Day 5 – Thursday
We decided that because more friends and family were arriving it would be a good day to just hang out at the hotel and relax. After a lazy morning and some suntanning I went for a swim in the saltwater pool. It’s very cool. They pump the water from the ocean and keep recirculating it. It was very cool and refreshing and not as salty as I’m used to here.
Some of us were able to get in on a cooking class with one of the chefs. By “cooking class” they actually mean hang out in the kitchen with the chef and he’ll walk you through how to make a couple of things, then you get to eat it. It was fun though and because there was six of us we kind of took up space so I made myself useful and took care of some french fries because I was closest to the stove. Have I mentioned that I love how laid back Jamaica is??? I had a good chat with some of the staff too about using stuff like plantains. It was great to talk to people that understand cooking in the Caribbean. They were also interesting in talking about Haiti, so we had a good little visit.
Learning how to toss things in a saute pan.
Later in the day we spent some time in a special little sitting spot over the water and just visited. Gradually more people showed up and by 6 pm almost everyone was there, so we went down to Jack Sprat, another restaurant at the hotel, and ate dinner together. Jack Sprat is said to have the best pizza on the island, and after eating the lobster pizza I can see why. These people do not skimp on the cheese either. Yum!
Day 6 – Friday & Wedding Day
It was a relaxing day where we all just hung out and visited or did our own thing. Around 4 pm I got ready, then went to help Katy get herself ready to be married. The ceremony started around 5 pm, just as the sun was starting to set, which cast a beautiful orange glow on Katy and Matt as they said their vows. After the ceremony and pictures we headed the the main restaurant for a full Jamaican dinner. It was yummy and we enjoyed getting to know everyone better.
Day 7 – Saturday
Another adventure day. This time we loaded 14 people into our 15 passenger rental and went touring around. First stop was Lover’s Leap where it’s said a slave master’s daughter jumped off the cliff with her lover, one of the slaves. No one ever found their bodies, so it could just be legend, but who knows. The view was amazing, that’s all I can say.
After that we traveled down the coast to Gutt’s River, a fresh water spring that eventually flows into the ocean. There’s a deep pool where you can jump off the rocks. As we were finishing up our jumping a whole bunch of locals arrived. It was nice to be off the beaten path and to not be surrounded by tourists other than ourselves. The whole place was filled with locals which says something. We enjoyed playing in the ocean waves too, and Chris and I walked down the beach where I collected a bunch of really cool shells to bring back as a souvenir. From Gutt’s River we headed back to Alligator Pond and went to Little Ochie for a late lunch/early dinner.
Little Ochie is famous all over Jamaica for it’s very cool little huts and boats on stilts and amazing seafood. The place was packed. Literally. There must have been about 300 people there, most of them Jamaican. Chris and I walked down the beach to where the fishermen bring their catch in while we were waiting for the food to arrive. One thing that amazes me about Jamaica is the light. Haiti has beautiful light, but in Jamaica it’s just that little bit more perfect. It was amazing to see the colors of the boats, the people, the birds and the water all together.
Dinner was out of this world. We ordered a bunch of peppered shrimp that arrived on this big platter (there was about 6 of us eating them) and I ordered the grilled lobster, thinking that it would be a bit cooler on the taste buds than most of the jerk food I had been eating. Wrong. Apparently everything in Jamaica is spicy. Spicy and delicious. I may not have been able to feel my throat after, but man, it was tasty! That night we spend time visiting with everyone, then turned, all tuckered out from the days trip.
Day 8 – Sunday
Most people were leaving so we said good-byes, then got in the van again and went looking for the Ipswich Caves. The guidebook we were using wasn’t as clear as we would have liked, so we ended up asking random people for directions. The last one got in our car – after being invited in – so that he could act as our guide. His name was Roderick and in true Jamaican form used the word “man” a lot. He also yelled out the window to all of his friends as we drove up the windy mountain road. When we stopped we were right at what used to be the old railway. Apparently it stopped running 12 years ago, but it used to go all over Jamaica transporting people around and stopping at tourist sites along the way. They still have a railway, but now it only hauls cargo.
The caves used to be one of those tourist stops which you can very clearly see by the steps, broken handrails and old lighting wires. Inside the cave are tons of stalactites and stalagmites. We only had three flashlights, and Roderick didn’t seem to grasp the concept of holding it where we could actually see to walk. Much light flailing about. I guess no one has told the people in his area how rare and precious stalactites and stalagmites are because he kept telling us he was going to break some off for us to take home as a souvenir and we kept yelling, “NO!” In the end he walked out with a bit and showed us how it works like chalk. Yeah, great. We also walked down a train tunnel and back and had several goats bleat their little greetings.
On the way back to Treasure Beach we took a new road and drove through Bamboo Ave, a 4km stretch of road with bamboo that’s over 100 years old. It grows right up and over the road in an arch. Very cool!
Day 9 – Monday
Leaving Day. Chris and I went for one last walk down the beach before loading our stuff into the van. We asked a cab driver what the fastest way back to Montego Bay was and he told us, and he was right! Out of all the roads that we had been on, this one was the only one that was actually what I would call a highway for most of the trip. It was nice because we got to see a completely different part of the country again. We had lunch in Mo-Bay, did a bit of shopping, almost had our van towed, and then went to the airport. The trip into Miami was uneventful and Chris and I overnighted there again because we weren’t able to get a connecting flight to Port. I’m actually thankful for the rest before landing back in Haiti.
Day 10 – Tuesday
Back to Haiti. We arrived at 12:10 and I was once again amazed at how much flying into Haiti is becoming routine. I used to get butterflies, but not anymore. Jean met us at the airport and after checking on the Daihatsu and doing some grocery shopping it was back to Pierre Payen. Things were quiet when we got back and we had a good afternoon/evening to settle in before starting work the next day
I loved Jamaica and would love to make it back there someday, but who knows if that’ll happen. The people are so friendly and proud of their country. People would ask us if we were interested in tours etc, but when we politely said no they politely said, “Okay, no problem man! Have a nice day,” and wandered off. It was so refreshing to have people respect the word no. We also didn’t get stared at the same way we do here. If we walk down the street in Haiti, everyone will stop and watch. If we walked down the street in Jamaica people might glance at us just because we’re walking by, not stare at us because we’re white. Chris also pointed out that Jamaicans don’t act like children, they act like adults that don’t feel like they need to do things to get people’s attention or prove themselves. Generally speaking we often see the opposite here. Jamaicans are poor, but they’re comfortably poor and hold their heads high because they have self respect. I feel sad because I see so many Haitians that aren’t able to do that. It’s like they’ve lost hope that life could ever be better for them. It was hard to see how many advancements Jamaica has made too, when they came out of slavery after Haiti did. Haiti fought for her independence. Jamaica made the decision to be independent. Haitians fought, but then didn’t do what they could have with it. My hope for Haiti is that one day the people might realize that though they have very little materially, they can have so much if they take pride in the right things, like self respect, raising their families, and taking responsibility for themselves and their actions. Maybe one day Haiti will once again be the most beautiful island in the Caribbean. Who knows?