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Jamaica

Seaside Shopping in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Seaside Shopping in Montego Bay, Jamaica

One of my earliest and least cherished memories of visiting Jamaica is of higglers, ultra-aggressive purveyors of all and sundry souvenirs, trinkets, beads, weed, and more that paraded endlessly up and down the beaches goading folks into parting with their cash.

As someone who purposely steers clear of most malls and department stores in order to avoid the annoying army of salespeople threateningly brandishing colognes and perfumes, I never liked higglers.

I mean, it’s one thing if you’re going to a place like the Iron Market, where your intention is to shop in the first place and haggling all adds to the flavor. On the beach just cooling out is simply never the right place or time for any such shopping adventures for me.

Thankfully, though, higglers have pretty much disappeared from Jamaica’s shores in recent years, replaced instead by small seaside shops like this one that I photographed from a distance recently in Montego Bay.

It’s a great improvement if you ask me, one that has me anxious to get back to Jamaica soon and re-explore her sandy shores… this time in peace.

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  • Jeremy McDaniel

    As a long time fan of this site I am honestly disappointed in this post. As a native and frequent traveler of the Caribbean I would have expected you and this site to have empathy and patience regarding this aspect of Jamaican culture. Just because one is blessed enough financially to travel it does not give them the right to think they are above those who are not. Many of these higglers are simply trying to earn a living in a nation who’s government does nothing for them. A simple “no thanks I’m good” between rum punches does the trick. As a guest in Jamaica they have a right to be there and we as travelers have the duty of respect and patience.

    • Thanks for your comments, Jeremy. Your opinions are very well stated and I truly respect where you’re coming from. However, I think it’s pretty clear from my posts that I do not consider myself above those less fortunate with whom I come across on my travels. I also don’t begrudge anyone’s attempts at making a living. My point is that there’s a time and a place for the type of haggling and aggressive salesmanship common to the higglers I’ve come across on my travels to Jamaica. In my experiences, a simple “no thanks I’m good” was not enough on several occasions. Experiences will vary, of course, and not all higglers are the same. Did a few overly aggressive higglers spoil a good thing for everyone else? Probably. Are stores like this one giving higglers the chance to continue making a living? I’ll be sure to ask when next I’m in MoBay and follow up with you.

  • Astrud Bryan

    Mr. Bennet, you continue to justify your condescending attitude. Take the slur our of your voice, take the shirt off your back, take the bikini shorts off, put the dollars on the table and keep the pennies in your hands….when the sun hit the sand, as the day grows long leading into the breaking of the day and as the clouds begin to shadow the skies, (morning just began its journey across the waves) When you finish gallivanting from corner to post, look in your hands the pennies smell of sulfur as you try to scatter them in the surface of your palm, pick up your feet you might buck your toes as the scent of rancid the fish oil scent hit you. Lift your head up, push your hands into your pockets, get your swag on and chucky down the street. Look down quick it wasn’t a pebble you felt hitting your foot just another penny lost you must have forgotten your pants no longer have pockets just threads memories still hanging around….
    Come on now, Mr. Bennet, keep it straight we are talking about people’s lives not anyone’s educated judgement, nor ones proper English refinement, nor anyone’s economical modernization…sometimes when we beat against the bush we don’t always get Ganga seeds. Tek it from one country man to another, speaking proper English doesn’t mean Mi nuh understand yu because Mi talk patwah…