Want to Visit Bob Marley? Adventure through Nine Mile, Jamaica

Our 15-passenger van chugged up the mountainside. Lush, green vegetation hung over the dirt road, creating a tunnel of jungle around us. Then, the horn blasted as a small semi-truck barreled downhill toward us on the single-lane road. A game of chicken ensued.

Our van passed by ample amounts of red, yellow, and green painted murals on the sides of single-room homes in the villages that dotted the road. Finally, our van stopped at its final destination: Bob Marley’s gravesite.

We entered the Rastafarian community and a dreadlocked guide met us at the front gate of the Marley family’s plot of land. He greeted us with a smile and led us into the compound.

We stood in a plaza; a “One Love” gift shop to our left, a staircase in front of us. He led us up the stairs and pointed out the incredible view of the Jamaican mountain countryside. Then he said, “Welcome to Nine Mile, the birthplace of Bob Marley.”

He took us around the corner, where we sat and listened to a reggae band play covers of the late, great Robert Nesta Marley, who popularized reggae music and, more importantly, Jamaican culture and awareness of oppression around the world.

After the band finished playing, we walked to the house in which Bob Marley was born. Our guide pointed out Marley’s grandmother’s home (which was just down the hill), where Marley was raised until he was a small boy. Then, he returned to his mother’s home, where he stayed until he was 13 years old.

Though Marley began his music career in Kingston, his mother lived in Nine Mile her entire life. Marley often visited his mother’s home to escape the busy lifestyle that Kingston pushed. In fact, our Rastafarian guide pointed out the rock on which Marley would sit, meditate, and compose songs.

Then, he took us to the final resting place of Marley and his half-brother. One of Marley’s final concerts was in Milan, Italy. Our guide told us that the Italian government respected that fact and man so much that they donated the Italian marble than encases Marley’s tomb. Marley is buried above ground; he was the first Jamaica to be buried in this manner.

Touring the small family plot (still owned by the Marley family), one gains an appreciation for the simplicity of Marley’s lifestyle. He was raised in a one-room home. He played in a natural, jungle landscape and interacted with his neighbors, who were fine examples of kindness and simple living (which he expressed regularly in his songs).

In scale, the tour of Nine Mile was small, but the impact was far-reaching. Hearing about Bob Marley’s life and beliefs from someone who actually continues to practice the same religion and cultural lifestyle that Rastafarianism embodies was incredible. The gratitude, kindness, and peace that the citizens of Nine Mile showed us was second to none.

If you consider yourself a true fan of reggae music, a visit to Nine Mile is a must. Get off the beaten path and adventure into the Jamaican jungle to the small village community of Nine Mile and experience Bob Marley’s origins. It’s an adventure you’ll never forget.


Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
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