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Caribbean

Just chilling in Jamaica

They say there is never a second chance to make a first impression, which I agree on is true to a certain level. But at the same time, a person or a place can have a bad day that very first day you meet them. It’s funny how big the gap can be from the first to the final impression sometimes. When I first arrived Jamaica, I got a skeptic, bad and uncomfortable feeling. When I left I was relaxed, happy, satisfied, in complete harmony and almost a little sad leaving this truly wonderful place.

The reason I was a little skeptic when I first arrived was the fact that crime rates here are very high, so maybe I was a little biased. I landed around midnight and on the bus to my designated stop I could almost feel the danger lure around the corner. As soon as I got there I started to rain and as I checked in at the place I was staying I met an American couple recommending me to get insect repellant as soon as possible. After seeing her leg full of mosquito bites, I trusted them. So, a lot of crime, rain, clouds and apparently lots of mosquitos was my first impression. I went to bed really early this night feeling that this could be a long week.

I woke up around 6 AM the day after – and it was like a completely other world. Blue skies and had not seen or heard a single mosquito so far. The first people I encountered on my 3 minute walk to the beach were very friendly – so Jamaica really showed a completely other face today. Now to the best part; the beach here in Negril – Seven Mile Beach. As you can understand from the name it’s long; about 7 miles or 11 kilometers. I prefer quality before quantity and here you actually get both. It’s big and the sand is just AMAZING! White, fine, soft, don’t get really warm in the sun. Last but not least, the water here is the clearest that I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot of tropical waters. Crystal clear and also very calm all day because it’s protected by a coral reef which offers some great snorkeling or diving. Truly a paradise when it comes to beaching and enjoying the ocean! Usually I would have get bored after a few days at a place like this, but somehow I wasn’t here. It simply was that nice!

About the crime rates I was advised not to walk around at night time, and when everyone says that there must be a reason for it. However, in the daylight I could stroll around as much as I wanted to and it was interesting to wander in to the «town» to see how average local people actually lived, and trust me, they live VERY simple! I was invited to a man’s «hut» where he had lived since he was a child. Of respect for him I didn’t even think the thought of taking photos, but it was pretty much just a wooden bed and a table with 4 «chairs» or things to sit on and the «floor» was simply just soil. No electricity or water. Keeping this in mind when I go back home will definitely make me appreciate my own apartment and even though it’s average or maybe slightly better – I will look upon it as luxury.

I’ve now been to a lot of poor parts of the world: South America, Central America, the Caribbean, parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. I really like cars, so I usually turn my head when a nice one passes by. However, in the parts of the world just mentioned I pretty much never had to turn my neck. I’ve developed my own «Porsche-Poverty-Index» which can give a certain understanding of how poor a place is. Let’s say you walk around in Oslo, Stockholm, London, Sydney, Los Angeles, Paris or any big city in a western country – you probably see a Porsche pretty much every other minute. When I spent 5 months in South and Central America – I saw 4-5 on the entire time. None in Africa, none in the Caribbean and very few if even any in certain parts of Asia.

Speaking of cars, I’m off to a country known for it’s old colorful cars and  also communism. You probably understand that Cuba is my next stop. To be honest I’ve never had it on my list of places to go, and I’m not really looking forward to it, but it will probably be interesting and when I’m this close I feel it would have been wrong not to go there.

Paradise in Puerto Rico

After almost a year as a nomad, I was more than ready for a some vacation. No more frequent, long and uncomfortable bus rides. No tours, no touristing or stress at all. I just wanted to stay in one and same place for a week. So after probably the quickest research ever in my life, I found this place called Rincon which seemed nice. However, to choose and prepay for one place for a week can be risky – because you don’t know whether you will like it or not. But as they say; high risk – high reward. I was lucky and was rewarded with one of the best stops so far on my trip!

Nice long beaches, crystal clear blue water, amazing sunsets and a very relaxed vibe. That’s how I would describe it. It was low season when I was there, but also the 4th of July a lot of American people were there and once again I met some really good people, that I will stay in touch with. Most of the people that I’ve met that I still keep in touch with on this trip, and will visit later, are either Americans or Australians. Which I don’t mind at all since that’s my two favorite destinations and I will visit them many times in the future. It also makes sense I get most friends from these countries, because are lives are somewhat comparable and we can relate to each other lives and there is of course no language barrier. Perhaps poor people in poor countries have even more interesting stories to tell and live lives that can be both good and interesting to follow, it’s not the same when there is a language barrier and also not much understanding for each other lives. I probably can’t understand how poor they are actually living and they for sure can’t imagine the luxurious lives we are living in the western world, even though my life is pretty average.

Puerto Rico is an own country, but it’s also American territory and you can easily see how it’s influenced by the US but also by the Latin American culture. A perfect mix in my opinion! Starbucks, Wahlgreens and other typical American chains every where (in the capital San Juan, that is). Some might find this not very charming, but I really love the United States so I couldn’t be more happy than having the vibe of the states and looking like a tropical paradise at the same time. It also clearly had Spanish influence when it came to architecture and of course, the language, Espanyol! I was actually stoked to be back in a Spanish speaking country, since my trip started in one and I spent 4 months in Spanish speaking countries in the beginning. I was positively surprised how good my Spanish skills were now and it was really funny to be able to have conversations with the locals in their language.

The Spanish speaking people, and Latinos in general, are for sure different from us vikings from Northern Europe. They are louder, speak faster, have more energy, charisma and take more place – at least compared to where I come from. I’ve actually been told a joke about Scandinavia a couple of times on this trip, and it goes like this: “There is no reason to learn a Scandinavian language – because they never speak!”. Of course a big exaggeration but I do think they have a point – we are in general more quiet than most other kinds of people. I’m not saying that is bad, because sometimes I miss quiet surroundings. Especially the fact that all over Latin America they play LOUD music everywhere and all the time.

Speaking of music, my next stop is known for being home of a specific type of music; reggae! With this, I shouldn’t have to tell where I’m actually going, but if you still haven’t got it, I’m going to the home country of Bob Marley.