Thursday, February 20, 2014

Our Last day at Great Huts

Traveling around Jamaica has been an eye opening experience. We have travelled all the way from Montego Bay on the East coast all the way to Ochos Rios and finally ending up in Portland on the West coast. The difference between the eco-resort, Great Huts in Portland, and the all-inclusive resort Sunset Jamaica Grande, in Ochos Rios, has been very noticeable.

When you venture off of the Ochos Rios resort into the city, you feel almost attacked by all of the merchants, taxi drivers and bystanders all asking for tourists to give them money so that they can make a living. You can tell that the Sunset Grande resort is located in a much busier, more tourist-based area with many more businesses and hotels in the area. Port Antonio, on the other hand, is completely different! The area is much more slow paced with a lot more residential housing, small guest houses and schools.When we arrived at Great Huts a member of management told us that if we wanted to venture into the city it was very safe for us. In fact we could be assured of our safety because, according to the Great Huts manager, "The neighbourhood doesn't play like that." There would be no peddling or begging. We have left that in the big city. There was no such promise in Ochos Rios when we left the resort property. In fact they tell you if you leave the resort to be careful of the peddlers just beyond their security-watched gates.

A Regular Day in a Bigger City
Every morning, there is a group of us who go for a morning run just outside of Great Huts. You can really see the difference in atmosphere between the two regions. The people greet you and even on occasion cheer you on as you run past them in Portland. They don't pester you to buy anything. In fact they are more likely to ask you if you are ok. One morning a local police car slowed down next to us while we walked and asked us if we needed help. This hospitality was a far cry from the treatment we go outside the all inclusive resort. It seemed that they valued our presences but also our safety because they know that the industry here is not as big and therefore more delicate. Any theft or guest complaints could send the tourist to another location without much thought. This community valued our space, our money and our personal satisfaction.
A Regular Day on Fairy Hill

This kindness of the town carried over to the local shelter, run by the same owner as Great Huts. Portland Rehab Management is about 20 minutes , by cab ride, from the hotel itself. The Centre has 15 men's quarters and 10 women's quarters to be used for people in the community who are homeless, sick, and/or elderly. The whole establishment rings positivity. From the paintings and signs adorning the building to the supervisors within it, it is clear that the community is what comes first. 
The Mission Statement of the Portland Rehab Management
The Entrance of the Portland Rehab Management
In this small town, somewhere between Port Antonio and Boston Bay, tourists come and go but the community stays and they make sure to take care of each other and that is something I will take with me when this trip is over.