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All about Montego Bay


Montego Bay, better known as MoBay, is encased in mountaintop jungles and edged in miles and miles of tropical beaches. Jamaica's "Second City" is where most Jamaica visitors arrive by air, landing at ultra-modern Sir Donald Sangster International Airport. Older sections of MoBay look pretty much like they did two centuries ago. Sightseeing musts include 18th century plantations, restored Great Houses revealing the splendour of planter digs and, sadly, the squalour of slave lifestyles. But then, all great civilizations have been built on the backs of slaves, from Egypt to Greece, Rome, and the pre-Civil War American Confederacy.

Today's distillery near MoBay produces Jamaica's famed Appleton rum. The sugar cane ingredient for choice rum is grown in Jamaica's rich soils. The lush rainforests of Jamaica and its green valleys evoke the Emerald Isle of Ireland. Bucolic meadows, chockablock with grazing livestock, resemble England outside its teeming cities. The most romantic of Jamaica's trees is the breadfruit. It came to the island via Captain William Bligh. His first breadfruit effort failed when a mutiny of his ship, HMS Bounty, resulted in the loss of his cargo. However, it paved the way for a couple of Hollywood film hits, as well as many recipes for the South Seas alternative to bread and potato.

Columbus was like the Greeks - he had a name for just about everything. He named the future MoBay Golfo de Buen Tiempo for the area's refreshing winds. Spaniards later called the place Manteca after its pig fat and butter trade. Eventually sugar and bananas brought considerable prosperity and when that ended, tourism came into play. Montego Bay's current tourist boom began in 1906 with the debut of Doctor's Cave. Today, almost a century later, MoBay swings and sways to ska, reggae, and dancehall beats.

Among popular MoBay side trips is to tour Rose Hall, where Annie Palmer once lived and loved. As befits a woman of great beauty, she reputedly had three husbands and countless lovers. Her penchant for murdering castoff lovers led to Palmer's nickname: The White Witch of Rose Hall. Between passionate love affairs, Annie Palmer enjoyed and decorated one of the finest mansions on Planet Earth. It even has a ballroom.

Another restored Great House is called Greenwood. It is associated with poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the Barrett family having once owned Greenwood. On the coast, near Greenwood, is a zoo called Jamaica Safari Village, noted for its toothy crocodiles. These reptilians were used as stepping stones in a James Bond escape scene filmed as part of Live and Let Die. You will find many James Bond film sites in Jamaica where the character was born in the imaginative mind of Ian Fleming.

Then there is nearby Falmouth, a town noted for its Georgian architecture. Founded in 1790, Falmouth was once the busiest port on Jamaica's north coast.

In the mood for another historic great house? Then head for Good Hope, where you can admire the restored splendour of its huge glass hurricane lamps. Good Hope's hilltop location offers a spectacular view of the Caribbean.

East of Falmouth is a place called Rock and known for its phosphorescent lagoon. If there is no rain and the moon is out and bright, you can see microscopic protozoa that reflect a magical light that makes an unforgettable display of phosphorescent colours.

Brown's Town in the fertile Orange Valley is not far from the Bob Marley Mausoleum, where many fans bring flowers dedicated to the famous singer's departed soul.


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