A Trip to the Jamaica, Yeah Man
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
In pursuit of authentic travel experiences, Jason Buzi wanders the globe beyond boundaries as he travels to one of the beautiful islands in the Caribbean Sea, the Jamaica, where the beach meets the sky. It will be a one week travel to orient him to the rich Jamaican culture, delicious cuisine with a fusion of many techniques and traditions, and of course, the powdery white sand beaches.
Jason Buzi and his friends stayed in an all inclusive resort, a few miles from the airport in Montego Bay, for the first two days. The weather was indeed gorgeous, everything was perfect except that the food was kind of mediocre and the particular beach at the resort wasn’t the best. Still, it wasn’t as bad. They started the whole itinerary by going to the pool. They were swimming, drinking and eating anything they wanted without any worry about the incurred bill, since it was an “all inclusive” stay, which meant that foods, drinks and entertainments were unlimited and paid in advance.
Being natural explorers, they wanted to see and experience more of what the country was like beyond the walls of the resort so they headed to town, Montego Bay, which is one of the larger cities in Jamaica. A strip of popular chain of clubs and restaurants owned by Jimmy Buffett located outside of “Margaritaville” started the “real Jamaica” atmosphere. Also, on Friday night, there were hundreds of people walking the streets, where in there were plenty of jerk chicken stalls and sidewalk vendors of all kinds were found. Mostly young Jamaicans literally populated the streets. Despite the place being near to the International airport, cruise ships, resorts and hotels, yet for two hours, they didn’t see any other foreigners. They felt the real “Real Jamaica” on their first evening walk. They didn’t feel any danger at all, though, a few people tried to sell them some things. Outside of the hotels and resorts, the country was definitely impoverished but not to the extent of being similar to Africa. It was somewhat similar in line with most countries like Mexico.
After a couple of days in Montego Bay, they were ready to explore some more of Jamaica and went to the town of “Ocho Rios”, a town in the parish of Saint Ann on the north coast of Jamaica. There were plenty of outdoor activities that this town offered and the most popular was the Dunn’s River Waterfall. Like Montego Bay, it also got its fair share of tourists. Furthermore, it owned a cruise ship dock, and it wasn’t quite far from Montego Bay (where most international flights to Jamaica land).
Their taxi driver, Mike, was very friendly to them. In fact, he even gave them a history of the island and information about the Rastafarian religion, lifestyle, Bob Marley and so on. Before coming to the country, they were warned not to rent a car or attempt to drive on his or her own, however it could somehow be ignored since the roads and driving of people weren’t that bad, at least on the main road connecting to all the places they went to. It could have saved them plenty of money since taxi cabs were quite expensive. In fact, they spent more than $1,000 to take them between cities.
On their first evening in Ocho Rios, they went out to a karaoke club. As soon as they arrived, Jason Buzi heard some people announcing, “We need one more person for our Adele contest…”, so he willingly volunteered and went up to the stage. There were three other contestants, all locals. All the contestants were asked to sing a couple lines from an Adele song. After three rounds, he won not because he was a great singer nor he was an Adele fan but he knew three of her songs, which was already enough for him to win. None of his opponents knew any. He won a gift basket filled with beers and snacks. It was a very memorable moment for him.
Other than going to clubs and bars, they did plenty of activities in Ocho Rios such as taking a slow raft down the Martha Brae River, night swimming in bioluminescent water and the most exciting of all, climbing up the Dunn’s River Waterfall, which is a wide waterfall with multiple levels and each level formed a natural swimming pool. They climbed from one level to the next and then swam in the pool then climbed again. Somehow, they managed not to fall or get hurt. It was way excitingly unique and fun.
The beach in Ocho Rios was nice yet not amazing. We went scuba diving and it was somehow disappointing since they spent a close to $100 per person just to see nothing. They only saw more than 2 or 3 small fishes and one or two other small sea creatures. When they came up, their diving instructor told them that the waters there were overfished as there was no protection, whatever the reason, it somehow sucked.
After Ocho Rios, they went to “Negril”, a small but widely dispersed beach resort town located across parts of two Jamaican parishes, Westmoreland and Hanover, since they heard that the beaches were amazing. They stayed in a hotel along the beach and went out to enjoy the sun and sea. The snorkeling in Negril was actually much better than the scuba diving in Ocho Rios because they saw plenty of colorful little fishes and a couple of sting rays.
They walked for miles along the beach until they arrived at a nudist colony called Hedonism. Too bad, they were kicked out when they went to the bar to get some drinks because they didn’t realize it was an “all inclusive” so resort guests only. After that, they moved on to the famous Rick’s Café, and then dived off the cliffs along with hundreds of other tourists. Rick’s Café was a very popular place in Negril, where everyone arrived around 4 in the afternoon in order to dive off the cliffs. Other than that, people were there to eat and drink.
In the evening, they went to nightclubs. They made two new Belgian friends and were introduced to the concept of an “All White Party”, where in everyone will wear white shoes, white socks, white pants, white shirt, in short, everything white. Furthermore, New Year’s Eve was quite interesting. There were already ads and flyers for days before announcing about the parties but around 10 in the evening, they walked along the beach and most places they passed by were deserted. They asked where the party was and were told to go to a place called “Beach Park”. When they arrived, there were at least a thousand people, mostly locals. The DJ was playing reggae music. It was quite a big park yet there were still plenty of empty spaces. No one was really singing, dancing or even celebrating. They didn’t feel like it was a party at all. The DJ was speaking “patois”, the Jamaican version of “pidgin” English, which a person could only understand 10 to 20 percent out of it. For example, “waagwan” means “what’s going on?” or “me der go” means “I’m going there”. It was quite difficult to understand especially when they would start talking fast. The music was pretty restrained. In fact, it was boring to the point that they glanced at their watches and a couple minutes past midnight, there were no countdown, announcements, hugging, screaming, kissing and even a celebration. It was quite disappointing, so Jason Buzi went up to the stage, gave the DJ $10, and asked if he could make an announcement. He received the microphone from the DJ, lead the crown in a countdown and said “Happy New Year, Jamaica!” It just wouldn’t have felt like a New Year’s eve without a countdown Jason Buzi shared.
More about Jamaica, it is popular for its Rastafarian religion, “Rasta” in short. The people who engages in Rasta religion worship the deceased Ethiopian Emperor “Haile Selassie” as their spiritual leader. They usually grow long hair in dreadlocks, smoke plenty of ganja and preach one love. They are generally very peaceful and laid back people, however are often discriminated against by the authorities and those with money and power.
Not only the Rastafarian Religion, the country is popular for its “Jerk”, a restaurant which specializes in spicy chicken and pork (sometimes fish) prepared in what they call a “jerk” style. It is a national fish and is served everywhere, even from fancy restaurants to sidewalk stalls.
Also one couldn’t mention Jamaica without talking about Bob Marley, a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He preached “one love” and spread the Rasta Lifestyle. His music reached to all corners of the world. Sadly, he died from cancer at a very young age of 36 in 1981.
Bottomline is Jamaica is without a doubt a beautiful country. It is green and lush, with many waterfalls and rivers, and of course stunning beaches.