We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

paying for directions?

Lancaster, PA
Level Contributor
303 posts
12 reviews
Save Topic
paying for directions?

My wife & I are very easy-going and tend to overlook the unsavory things that can ruin your vacation if you let them. We did enjoy our week in Ochi, but liked walking into town. Every day we did that, the hustlers descended on us.

We developed some coping skills, even paying some of them to leave us in peace (!), but the most upsetting thing to us was when asking directions, the locals insisted on "taking" us to the requested destination in order to be paid, even when it was literally across the street and could have easily been pointed out.

On one occassion, we were led deep into the back corners of the produce market by our guide, at which point other locals showed up and a weaponless attempt at extorting some money from us was attempted. I suppose we were supposed to be frightened & perhaps afraid we would be unable to find our way out safely unless we payed off these thugs. After showing some anger, we were able to leave without any incident, but it was a very unsettling experience.

I don't think being poor justifies this type of behavior, as some will say they are just trying to survive. We did give money to some who simply asked for it. I guess I just don't understand the whole "respect" thing.

Central Ohio
Destination Expert
for Negril, Port Antonio, Treasure Beach
Level Contributor
13,005 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: paying for directions?

That's not respect, that's hustling of the sort found in the tourist areas of many countries.

Giving them money to go away encourages that behavior, in my opinion.

I'll pay for services and I'll tip for services, but walking me across the street when I ask directions is not a service, it's a shakedown.

Nothing to do with respect at all.

Springfield...
Level Contributor
4,997 posts
93 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: paying for directions?

The only place we had this happen was in Ochi. First thing off this really big guy starts in asking if We're lost. I said no we were headed back to the bank. He offered to show us where it was at and walked with us even after I told him no. When we got to the bank he waited outside the little booth till we came out. He wasn't real happy to find out we didn't get any money as I'd left my atm card at the resort and couldn't remember my pin for the credit card. Kept asking for money and told him we didn't have any. He finally left and we went on over to the grocery store. Bought a few things and started walking to find him waiting on us. Accused us of lying which we thought was really rich and we explained all we'd had was a $20 and wasn't about to give that to him. My husband told him we hadn't asked for his service to begin with. The guy claimed we should have told him no. Gee I thought we had. Finally gave him $1 as it looked like it was going to get ugly.

Walked across the street to find someplace to get soda to take back with us. Darn if we didn't get another helper. We went in where he pointed out and it was a restaurant so we came back out. He was still there. As we were walking I stopped because I thought we'd just passed a place. Another man came up and asked what we needed. While this was going on helper #2 came running back to see what was going on. The man pointed two doors down and said we'd just passed a place. I thanked him and as we started to go in helper #2 was really giving the guy a nasty look and saying stuff we couldn't understand.

We couldn't get out of that area fast enough. Left a really bad taste of Ochi for us but didn't ruin the love we'd developed that trip for Jamaica.

Go back but try a different area. My motto became, if they're hungry feed them but don't give money just because they pointed their finger or walked with us.

Lancaster, PA
Level Contributor
303 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: paying for directions?

I don't think Negril is any better, especially when walking into town. They actually fight over you, which is what was happening to the previous poster.

I know many visitors just dismiss this as an integral part of the Jamaican experience. Yet some do have a major problem with it and spend their entire vacation in a secure property (often an AI with guarded beach). And, of course, some decide this aspect of their vacation was so upsetting they do not return.

Please know there are plenty of Jamaicans who do not condone or engage in this behavior. They are sometimes so outnumbered it is easy for first-time visitors to get the wrong impression of the Jamaican people.

As mentioned elsewhere on these forums, Port Antonio has not yet earned enough of a "tourist town" reputation to attract these types. You can actually walk to, from, & all around town without being accosted by a single hustler. I don't know how long this will last; perhaps not much longer.

So, if your Jamaican vacation would be greatly enhanced by not having to deal with the hordes of hustlers, try PO.

Negril, Jamaica
Level Contributor
836 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: paying for directions?

When having questions about where to find something...try asking a shop keeper, a bar tender, a groundskeeper etc. for directions. They will know where to point you and have no expectations of "being paid."

If asking directions from the "man on the street", and once given the directions they tag along with you...ask them within the first 3 steps if they expect to get paid for keeping you company. If they say yes, you can negotiate or decline right then and there...if they say no, and proceed to follow you anyway...when they "encounter" you later and ask for money, remind them that they said they weren't going to take any, and you're honoring their word.

Jamaicans with a life to lead don't make it their business to accompany you anywhere unless you've hired them already as a guide. Some, a few, do walk with you if you're going their way anyways, and do NOT ask for compensation...but it does depend on where you are, and you're general impression you give as to whether or not you know where you are, what you're doing and confidence level.

Springfield...
Level Contributor
4,997 posts
93 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: paying for directions?

Thanks for the tip TOTT. I for one was not used to this, just thought the guy was being friendly, especially after I told him I knew where it was at. I'd never encountered someone that expected to be paid for what I thought was kindness. Will definitely just say no from here on out and heed your advise.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
4,423 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: paying for directions?

I can understand why some people don't want to leave their all inclusice resorts when I hear of this sort of stuff happening.

Negril, Jamaica
Level Contributor
836 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: paying for directions?

Krim, it happened to a friend and I on my very first trip to Jamaica too. We were in MoBay looking for a guest house to stay in. She and I were walking from the airport towards the street now referred to as the "hip strip" and were approached by a man who started walking and chatting with us. We told him what we were looking for and he said he knew just the place. He walked with us two more minutes up the road and pointed to a place across the street, came with us while we registered, we said thank you and thought that was the end of it. While we were unpacking there was a knock at the door and he was there telling us that we needed to pay him for his help. I was quite suprised and remembered telling him that all he had to do was point his finger and we could have done the rest. He was a bit irate, I gave him two dollars and told him to buy himself a beer and that his 'help' wouldn't be needed any more and that if that was the way things ran in Jamaica to not expect visitors to be any to thrilled, nor very cooperative.

As it turned out, the 'guest house' was one commonly rented by the hour by single ladies and their male companions of the brief moment...this my friend and I discovered all night long as the rooms had walls paper thin and what was discussed in the hall might as well have been going on inside our room itself.

Shocked that first day in Jamaica, I laughed about it once home, and knew I was one step ahead of the game for my return to the island the following year.

From talking to other repeat visitors to the island, it doesn't seem all that uncommon that everyone, at one time or another, is going to get "hustled" or scammed or 'ripped off' in one way or another...usually minor in scale but it does make an impression. And those who can put it in perspective, or laugh it off in hindsight, are the ones who come back over and over...not because they're gluttons for punishment, but because Jamaica is a vibrant, ever changing country with lots of unwritten rules in the experiences that will come your way, and that figuring out the unwritten rules and staying one step ahead of the game is part of the adventure.

For all...tourists are not always the only ones targeted per se...Jamaicans themselves who have a job affording them decent clothes, a vehicle, food, whatever...are approached by those without...often the panhandler on the street with a drug or drinking problem, sometimes by 'professional beggars', some truly down and out for one reason or another with no family to turn to. Sometimes money is given, sometimes not....sometimes food is shared, sometimes not...it depends, as it does in your own hometowns, on your ability at the moment, your assesment of whether or not the request is truly valid, the known history of the person begging, or just gut instinct. The one begging knows that there are few if any scams they can get past their fellow Jamaican, so the outright request for money is the natural approach.

Tons of visitors to Jamaica will run into this problem, and not know how to handle it,,,but at least some of you here on this message board will know to expect it when reading posts like these, and can perhaps pass the word on to others over time, and know how to handle yourselves when you encounter the same situation.

I know people hate comparisons to their own home countries and Jamaica, but I ran into far worse scams and 'beggar' situations when I lived in America than I ever have here...it's true though, people think "Jamaica vacation" = paradise = "no problem(s)" and I think that's where part of the problem begins. Jamaica is just a country full of people as varied as anywhere else and as the whole island is not a resort, one is bound to run into these experiences when getting out and around.

And it's true...to avoid reality, (unfortunately the bad AND the good), staying within ones resort walls will definitely eliminate your chances of encountering life, the people, and the occassional experiences which will force you to look at yourself and your ability to deal with the unknown and to take pleasure in what you do have and how you relate to others of a different culture and mindset.

Again, Jamaica offers something for everyone, and it's just a matter of knowing what you're comfortable with or wish to experience that will dictate the way you travel, where you'll wind up, what you'll see and do, who you'll meet and where you'll stay, either on your first visit, or many visits to come.

Springfield...
Level Contributor
4,997 posts
93 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: paying for directions?

Okay now that I've quit laughing and to think I've been giving you such high praises Sienna. Didn't know you were that kind of girl.

Seriously, your post overall was so kind and warm hearted. I admit I was a little intimidated by this big guy. Not because we were in JA but because I'd not encountered this type thing before. My husband is 6'2" and is normally pretty low key. It takes a lot more to set him off than it does me but there was no doubt in that guy's mind what my husband thought of him by the time we got away. Even the kids were asking my husband if he was trying to get us killed. He said it was worth the $2 he gave just to be able to tell the guy off and what he really thought of him. The look on the guys face was priceless.

We didn't let it deter from the good we'd experienced but I can see where someone timid might be too afraid to go on or go back if they encountered that much. Personally there is too much to see and do to stay inside the resort walls but some people want just that.

Hey can I get the name of the hotel you stayed at your first trip? ha ha ha ha ha

Central Ohio
Destination Expert
for Negril, Port Antonio, Treasure Beach
Level Contributor
13,005 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: paying for directions?

TOTT said "staying within ones resort walls will definitely eliminate your chances of encountering life, the people, and the occassional experiences which will force you to look at yourself and your ability to deal with the unknown and to take pleasure in what you do have and how you relate to others of a different culture and mindset."

Excellent thought and very true in my experience.

I can't tell you how good it feels to walk around Negril and know how to deal with that approach. It is NO PROBLEM at all for me now.

These scams do exist everywhere and can be a lot darker than some guy asking for $1.

When I was 18 I did the backpacking thing in Europe for a couple of weeks before joining an Italian family I was to stay with for the summer.

I was on a train in Italy with a girlfriend I'd met in Paris. We missed our stop somehow and wound up in Rome with no place to stay and no train to where we were going until the next day. A very smooth, attractive young man "helped" us find an inexpensive hotel for the night, having overheard us talking about what to do in a coffee shop.

Without getting too specific, the night ended badly, about as badly as it could end for an 18 year old girl that is still alive.

Did I avoid Italy from that time on? Heck no, but I sure did learn a lesson about taking at face value the "kindness" of strangers in strange cities.

10. Re: paying for directions?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff removed this post either because the author requested it, or because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum guidelines.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 28 October 2005, 17:11
Get answers to your questions about Ocho Rios
Recent Conversations