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Visit to the birth-place of Reggae music

Love the life you Live, Live the life you Love

By i.c Golina

Falmouth, a town in Jamaica is the capital city of Jamaica’s Trelawny Parish. It’s a busy cruise-ship port that lies between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay on the island’s north shore. The city is characterized by its Georgian architecture, concentrated in the Falmouth Historic District. To the south, the 18th-century Good Hope Estate was originally a sugar plantation. East, near Ocho Rios, Dunn’s River Falls cascades over limestone rocks.

As soon as I set my foot on this little seaside town of Falmouth, all I wanted to do was to take a road trip to Nine Mile. This was the birthplace of world famous Reggae singer- Bob Marley, grew up as a child.

Nine Mile is a district in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, a few miles south of Brown’s Town. On February 6, 1945 the Reggae musician and peace activist Bob Marley was born there, and later buried there.

The Bob Marley Mausoleum is a tourist attraction located in Nine Mile, managed by members of Marley’s family. It has many historical artefacts including guitars, awards and photographs. Nine Mile is where Bob Marley’s musical career began and also influenced many of his songs.

I spent few hours navigating myself in and around Falmouth township. From what I have seen and witnessed, taking this road trip to Nine Mile district wasn’t an easy decision for me to make. It has a dark side of the area where it is unsafe to drive in certain parts of the town and in rural areas. I made the right decision not to hire a private taxi because they would have taken me anywhere. There is a high rate of crime activity, especially when you are detouring from the township. Growing up in a third world country in a similar environment, I knew exactly what “dangerous and unsafe” meant.

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Rural roads on the way to Nine Mile district

I then decided to go on a small tour group about 15 tourists. As we headed out of the township of Falmouth, on the way to Nine Mile, I started to noticed the huge difference. The roads were rough, narrow, washed out potholes and without any road markings, which made it even more dangerous but other parts were smooth. It was nothing new to me but it just reminded me of how similar to what I have grown up with. Along the way, where the road needs repair, there was a entire team of construction workers in presence but there was little concern for the safety of the workers. For how long will this construction of the road will be is questionable when they are under equip with high power equipments. For a country that is rich in its resources but the corruption is incurable then justice of equity is somehow a myth.

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Road workers along the way

As we continued further into rural areas, I noticed that the roads along the way were getting narrow and narrower. In some sections where the roads were under repair, there is no other way to detour. The traffic had to come to a complete halt in either direction for good 30 minutes before directing the traffic to flow again in one direction. The movement of traffic slowing down in almost every 100 meters became a constant routine for the duration of our trip. Along the way, we passed few communities that were run-down with little or no facilities.    

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Communities along the way

As we continued further into the mountains, I also noticed that the scenery along the way were just breathtaking. The communities or villages were surrounded by the natural world – the pristine and lavish environment but the dark side of it all, the people were poor and the suffering faced by the people can be witnessed through their eyes, actions and despair. However, they look so happy to me.

Finally, we made it to our destination, the very place where world famous reggae entertainer Bob Marley grew up as a child. The place is surrounded with high walls – a place of shrine. The area is well kept, considering how poor everyone in that community is. This very place reminded me of Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, the resting place of King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley when I visited the place years back. Every year millions of visitors flock the graveyard with the everlasting flame.

After spending few hours there, I continued my journey through different route which took us another 4 hours to get back to Falmouth township. It was very interesting to notice that, the road was a little better and lot more smoother this time. Along the way, we stopped on the side of the roads at various places of interest and bought few artefacts, souvenirs from the locals and even eating some of their local cooked foods. I must admit, I really enjoyed their local flavours which were authentic. As we headed towards the township of Falmouth, it was a sight of relief and most of all it was a safe road trip. However, my thoughts keep reflecting back on what I saw, especially how and the way, the people live in such conditions.

From personal perspective: As a tourist travelling to third countries where people live in poverty and suffering, we need to travel beyond hotel comfort zone to see and understand the local way of life. The tourists don’t see anything outside or the dark side as they are confined in fenced areas where locals are not allowed unless they are working there. This segregation, not between black and white race but between rich and poor is very noticeable. To me, the tourists and the government officials need to go out and see the standard of living faced by the majority of the people.

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