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Caribbean - Jamaica: Bob Marley Museum
‘We think it’s marvellous that you ladies have come on this trip’ squeaked two young women who were occupying the seats in front of us on the five-hour Zion Bus tour taking us from Ocho Rios, Jamaica to the Bob Marley Mausoleum, Nine Mile. The village of Nine Mile in the rural parish of St Ann is where Bob Marley was born and where he is buried.
My companion and I gritted our teeth and sang along at the tops of our voices to ‘I shot the sheriff’ and other Marley music which was played throughout the trip. We were delighted to note that, unlike our fellow travellers, we knew all the words.
Much closer to the age Bob would have been than they were, ‘we ladies’ couldn’t wait to reach Nine Mile, where his body is encased in a large square tomb covered by a simple cloth.
The site is treated with great reverence , and a stream of fast-talking Rastafarian guides are on hand to point out the views that gave the reggae artist his inspiration, not glossing over the fact that it was ‘the herb’ that probably helped him compose some of his most memorable works.
Bob’s final resting place is twice the size of the house he occupied when young, which is next door. The small house is painted beige with streaks of red, yellow, and green. - the colours of the Rastafari.
While the others on the bus dodged into the shop to stock up on dreadlock-topped pencils, we squeezed into the former Marley home where there is just room for a single mattress and a few pictures of the reggae icon and his family. Enthusiastic dreadlocked guides pointed out (and sang) the musical references present in the house (we’ll share the shelter of my single bed’ – Jammin’).
A bit like visiting Liverpool where every taxi driver claims to have known The Beatles, the cheery Rastas round here all seem to be acquainted with Bob Marley’s favourite tree and have known his Mum.
It was refreshing to see the photographs of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall recently playing the bongos outside the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, site of another of the reggae legend’s former homes.
Their Royal Highnesses joined his widow Rita Marley at a mini concert staged in the grounds and are said to be keen fans.
Although Jamaica has a roguish reputation, the island is still one of the safest Caribbean destinations. It is the second largest country in the region, and has a huge personality.
There’s more to Jamaica than rum and reggae (although the music is hard to avoid!). It has a lush interior with the famous Blue Mountain range as its backbone and an abundance of colourful birds and other wildlife. The Jamaicans’ contagious humour is the other key ingredient that had us ladies grinning like a smiley face on a ‘No problem Mon’ T-Shirt.
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