As the bright yellow Air Jamaica jet banks over Montego Bay (Mo Bay to the locals) preparing to land at Sangster International Airport, you are presented with a multi-colored scenario which should be on a picture postcard and is. This fabled and picturesque bay, once graced with pirate ships and Spanish galleons, is now home to many cruise ships from all around the world.
The low green mountains sloping down to the water, itself tinted in a vast array of colors from emerald green to royal blue, are dappled with terra cotta roofed houses overlooking he bay. The landing of the plane, like the takeoff, is a little short, but I’ve gotten used to it.
The airport has undergone many changes over recent years with various modern improvements. Until the last few years, part of the airport had no air-conditioning in some areas but much new work has been completed and the airport seems to be managed fairly well. You soon learn not to get in a hurry here. In fact, try not to be in a hurry anywhere in Jamaica. Time travels slower here, I think it’s a law or something.
After clearing customs the next step is getting to Negril. If you booked your trip through a travel agency you may have your commute included in your vacation package. Some of the major all inclusive resorts will have a shuttle waiting for you but others expect you to arrive on your own.
JUTA, Jamica’s version of a rapid transit authority, is located right next to the exit and is a well established transit system. Once you walk out the door past them is when the fun begins. You begin haggling with several private taxi drivers over the price of the trip to Negril. Savvy veteran that I am, I make sure the vehicle has A/C and also makes sure the driver intends to use it. For first timers I recommend JUTA
Negril is located on the west end of the island and the commute there from Mo Bay is an experience in itself. The recently completed highway hugs the coast all of the way to Negril which allows many scenes of Jamaica’s natural beauty. Small coves where the mountains end in the seas and with no humans in evidence makes one hope it will stay that way. Royal Poinciana trees blaze with fiery orange flowers and Bougainville vines climb high into the trees tinting them with violet blooms.