Week 2 was about getting out of Kingston and into the Jamaican countryside. Ocho Rios is the main tourist destination of Jamaica and is a fairly small coastal town with many luxurious resorts. We made sure we spent our time on the beach and by the pool. There were surprisingly few actual tourists about in town except on cruise ship days, giving a nice local feel to the area, but not so good for the Jamaican economy because all the tourists hide in their all-inclusive hotels.
This does mean that the local souvenir sellers were very pushy at times – I was even followed down the road by a man on a motorbike who it turned out was only trying to sell me a CD.
Ocho Rios finally tested my teacherly role on the trip when a student fell ill with a stomach bug that looked suspiciously like a hangover. I spent a whole day playing nurse as I tended her bedside and watched Frozen on quiet in the girl’s living room. As a result, I can’t tell you what Montego Bay is like! It did make me feel slightly less guilty about spending my other days in the pool however, where I was definitely not actively teaching anybody anything.
As a food enthusiast I can’t miss out on telling you the types of food I ate in Kingston. The meals tend to be rather veg low; meat or fish with the stereotype rice and peas. I have eaten so much chicken and rice and peas that I am now on a chicken detox. It was all rather delicious. Jerk chicken was most yummy and not as spicy as I was fearing. I ate sweet sweet honey roast
plantain and sweet potato. Callaloo, a kale-like dark green vegetable steamed or cooked with salt fish for a deep flavour. Ackee, the national fruit of Jamaica, actually a rather tasteless white fruit but cooked with salt fish for a meaty tasting breakfast. Patties for lunch, like a Cornish pasty but with thin spicy pastry. So many new tastes to explore and enjoy.
Now my favourite food swiftly became a side dish known as festivals. These are apparently fairly new to Jamaican cuisine and were invented by adding sugar to the traditional Jamaican Johnny Cakes (dumplings) and making them into a stick shape, They are, in all honesty, doughnuts. There is no other way to describe deep fried sugary dough. Doughnut like carbs as a legitimate side for dinner? I was very quickly addicted. I had festivals with my chicken, festivals and fresh cooked fish, festivals for lunch. I now miss eating such obviously unhealthy food as my dinner, but I can’t quite justify rinsing off a doughnut and eating it with my roast so I will try to live without.
The highlight of the week for me was Dunn’s River Falls. A very touristy spot and not cheap at all, but we went early so it wasn’t busy and the guided climb up the waterfalls was a fantastic experience and a good change from the constant lying by the pool or beach. Not exactly a hard life you are thinking, being forced to relax by the pool in Jamaica for free, and I would agree with
you. I did, however, start to go a little stir crazy towards the end when I became bored of the one street and stretch of beach that Ocho Rios has to offer. I like to walk. Usually I walk for about forty minutes every day. Jamaica is not conducive for walking, there are no pavements on the main roads and when you walk too far up the beach a security guard turns you around before you encroach on a hotel’s private stretch. By the end of fourteen days I was looking forward to coming home to somewhere I could explore without a car.
Thanks Jamaica, in the words of the lego movie, everything was awesome.