Lets start with the negative....
Those beach peddlers... They are pushy and annoying. For the most part, it's easy to fend them off with a simple "no, I'm ok, thanks". The kicker is that you truly have to fend them off about every minute or two! For a nice 30 minute stroll down the beach, expect many. We ended up just being rude and simply ignoring them and pretending we didnt speak English.
Now, that all applies to the "obvious" peddlers.... But also, I was swindled a few times by "low key" peddlers. For instance, we walked up to a bar and had a few red stripes. A local sat next to us, and chatted with us for nearly 30 minutes... We were getting along pretty well! We chatted about jamaican history, life in my hometown, lobster, etc.... He seemed to be just a nice, young local who owned the house next to the bar. Well... Then he says "man, I have something for you! Just for you... If people see you with it, they know you're taken care of and nobody bother you in Negril!!! No peddlers, and no thugs. I like your style so I want you to have this!". He pulls out these simple bracelets and ties them on us, and says "ok, 20 US for both". I was pissed. Here I was thinking I found a little spot away from the "peddlers" when I was taken for a fool by a guy I thought was decent enough. I settled on $5 US, and left the bar promptly. Needless to say, we were still bothered by peddlers with that damn bracelet. We walked by a few times and saw the guy again, and he always called me over... But I just kept walking.
Next, we took a taxi downtown for groceries. From our resort, it's always 1.50 per person when taking a red plate "legit" taxi. We were dropped off at the store, and when we came out, the taxi guy was still there. He said "It's ok! Come! I waited for you!". Instead of following my gut and getting into another taxi, we got into this guys, and he ended up charging us $7 extra for "waiting". That was my fault for not going with my guy I suppose.
There were a couple more attempts in the same style, but we learned quickly not to be so trusting. It was pretty sad to see a place I really wanted to enjoy be tainted by the fact that we can't take a persons kindness as genuine. It was hard to tell who is being kind, and who's out to swindle.
For the good part... The beach itself is simply amazing!!! Blue water, warm, clean. Many little food places and bars. Besides being made a fool out of by a few people along the beach, the VAST majority of locals, bartenders, etc were super cool. I always tipped well too, since we know they depend on tips to survive. But of course we spent our $ on places we felt were run without any foul play, which of course is most of them.
I do really want to return, but I know now how to "view" this place. It is a poor country. People have a very unsteady income, and mouths to feed. These conditions are primarily responsible for those people acting as they do for a sum of even a couple dollars. I never felt in any way "unsafe" along the beach. I saw no signs of mugging, or never felt I would be assaulted and robbed. I just knew that I saved up a while for my trip, and I too must be wise and give business to those with ethical practices. I would advise all new comers to just keep this in mind, but not let it ruin or prevent your trip! Like I said, 95% or more are totally cool, but you simply can't help feeling like a fool after you get swindled, even if just a couple times.
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