St James, Jamaica
Moving clockwise from Hanover we now enter the parish of St James, Jamaica. Pretty much every single Jamaica tourist in the world has been to St James because they all land in Montego Bay. Although I’m not a big fan of the Montego Bay area I have made some awesome discoveries there, along with the not-so-awesome.
Things I’ve Learned in St James
– St James is bordered by Hanover, St Elizabeth and Trelawny and it’s capital is Montego Bay (or Mobay as locals call it). Mobay is also referred to “The Second City”, second to the island capital of Kingston.
– Montego Bay is home to the biggest musical event on the island each July – Reggae Sumfest. I’ve been to it twice and even though I can write all about it, nothing does it justice except to just GO. You won’t regret it.
– I learned that at least one police officer in St James has 6 fingers on each hand. And he and his cavalry like to offer rides to those of us who walk alone. It was always fun to be let out of a police truck at random destinations I also seemed to run into the same Budget Rental Car employee who would give me rides to where I needed to be. Ironically, this was long before my sponsorship with Budget. Talk about going above and beyond!
– I was stationed in Montego Bay for two months on an assignment and I saw it all in that city and surrounding areas. You can be totally Americanized if you want at places such as Harley Davidson, MegaMart, Pizza Hut, etc. But don’t ever think that downtown Mobay is like an American downtown. The chaos in the streets down there, day and night is a sight to behold (I find it fascinating). I’ve been stuck driving down there late at nights on side streets, alleyways, and market areas. I prayed a lot for the safety of the paint job on my car.
– I have learned that Jamaican men cannot dine inside Pizza Hut if they’re wearing a marina (sleeveless shirt).
– After spending 2 months in the upscale community of Ironshore I’ve learned just how many villas are in there and how dead most of them are. I also learned that everyone has their price. If you’re in the market to rent an entire villa and run it as a vacation property you can literally drive up to any place that has a for sale sign and ask how much they will rent it for on a monthly basis. I, along with a car full of Jamaicans did this for two days straight for an American lady – drove around the neighborhood looking at places for sale and rent. It’s really a turnkey operation to obtain a villa as most of them come furnished and fully staffed.
– Right next door to that upscale community is one of the worst, most notorious communities on the island – Flankers. I’ve heard that in recent years it’s become even worse than certain parts of Kingston and Spanish town for crime and violence. Although a car I was driving one day broke down right in Flankers and the people were wonderfully helpful. Go figure.
– There’s a military base right across the highway from Flankers and right beside the airport. I learned that I can pick up random soldiers at the gas station in Ironshore and get invited into military bases. It was kind of cool to be able to drive inside there and have people wonder why I’m there.
– I attended my first Sunday church in Jamaica in Flower Hill, St James. I didn’t even know there was anything up in the hills of this parish until I was invited to church by a resort employee I randomly met.
– The best beach on the island is Dead End beach – if you like low-flying aircraft. I have wasted entire days sitting there watching planes come in.
I’m sure I’ve learned MUCH more about St James over the years but these are the funny ones that came to mind while I was typing. PLEASE enter what you know in the comments below!