When I first stepped off the Carnival Pride cruise ship that I had been on for the last several days, the stunning beaches and resorts of Ocho Rios surrounded me. I had arrived in a lavish, picturesque country that was by far one of the most beautiful places I had ever encountered in my travels. However, just a few miles away from all of the luxury and beauty, I traveled into a completely new world that I had never experienced before. As soon as I stepped onto the tour bus and voyaged into the inner city, my perspective of the picturesque Jamaica that I had first encountered changed entirely.
The instant that my Jamaican tour bus passed that silver fence which enclosed the stunning resorts and cruise port, I found myself in the midst of complete poverty. That chain linked fence separated two completely different worlds that were, in reality, only a few hundred feet apart. One was a full of riches and luxury, while the other was compiled of poverty and hardship. For seventeen years I had only known the former, but now I finally had the chance to experience an entirely different way of living.
As I toured further into the city, several miles beyond the fence that introduced me to a completely new existence, I was amazed to see how the people of Ocho Rios were living off such little resources. Entire families were living in tiny shelters, resembling shacks that looked like they could fall apart at any minute. Children were walking around on the streets bare foot with rags on their bodies and little to no other clothing. The markets and stores that sold goods were far from high quality. I never imagined what living would be like in a city such as Ocho Rios, and at first sight of what seemed to be misery and agony, my impression was that I would never want to imagine it again.
But despite what seemed to be despair and suffering, the citizens of Ocho Rios were some of the most cheerful and content people I have ever met in my life. Our tour bus was welcomed with merriment by the people of Ocho Rios, who were all extremely delighted just to have some company. When I got off the bus and had the chance to interact with them, I was dually impressed, and amazed at the thought that someone could be so pleased with a life that contained only the bare necessities.
Throughout my life I had always heard sayings and phrases about how money and luxuries do not bring happiness, but I never fully understood the truth in those words until my experience in Jamaica last spring. Seeing the people of Ocho Rios live so happily with practically nothing made me realize that happiness does not necessarily to come from the riches and goods that many people overemphasize.
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