The Falmouth port from our ship:
The town of Falmouth, on the other hand, was a prosperous shipping port during the late 1700s and early 1800s*, but is now very impoverished and rundown. Most of the historical buildings that were described as "tourist attractions" in the cruise brochure are in fact quite badly decayed and in need of significant repair work.
One of the historical buildings adjacent to the port, with renovations underway:
One of the rundown houses that were common in Falmouth:
Given that this was our first cruise, my Mom and I decided to participate in planned excursions rather than trying to venture off on our own at the ports. In Falmouth, we went on an excursion that took us first to the Rose Hall Plantation and then to Doctor's Cave beach for some relaxation. The plantation was beautiful, and we had an outstanding tour guide who brought to life the history of the slaves who worked the plantation and the masters who ran it. It was a great site to visit, although unsettling to think of the history behind it.
The front of Rose Hall:
A view of the grounds of Rose Hall from inside:
After visiting the plantation, we headed to the city of Montego Bay, where we were supposed to have a tour of the city and of Sam Sharpe Square, neither of which happened. Instead, we were all herded inside a souvenir shop, where we were forced to spend 20 minutes looking at "Jamaica" t-shirts and baseball caps with fake dreadlocks hanging from them. To say that my Mom and I were unimpressed would be an understatement. After the forced shopping, we were taken to Doctor's Cave beach, which is a small, private beach inside the city. I was still feeling a bit crotchety from our unexpected shopping excursion, but even I can be won over by the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. Ahhh.
There was also jerk pork (shown here) and chicken (my Mom's lunch, not shown) to appease me:
Following our stop on the beach, we headed back to Falmouth, where we had a few hours to explore on our own before getting back on the ship. Immediately beyond the port area were streets filled with stalls, where the vendors called out to us to try to get us to buy more mass-produced souvenirs.
I suspect my Mom would've been happy to stop at that point, but I have an irrational love for old, decaying buildings, so I forced her to go further into the town to see what else was there. Using a historical map, we found our way to a few of the historical buildings, which were in varying states of disrepair.
I had expected to find the town filled with tourists from the cruise ship, but in our time outside of the port shops I saw only two other people who didn't look like locals. Unfortunately, this meant that we attracted a lot of attention from the inhabitants of Falmouth, and we were constantly shadowed by schoolkids who wanted us to take their pictures or who wanted to guide us through the town in exchange for money. While I've dealt with this kind of attention in other places (Havana, Cuba being the first the comes to mind), this was the first time that it's happened when I haven't been surrounded by throngs of other tourists, and I actually felt pretty uncomfortable. My Mom was downright petrified, so we headed back to the ship before I'd gotten my fill of taking pictures. (If it's ever possible for me to get my fill of taking pictures.)
All in all, our visit to Falmouth was okay, although I was disappointed that we didn't get to see more on our excursion or of the town itself. I wish that I knew someone who lived in Jamaica, as I would love to see more of the country from a local's eye.
* A brochure on Falmouth that was handed out to the cruise ship passengers describes the period from 1780 to 1830 as Jamaica's "golden age", despite the fact that the country's economic prosperity was based on a sugar industry that was dependent on slave labour. Can we please, as a society, agree to never refer to a period of time in which human beings were tortured and enslaved as a "golden age"?