My first few days in Montego Bay have been fun. I’ve spent lots of time at the beach which is so beautiful.
I ventured out alone for the first time on Monday afternoon when I walked home from the beach. It wasn’t completely crazy but definitely not your average walk home. Two men followed me along the road for 10 minutes as soon as I left the beach. I was scared at first but soon realised they were pretty harmless and just making friendly conversation. When they left and I got to the main square downtown it was chaos. SO busy. I felt like an alien as I walked through the crowds, trying to avoid getting hit by one of the many maniac drivers. Everyone was staring at me, shouting “whitey” and there were kids who had just came out of school trying to walk faster so they could keep up with me and look at my face.
I wasn’t too intimidated by this as I’d experienced something similar in Ghana and Cambodia, just never on my own. But then I got lost (obviously) and got to a part of downtown where there were loads of policemen, one who had a huge gun. I asked a woman which way I needed to go before I got myself into trouble. She gave me directions and told me “be very careful”. Thankfully I made it home in one piece. I definitely wasn’t gona be doing that in the dark so I spent my evening at the hostel. Everyone else left today so right now it’s just me and one other guy in my room. I don’t know his name or where he’s from and I don’t think he understands me. He just smiles and nods whenever I ask him anything so that’s great.
There was torrential rain all day today which meant I’d done nothing except nap and read. I didn’t feel like staying home all evening too and I couldn’t do anything with smile and nod guy. So I used Couchsurfing again to make a friend named Ricardo. Couchsurfing is pretty safe because you go by recommendations from other users who have met/ stayed with the person before. It’s a great way to see a place from a local’s perspective too. I’ve made a couple of really good friends using Couchsurfing although I’ve never actually used it to stay with anyone.
Ricardo came to my hostel to meet me and we went to go to a bar nearby. He was really friendly and about 7ft tall. Like the BFG. When we got there, the bar was closed so we sat outside a corner shop at the side of the road where there was a gathering of people listening to music. The shop was tiny and in the middle of nowhere but had a full bar inside which was bizarre. We got some rum and coke in a little plastic cup and sat outside with about 20 other people who were smoking weed and listening to 90s RnB. I know how dangerous it sounds for me to be there with a bunch of strangers but I felt totally at ease. Vibes don’t lie and I always trust my gut.
I was introduced to a few of Ricardo’s friends and they were really cool. They all made me feel safe and welcome. They taught me some Jamaican slang words (bumbaclat is all I remember, lol) so obvs I taught them some Scottish words too. Hearing “Och iye the noo” in a Jamaican accent was too good. I felt like I was 15 again drinking on the streets… except I was the only white person there. I felt like the cash me ousside girl and I kept laughing to myself thinking about my mum’s reaction if she saw me there. If you’re reading this, soz babes. I was home safe by 8.30pm.
I plan to go to Kingston at the weekend although I’ve nothing set in stone yet. I’ve heard it’s a bit dirty and not worth seeing but I’m interested in helping out at a school there which I read about on Couchsurfing. I’ll just take it day by day and see what happens.
As I write this a mouse just ran past my feet into one of the rooms and all I can say is thank god for the top bunk. Time for bed.