Montego Bay ᛫ December 1 – 10, 2017 & February 28, 2018
I was so excited to return to Jamaica after four years. My first time visiting this beautiful island was in 2007 and the second time in 2013. Both times, I stayed with my dad and sister in hotels for two weeks. We went scuba diving and did some excursions around the island. As you can guess – I loved it. So now, I wanted to stay longer and get to know the Jamaican way of life even better. My first stop was Montego Bay because I had a friend there that I met through Couchsurfing during my last visit. And this time, I could even stay at his apartment for a couple of days.
I arrived in MoBay after a short flight from Fort Lauderdale, FL, and was greeted with sunshine and reggae music when I stepped out of the airport. My friend picked me up and it was really cool to see him again. His apartment was very nice and had a balcony with ocean and sunset view. He had a business meeting that evening, so I went to the pool of the apartment building and watched the stunning sunset from there.
Finally at the Beach Again 🙂
The next day, I couldn’t wait to go to the beach. In the small supermarket in the apartment building that was owned by my friend, I met a nice Jamaican guy who told me he could get me into the beach across the street for free. I had planned to go to another beach that didn’t cost anything, but he was right and I saved US$ 6. Doctor’s Cave is a beautiful beach with white sand and clear water. We hung out with his friends and he told me that there was a Chronixx concert that night.
After the sunset, I went back to the apartment to get some money and then we walked all the way to the location where the concert was going to happen to buy tickets. The walk took about 40 minutes and was great to get to know the area a bit. There was already music playing at the Pier 1 and tickets were almost sold out. But the main act wouldn’t come until much later. After we had tickets, we went to the city center because I wanted to buy some lemons or limes. Since it wasn’t the season, they were nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, it also wasn’t the season for mangos or avocados. So I mainly enjoyed pineapples, papayas and sugar cane during my time there.
Big Up: Reggae Concert with Chronixx
I took a taxi back to the apartment, made dinner and got ready to go out. My host wasn’t home, in fact, I only saw him a few times while I was there. He worked a lot, renting apartments to tourists and taking care of them, and spend the nights at one of his other places. I took a taxi to Pier 1 and luckily found the guy from earlier after searching in the crowd for a while. He was with some Jamaican and British friends and we all had a great time. Protoje and some other bands played before Chronixx came on stage. I had seen him before at festivals and his show was very good again. And he played for more than two hours!
One thing I don’t like about Jamaican concerts is that there is always a VIP area that is in front of the stage, separated by a fence and of course costs more. Another thing I witnessed on several occasions and find really strange is that the majority of the audience doesn’t dance. Jamaica has this stereotype that people like to dance and party, but if there is a concert, most of them just stand there and watch the band on stage.
Moving to an Airbnb Guesthouse
The next two days, I tried to get set up a little bit and find out how living in Jamaica worked. 😉 On the 5th was my birthday. Unfortunately, I had to get up early and move out because my host’s mom came to stay there. After I had packed everything, I went to the Starbucks across the street, had a nice breakfast with ocean view and searched on my laptop for a new place to stay. I had written some Couchsurfing requests, but received no positive reply. Luckily, I found a good Airbnb place instead and I took a taxi there. A nice Canadian owner who had moved there a couple of years ago welcomed me with open arms. I hung out and talked to her for a while and then I had some Skype dates with my family.
Afterward, I walked to the closest beach which took me about 45 minutes. I wasn’t there by myself for long before a guy came to talk to me. He wasn’t as annoying as a lot of guys so I hung out with him for a while. Since it was already getting a little dark, I took a taxi back. I made a nice dinner and went to bed pretty early because it had been a long day.
The Airbnb was filled with good vibes and I really enjoyed my stay there. I went to the beach again, to the city center and made some research about living in MoBay. Although I liked it there, I came to the conclusion that I would like a smaller place better. I wanted to live in maximum ten minutes walking distance to the ocean and in MoBay that wasn’t affordable for me. And a few weeks before, I had booked another Airbnb in Negril for a festival. So I figured, I could just stay there if I liked it.
During my time in MoBay, my dreads, unfortunately, got messed up again. I met up with a girl who was recommended to me and she claimed she could fix my grown out hairs with a crochet hook. Regrettably, she did it wrong. Of course, it was stupid of me not to stop her when I realized it. But I was so unhappy that I kind of hoped that it would look better afterward. It didn’t and I tried to undo what she did, but only succeeded partially.
Back to Couchsurfing
When I woke up on the 8th I found a message from a couchsurfer saying that she could host me. I was very excited to meet her because most hosts are guys. So I packed my stuff and took two different taxis from Mount Salem to Albion. That’s because there are so-called route taxis that only go to certain areas. If you want to go from one area to the other, it costs double or triple the prize because they have to pay a fee for going to another area. That’s why some visitors feel like they are being ripped off when they take a taxi all the way across the city. With the route taxis, it’s much cheaper, but you have to take two or even more different ones. I had learned a little bit which taxis went where and who to ask.
My host waited in front of a small shop with her friends. They were all very welcoming, I met her family who lived just across the street from the shop that was owned by her grandparents. I stayed in a bed in her kitchen which I liked because we hosted couchsurfers in Cologne in our kitchen as well.
After I put my bags down, we went back to the shop and hung out with her friends. She and some of them produce their own music and they showed me their skills live and on recorded songs. Later, several big speakers were assembled and the whole afternoon and evening loud music was playing on the street. It was a lot of fun. The occasion for the music was my host’s mom’s birthday. But the party wasn’t really starting until she came home later that night from her trip to Kingston.
Unfortunately, I missed her because I went to meet my former Couchsurfing host from Fort Lauderdale. It was his birthday at midnight and we planned to celebrate our birthdays together. He stayed in an all-inclusive hotel with a friend and I took two taxis there.
More Couchsurfing Friends
At the entrance, he paid a small fee for me and I had to leave my passport so I could enter the hotel and use their amenities. The hotel was huge and looked very nice. There were bonfires at the beach and live music. We had some cocktails and enjoyed listening to reggae. Later, we found a staff party behind the hotel with a stage and bands. It was fun to dance there for a bit. I left around one and tried to meet up with my Jamaican host, who was at a nearby party. But that didn’t work out so I took one taxi (it was expensive because I didn’t want to change the car at night) back to her place.
My host’s mom’s birthday party was already over when I arrived, but there was still a small party going on at a shop up the road. Since I had already met some of the people there, I went to hang out with them and also met the mother. I stayed until about 4 am, but didn’t see my host again before I went to bed. After sleeping in the next day, we hung out on the street again and had a fun time. At night, we went to one of her friend’s birthday party in a nearby neighborhood. It was fun, but not that many people danced there either. Around 4 am I got tired and went “home”.
The next day, we all slept until midday again. My host made a delicious Jamaican coconut curry with chicken for us. It rained most of the day and so I waited with my departure, hoping it would stop. After it had already gotten dark, I decided to leave despite the rain because I didn’t want to arrive too late. It was a great weekend and I met so many nice people in a real Jamaican neighborhood. My host’s grandpa drove me to the bus station and I took a small bus towards Negril.
Returning to Montego Bay on February 28, 2018
Since there is no international airport in Negril, I had to come back to MoBay to leave the island when the three months of my tourist visa were up. My last day in Negril turned out to be pretty stressful, unfortunately. So I could only leave at 10 pm and arrived an hour later in Lucea where I switched cars. The bus to Montego Bay took a long time to fill up because there were not many people traveling at that time. We finally left at 11:30 pm and arrived in MoBay a little after 12 am. I waited a bit for my Airbnb host to pick me up. He was really nice and had a cool place. It felt good to chill in the hammock on the porch after all the stress I had before going to sleep.
The next day, my alarm rang at 10 am and I didn’t feel good at all. I had a headache, my hand hurt and was swollen from the bee sting I got the previous day. Therefore, I packed my stuff, trying to use only one hand as much as possible. Then I had to walk down the hill to catch a taxi. I was pretty late but thought that the airport was not far because it had looked like that on the Airbnb website and I chose this place because of its location close to the airport. When finally a taxi stopped, I was told that it’s actually the opposite direction than I expected. I got a little frustrated because I also had to pick up some of my things that I had left with my first couchsurfer.
Everything Is Gonna Be All Right!
Luckily, two nice and humorous Canadian-Jamaicans picked me up, stopped at my friend’s place and brought me all the way to the airport for free! They had a lot of positive energy and really lifted my spirit. I will definitely let them know when I’m back and maybe stay at their place the next time.
Even with their help, I reached the airport one hour later than I was supposed to. I don’t know what I would have done without them (well, paying a lot of money because the airport was pretty far away and being in a bad mood probably). But thankfully there were no problems at the check-in. Then I got Jerk Chicken with rice and peas and a festival for the last time at an airport restaurant.
After hanging out at the gate for a while, I boarded a pretty small plane with only four seats per row. Thankfully, I could sit at the window to get a nice last look of Jamaica. It was goodbye with mixed feelings. I’ve had a great time and learned a lot, but didn’t get to do everything I had planned. But I will be back for sure and catch up on what I missed this time. And if there would be only one Jamaican thing I learned and will try to keep in my life it’s that there is “no problem”! 😉
On the other hand, I was also excited for my next destination Cuba, where I would meet my sister and dad in Varadero. My first destination was the capital Havana though.
See More Pictures of My Time in Montego Bay
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