One thing that every first time visitor to Jamaica should have a clear understanding of, is how many Jamaican residents in and around the "tourist areas" go about trying to make ends meet by offering a vast variety of goods and/or services for a fee...

Often these vendors, artists, solicitors and otherwise "entrepreneuring" Jamaicans can be the absolute BEST part of their vacation and sometimes just the opposite. Some people who are not informed a little beforehand of what to expect and how to percieve it and deal with it, can become jaded and uncomfortable with the outgoingness of these vendors.

To avoid uneasiness and discomfort, I suggest the following: Remember that you are a VISITOR to a foreign country and throughout the world peoples have very different ways of doing things. The vast majority of Jamaicas citizens are increasingly struggling to put food on the table for their families on account of the pathetic state of the economy in their country. The vast majority of the vendors you will encounter are honest, hard working and outgoing people who realistically have little to no means to do anything other than what they've known all their lives...  TRY and imagine yourself in their shoes.

In the tourist areas of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril (especially around the Sea Port areas) you will find the largest concentration of vendors. You WON'T be solicited every minute as some people will exaggerate, but you will most likely be approached for business on a fairly regular basis in these areas. BEYOND these areas, the solicitors will become anywhere from few to non-existant.

Expect to possibly be approached for any of the following: Ganja (marijuanna), Artwork (carvings, paintings, shell jewelry etc), souvenirs, Shop owners asking you to come look in their shop, Hair braiders, Aloe for your sunburn, fruit/vegetable vendors, harder drugs and perhaps other favours. That's NOT to say that it will be constant, but know that you may be approached for any of the above and you'll be better prepared. At ANY time, if you are approached and you are not interested, just politely insist that you are not interested. SOME vendors may have to be told two or three times, but almost infallably they will be respectful.

MOST of the very best moments I've experienced in my 17 visits to Jamaica, have been my time with the artists and shop owners. Jamaicasteve