Chronicles of a Shipwreck in Jamaica, a Book Review

December 28, 2011 by  
Filed under travel

A short review of Chronicles of a Shipwreck in Jamaica by Kristi Keller (author).

Chronicles of a Shipwreck in Jamaica is a perfect book for anyone flying back from Jamaica with dreams of giving up a “normal” life and living in Jamaica.  While the book covers all inclusive stays in Jamaica, tours, living the local lifestyle and such, it highlights the challenges of living and making an income in Jamaica.  Having known of 100′s if not 1000′s of people that made an effort to create a new life in Jamaica and failed, it was enlightening to actually read a behind the scenes story.  While the books touches on a failed attempt to live in Jamaica, the wonderful journeys and the hint of a return make the book a positive read.

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So, if you can afford the price of a beer buy the book for only $3.99  <—–it’s cheap!  If you want to read about me being the cause of the downfall of Kristi in Jamaica buy the book.  If you have ever wondered why some women have perky breasts without bra straps….buy the book!

On a serious note, I’ve known Kristi for a few years and have been following her adventures in Jamaica on a few forums, blogs and on Facebook.  She’s not the typical which pool has the warmest water, what resort has the most beach chairs, who has the cheapest beer in the tourist area type of person.  She writes from her heart, doesn’t hold much back and  haggles/bargains like a local.  I was going to make a critical comment about her driving skills but navigating a 50 degree downhill slope with a 30 degree sidewards slope in a car with maybe 3″ of ground clearance…..yeah that will get the best of anyone but I found humor in being stuck while the locals thought it was comedy hour.

Buy it now <—–click on that to preview and purchase the book.

Cave Tour in Little Bay Jamaica

December 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Tours

Little Bay Jamaica is home to a giant rat bat cave that for some reason is under the radar of just about every tour company I know of in the area.  I knew of the cave from reading about it on the internet and because the place I was staying at offered tours so it was on my list of places to explore in Little Bay (20 minutes outside of Negril).

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I was lucky enough to run into Douglas Walters a yam farmer that maintains the trail to the cave since his farm is all around it.  After talking to him and his grandson for a short time, I talked them into giving me a tour.  From the main road/school area we walked maybe 5-10 minutes until we reached the cave.  Once at the cave, Mr Walters grandson gave me a tour of the inside and I must say for such a young man he gave an excellent tour! I was amazed by how big the cave is, you could park a small plane in there!   I would go on and on with details but sharing too much of the tour will ruin some of it for you.

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After leaving the cave we climbed to the top of the cave to see the two openings above the cave that look down into the cave.  The climb might be a little tough for some but the views from the top of the cave are great.  Also, while I was there I got a tour of Mr Walters yam farm and learned some history about the cave, farming in Jamaica and all sorts of things that made the tour excellent.

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While the cave might not be a big enough reason to spend the travel money for a 30-60 minute bat cave tour, Little Bay has so much more to offer and can make a great day trip or vacation spot.  Along with the bat cave, Little Bay Jamaica offers:

1.  The remains of Bob Marley’s summer home.

2.  Bob Marley’s mineral spring where you can swim and chill out.

Note-  For the Bob Marley tours I recommend “Boot” as a tour guide, his contact info is on this site or leave a message for it.

3.  The “Blue Hole” soon to be resort but currently offers a fresh mineral spring swimming pool, a natural mineral water swimming hole, bar/grill and much much more…I’ll do my review of them soon.

4.  A fisherman’s beach were you can meet local fishermen, take a water tour, snorkel dive around the reefs and so much more.

5.  The local “raceway” is just a few minutes up the road.

6.  Great food, great local people, no tourist hassle like in other places and I could go on and on…..

But, I’ll add a few more, great lodging/hotels, horse back riding in the ocean or along trails/roads and farmer Debbie’s farm (review soon come).

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Contact info for the rat bat cave tour in Little Bay:  Douglas Walters 876-582-0617

Contact info for the Bob Marley tour in Little Bay:  “Boot”  876-416-2292

Contact info for great lodging and my review of the lodging:  Coral Cottage Little Bay Review

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Cheap Beach Rooms in Negril

December 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Hotels, Negril Jamaica

A review of Miss Norma’s Rooms for Rent in Negril Jamaica

Location: Miss Norma’s Rooms for Rent is located in the “mid beach” area of  Negril.  With the ocean only a hundred yards or so away and the morass (wildlife area) only a stones throw from your room, it offers the best of both worlds.  Most of Negril’s nightlife (Roots Bamboo, Alfred’s, The Jungle and others) are all within a 5 minute walk.  All of this for just $25 a night!

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Booking a room at Miss Norma’s Rooms for Rent: A simple call, email or Facebook message to Barbara (she handles the bookings) and you are good to go.

miss norma's rooms in negril jamaica

Checking in at Miss Norma’s Rooms for Rent: Very quick and easy!  I got a quick tour of the property and my room and I was checked in.  After I unpacked, I met Miss Norma (the owner), her son Delmar that offers tours of Negril and all over the island and Miss Norma’s family out front that sells cold beer and  food.

miss normas rooms

Room quality: A simple modern room with a bed, dresser, counter, tv, table, bathroom and such.  Not the Ritz, but very clean and an excellent room in my opinion for budget travelers or extended stay travelers.  Even though the other room for rent is next door, the walls (concrete) are sound proof along with all of the trees that provided sound proofing from the late night bars and in most cases the street traffic.

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Staff: Since Miss Norma’s is a family run place there are not staff like you would expect at run of the mill resorts.  But….if you need something you just walk a few steps and Miss Norma, her family or Barbara will take care of your needs.

kids at miss norma's

Food: If you give Miss Norma a little notice she can cook you meals or snacks.  I found the food prices below average considering the meal size plus the quality was so good I would of paid twice the price and I’m cheap!  Just remember to give her a heads up if you would like her to cook you a meal.

Food at miss Norma's in Negril

Security: I felt 100% safe.  Miss Norma’s family has been around as long as Negril has been on the map and they are all around her place.  Nobody is going to mess with hers rooms for rent or her guests.

hummingbird at miss normas

Overall Rating of Miss Norma’s Rooms for Rent: I would give it a 9.8 on a 1-10 scale for staying in a local “yawd/yard” type of lodging (you will be staying in a family type of setting (kids running around and such).  This is the type of lodging I SEARCH for since I love the feeling of living in Jamaica instead of staying in a hotel if that makes any sense.  Even though your  stay will be in a family yard, your room is private and you can do whatever you want in there without interruptions.

One of the real benefits for me is being able to explore the nature area (morass) all around my room.  The hummingbirds, flowers, trees, sights, smells and sounds gave me hours of great images to capture with my camera.  Another benefit was the great conversations with Barbara, Miss Norma and “Thunder” who roasts fresh Blue Mountain Coffee on the property. And another….the beach is slow close….warm water and white sandy beaches!  And yet another….the nightlife as I said is within walking distance and a $1-3US taxi fare takes you anywhere else in town if you wish to explore.

coffee roasting in negril jamaica

Contact Information for Miss Norma’s Rooms for Rent:
Website: http://miss-normas-rooms-for-rent-negril.blogspot.com/

Book by phone:  Contact Barbara @ 305-904-7624(US phone number)  876-451-7099 (Jamaica phone number)

Book by E-mail: barbarayehmon@yahoo.com

Jamaica, a Trip Plan for 2012

November 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Travel

After several trips to Jamaica and in most cases not doing the touristy thingy I’m always looking for ways to make my next trip something new and exciting.  I’ve done the Ocho Rios, Negril, Cockpits, Blue Mountains, staying with locals, exploring the island 1-3 nights at each place….so I need something new.  Having done the around the island in a car but with every night planned I’m planning on taking a twist of that fun trip.

I’m thinking about a motorbike or car rental with no plans except my arrival and departure.  Or maybe a trip where I use only the route taxi/bus system….but that would mean no transport late at night in most parts.  A motorbike would mean no progress in the rain, but that could be good if I found a cool place to chill……ah the options.  An around the island with a zigzag back through the mountains would be a blast but that would require an SUV or dirtbike (scooters are way too low to the ground).  Hmm, a landing in Mobay, a route taxi to Negril, a rental from Jah B’s……a trip around the island and interior and then back to Negril to drop off the bike and transport back to the airport= maybe the wining idea?

But…renting cost $$$ and cuts into my budget…..but ……renting means no drinking or smoking so that reduces my spending…..complex planning!

Will update soon come as my plans change!

Pictures of Flowers in Jamaica

May 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Tours

A few pictures of flowers taken in the gardens at the Jamaica Jewel guest house in Duncan’s Bay.

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Mango Tree Negril Review

May 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Hotels, Negril Jamaica

Location: The Mango Tree Resort is located between the middle of Negril (rotary) and the cliff area on Negril Jamaica.  Everything you need from food to groceries to nightlife is only a 5-30 minute walk away or a $1.00 taxi ride away. The Mango Tree Resort is located at the end of a road off of the West End road so while it’s just a 2 minute walk to the main road, it’s like being in a private jungle way from the noise and street traffic.

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Booking a room at The Mango Tree Resort: Like many of the other places that I stay at in Jamaica, the booking process is casual but they treat a booking like a piece of gold so don’t worry about the casual part.

Checking in at Mango Tree: Simple!  Here’s my reservation details, here’s my cash, show me my room.  Since the resort only has a few rooms I did a self tour of the lodging area and the really nice garden areas that makeup 90+% of the property.

Room quality: Basic….very basic.  Since I’m use to having nicer rooms when I review a resort and the Mango Tree Resort has really nice rooms, I was sort of put off by getting a 6×9 prison cell to review when the other rooms were empty.  I can’t really say much about the room other than it was maybe 10′ wide by 15′ long with a bed, a table, a fan, a light and that’s about it.  For me and other budget travelers the room is perfect, but the resort offers really nice rooms that I can’t review in this review since I did not see them.   A note to resorts that have travel agents or random people like me who blog about our travels, put people that do on-line reviews that will show up on page #1 of Google in your best rooms!

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The bathroom is was a 30′ walk away from my room and the shower was a 200′ walk away in the other direction but the walks didn’t bother me.  The shower area, bathroom area and my bedroom were all nice and clean so no complaints on my end.

Staff: Hedley, the on site groundskeeper, security, house keeping, and a dozen other titles did an excellent job doing all of his tasks.  Hedley’s personality and charm was without a doubt one of the only reasons why I would return to the resort.

Food: N/A, since one of my favorite places to eat in Negril (Miyard) was only 200 yards away I went there for most of my meals.  I’m not even sure if the Mango Tree offers meals but I give thanks to Hedley for letting me use his refrig to keep my beer and mixer cold!

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Security: I felt about 95% safe since Hedley was always around and I was staying in one of the lowest room types in the country.

Overall Rating of The Mango Tree Resort: ” A nice budget place that has so much potential”.  While the grounds are really well kept, little stuff like an empty swimming pool and unfinished projects (dreams that were never finished) keep me from suggesting the resort to anyone except budget travelers that can strike a good deal with the resort.  Without Hedley being there I would of left when I checked in, nothing negative but then again nothing really positive to say.

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Contact Information for The Mango Tree Resort:
Website: Mango Tree Resort

Facebook Page: The Mango Tree Resort on Facebook

Other Contact Info:  Email: Allan Fitzgerald afitzgerald@sympatico.ca Ed Rebane pirate_hideaway@yahoo.com 876 872 6260 In Jamaica, Call Hedly…876 275-6617

Added note Nov 2011, due to the comments here and on facebook by the current owner of the Mango tree Resort, I will not suggest it to anyone.  You can draw you own conclusions…book if you wish but I can not currently say it’s a place I would recommend.   In the same area Miyard and several other places offer cheap lodging and their owners have a professional image on the internet.  If and when the Mango Tree Resort is sold (hopefully soon) I will edit this listing.  Check out www.miyard.com for cheap rooms, great vibes, excellent food and a place that I’ve enjoyed for years.

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