Jamaica Magazine

Importance of Research – An American Retiree in Jamaica

In last months article, several mistakes were made by me before moving to Jamaica. Planning is extremely important, something I didn’t do well enough. Most, if not all, of my miscues could have been avoided with careful planning.

Before making any decision on such a drastic move, many things need to be addressed. The first of which is “how well do I know Jamaica”.

It can’t be stressed strong enough to really investigate all aspects of life here. There is much more to Jamaica than lush vegetation, white beaches and tropical weather. You can’t effectively judge the people on the resort as being typical of all Jamaicans. While most Jamaicans are warm and friendly, there are some who aren’t. The same thing can be said for many countries of the world. The best way to meet Jamaicans is go off property. One way to do this is to take tours offered by the hotel or resort. Select tours that bring you in contact with Jamaicans such as historical tours and shopping trips. Sunset cruises can be fun but they don’t give you a feel for “real” life in Jamaica. Along with the many historical sites are trips to plantations deep up in “the country”. When you have exhausted these tours, ask one of the tour guides to take you to other parts of the island. You can use a road map to find other areas of interest not included in other tours. Once you see how friendly the people are and how rich their heritage is, the love affair will begin. Talk to as many people as you can. Ask all the questions you can

think of about life here. Become famliar with their food, dialects, customs, hoildays, music, etc.

Reading is another source for getting to know Jamaica. Libraries have many books devoted to Jamaica. One such book is a softcover book from APA Publications Limited from their “Insight Guides” series simply entitled “Jamaica”. The book is printed around the world and can also be found in book stores. This book will whet your appetite for exploring Jamaica first hand. Here you can find the history, features, places, maps and travel tips needed to begin your search. The pictures alone will want to make you come and see for yourself how wonderful this island is.

Several years ago, there was an article in an AARP magazine warning of the pitfalls of moving blindly into a foreign country. It told of a couple from California who vacationed in Mexico several times and decided to sell everything and move. The only experience they had of Mexico was from their hotel. They had no idea of the culture

and customs of the country. Needless to say, six months later, they moved back to California.

If your stay is near a city, go for a walk into town. Visit shops and stores used by the local residents. However, before you venture out by yourself, ask staff members where you are staying if it is safe to do so. Like any large city, there are sections to be avoided, even by the locals. If possible, go with others or perhaps a member of the staff will show you around on their day off. You should offer this person money in exchange for his time. Most hotel/resort employees work six days, thus they should be compensated for their time.

Your love of Jamaica should not be hurried. Don’t try to do everything in a short period of time. As in a close, strong personal relationship, time will nurture the love and make it grow. Enjoy each and every minute as you develope a closeness with Jamaica. You will be very glad you did.

My love for Jamaica started in 1994 while honeymooning at a popular resort in Montego Bay. It was love at first sight. The friendliness of the people, the beautiful flowers, the warm sun all started tugging at my heart. Like a brief summer love, it was hard to say good-bye not knowing if, or when, I would ever return. Way down deep in my heart, I knew I had to renew this fleeting love affair on such a romantic island.

The hardest day was the morning my bride and I had to leave. While waiting for the bus to take us to the airport, we took one last swing on the hammock in the hotel’s garden. It was then that my eyes started to get glassy. Before long, tears where streaming down my cheeks. I knew then I had been bitten by the “love bug”. My hope was for one more chance to renew this love affair. Fortunately, the hope and dream came to pass. First it was once a year. Then it was twice a year. One week at a time didn’t seem enough so it became ten days and then two weeks for each visit. After five years and a lot of tours and reading, we started looking for our house in paradise. It took but two vacations to find our dream house. It has been all we had hoped for and more.

About the author

John Casey