Next month, I’ll be making my fourth visit to Jamaica. From this, anyone can tell that I must (to put it mildly) really like the place.
My first visit was in 1979. Even though it coincided with the June floods, I enjoyed every minute of my trip. After landing in Montego Bay, I stayed a day in Maryland, Hanover, and then went to Kingston for a couple of days. On my arrival back in Hanover, down came the rain! Thirty-six hours of the most severe weather I’d ever seen – landslides, mud, rain like bullets, food brought in by helicopter – what an introduction to a country!
During this time, I was also staying way out in the bush where there were no plumbing, no electricity and in fact, nothing in common with England except the the language. But, I was fine! This, I think was because nothing came as a surprise. My friends had told me what to expect, so I wasn’t there as a tourist – I fitted in easily.
I remember one little girl came up to me, touched my untanned arm, and said, "Was it going to England made you like this?" It never occurred to her that I was a foreigner.
The peace and quiet, the beautiful countryside, the way everyone made me feel welcome, I had no complaints.
My second visit in 1985 was an improved version of the first – no bad weather, and of course ,I knew even more people.
Unfortunately, circumstances delayed my third visit until 2001, but by this time ,I knew so many Jamaicans living in UK, Canada, and America that I was included in a Family Reunion in Montego Bay. For this reason, I stayed with everyone else at the Sunset Beach Hotel (which I would recommend to anyone) and only made a short visit to Maryland. The whole occasion brought us all together in town.
I must say that contrary to some of your other correspondents, never on any of my visits did I have any trouble with anyone! No drug dealers, no prostitutes and even the craft-sellers were easygoing.
So next month, I’ll be back in Jamaica for another Reunion – not staying in the country, which I prefer, but in MoBay. But one thing I know is that I’ll be surprised if I have any complaints!