As I start my International journeys I have decided to blog or journal my trips. I am currently sitting on Air Jamaica airliner headed to Jamaica to recruit International employees for work. My boss is on this flight with me, and our partner Allan, who helps us recruit for H2B, J1 and Q1 Visa’s. If you’re not familiar with this, these are work visas for the United States. Most theme parks and huge hotel chains recruit employees from abroad to help out with peak seasons. The steward seems to be in a hurry, but friendly still, is this what is yet to come? We shall see. So I am trying banana chips for the first time, they are dry, not much banana flavor. Packaging says they are blessed by the Caribbean Sea and sun.
They remind me of stale chips. L
Run Away Bay
We land at Montego Bay International Airport, walk off the plane and your hit with humidity and wow the airport that we arrived at is very small, old, musty, and under construction. We had to go through customs which was no big deal; they barely asked me any questions. As we exit the airport terminal we are met by thousands of Jamaicans, most of which are holding up signs. Later we find out Mondays and Wednesdays the airport is packed due to the Europe trips arriving, and the airport is always a mess on these days.
Our partner Allan finds a taxi driver. The taxi driver starts walking us through the airport, through construction, through grass, over curbs, down the sidewalk, around all the cars lined up on the road way, and finally his bus is in the back of the line. We will never get through all this traffic. We sat on the bus for awhile, but the driver was great. As we headed through the traffic, people in the next cab to us, could tap on our bus, and tell our driver to move over, it was crazy, and I am not sure how someone didn’t bump into each other driving through this airport. Everyone was trying to get out at the same time, it was just crazy, and it was a welcome to Jamaica for us. Our driver was great the ride was about 10 to 15 minutes. The driver joked with us and told us stories about the Jamaicans. He informed me that a Jamaican makes about $240.00 a month. What shock I was in, do I live in a shelter? How could I not know this? I was appalled.
Bar with a swing? Wow!!!
While the driver was educating us, he was driving on the left side of the road; this was so strange to me. The steering wheel was on the right side of the vehicle that was weird as well. The drive told us “Left is right, and right is wrong” The right side of the road in Jamaica is called the suicide lane. As we drove you could plainly see the poverty. Buildings were ran down, and looked in terrible shape.
Can you imagine being drunk in this thing?
We arrive at the hotel, steel gates open to let us in, security meets us; a bell hop meets us, gets our entire luggage, and takes us to check in. We are staying at the “Royal Decameron” in Montego Bay. This is a beach all inclusive resort. Hotel looks clean, big, friendly, so we are off to our room, very much like a beach room.
Tile floors, nice size room, small bathroom, we check for hot water and to see if the air conditioner works. We have both, so we are doing great. This is a luxury here in Jamaica, which we take for granted in America. These rooms are old and very musty smelling, and over powering with mold and mildew, covered up with lots of paint. Our door is about 15 steps to the ocean, so I will purchase a candle for the room, to hide the smell. After all I am on the ocean, so I can’t complain, right? We settle into the room, and go down for dinner. The restaurant was called “Passa Passa” everything was buffet style. After dinner our partner Allan had some co-workers meet with us, and I wanted a soda so we decided to go out of the hotel, and across the street to see if they had Dr. Pepper. As we were walking across the street we were approached by people selling drugs.
You had to keep walking, and not make eye contact, and ignore them, so they would go away. We did just that, kinda reminded me of Detroit, and growing up on the streets. We went to a store called “Jolly Rogers” of course they did not have Dr. Pepper, which I quickly found out that this would become a task to find. We went back to the hotel, had a few drinks, and then off to bed.
As morning approached, the doors were opened, and this was our first chance to see the ocean in daylight. What pure beauty the water is, and how soothing it is for me. The water has a light green color; you can see the bottom of the ocean, unlike the brown water back home. Not many palm trees here though, and to the left you can see the mountain, that is such a pretty site. We don’t see mountain in Florida, so it was nice to see.
You can hear the waves crashing on the shore; make me want to sit by the water all day. But I have to go to work, and the ocean can wait.
Houses on the mountain
Sitting back at the hotel after a long day of interviews, I had a few minutes to recap the day. We had 111 interviews, 16 we did not make offers to, 14 maybes and81 we hired. I would say it’s been a great day. I met so many Jamaicans today, different cultures, different everything. They claim they are hard workers, but they are looking for a job right, so they tell us what we want to hear. But most seem to be genuine, sweet, soft spoken, very eager, and excited t work for us in America. I met so many young girls, with babies, wanting better opportunity for themselves.
So many Jamaicans willing to leave their children behind. They are willing to leave them with parents, friends, husbands, and siblings for a chance to go to America. They want to experience the culture, and make money. Some of the applicants want money for higher education. They claim education is very expensive in Jamaica.
The sun is going down fast, as I sit writing this, so I had to take a few photos before I missed the opportunity. We are headed to Margarita Ville tonight for dinner. I am tired and wishing we were staying in, but they want to go out, so I will go and have a good time.
December 29, 2007
Some time has passed and no time to write.
We had more interviews, hired a total of 141 employees. Now they have to accept the job offer and pass the embassy interviews. Our room was so bad they had to move us to the sister hotel, due to the mold and mildew. The drive was 1 ½ hours long on a deserted road. It was late at night, we were tired from working all day, but the smell was so bad that we didn’t have a choice. Our driver was great; he stopped a couple times at local gas stations looking for Dr. Pepper for me. We were unsuccessful. The thought was very sweet of Allan to ask the driver to stop, and check. Our partner did everything he could to make sure we didn’t need anything. We finally made it to the hotel, very nice place. So different than where we first came from. This was a much bigger resort, very clean, and everyone was so friendly. They walked us to out rooms they were single cabanas by the water.
Even smaller homes
This was so worth the drive from Montego Bay. This resort was names “Royal Decameron” as well, but this was one was located in “Run Away Bay” The cabana was large, very cute, huge walk in closet, huge bathroom, king size bed, small fridge with soda, and Jamaican rum. We walked around the resort, and settled into one of the bars for a drink. They had swings at the bar, the cutest thing I ever saw. We only had a drink, then everyone settled in for the night, as it was late, and we were all exhausted. As I settled in and started to relax, I could hear the ocean coming ashore. I heard the waves, until I drifted off to asleep. Nothing is better than being put to sleep by the sounds of the ocean.
Things we take for granted
As morning broke, I found myself taking photos trying to capture the beauty that I was upon.
Photos were difficult of the sun rise as the cabanas were in the way, and the sun was rising over the mountains. We were able to take this day and just rest. Rest is exactly what we did. Dee and I laid out by the ocean in the morning, drifted off to sleep, and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.
See the coconuts?
Dee wanted to try the paddle boats, so we got into the boats, and started laughing. The back support kept coming out of the groove, and with the life vests on, we felt like we were blimps on this paddle boat. This was not a comfortable feeling, just plain funny. As we paddled out neither of us could stir the boat, and paddling wasn’t too bad, but the ocean current was pushing us back. We just continued to laugh. Finally Dee said yep done that, lets go back, her legs were killing her, and this was probable the last time she will go on a paddle boat, seeing as we never got very far on the boats.
After the boats we decided to do a little shopping at the resort gift shop. We saw another gift shop at the corner, so we walked down to the store, and shopped in this little store. We bought T-shits, wind chimes, thimbles, shot glasses; you know all the tourist stuff. Then we went to the hotel resort gift shop, and bought more souvenirs.
Dee and I were supposed to go to Dunn’s fall’s, but we opted out for a chance to have a massage by the ocean. As we were getting our massages, all you could see was the ocean, right in front of us. Nothing more relaxing in this world, than a massage over the ocean, in the fresh air. That hour flew by so quickly, it wasn’t fair.
I forgot to mention that in the morning I was surprised with a grocery bag full of Dr. Peppers from our partner Allan. I am not sure where he came up with the supply of Dr. Pepper from, but he made it happen, and I was ever so grateful. It was yummy!
After dinner they had a house band, and then they were having the evening entertainment. Before the house band, they started off with crab races, yep I said crab races. This was hysterical! We bet on crabs, to see who would cross the circle first. These crabs were colored and different sizes. Each bet was $3.
00. I couldn’t believe we were betting on crabs. Allan won the first race, $5.00 and I won the 3rd race $6.00. If you have never bet on a crab before, then don’t knock it until you do it. It’s a hoot! The house band was not bad, we danced a little. We were waiting for the entertainment to start. The dancers danced to music from all around the world. Of course they danced to New York New York when it came to America. After the show, we went to the resort Disco, and danced our butts off. This was so much fun, but missed my husband dearly at this point. He would have loved the Disco floor, and he would have torn up the dance floor.
As morning hit, and we were all packed and ready to go home, I took some last minute shots, to capture all the memories of the resort that I could.
All packed up and ready to go, the cab driver let me sit up front to take photos of the long journey back to the airport. As we made the trip back to Montego Bay, I was able to take a lot of photos. I saw so much poverty in Jamaica. It was a sad trip back, as we were in the dark on the trip up to the hotel. We drove thorough the mountains, which were beautiful. I was able to capture some nice shots along the way, and some shots that show nothing but a poverty stricken country. Some of the homes I saw were no bigger than my shed, this was so heart wrenching for me. I did see a few nice homes, but they are referred to as the rich homes. Even as they are referred to as the rich homes, they were not of a lavish life style. They build homes out of blocks, so they do not have the destruction that we have during hurricanes. We could learn a few things from Jamaica.
We finally made it to the airport. Checked in did a little duty free shopping. Took the flight back home, went through customs, and this journey came to an end. As I reflect back, I remember the poverty level. Out $1.00 is $74.00 Jamaican dollars. I remember how proud Jamaicans are, they love who they are, and where they come from. Jerk Chicken is the best food in Jamaica. I also remember that Jamaica is not as beautiful as I thought. Did not see the lush tropical palm trees that I expected to see. Yes they had palm trees, but nothing more than a few. The beauty just didn’t hold up like I expected.
My expectations were so high for this trip. Until my next trip……..
I love palm trees