Friday, December 9, 2011

Jamaica FAQ continued...

By Robert Nickel

In the first installment of this article we took a brief look at a few popular towns, resort communities and beaches most frequented by the vacation crowd. Here, we will continue our overview of Jamaica and hopefully answer some of the most commonly asked questions about this wonderful Caribbean paradise.

Transportation is easy to find and mostly very reasonable. There are public transit options like taxis and of course you can rent a car if you choose to do so. Just remember that many of the roads are not well maintained and that you may encounter pedestrians, other vehicles and livestock on the roads and they will not be in a hurry to get anywhere - the toughest part may be adjusting your patience level to that of the locals.

Other miscellaneous and important tidbits that will come in handy:

Electricity runs locally on an 110V (volt) currency, thus there is no need to buy special adapters for your smartphone, laptop, hair dryer, etc. US Dollars are generally accepted everywhere, but it's a smart idea to have a bit of local currency in your pocket at all times. ATMs are plentiful in tourist zones.

Water is safe to drink, generally, but there is always bottled water available everywhere for those who as a rule don't drink anything but bottled on vacation.

Street food is usually pretty safe to eat, as it is the tradition that meat is thoroughly cooked. Take the opportunity to sample the local cuisine and have a truly Jamaican experience!

The legal drinking age is 18 years, and the alcohol is generally much stronger than most people are used to. Strong drinks combined with the hot equatorial sun will bring on drunkenness much faster than usual so be very careful of your actions. Drink with modesty in mind.

Despite what you may think, drugs are not plentiful in Jamaica and are classified just like they are at home - ILLEGAL. Do not insult Jamaicans by speaking of illegal drugs as if their use is the norm.

Overall, the culture is mellow, which is to say it is very laid back, and no one is in a particular hurry to get anywhere most of the time. This is perhaps the biggest component of culture shock when visiting. If you are coming from just about anywhere else in the world and it's your first time visiting, pedestrians, line-ups, traffic will all seem to move at a glacial pace. Just take a deep breath, remember that you're in one of the most naturally beautiful places on the planet, and you'll be just fine, mon.

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