A Travellerspoint blog

Shock and Awe

A warm welcome to Montego Bay, Jamaica's transit system

You know you're doing something right when the locals are shocked.

No, there's no indecent exposure or gluttonous consumption of Bob Marley's irie herb.

Just the simple task of taking a shared taxi.

Joanie and I arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica a few hours ago - a theoretical scouting party for the wedding we're attending (shhh..don't tell Joanie, maybe our own...) in Ocho Rios next weekend...

We're excited to bust out our resort wear, sip on Red Stripe and coconut cocktails, but you know us...we need a good Bucketbath adventure before vacating to the beach towel.

So here we were at Montego Bay's airport figuring out how to get to the guest house that we booked this morning before our flight.

Taxi drivers in crisp white shirts are hustling to take us for a ride. Literally and figuratively.

"No we want to take public transport," i told the attendant at Sandals, where we first asked for directions. He did a double take and asked if we were sure as he reluctantly pointed us in the direction of the terminal exit. He funneled us to another gentlemen who operates a taxi booth, who sensing no business opportunity, walked us outside and pointed.

But first we needed to grab some Jamaican Dollars. Most tourist sites and hotels take US Dollars, but if we're going to get off the grid, then Jamaican currency is a must.

As we waited in line (accidentally cutting in front of a Jamaican guy wearing a jungle yellow and red floral themed Tommy Bahama shirt, who later told me I had to just tell the drivers off so they'd stop bothering us) one taxi driver after another approached, offering a ride at a "great price."

Sure it's more convenient to take a taxi - door to door service - but where's the fun?

And watching people's surprise as we tell them we want to take a shared taxi - like the Master card commercial...memories are priceless.

We fought the hustlers away and asked a few women in uniform who appeared to be on break and were pointed in the right direction. Only after trying to dissuade us from taking the shared taxi.

Was it dangerous? For Jamaican's only? Really smelly?

Nah - just not done.

They said walk to the stand, sit down in the taxi with red plates and tell him you're going downtown and be clear that you are not hiring the taxi.

Just going for a ride.

So we did and off we went, getting dropped off in downtown Montego Bay where we crossed the street and a super nice woman who'd also been a passenger in the taxi (a white Nissan 4-seater) hailed our connecting shared taxi and off Joanie I went to the Bethel Guest house.

We're here, just had an amazing fresh mango and sipping Red Stripe. No ocean view, but jungle all around and the mellow reggae rock steady.

Tonight we're gonna head into town tonight for some anthropological research.

Daggering anyone?

Stay tuned for more Bucketbath adventures..we're back baby. We're back.

Posted by bucketbath 15:49 Archived in Jamaica Tagged taxi jamaica bay montego shared

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