16 Jan A Piece Of Diary – Treasure Beach to Montego Bay
I turned the keys. The car started and the trip from Treasure Beach to Montego Bay, which would take us approximately three to four hours, started. The journey led us straight through the rural surroundings of Cockpit Country in Trelawny, the birth parish of Usain Bolt. Flat and long roads of asphalt alternated between smaller, winding, graveled roads. Other than these, there was not much more human interference in this area. Then sometimes, just sometimes, we could see a little cottage in the middle of all the flora and fauna. In here, nature successfully ruled its realm of trees, rivers and plants. It frankly was a splendid view. We left the serene and overarching green environment behind, as we approached the Northern shorelines and suddenly drove into a whole other world.
To start with an undeniably much better infrastructure. Or well, technical-wise it was better than from what I experienced before. My first impression of Montego Bay, Jamaica’s leading flagship in tourism, involved traffic lights, chaos and long asphalt roads with no holes or bumps in it. Manually planted palm trees on the side served as some sort of divine decoration. Only five minutes into this city, I already counted more traffic signs and lights, than I did spending three full weeks in the South Coast. The high rising buildings that belonged to hotel groups such as ‘Sandals Resorts’, ‘Holiday Inn’ or ‘Hilton Hotels’ were all located next to each other, blocking the view of an ocean. Stone walls, sometimes even with barbed wire on top of it, indicated their territory.
On the “Hip Strip” in Montego bay with Margaritaville on the left. (Photo: Expedia)
Apparently this entrance was just the beginning. Arriving in the center of Montego Bay, I witnessed Gloucester Avenue, also known as the ‘hip strip’. It basically is the main road in town that accommodates a lot of similarly looking souvenir shops that are frequently owned by foreigners. Furthermore, it is home to a range of international restaurants, landscaped parks, playgrounds, night clubs and a massive harbor to receive cruise passengers. Companies such as ‘Harley Davidson’, ‘Tutti Frutti’, ‘Burger King’ and ‘Pizza Hut’ reflected the westernized character of Montego Bay. I saw couples and families with kids coming of an anchored cruise ship. They all made their way to Gloucester Avenue and stood in line for the famous Margaritaville bar, that for some reason has been incredibly popular amongst tourists. Margaritaville was founded by the American Jimmy Buffett and represents a casual dining restaurant chain. Not much further, there were a couple of local establishments that offered food as well, however, only a handful of people decided to go there.
This so-called hip strip was flooded with a teeming crowd – a herd -, that strolled around the souvenir shops and spent insane amounts of money on Rasta colored clothing, mugs, pencils and towels. Never had I seen so many tourists gathered in one spot in Jamaica before as I did that day in Montego Bay. It was not as if I had not bought any Rasta themed shirt myself; but most of these tourists here seemed so different in their behavior. They appeared to enjoy the recognizable western character that was created for them. They expected to being served promptly. I could not help thinking that there was a lack of mutual respect, awareness and interest in this situation. It was pure business. I missed the connection between these visitors and the Jamaicans around them. No curiosity for getting to know one another. No curiosity to see what else is out there.
Uptown Montego Bay is poles apart from Treasure Beach, of which you would still be able to count the amount of tourists and ‘Harley Davidson’ is nowhere to be found. In Treasure Beach people greet each other; sit with each other and talk with each other. In my opinion, that is much more equally harmonious.
Enjoying the good times with friends by the beach in Treasure Beach.
But at the end of the day, we are all free to decide for ourselves. So which representation of Jamaica do you prefer?