Saturday, February 22, 2014

Remembering Ocho Rios

Today while the others went on an excursion to Blue Hole, Kerry Lynn and I decided to take in the Jamaican culture one last time in Ocho Rios. Outside of our resort, you can go left or right and have two very different experiences. On our last stay we had chosen to explore to the left where there are a lot of locals doing there day-to-day things. The atmosphere felt very chaotic and busy but it was interesting being able to see the way Jamaicans live in Ocho Rios away from the more touristy areas. There was music pumping and people running and asking you to buy their things right off the side of the street. We had entered a marketplace where the locals go to buy many different kinds of items such as shoes, dresses, spices and fruit - to name a few. Although there were many goods available, the place was filled with poverty and the people were very desperate for your business. It was a very uncomfortable place to be especially when the people would try to get your attention by yelling things such as: 'hey, white girl', which would make you feel the need to respond. It is very difficult to state that you don't want to buy their goods, especially when you know they are in such dire circumstances.

Afterwards, Kerry Lynn and I decided to explore the right side of Ocho Rios where tourism is more prominent. On our travels, Kerry and I browsed several shops that sold small hand made nic-nacs but also saw companies that reminded us of Canada, such as the presence of KFCs and Scotiabanks. We eventually arrived at what appeared to be a small market where a gentleman inticed us to take a look at some dresses. Little did we know that there were 50 little booths hidden within the walls that took us nearly two hours to through. This place had a much different vibe than our previous market experience. It was fairly low key and there were mostly elderly women trying to sell tourist items like jewellery, bags and souvineers. Women and some men sat outside their booths waiting for you to arrive. They know you are coming and they are all fighting for your business. It was interesting going from booth to booth because all the women would say the same things likes  'its free to browse' or 'pretty lady, come right in'. They try and sell you all the cheap things and its unfortunate because its more than likely a customer would have already purchased a similar item at a previous booth. As we went along, the vendors would say things like: 'i've been patiently waiting on you, so you must come check out my booth'. The shopkeepers also tried to barter with us to make it more intriguing for us to buy things. It was like nothing I have ever experienced.

It would appear that competition would be difficult becuase most booths sell the exact same items. Once you get through the first few booths you have almost seen everything you will find. It is difficult becuase it feels as though you are being traped by all there people who want you to buy. Although alot of the stuff is the same, there were a few booths of artists and wood crafters. We were able to see two men doing their work carving wooden animal sculptures and it was quite amazing being able to see their talents and the stuff they can do with their hands. Kerry Lynn and I enjoyed our day at the market and having the opportunity to meet so many people, and we would not have changed it for anything.