A fishing village turned tourist trap, Ochos Rios lies on the northern side of the island of Jamaica. It’s home to Dunn’s River Falls, a beautiful water fall area where tourists can hold hands and hike up the falls.
Ochos Rios (or Eight Rivers) doesn’t have eight rivers running through it according to the taxi driver we met while visiting for a day. The area used to be called Xamayca when the Taino first settled it on behalf of the Arawak Indians. Later, Christopher Columbus happened upon Ochos Rios (circa 1494), claimed the village for Spain. While he was there, folks renamed the village Chorreros which means rapid rivers.
A quaint village, it was fought over by the British and the Spanish during the mid 1600s. Eventually, the British kept it, though pirates were said to use the area as a base for their operations. Sidebar: I saw no pirates while visiting there.
What I did see were the Dunns’ River Falls. Lovely. Though be wary of the very large (in size and number) spiders that hang out on almost imperceptible webs among the trees. There is also a nice beach just below the falls. White sand and clear water.
The culture of doing business was fascinating. I’m sure it happens everywhere. In fact, I’ve been to a few different places and encountered a similar culture, a similar way of doing business. Small booths manned by a single individual intent on peddling his or her goods to tourists.
As we walked toward the falls, there were three booths set up with carvings and wood working for sale. The booths held the wares and one man each of them intent on making a sale. I watched as my husband and son were greeted by two of the men and invited to step closer to “see what I have”. Both men shook hands with my men, asked them where they were from, and drew them in.
It didn’t take long for the sellers to put a pair of tiki dolls into the hands of my husband and son. The Jamaican men told of the importance of stacking the dolls just right and that by doing so peace and prosperity would reign in their relationships. Before the men in my family knew what was happening, the men were expertly carving each of their names and the name of their loved one on the dolls while they explained that normally people pay $40 for such a fine product, but that they would cut them a deal and take $20.
My husband and son walked away with identical tiki doll sets marked with different names. Oh, and the Jamaicans got their money. Were the dolls worth $20 each? Probably not. But the men were working for a living, just like anyone else.
If you’re planning a visit to Ochos Rios, Jamaica be aware that you’ll hear mixed reports of the safety of the area. I read this site that gave some reviews of the area. The area is known for its high rate of murder and crime according to Robert Curley. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t take a lot of cash with you, and listen to your instincts. If you don’t want to purchase something, say a kind “no thank you” and keep walking.
For me, it was a one day adventure. Not the most relaxing part of my trip, but not a bad day. If it’s on your bucket list, do a little research, and go. And don’t forget to take a little cash…you’ll need it for your set of tiki dolls.