After all my prejudices, stories and imaginations about Jamaica which I gathered from people I know, documentaries I watched and festivals I’ve been, I made it finally for four weeks on the island. I stayed for a while in Kingston and travelled then almost around the whole island. From the coast to the Blue Mountains to the jungle, driving on the roads you’d expect will not have a village or a city at the end, but I always arrived.
This is my experience
Let’s start right from the beginning, in Kingston. The capital of Jamaica is often known to be very violent and very dangerous. That is, I guess, a main reason why so many travellers stay in Negril, Ocho Rios or any other place on the island, but don’t come to Kingston. Who could imagine staying for a month of travelling in Germany and not visiting Berlin – it’s capital.
I’ve been walking downtown Kingston, went to buy groceries in supermarkets and open street markets and never got annoyed by people, yes, sure I got asked to buy weed or even harder stuff, but to be honest, crossing Rua Augusta in Lisbon, Portugal, I got asked this questions day in day out.
And yes, you should not walk around Trench Town without anyone who knows the area, and may keep out in the night, but you should also know that Jamaica lives from tourism and that most of the violence is among Jamaicans. Having said this, I haven’t been in that area, unfortunately, and can’t tell you to go or not. But if you have travelled a lot, you get a feeling if you want to go to a certain district. However, would you move in a random district in Paris, Amsterdam or Bangkok? Probably not.
I can’t tell you a single situation in Kingston where I felt uncomfortable and that’s a fact. So give the capital a chance.
Moving on, I stayed a couple of nights in the Blue Mountains, in Portland, near Ocho Rios, around Negril and in Montego Bay. I have to say I never stayed directly in tourist spots.
When staying in Section, or around Hagley Gap in the Blue Mountains, latest then, I realised that Jamaica is not just sunshine and beach and it can get kinda chillin there as well. It is a different Jamaica, like in, every mountain region in the world. People are different, they are calmer, more relaxed. But the beauty of the nature stays, or let’s say, it changes but is equally beautiful. You also feel the difference about the air quality when breathing in, after a good sleep up the mountains. You learn to be more patient.
Every evening the different places offered a different view and experience. Sometimes the fog sneaked on the balcony and besides the mobile phone light, I had nothing, sometimes I sat around a table laughing my ass off, as I had just joyful people with the most hilarious stories and sense of humour around me.
When travelling around Portland I experienced the wide variety of guesthouses and people. Some had their business for 20 years and escaped Europe back then. There was more organisation and love for details, but at the same time the little Homestay in Portland opened its doors very warmly and with a big smile (Even though it was raining like shit).
This is just a slight inside in my travels in Jamaica and the love and joy was always with me. To say in general, I was always welcomed with a smile and a helpful hand. If you are open towards Jamaicans and people of the island, with your good sense of travelling and certain kind of situations you will have the time of your life.
I guess, what I loved the most about Jamaica is the joy of living that people spread. I can’t remember another travel experience, where I had to smile, grin, laugh and smirk so much as while my four weeks in Jamaica. So yeah, smile for me Jamaica, because I will always smile back.
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