Household Security in Jamaica


As I pointed out in my post on “settling in“, the choice of housing is made primarily with the following questions in mind:

  1. What is the crime rate like in the neighborhood?
  2. Does the house have adequate security (e.g. burglar-bars?)
  3. Should you live in a gated or a non-gated community?

A family moving to Jamaica may want to immediately put in place some basic security measures, including:

  • Hiring a security company with on-call services and a panic button
  • Using a driver to get around in the first few weeks
  • Attending a security briefing, if available
  • Learning which neighborhoods to avoid, if driving
  • If burglar grills are not present, having the landlord install them before moving in

While the number of murders and the overall crime rates have been on the increase in the Caribbean region, they tend to be mostly gang-related, and therefore not random. Simply be aware of crime rate trends. The care that one would take while living in any major city should be taken here.

he point of having a good security system is to bring as much piece of mind as is possible, and many expatriates choose to have:

  • 24-hour security
  • Window and door alarms
  • A panic button to a security company with mobile assistance
  • Cell phones with numbers pre-programmed to the police and security companies
  • Burglar proofing/bars (a requirement)

Things to do in Jamaica> JA Links

I found the attached site to be an excellent resource. It offers details about things to do as small trips on weekends in Jamaica.

When we first arrived in Jamaica, we spent the first few months settling in, then proceeded to spend most weekends touring the island. I have many favorites but my top list include the following Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth’s, this area is extremely laid back and charming. Another favorite is Portland, an area which is lush and beautiful.

You should also purchase ” The Rough Guide To Jamaica” as it is a great see Jamaica resource book. Be aware however that many places close without notice if they get badly damaged during hurricanes. Please save yourself time and call ahead, if no answer then book at another place, and check it out while in the vicinity.

Portland Jamaica

Cranbrook: Flower Forest & River Head Adventure Trail

A Must See:

This was one of the very first places I visited on my first trip to Jamaica. We were literally scoping it out as a possible place to get married. While we decided against it for several personal reasons, it’s a great place to visit. Do not forget your mosquito spray or wear long light weight pants

c/o The Place, 12 Main Street
St. Ann’s Bay

A unique eco-tourism attraction sited on 130 acres of tropical forest including 40 acres of landscape gardens. Cranbrook offers a hiking trail along the Little River that leads to the cathedral-like source of the river with the water rising from a 14 foot deep pool. See dozens of tropical plants, flowers and birds, relax by the river or frolic on the 4 large lawns. Ideal for nature lovers, weddings and group get togethers.

Sunday 09:00am – 05:00pm
Monday 09:00am – 05:00pm
Tuesday 09:00am – 05:00pm
Wednesday 09:00am – 05:00pm
Thursday 09:00am – 05:00pm
Friday 09:00am – 05:00pm
Saturday 09:00am – 05:00pm

US$ 6.00 Adults
US$ 3.00 Children
Children under 12 years

Fun Activites in Jamaica

Experience Jamaica> Some upcoming things to do in 2008

There is more to Jamaica than reggae and Rastafarians. Fringed with white-sand beaches, the island has year-round sunshine, misty mountains, lush rain forest and superb coffee. All-inclusive resorts cater to package tourists, or you can plan your individual weekend yourself.

I tell people often that we are never bored on weekends. Have a peep at above link for things to see and do.

Jamaican Greetings

872996_african-american_teen_girl_holding_daisies_.jpgIn spite of the aggressiveness and sometimes harsh nature of life in Jamaica, one of the sweet contradictions lies in how Jamaicans greet each other.

Of course, there are the regular greetings of “Hello”, “How are you?” and “Good mawning.”Then there are the others…
  • “Blessed.” has become a popular greeting that I have never heard in another country. I suspect that its origin lies in the Rastafarian faith.
  • “Respect.” is another greeting that has been around for longer, and is just a typically Jamaican way of sending a clear affirmative signal to another person.
  • “Yes.” or “Yes, Yes.” accompanied with a nod of the head are also popular ways of merely affirming that you are recognizing another. Older similar forms include “Easy.” and “Cool nuh.”
These are warm greetings of well-wishes passed between strangers who are sending positive signals or vibes between each other. They are uttered over the unspoken and unquestioned assumption that we are in each other’s lives forever.

Remembering to say “Good morning”, “Good afternoon”, or “Good evening” before directly entering into any conversations is a small gesture that will save you from being totally ignored, or being considered rude.

It’s funny, as many Americans are accustomed to starting a conversation with “How yuh doing?” or “How are you doing?” then proceeding to ask the question, before saying “Thank you.” or “Have a nice day.” While many may get away with it in Jamaica, it’s viewed as rude or impolite.

“Him nah have no manners!” is what a local person is left with. It is truly funny, and after two years I now have a better handle on this.

Article: On Cycling In Kingston JA

A recent Jamaica Observer article on cycling in Kingston:

The Wheels on the Bike Go Round and Round
Kaci Hamilton
Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ask any of the sweating, panting, spandex-clad cycling enthusiasts making the weekend rounds from the airport to Port Royal and they’ll tell you, it’s torture waking up at the crack of dawn to hit the streets, but it feels so good when you reach mile 20. While the existence of cycling goes way back in Jamaica, the popularity of the sport is now on the rise. Men and women alike are joining the packs of riders cruising the city, getting into gear for the many organised rides and meets, particularly the long-distance ‘country’ rides to places like Bog Walk, May Pen and Mandeville. Who would have thought that one of the hottest accessories of the year would be padded shorts?

Like all exercise, committing to cycling comes with its hesitations and excuses: my plastic helmet is as useful as a pillow when it comes to these Jamaican drivers; my precious, soft behind and the tough, barely padded seat of a bicycle don’t mix; what if I catapult over my handlebars and cause a 10-bike pile-up?; my bed is the only place I want to be at 6:00 am; the tan from a cycling outfit? Can anyone say ‘very un-sexy’? The list could go on and on and on, yet none of these beat the benefits of sitting in the hard seat.

In Cycling Towards Health and Safety, a publication by Oxford University Press, the ratio of benefit to risk when it comes to cycling is 20:1. You couldn’t pay for those kinds of odds. Cycling reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of diabetes, reduces levels of depression and increases longevity by 40%. Trust me, when you’re 107, nobody will care about that cycling shorts tan line you had when you were 30.

Winston ‘Blacks’ Brown, store manager of Cycle City and Fitness Centre, vice-president of the Pacers Cycling Club and competitive cyclist for the past 23 years, puts the escalating trend into perspective. “When I ride I feel free. If I have a stressful day at work, when I get out on Palisadoes Road and hear the sounds of the ocean, I forget all about it.”

rown also appreciates that cycling has almost no impact, so he gets all the fabulous muscle tone while keeping his cartilage. The lack of wear and tear has to help, or else he wouldn’t be joining the throng of cyclists donning the padding to complete his third Ride for Life this October, the ultimate in Jamaican cycling. Organized by the Jamaica Cancer Society, the notorious Kingston to Negril ride is as scenic as it is grueling, with riders pedaling through seven parishes to complete the oh-so-rewarding 142 miles.

The beauty about cycling is that getting started is unbelievably simple. Step 1: Procure bicycle. In this case, feel no shame, like I do, in getting a borrows. Step 2: Dress in exercise attire. While this is optional, I only say this because cycling in jeans or a dress is just not comfy. Step 3: Get on bicycle and pedal. Voilà, you are a cyclist. Of course, there is always the option of maxing out your credit card at any of the cycle shops around and channeling your inner Lance, as it’s all about whatever gets you on the bike happiest.

So now you’re geared up and decked out with so much writing on your clothes you look like a Daytona race car, where do you find your fellow spandex-clad enthusiasts? The Jamaica Cycling Federation is an excellent source, with lists of upcoming as well as past events, message boards and contact information for the slew of registered cycling clubs eager to get you out of the house and on the road. The perfect introduction is just around the corner, with the third stage of the Pacers Invitational Series on Sunday, March, as well as the always well-attended Harold Blissett Memorial Race on March 9 at National Heroes Circle, open to the expert, the novice and everyone in between.

So if you can look beyond the bragging rights, the relaxed mind, the smoking cyclist body and the peak of fitness perfection it will be in, there’s really no good reason not to get on a bike. Though if you are absolutely averse to the charming cycle shorts tan, I understand.

Pre-Arrival Trip to Jamaica


What exactly is a pre-arrival trip?

A pre-arrival trip is simply a trip you make to Jamaica once you have decided that you and your family, or you by yourself, will be moving here.

Things to consider before this trip include:

  • Learning basic facts about the country.
    • Do as much research as you can before arriving for the trip. Read the CIA Factbook on host country (good for very basic facts) and as many websites for the various government agencies (if applicable).
  • This trip may be scheduled for a week or two if possible and should mostly focus on      finding a suitable residence and schools if you have children. There are some other goals that can be accomplished at the very same time:
    1. Work with at least two real estate companies in tandem to maximize your time spent looking available places.

    2. Visit employees working in the host country as expatriates.

  • 3. Pick up newspapers, maps and other sources of printed information
  • 4. Visit schools, and find out about Term start dates if needed.
  • 5. Carefully decide which household items you will choose to bring.
  • 6. Spend time with a driver showing you the various neighborhoods is possible.

More on Crime in Jamaica

Below is a blog post by Francis Wade, originally written in October 2005:

More on the Sources of Crime in the Caribbean

In this blog I posted an earlier entry on the Sources of Crime in Jamaica. When working recently on a blog on first-person responsibility, I realized that I made a conceptual jump that put me very quickly, perhaps too quickly, into the realm of possible solutions.

I thought I’d try to illuminate some more of the issue in this blog.

I’ve travelled to work in a few countries in the Caribbean, and I read the Trinidadian or Barbadian papers daily.

In Trinidad in particular, a recent but steady rise in crime has Trinis asking themselves “what happened?” Listening to them complain is much like listening to us Jamaicans 20 years ago, and it’s a little like looking at ourselves in the mirror. In a way, it’s easier to think about what they should do differently because it’s just easier to think about what someone else should in general. I’ll use the Trini situation as a case study for the rest of us in the Caribbean.

It’s interesting to hear the variety of responses from people, and the different levels of responsibility that they are willing to take.

As I mentioned before, Trinis are engaged themselves “What happened to get us to this place, and what is to be done to get us out of it?”

I happen to be writing this blog a couple of days after the fourth monthly bombing in Port of Spain (October) and two weeks after an acquaintance of mine was kidnapped and beheaded.

Here are the types of responses I’ve noticed.

1. The Avoiders
“Those criminals need to be strung up.”
“There are only a few bad eggs, and once they are weeded out, things will return to normal.”
“I’m leaving this country and the mess it’s in.”
“The government / politicians / police / army / church / Blacks / Indians / Creoles / Syrians /youth / drugs / deportees are to blame.”

The common theme is that of a complete lack of ownership.

2. The Shared and Mythical ”We”
“We are all to blame”
“We must find something to do about this”
”The problem is within our society”
“The culture is at fault”
”We are too…(something) …………….. as Trinis”

The common theme is a lack of individual responsibility

3. Personal Responsibility
“What can I do?”
“What am I missing / What am I not seeing?”
“How did I let this happen?”

This last set of questions are being asked by the very few. They are the ones that are able to look at the situation without any sense of blame, but with a full sense of ownership. They are able to engage themselves and others in an urgent and creative search for deep and empowering answers.

As an outsider, it’s obvious to me that the current situation (with its random bombings and pre-planned kidnappings) has been caused ….. by Trini’s. Something is happening (or not happening)in the following places (among others) that is producing this particular criminal phenomena:
— families
— churches
— schools
— sports
— security forces
— political organizations

Alternately, one may also say that something did not happen in these institutions in order to allow these things to happen.

By comparison, some things both did and did not happen in Jamaica and Barbados such that kidnappings, for example, have not happened.

Accordingly, something happened, and something did not happen, to allow murders to increase the way they have in Jamaica, which now has a murder rate that is one of the world’s highest.

The interesting point here is that only those persons in the third zone — that of personal responsibility — will be able to create empowering avenues for action that make a difference. Only they will be able to discover the profound and poorly understood reasons why there are kidnappings and bombings.

They will also be the ones most likely to create programs that will impact society positively and turn these problems into opportunities for decisive action.

Another way of saying this is to say that they are the brave, the strong and the few who are willing to plumb the deep and dark corners of their own souls for answers. They assume that they have the power to create solutions.

The real irony here is that the assumption of “problem-solving” power carries with it a necessary flip-side. The flip-side is that it carries with it the assumption of ”problem-creating.” The power of one must imply the power of the other.

Yet, we Caribbean people (among others) operate without this awareness, and give up most of our power to make a difference. The result is that we sound shrill, much like our politicians who try to solve problems by blaming others while avoiding responsibility.

No wonder our most pressing problems remain unsolved.