Expat Jamaica: Membership Site Has Been Launched

As some of you may have realized, I have cut back on the amount of available blog posts at this site.

My blog launch in May 2008 was a great success and the traffic to my site has been steadily growing. It is now October, five months later, and I find myself with over 120 blog post which I think is overwhelming for readers who are considering a move to Jamaica.

While I have no intentions to stop providing information to those considering a move to Jamaica, I have decided to convert the majority of my blog to a Members only site. My rationale is that persons who are truly interested in this material may find a membership site extremely useful, and can visit at leisure and go as deep as you want.

Why else may you ask?

Well, this decision was made because the information is valuable but time consuming for me to prepare and present on a regular basis. Plus there is also the growing cost of technical support and editing. I think if people are truly interested in obtaining this valuable information they will not mind being part of a Members-only forum.

I will always have some blog posts available to non-members, but the focus will be on providing a full hands on information service for Members who need a great deal of critical information at a low monthly cost.  At the moment, I am spending too much time on the mildly curious who may visit for entertainment purposes, and too little time on those who really need assistance.

Making the decision to come to Jamaica is a serious one, and while I like to entertain, I have several friends who have returned prematurely to their countries of origin in less than a year, simply because they never had structured assistance.

Thanks for your continued support.

Shattered Dreams of Teaching In Jamaica:Part II

An American teachers’ story continued:

This is the second of a two-part feature by Stephanie Maiman
Guest Columnist
Stephanie Maiman
Thursday, October 16, 2008

…My permit would expire in September, so I paid him in May, leaving plenty of time so there would be no problem. Because I planned to visit my mother before the school term, I told him that I would need the permit so that I could re-enter the country without a problem. But it was a problem.

He didn’t get it done. I was finished with him and when I left for California he handed over the receipts for government fees that I had already paid. When I flew back to Jamaica,

Immigration detained me at the airport, finally giving me two weeks to get my papers in order or face deportation. Phone calls, trips to Kingston, more fees, extensions, more phone calls, constant visits to the Ministry of Labour. I was told the permit would be ready in two more weeks. The weeks passed. No permit. They couldn’t find it at all. No record of it!

Meanwhile, I wasn’t allowed to work. I lost all the students that were to start in September. I did a lot of praying. “God what is it you want of me? God, am I on the wrong path here?” My only desire was to do God’s will.

I did get the permit at last. Someone knew someone who found out that the attorney had picked up the approval letter when I was out of town, I called him and he said he would give it to me for another $15,000. I paid and finally got that all-important letter dated September 11. However, the last line stated that the permit would be cancelled if not picked up within 30 days of the letter. That was late in November. There were more obstacles to overcome. By the time I finally got the permit I had paid over $100,000 for it. It was valid for less than 12 months, then I would have to go through the process for a third time.

My business never picked back up. I wasn’t getting anywhere with the Math Clinic. I felt defeated. I sincerely asked God if I were supposed to give up my dream. I asked him for a sign and then I learned that the cost of getting a permit had nearly tripled. Still I did not want to give up my dream of teaching in Jamaica. Then a dear friend of mine got killed. Too much of that in Jamaica. We all know that. Still I did not want to give up my dream. I interviewed for a job teaching adults through the “Food For the Poor Programme,” but was told

they had to hire a Jamaican. What was there to do?
That was my last hope.
I am leaving now.

I’ve donated all my teaching supplies. My house is for sale, my car, all my belongings will be sold or given away. I don’t really know where I’m going. I thought I’d be in Jamaica until “death do us part”. Maybe I’ll go to Florida, because it’s easiest, although I will be a stranger there.

I left the United States because I preferred the Jamaican culture and believed in the Jamaican people. I am not looking forward to going, but I am not looking back either. I’m simply in God’s hands. Amen.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/westernnews

Thinking About Living in Jamaica >e Book

Living in Jamaica

This is one of the many times that people all over the world will have their attention to Jamaica, with thoughts about what it would like to live and experience the weather, beauty, music, sports and culture of the people of this Island.

Usain Bolt, like Bob Marley and the three recent Olympic  100 meter female medal winners, will surely boost the winter tourist numbers.
While most who come, will do so as tourists, there are many I hear from almost weekly, that would love to move to Jamaica for a year or more, to experience the real Jamaica that exists beyond the beaches and all-inclusive hotels.

I hear from people who have no idea that they also need to pay attention to the  high unemployment statistics, reports of crime,  poverty, and the need for work permits before they buy the ticket that brings them to Jamaica land of paradise to live. They need to take the entire reality of Jamaica as a developing country into account.

Many come to this blog looking for assistance, and I answer as many questions as I can daily, but my husband and I believe that putting our combined answers in various e-books can be a more useful approach than trying to address hundreds of single issues.

We are in the process of writing a book for those who are thinking about moving to Jamaica that’s called “You’re My Jamaica.” It’s scheduled to be launched by mid October 2008.

A Trinidadian> Shares His Views on Jamaica

A Trinidadian Shares His Views on Jamaica

By Raffique Shah March 02, 2008 A Trini shares
People

One week spent in Jamaica is far too little time to assess the state of the country or to enjoy its many scenic and special attractions. Most of the latter are way up the mountains or beyond, on its tourist-oriented north coast. Kingston itself is a city of stark contrasts.
Like most of its sister cities in the region, it has enclaves that exude wealth-colonial bungalows set on over-sized, manicured plots, with newer, impressive mansions perched on hillsides surrounding the city. But the omnipresent security guard booths tell a story of insecurity, of the wealthy living in fear of crime and shielded from the poor. I didn’t make it to Trenchtown and similar slums where people eke out an existence. But as I normally do whenever I visit a country, I struck up conversations with ordinary people, vendors, taxi-drivers, cleaners, just to get a feel of what life is like at the lower end of the economic and social strata.

Much like the poor in our country, even though they suffer in silence, they display vivacity, a friendly disposition towards total strangers that defies the wretched conditions under which they exist. Security guards, for example, endure the dangers of their jobs for pittances as low as J$800 (around US$12) for a 10-hour shift.
Those at the lower end of the hospitality sector earn even less. With the cost of living, more so food prices, rising as it is everywhere else, life is becoming tough for the mass of working poor. I read where the Bruce Golding government is taking measures to cushion the impact of food-driven inflation, but even here in Trinidad and Tobago, where the government is cash-burdened (as distinct from cash-laden, given the way they throwing a billion here, five billions there!), such measures are difficult to sustain.

What is required is more cooperation among countries in the region, not just those in CARICOM. I’ve been preaching the gospel of shifting our people’s tastes for staples we don’t produce to those we do or can produce. In St Kitts, for example, closure of the sugar industry has spawned a serious attempt at growing more local foods, and even prodding the country’s hotels and restaurants to promote indigenous foods. St. Kitts has successfully re-kindled growing white potatoes. In Jamaica I had “bammy”, a very tasty, cassava-flour dumpling.
One can also get plantain as a side-dish in most hotels and restaurants. Cassava flour is being pursued here.Many ex-cane farmers are already growing hundreds of acres of the tuber at a guaranteed price that brings them far higher returns than cane did. This is one avenue to escape our wheat flour dependency. But I digress. I also enjoyed interacting with young people, some of them students at Mona, others workers. Last Sunday afternoon, Khafra Kambon and I did a Walter Rodney-style “groundings” with a group of UWI students on benches under some trees.
What they had to say was more important than what we related to them-snippets of the story of 1970. These young people are concerned about their future, their chances of entering the job-market at a decent level, about the effects of global warming, about the environment. They are worried about the world my generation bequeaths them. And that generation includes PM Golding and Patrick Manning, who spoke at Mona on the Friday night I was enjoying snapper-and-bammy and bottled coconut water at Port Royal.

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Tipping @ All Inclusive Resorts in Jamaica

The following Question and Answer was recently presented at an online forum where individuals post questions about Jamaica. In the forum, a team of volunteer mentors take a stab at answering them in as much depth as possible. I saw the following question and answer posted, and felt that the points being made may be helpful to readers. It also reinforces what I often say, do your research wisely, as it will save you both time and money in the long run.

Question:

My husband and I are planning to stay at Sandals in Negril. They boast about everything being all-inclusive, including tipping.  I have read that people working at the resort make approximately $4,000 JM per week. That equates to about $56 US per week.  As $1 USD is equal to about $72 JM, what amount would be customary for tipping at and away from the resort (bartender, housekeeping, waitress, transportation, etc.)?

Answer:

Greetings from the island of Jamaica!

The all-inclusive concept as pertaining to tipping was created as a way to (hopefully) ensure that service was consistent across the board, rather than preferential treatment being given because of the tips received.

The “all-inclusive” concept is a blessing for some who prefer not to budget money on a daily basis, and yes for some who prefer not to leave tips…sometimes it is a “cultural thing” (not done in the home country)…sometimes it is a budgetary thing (so much is blown for the vacation there is precious little to none left for tips.)

The fact that you would like to leave some money with those who have earned this extra “thanks” shows that you have a heart, and empathy for those working in the service industry.  You have head right about the entry level salary of those who work in the resorts….most people have no clue that the cost of living here is dollar for dollar the same as the states, or Canada…yet the “average” income is a good 80 less.  It can cost a day’s wages just for a pair of somewhat sturdy, slightly fancy “flip flops”, believe it or not….nothing designer labeled, nothing that will last forever…just a pair of shoes that will last three months if lucky.

Even some of the employees there in the upper level jobs (not management) may pull in only about $130 a week…still, at the cost of living equation, you can see where it is a struggle to make ends meet, no matter what.

Some resorts have a policy of firing staff if caught taking tips…the argument again is that everyone should be treated equally…and that in high season, the gratuity added on to the guest’s bill is evenly split among all staff members and can this bonus can be more than the weekly wages.  It is of course up to the resort to be honest about the amount of gratuity collected and the amount shared.

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More on Crime in Jamaica > The Children

Crime in Jamaica continues to be on the rise daily, and the alarming murder statistics is a very sad day-to-day reality for all living on the island.

Over the last two weeks, three innocent children under 12 years old  were brutally murdered.

Who would grab such innocent, laughing children, as they take off shoes when it rains to walk home in water.?  Who would bring harm to these cute little faces?

I often say to my husband ” they are so little honey, look a that one with a book bag larger than half her body-size”. I never saw such young children walking the streets of Washington DC., and if I ever saw children they were always with adults.

The average tourist and Expat however, are usually exempt from these violent statistics, mainly because many of these crimes mainly occur in certain environments and are often times reprisal murders.

I generally recommend that individuals moving to Jamaica ask the companies relocating them to provide the person or family with a driver for the first month. If this is not an option, then maybe this individual should ask someone to recommend a mentor or transition specialist for as long as the family needs to feel comfortable during the initial settling in period.  Picking housing that you may feel safe in is also extremely important. Expats have shared that simply having a driver to follow around and assist  with simple questions those first few weeks of settling was of great benefit.

Getting a good  Safety Map of the Kingston area and having a person point out the various hot spots to avoid, can also be extremely useful/helpful. It is important that a newcomer not end up on the wrong side of town in the middle of a hot dispute, without a road map or another route to get home, should there be a road block.

I have been able to run three to four times a week, power walk and cycle in my neighborhood for the last two years daily without incident. Many other people are also out walking daily, so the key is to use the same alertness that you would use while living in any major city. I have had Expat pals who move off the Island to places like Israel and Trinidad later share, that they felt safer living in Kingston Jamaica than they now do, in their new environments. Maybe it’s because the crime areas are more predictable in JA, but the continued escalation of crime and the end results affect all people living on this tropical soil.

Do have a look at the following video