Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jamaica - Bob Marley Mausoleum

Alright, moving on to my adventure outside the resort #2... The Bob Marley Mausoleum. To tell you the truth, I'm not a huge fan or anything; I've heard his songs and kind of knew what Bob Marley was about. So why did I go on this excursion, you ask? Well, you know "when is Rome"! :)

Anyways, this was something about local culture, and is a BIG deal for the Jamaican people. I personally liked this one - it costs US$88 and included transportation there and back, the tour itself (local guide, not the one you ride with), and a nice lunch.

WARNING: Die-hard fans might be disappointed in this tour... although you'll learn a bit about Bob, you won't be given his full biography, so the main thing to remember is to go on this excursion with an open mind! :)

Through the hills and valleys, and after about a 2-hour bus ride (air-conditioned, thank God!) we arrived at Nine Mile village in the parish of Saint Ann (post on Jamaican countryside is coming!!!). The people here are welcoming and, as promised by other reviewers of this place, you'll see THE GUY selling THE STUFF... This is what they'll tell you: "You can smoke it there. If you can't smoke it, you can eat it. If you can't eat it, you can drink it. We take care of everybody!"

... that's where they unload the busloads of tourists. I gotta say, some of the people look like they got on the wrong bus! LOL! But then again, you just never know.

This is supposed to be 18+ tour... I don't know, that kid in the corner eating a chocolate cake spiked with weed does not look 18 to me. I hope his dad (who I'm assuming is the guy next to him, also eating) knows what he's doing...
I personally didn't want to spend any money on that, but it's apparent how popular this "vendor" is!

Although you'll be going uphill, it's really not necessary to wear running shoes to this excursion, especially since you'll be taking your shoes off up ahead.

I do recommend going up the stairs while the others are still indulging. You'll be able to take some nice photos and just take in the scenery, it really is beautiful.
Stairs do not have ANY railing, so don't go crazy with all the weed available downstairs!!!

Okay now, I understand that some people get upset/frustrated with the commercialization of this place. Yes, you'll enter through their giftshop (where everything is a very good deal, apparently)... Yes, you'll go up a few more stairs and be faced with T-shirt vendor. You will also be offered a candle for US$1 to light in Bob's crypt. It's not as awful as some people pain it, and all you have to do though is to ignore all of this. Just go ahead of everyone, even a little bit... That's what I did, and I got the opportunity to take photos uncluttered with a crowd and I got to ask our guide a few simple questions one-on-one.
According to our guide, Nine Mile village, like many others in Jamaica, still has no running water in every house. Can you imagine that?! They wait for rain to fall, wait for said water to run down the limestone formation and get collected in the storage tank:

Water collecting "system", with images of the former Emperor of  Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, who is considered to be a Messaih by the Rastafarians
 You'll learn a little bit about Bob Marley in the small museum-like room, with some of his albums and posters hanging on its walls, in addition to his mother's portrait and her old piano.

What is interesting is that the piano says Witamyer, but when searching for this brand online, I only find Wittmayer pianos, hmmmm......
Next, you'll witness a great performance by a local band. And our guide participated too! His name was Benjamin; he's not Captain Crazy that everyone is raving about (and apparently, he's a Youtube celebrity of sorts now). BUT Benji was great - entertaining, funny, nice, and he spoke clearly and sang quite well too!
This is just about 3 minutes of a longer performance:

TIP #8: if you're bringing a video camera, pack a regular (photo) camera also! past this point, they won't let you videotape, but you can snap away in all places except inside the crypts.

Inside the gate and up the hill we went. It's breathtakingly beautiful, the nature, the flowers, the incline (not done up with stone)...

View from the top

For the Rasta people, Bob lives...

Once you're up there, Benji asked us to take off our shoes, as a sign of respect. Believe it or not, there were people that couldn't understand that part and were trying to argue!!! Some people...

All of the guides joke that you'll get your shoes tomorrow, after they've sorted trough the brand-named ones, LOL. But some people just don't have a sense of humor, I guess.
Bob's house an his eternal resting place
Before we entered either building, Benji described some of the things for us. The house you see on the left is really tiny, two rooms with barely any space for more than a single bed. The single bed that Bob slept on is still inside (though it says "no photography", they allowed us to snap a few shots). The mausoleum right next to the house is where Bob and his half-brother Anthony are resting in peace. Bob is the only one "6 feet up" as they say because he's laying in the top "bunk" of the crypt. The place beneath him was reserved for his mother, Cedella Booker, but when his brother got shot, she decided that the brothers should be together. She passed away in 2008 and is resting in a similar mausoleum next door.

Inside Bob's mausoleum is were you got to light a candle, if you purchased one, walk around his crypt and make a wish before blowing it out and leaving the candle there.

What I found to be a really neat thing about this place is that it puts things in context. Bob's "pillow", his single bed, the scenery he was looking at while writing some of his songs... it's al still there, even if the organizers dressed it up a little.

Marley's single bed and his meditation rock, aka Bob's pillow

Benji making a joke while imagining how Bob laying on his "pillow"
Another awesome thing was this - Benji was talking about references in Marley's songs, and he started to sing:
"I want to love you and treat you right,
 I want to love you every day and every night,
 We'll be together with a roof right over our heads,
 We'll share the shelter of my single bed,
 We'll share the same room, yeah! for Jah provide the bread.
 Is this love, is this love, is this love,
 Is this love that I'm feelin'?"...

With him these children started to sing. They popped out of nowhere, beyond the walls of the mausoleum. It was great hearing them sing!

A small point about children from this village - as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I've come across reviews of disappointed fans that really did not like it here and were upset at how commercialized this place has become. Look at these kids! This village, by the looks of it, is holding together BECAUSE of this place, BECAUSE they cater to us tourists rather than shunning people away. These children have an opportunity to go to school, build by Marley's mother and named in her honour. Whatever the money this place makes, I'm sure that Marley and his family would be glad that they are able to continue to provide support for their home community.
I encourage you to come to this place and take it all in, you won't be sorry you did!
Oh, and bring some small bills here too, to tip these hard-working people :)

... and that's my review of day spent well!

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