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What to Do When Rain Threatens Your Vacation

A Carnival cruise ship pulled into port this morning for its daylong stop in Montego Bay and within two hours of docking, clouds covered an anemic sun and the rain began. Immediately, I thought of the passengers who undoubtedly would be looking forward to a day of sun and fun. How would they spend their day, if the rain continued? 

Carnival Cruise Ship, Montego Bay

Carnival Cruise Ship, Montego Bay

Call me pollyanna but I always thought the vacation gods would smile on all my trips but I know differently now. Here’s what I recommend:

* Pack Rain Gear: Since weather is unpredictable, it’s always advisable to put a small umbrella, rain slick or hat in your luggage, especially when traveling to tropical destinations.

* Check the Weather: Outside of the hurricane season (June to November), except for the occasional rainy day, the weather is usually the same from day to day. But if you happen to be traveling between June and November, there’s a chance (even though years can pass before a hurricane actually hits), a hurricane can form. If you’re concerned, plan cruise vacations outside this period. If a hurricane does form and threatens to interrupt or prolong your vacation, follow the advice of the cruise lines and stay safe.

* Indulge in Indoor Activities: Take a book or magazine to read if the weather turns nasty. If you have internet connection, catch up on email. Visit a museum or go see a play. Spend a day at the spa. Do some shopping or catch up on sleep.

* Keep a Positive Attitude: The most important thing is to keep a positive attitude. Don’t let bad weather ruin your mood or spoil your vacation.

5 Things to do in Montego Bay if it rains:

* Take a taxi to one of the Great Houses – Both Rose Hall and Greenwood Great House offer guided tours of their properties. Rose Hall was the home of Annie Palmer, also known as the White Witch of Rose Hall. Greenwood Great house belonged to the family of the English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Both charge admission fees.

* Visit the Rastafari Indigenous Village – Catch the vibe at this indigenous village located about a 15 minute drive from the port. Listen to drumming, get a lesson in plants and herbs that are native to the island and enjoy an ital meal.

* Pamper Yourself – Book a Jamaican Coffee or Sugarcane Body Scrub at the Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort.

* Have a meal – Montego Bay’s “Hip Strip” a section of Gloucester Avenue populated by hotels, restaurants (Margarittaville, the Bobsled Cafe, etc.) and shops, is a great place to eat or spend a rainy day.

* Explore Jamaica’s rich ethnic and cultural heritage with a trip back in time at the Outameni Experience.

When planning a vacation, be prepared for bad weather and plan accordingly. Most importantly, enjoy yourself!

 

 

Jamaica: Rastafari Indigenous Village

The drums are what drew me to the Rastafari Indigenous Village in Montego Bay. The sound seeped through the lush jungle of breadfruit, ackee, banana, coconut and assorted other trees and urged me to shake my feet.

I decided to follow. Moving closer, I walk in rhythm to the boom, boom of the bass drum, then quicken my steps, dancing to the music that was meant just for me.

Rastafari Indigenous Village

Rastafari Indigenous Village

I push open the bamboo gate, walk pass the garden with 100 different herbs with names like Dog Tongue,Search Mi HeartFever Grass and Moses in the Cradle scripted in bold letters on joints of bamboo planted near each bed.

Dog Tongue

Dog Tongue

I greet a group of German tourists being given an introduction to the Village and head straight to the location from where the drumming is coming. Five Rasta bredren (men) and one sistren (woman) are gathered in a circle beating the drums and singing a song I don’t recognize.

Drummers at the Rastafari Indigenous Village

Several rows of chairs face them and on each sits a rattle, made from a small calabash gourd. I pick one up and start shaking it in time with the bass.

A few minutes later, the visitors arrive accompanied by Iionkanaka, who’s leading the tour. They’re invited to take a seat and the drums go quiet. Iionkanaka explains each – the bass, which keeps the rhythm, thekumina, which is used in traditional dances, and the repeater, which repeats a chord continuously. Another Rasta walks into the circle and begins to sing.

Five or so songs later, they invite the visitors to join them for a short drumming session and take photos. Following the end of the morning tour, they move to the on-site craft market where small items made by the Rastas can be purchased.

Who are the Rastas?

The Rastafari movement began in Jamaica in the late 1930s. It is more of a way of life and a system of beliefs than a religion. Rastas revere Emperor Haile Selassie I, whom they call their spiritual leader and Africa the home of all mankind.

Rastas belong to several houses that have their own set of rules and focus. Some of the better known ones are the School of Vision, Twelve Tribes of Israel, Boboshantis, and Nyabinghi. Rastas believe ganja (cannabis) is spiritual food and use it especially during their reasonings (discussions). The weed is chopped and smoked in a chalice, sometimes called a chillum pipe. (The chalice works on the same principle as the hookah.) Note: Although the Rastas freely smoke and use ganja, it is still illegal in Jamaica with stiff penalties, including jail time, especially if you’re caught leaving the country with it.

Rasta preparing the chalice at the Rastafari Indigenous Village

The Chalice, Rastafari Indigenous Village

Taking a toke, Rastafari Indigenous Village

Taking a toke

The Rasta ital diet relies heavily on herbs, fruits and vegetables and includes no meat or alcohol. The coconut is used extensively to add flavor. Following the teachings of the Bible (Numbers 6:5), they Rastas never cut their hair, wearing it in locks. They’ve also developed their own language and colors,

Iionkanaka at the Rastafari Indigenous Village

Iionkanaka explained that this Village, also referred to as Iion Station, was started three years ago. The group performs poetry and drumming sessions at the Village or at events around the Island and offers tours to teach visitors about their way of life and the importance of herbs and natural living.

The Rastafarian Indigenous Village or Rasta Village, is located about 10 minutes from the Westgate Shopping Center in Irwin, Montego Bay, Jamaica. 876-285-4750. Tours start at $40 per person.