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We docked early in Falmouth at 7am. Following a quick breakfast, Libby, Emerson, Mom, Pop, and I disembarked from the ship. The port facility, which was built by Royal Caribbean, is a Disneyfied, sterilized, and idealized (re-)creation of Falmouth’s historic Georgian architecture. It’s at once very nice (in that faux New Urbanism sort of way) and utterly touristic (representing much of what can be wrong with cruise-based travel). Sigh. Such is the price of guaranteed clean restrooms I suppose. 😉

We skipped the duty free shops and headed straight for independent taxis. There we met Uriah, who we negotiated with to be our guide/driver. For $104, he agreed to provide us with a private, roundtrip tour to Montego Bay. With our agreement reached, we left the sanctuary of the sterilized port and departed into the ‘real’ Falmouth.

We drove through a vibrant, albeit somewhat gritty, Falmouth and then headed west along the coast. I was impressed by the relative quality of the infrastructure and the attractiveness of the water. The coast between Falmouth and Mo-Bay was dotted with resorts and golf courses. We paid a visit to White Witch, a spectacular hillside golf course near Rose Hall, named after the owner of the sugar plantation–a white, female slaveholder who (you guessed it) practiced witchcraft and had a certain penchant for marrying (and then murdering) her male slaves.

Montego Bay–Jamaica’s 2nd largest city and another cruise port–was also bustling on this weekday. I can’t say it made a significant impression… like much of the Caribbean, it’s the landscape of a city painted with the brush of poverty’s inevitable decay on top of a canvas of natural, scenic splendor. This, of course, excludes the tourist confections of Sandal’s resorts, Margaritaville, and the like.

On our way back to Falmouth, Uriah took us to visit the villages of Martha Brae and Hague. This is where he grew up and still lives. We saw the school attended by his six year old son, the river he played in as a boy, the local agricultural fairgrounds, and his neighborhood. He was clearly proud of his community–this was my favorite part of the tour.

We returned to the Falmouth port and spent a little time exploring the ‘village’ and gawking at Allure of the Seas (the behemoth of RCI’s fleet). We ate a “Jamaican Beef Pattie”– a sort of Cornish pasty with a jerk beef filling–sold by a local vendor. It was excellent. We also stopped into some of the duty free shops. Not surprisingly, the prices weren’t very good. I’d recommend passing on shopping in Falmouth.

For dinner, Libby and I went to Chops Grille, leaving Emerson in the care of her grandparents for the evening. As usual Chops was good, though sadly they’ve removed Libby’s favorite entree from the menu (a BBQ braised pork shank). I started with the shrimp cocktail, followed by cheese and onion soup, and a “not-so-traditional” Caesar salad (which seemed fairly traditional and a bit boring to me). Libby had a crab and shrimp cake, as well as the soup. For our main, I had a 10oz filet, and Libby opted for the braised short ribs. These were accompanied by a variety of sides of which the parmesan and prosciutto potatoes were real standouts. We finished with creme brûlée (me — a somewhat poor performance that was slightly runny and not even topped with crisp sugar) and red velvet cake (Libby — a very respectable offering). For my part, while I enjoyed the ‘night off’ and togetherness time, I’m not sure that the meal itself was really worth the $30/pp cover charge.

Later that evening, Mom and I attended the performance in the theatre. It was some mediocre magician/comedian and a mild diversion at best. Worth the price of admission (free). :-)

Today’s box score: +1 country (Jamaica)

The port facility and Allure of the Seas in Falmouth:


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