What You Need to Know Before Travelling to Jamaica
January 1, 1970
by Toni-Ann Myrie
The Jamaican Experience
Hey! Are you travelling to Jamaica? Are your suitcases packed? Are you equally anxious and excited because you are not sure what to expect? Read on and allow me to give you an overview of all there is to know about Jamaica.
When you step off the plane at the Donald Sangsters International Airport in the resort town of Montego Bay, the first thing that will welcome you is the sweltering heat of the Jamaican sun. Immediately, you will wish for your swimsuit and a refreshing bottle of Red Stripe beer, the Jamaican beer of choice and a nice stretch of sand on Doctor’s Cave Beach on which to relax. Do not worry, all that will come in due time. The second thing you will be welcomed by is the warm hospitality of the Jamaican people.
How to Interact with the Locals
You might have heard one or two rumors that Jamaican people are rude and unfriendly. There is no truth to this piece of information. The moment you step off the plane, there will be someone with a warm smile to welcome you. Whichever hotel you choose to stay, you will find a staff that is very professional and individuals who will go the extra mile to ensure that you have a comfortable stay. But wait, do not just stay in the hotel and be chauffeured from one attraction to another, go out into the town and interact with the locals. Watch how the islanders go about their daily business. In the center of the town, you will find a space buzzing with activity. There will be vendors hawking their wares on the street, taxis and buses going to and fro, and if you are lucky you might catch a street performance or two. You will find out no matter where in Jamaica you go, there is always music piping from a radio or speaker box near you. Do not be afraid to stop a Jamaican to ask a question. They will stop to talk. Be prepared to answer a host of questions as Jamaicans are a curious set. Take a taxi. Rub shoulders with the elders and listen as they discuss news and the latest gossip as if they are all friends but it just so happens that they are all strangers going about their business but that is just how Jamaicans are. Ask somebody in the taxi for the fare. Oh and when you reach your destination, tap the driver on his shoulder or call out, “One stop driver.”
The Jamaican Cuisine
For a Jamaican, a meal is not properly cooked if it has not been marinated in spices and herbs for some time. So your eyes will bulge out of your head and your taste buds will dance when you taste your first piece of Jamaican jerk chicken. To have an epicurean experience that will have your taste buds dancing like a Jamaican, purchase food on the street. Yes man! Buy soup from the soup vendors, jerk chicken from the chicken man and shrimp from the shrimp vendor. There is something else: the Jamaican rice and peas and chicken. It is a Jamaican tradition for rice and peas and chicken to be cooked in every household on a Sunday but you will find this dish being sold in almost every Jamaican roadside restaurant. Do not leave without purchasing a Jamaican box lunch (rice and peas and chicken). Then there is freshly grown fruits ripened under the Jamaican sun and watered with water from the heavens. Purchase melons, mangoes, pineapples, oranges and stay right there and sink your teeth into its succulent flesh. It will be best fruit you have ever tasted. For those who want to enjoy an evening of dining, there are several restaurants that cater to whatever your taste buds demand. There are restaurants at your hotel, there are restaurants on Glochester Avenue and a number of restaurants located in Freeport, Montego Bay. Some popular ones include The Houseboat Bar and Grill, Scotchies, The Seahorse Grill, Hard Rock Cafe, 876 Legends and the Sugar Mill Restaurant. Now with your body sated it is time for you to partaay!
In Jamaica, you will be exposed to the diverse music created and sung by our talented artistes, from Bob Marley to Beenie Man. Whether you are at your hotel or on the street, you will always hear music playing. Jamaicans listen to music while they work dress, eat or talk. Music is just always there. To enjoy Jamaican music and our nightlife, there are several clubs and restaurants in Montego Bay that you can go to let your hair down. Some popular ones are Magaritaville and Pier One. When the music hits you, you will feel no pain. Just throw your head back and dance like no one is watching. Allow the music and the vibes of the Jamaican people to take you away. If you want to take it up a notch and learn to gyrate your waist like an islander, just follow the locals dancing around you and if you are brave enough ask one of them to teach you. You booked a trip to Jamaica to make memories so make it worth your while.
Jamaica is beautiful. Its beauty goes beyond the white, sandy beaches to the hearts and souls of the people who call it their homeland. However, like everywhere else, it has a few things that are not so pleasing. So when you are travelling in a bus and it hits a pothole, just accept it as part of the experience and lastly keep your money and important items safe at all times. Jamaicans are not only friendly, they are very talented with their hands and so your valuables might disappear into thin air. Oh and if vendors, hawkers approach you trying to get a sale, if you are not interested in what they are selling, a firm and resounding no will make them step right back.
Have an awesome experience!