From: Gene Gruender (Montego Bay Yacht Club)
Subject: Montego Bay
Date: May 12, 1997
We've arrived in Montego Bay and are anchored off of Montego Bay Yacht Club.
We obviously got email sent from Ocho Rios, but it was not an easy task. We first tried at a local business, where the girl was quite willing to let us use her phone and just pay for the time. The problem was, her phone didn't have international access. It seemed reasonable that the phone company would have a place to make a call, after all, that's where we were able to send mail from the Bahamas. After waiting in line for half an hour for a phone company representative, they barely had an idea of what it was we were doing, and had no idea where we could get a phone line. We couldn't even have made a local call there.
We did find a flyer someone had left in the phone company office, though, and it advertised Direct overseas phone calls, refrigeration, printing and several other varied enterprises, all out of the same place. We finally located it and they'd never done anything like that before. We hit paydirt, though, when we met a fellow there who'd spent many years in the US going to school for computers. He took care of their computer work and knew what we were wanting, although he wasn't sure how to do it.
I explained that we'd done it before through the fax machine to avoid the pbx system. They agreed to try, using their watch to time it. 11 minutes and $22 later, we had email sent and received.
We went back and read it, then the computer died. We're out of the email business, unless we find other people willing to let us use their equipment.
After we sent email, we went to Dunn's River Falls. This is a tourist attraction, a waterfalls that tumbles over rocks for a quarter mile or so and ends up right into the ocean. Tourists walk up the falls, while locals try to sell them junk. Nellie just had to go. We first though of walking but soon realized we didn't want to walk that far. A cab costs about $20. A bus is about 30 cents. We went to wait for a bus.
Buses are not what you'd expect - they were not what we'd expect. They were small vans, about the size of a Volkswagen microbus. When we finally got one to stop it was full. Silly us, they made room. After we were in there were 18 people in it, including the driver and the guy who takes the money and crams people in. They both earned their money. There is no way you could get more people in one of those.
Wrong again! When we caught one to go back, there were already about 20 people in it. They crammed and pushed until we fit. Fit may be the wrong word, but they got the door shut, almost. The guy collecting the money didn't quite fit in, so he hung out a little. Then the driver drove even faster on the way back. I'll have to say, we're meeting the locals, up close and personal.
We left Ocho Rios as a huge Coast Guard cutter with a helicopter on the back pulled in. We were surprised that they didn't board us, but we were ignored. As of now, we haven't been boarded or searched yet, except for a short inspection from the health officer back in Port Antonio.
We've walked around Montego Bay a little bit on Saturday. From it's reputation and the songs, you'd expect to find a bunch of nice beaches and coconut trees with nice little buildings around. Not the case at all. Trash, poverty, and pushy salesmen. I should say sales persons, as this is equal opportunity poverty.
I'm going to send this through the email at the Montego Bay Yacht Club, so don't reply to it - we won't be here. We hope to get our mail and leave for Grand Cayman today or tomorrow. We're only waiting on our mail.
We can't wait to get back to a grocery store. You won't starve with what's here, but your bank account and your taste buds will suffer. I'd kill for some fresh taco chips! We've certainly learned a lot about provisioning our boat.
aboard Rainbow Chaser
sitting in Montego Bay, Jamaica