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.