Jamaica is one of my number one choices as a wellbeing destination
There are a few countries I have been to in the past that really stand out for making me feel truly great – not just about myself but about the world in which we live and the kindness of those within it. There are three places that I intend to post about; the first being Jamaica.
Jamaica is often seen as a wedding destination or somewhere hot to go for a fat packing two-week rum filled all-inclusive holiday, or both! Far beyond the obvious beauty of the beaches, I found the island to captivate me owing to the philosophy and the people I encountered while there. When I returned to the UK I wasn’t only relaxed and renewed but also fulfilled.
“Everything will be alright’ isn’t just the lyric of a Bob Marley tune
It won’t be long into your stay before you hear a Jamaican say: “Everything irie!” Everything is great. And the answer to any of your requests will be, “No problem, man!” These responses point to the belief that there are no problems that can’t be fixed. Jamaicans have an aptitude for remaining positive. It’s a belief rooted in faith, and not letting their struggles overshadow the present moment. No matter the issue, it’s still going to be fine, because there’s always a solution.
Celebrate food and flavour
With a cultural heritage extending from indigenous to West African, European, Indian, and Chinese, Jamaican cuisine is delicious and diverse. Breakfast means it’s time for the national dish — seasoned ackee. The national fruit is cooked when ripe, scrambled with saltfish, and served with sides of dumplings, breadfruit, and yam. Throw in a cup of cornmeal porridge if you’re still hungry, and wash it all down with a cup of Blue Mountain coffee – the best coffee in the world.
Lunch typically consists of a heaping plate of coconut rice n’ peas that might be served with brown stew chicken or curried goat. Stuffed pastry shops are everywhere too or go simple with roasted peanuts and fruits; there are mobile street carts selling food everywhere.
Jerk and Twerk
Hot off the pimento wood fire and topped with homemade jerk sauce — that’s the way it’s meant to be. Head to a jerk centre, an open-air roadside restaurant serving local dishes, and order your preferred portion of chicken or pork by the quarter, though be warned, this will be hotter than your hotel offerings!
Don’t try to out twerk a Jamaican. I’ve not yet met a local that cannot dance and can keep still when music starts playing. Dancing is so popular here. In downtown Kingston, you’ll find loads of Ska and Reggae clubs, plus some awesome street performers though with my British rhythm, I was just an observer.
An attitude of gratitude is something I always try to cultivate and I think back to my time in Jamaica to practise this. I remember being there during constant rain and a friend I made told me that rain is ‘liquid sunshine’ – something feeding the soils and helping grow food. There is this belief that there is always something to be grateful for and every bad situation has some good in it, taking you on a path to something positive.
It’s easier than you would think to escape tourists
It’s true that Jamaica is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. But this doesn’t mean your only options are crowded beaches and packed all-inclusive resorts. Head east to Port Antonio and find the Jamaica that always was — filled with more nature than people, quiet public beaches such as Frenchman’s Cove and Boston Bay, and fishing village vibes. In Treasure Beach, on the south coast, you’ll find tranquillity — there’s only a handful of small guesthouses here and quiet black-sand beaches. As an introvert and a thinker this ability to escape was really important to me. Even if you do choose to stay in a big hotel in Montego Bay, you can fly to Kingston within half an hour for some true grit.
One Love and Rastafari
I spent some time in an indigenous village during my time in Jamaica and elements of the way the people lived and felt really resonated with me. Showing love to everyone – man, woman, animal and nature is something we don’t do in western culture but this movement lives this.
Anything that comes from Jamaica, Jamaicans are super proud of. The locals never seem to stop playing and singing Bob Marley songs. Everyone has their own special family jerk recipe that they will be keen to tell you. And, everyone will want to spend time letting you know of their favourite places to visit and the history behind them.
The Home of Alright
Maybe it’s the beat of the drums and reggae, the friendliness of the people, or the unforgettable scenery of beaches and hills, but it’s hard to disagree with the phrase coined by the Jamaica Tourist Board — this island really is the “Home of All Right.”
After a week, I found that I accepted myself as being ‘alright’ too, turning negatives into positives and then disallowing negatives from even entering my mind.
To truly understand what that means, you have to come and experience it for yourself.