tropical fish—this was definitely not the case. We moved onto Rick's Cafe where the sunset was an incredibly beautiful sight with an extremely pleasant atmosphere, while a local band played Bob Marley's greatest hits. This was a very relaxing way to end the day!
The last tour we chose was to climb Dunn's River Falls. I was told it was something not to be missed. As usual, our pick-up was late. There were no changing rooms for those that had not dressed appropriately for the climb. I recommend wearing your swimsuit under your clothes to avoid embarrassment. The catamaran cruise across to the falls was pleasant, with a party atmosphere. Once we had arrived at the falls we were separated into groups, then introduced to our guides. We were asked to hold hands as we made our way up the slippery rocks of the waterfall. Not only was I shouted at by the guide, but he actually grabbed me by the hand and tried dragging me over the rocks. I found it safer to use my hands to help me climb over the slippery rocks and not try hanging on to my fellow travelers. One of the guides put his hand out to help me climb up a steep part of the falls, and as I was almost there he let go causing me to lose my balance for a moment, I managed to finish climbing the falls without injury—no thanks to the guides responsible for our safety. The guide proceeded to follow me down the stairs as I made my way back to the boat, while aggressively insisting I give him a tip for his services. My daughter was very afraid by this time and practically ran back to the Catamaran.
Another incident experienced by my daughter was at the hotel we were staying. She had asked to go paddleboarding, which was one of the activities included with our stay. The watersports personnel would not allow her to take one of the boards out unless she was willing to provide them with a tip. As far as I am concerned, when I pay almost $4000 for a vacation that includes non-motorized sports, I should not be told I have to pay extra just to enjoy the activity. I did give in and handed over a tip, as I could not say "no" to my daughter, who was so looking forward to trying paddleboarding for the first time.
I found Jamaicans on the whole to have an extremely aggressive nature, and I must admit that in my opinion Jamaica is not the safest of destinations to chose from in the Caribbean.