Morning Walk by American Retiree in Jamaica

What could these two things possibly have in common? Go for a walk in any community in Jamaica between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning and you are sure to find out. To say the terrain in my area is rugged would be an understatement. The roads are steep, winding, dotted with numerous obstacles called potholes and more dogs than people. Half the dogs are safely behind fences and walls while the others roam freely tormenting the caged dogs. The guard dogs, which I suppose is a better name for these dogs, look mean enough that they would bite you first and ask questions later. Many of these dogs fight with one another. Most guard dogs are not lonely, either, as they have as many as seven or eight other guard dogs living with them. I asked the question several years ago, “Why do people have so many dogs?” The answer I got was “In case someone poisons one dog the other one(s) will still be able to protect or alert their owner.” That made some sense but if the robbers could afford to buy all that meat and poison why would they need to rob houses.

My wife and I have walked in three different areas in Montego Bay. Each one progressively more difficult. The first area is located outside of the beach front resort we have stayed at. Each morning we would walk two miles to one of their other resorts for breakfast, then walk the two miles back. The purpose of walking was to justify gorging ourselves on three meals a day without gaining too many pounds. Either we ate too much or didn’t walk far enough because the pounds still went on.

The next area is in Ironshore, which is probably the best known community in Montego Bay because of all the villas and exclusive homes. We would drive to the entrance of Ironshore and leave the car at the shopping plaza. For the next hour we would walk up and down the rolling hills, meandering from street to street. This exercise didn’t do any more for our waistline than the first walk.

The third community is adjacent to the one we live in. There aren’t any flat roads or rolling hills here. This walk, or should I say adventure, is four miles and takes about an hour, that is if we don’t stop and pet some of our dog friends along the way.

When we leave the house, usually around 5:30, the road slopes down to where it joins the main road in our community. From there, it is up the first of four steep and winding roads. It doesn’t take long for your heart rate to rise or the dogs to start barking. We have done this walk for nearly a year but the dogs act as if we were going to cart off all their owners possessions and leave them for dead in the process. All the secured guard dogs act the same. They run back and forth behind their gate, barking for all their worth. It is the loose dogs that create a cause for concern. This is the reason for the stones!

Some of the dogs run up to you as if they are going to attack but stop short within a few feet. If they get around behind you, they will try to get much closer. All the yelling and hand motions do not work at all. The one thing they all understand is a stone. They are so petrified of stones, all one has to do is bend over as if to pick one up, and off they run. The retreat is only to the end of their driveway where they continue their ferocious barking. Some dogs stay in their driveway but make it clear we had better not come in their yard. Other dogs are very docile in the street but once they see us they run home. Once they are in the confines of their own yard they commence barking. Then you have the friendly dog who is more of a pet than a watchdog. We have about a half a dozen of these dogs on our walk. A couple of them have had litters over the past few months. We enjoy petting them and giving them love, even though it breaks our pace.

Now back to the walk. From the top of the first hill, we turn left down the steepest of the hills to the next community. This road is so bad it is hard to imagine any cars traveling on it. At the bottom we turn left again down another hill to the main road. At this point, we turn around to climb hill number two. Once at the top, the road continues to the bottom main road on the other side of the community. We turn around again to go up hill number three, the easiest of the four hills. This brings us back to that real rough road for hill number four. This hill is the hardest and comes near the end of the walk. Once we reach the top, it is practically all down hill from there. The joy of this walk is getting the heart rate up, working all the leg muscles and greeting our fellow walking neighbors.

In all fairness to the other two walks, it isn’t just the exercise that makes you lose weight. Diet and exercise must go hand in hand for any healthy and long lasting weight loss. The failure of weight loss on our first two walks can be contributed to staying at an all inclusive resort. While at home, we eat sensibly, such as lots of fresh fruits and vegetables while limiting the amount of red meat. Of course, keeping up an exercise routine is a lot easier when you are retired in paradise, like my wife and I.