Welcome to Jamaica

I wanted to write about Jamaica this week since I just got back from there. But then I realized my entire vacation consisted of lying on a beach sipping cocktails, socializing with other guests at the resort, and attending a beautiful sunset wedding on the beach. I didn’t actually experience much of the country. I can tell you the beach in Negril lived up to its reputation, and the Caribbean Sea is as warm and crystal blue as I’d hoped it would be. There’s even something serene about watching perfectly outlined lightning blaze through the sky at night while you sit outside without a drop of rain falling to mar the scene.

During the day reggae permeated the air thanks to either subtly placed speakers or rather obvious musicians strolling the beach. When the speakers played, some of the reggae cover sounds didn’t quite fit the Jamaican image – such as several Ace of Base and Michael Jackson songs transformed into reggae tunes.

Every night staff at the resort performed. The entertainment ranged from fire eating and  juggling to a spoof fashion show entitled “Plastique” where the models wore clothes  fashioned out of plastic garbage bags. Afterwards guests usually lingered outside sipping their rum drinks or wine.

My friend and I ended up socializing with one family in particular fairly often, which was a bit strange since in age we fell exactly in-between the parents and their two teenage sons. The 18-year-old boy was about to start UCLA in the fall, so I ended up chatting with him about the UC system and offering advice on fraternities/sororities, college parties, and even a word or two about classes. His 16-year-old brother listened eagerly, impatiently waiting for his turn. But we also chatted easily with the parents, who didn’t act any older than us and had a fairly relaxed attitude towards their sons – allowing them to drink and even learning to play beer pong with them. It made me feel suspended between two worlds.

Our second-to-last night, after taking the soon-to-be-bride out for drinks, we ended up joining this family for a while and when the parents went to bed we continued drinking with their sons for a couple hours. My friend kept admonishing me not to tell certain stories so I wouldn’t “corrupt the kids.” I wouldn’t have actually told them anything too corrupting even if she hadn’t been there, but it definitely made me wish I could go back and be starting college again! Wouldn’t it be nice if you could relive some of those days, especially if you knew then all the things you know now? Although, on the flip side, that also reminds me of a great line in a song, “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then….”

Then, our last day, came the wedding – the reason I had gone to Jamaica in the first place. We’d had thunder storms the entire day, but just as the ceremony on the beach began under a glistening white gazebo the sun at last came out, followed by a spectacular sunset. The bride looked stunning, the groom stared at her in absolute adoration as she approached – it was perfect. The two of them have already been together for several years and even have an adorable 1o-month-old daughter, but they still had that romantic wedding glow as we all kicked off our shoes and settled in to eat dinner at tables set up on the sand.

Since I didn’t see much else of Jamaica outside the resort, I wanted to at least leave you with a few fun facts I learned about Jamaica:

1. Jamaica was the world’s first commercial producer of rum, which is how it became the island’s national drink.

2. Even though English is the country’s official language, Jamaicans mainly speak to each other in Patois – a language made up of English and African Creole

3. The words barbecue, canoe, hurricane, potato, and tobacco all come from the language of the first inhabitants of Jamaica, the Arawak Indians.

4. After having lived in Ghana, I found this interesting – the majority of Jamaica’s population is of African descent, and the most common ethnic group among all Africans taken to Jamaica was the Akan (found primarily in West Africa and the largest ethnic group in Ghana). While in Ghana I saw the infamous “Doorway of No Return” through which many of those slaves were taken on their way to Europe, the Americas, and Jamaica as well.

5. Ian Fleming wrote ten of his James Bond novels in Jamaica, and he designed and built his home “Goldeneye” there. Fleming even got the name of his famous spy from James Bond, the author of a guide to the birds of the West Indies. (Jamaica apparently has 252 species of birds, including 27 found no where else. We personally discovered one that sounds annoyingly like a car alarm when you’re trying to sleep!)

Overall, Jamaica was great. I just wish the locals could enjoy the same luxuries the tourists do.

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One Response to Welcome to Jamaica

  1. Danielle says:

    Reading Keith Richards’ book now… the Stones did a lot of writing and recording in Jamaica!

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