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Jamaica – A Family Visit

Jamaica - even a backyard shack is vibrant with color
Jamaica - even a backyard shack is vibrant with color

Wow. Where to even begin. My grandmother was born and raised in St. Catherine Parish, Jamaica. For as long as I can remember, she's always described Jamaica as "a beautiful and fun place."

This summer, my entire family decided to see what she was always raving about. All 9 of us took a trip from California to Jamaica. I never could have imagined that the trip would change my view on life.

We visited some of her family – people I had only heard about in stories and my grandmother's memories. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and fully embraced the island's vibrant culture. We visited Ocho Rios, St. Catherine Parish, Linstead and Montego Bay.

I'll never forget walking through the marketplace in a tropical rainstorm. We were shopping and before we knew it, it was raining. Instead of running for shelter, I stopped, looked around and realized I would never be in a Jamaican marketplace covered in warm rain again.

As I stood there, everything seemed to swirl around me. The shops, the cars honking, the stray goats two feet away from me, the music blaring from someone's shop speakers and the smell of a city I had never imagined I would visit. It was one of the most magnificent moments of my life.

The entire trip was filled with special moments. I'd never been in the Caribbean, and it truly is as beautiful as it looks in all the glossy photos. It's so naturally blue and clear.

I already miss the palm trees and the way the wind blows against your skin before a rainstorm. If you haven't been to Jamaica, I highly recommend you visit at least once in your life.

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Jamaica - even a backyard shack is vibrant with color
Jamaica - even a backyard shack is vibrant with color

Wow. Where to even begin. My grandmother was born and raised in St. Catherine Parish, Jamaica. For as long as I can remember, she's always described Jamaica as "a beautiful and fun place."

This summer, my entire family decided to see what she was always raving about. All 9 of us took a trip from California to Jamaica. I never could have imagined that the trip would change my view on life.

We visited some of her family – people I had only heard about in stories and my grandmother's memories. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and fully embraced the island's vibrant culture. We visited Ocho Rios, St. Catherine Parish, Linstead and Montego Bay.

I'll never forget walking through the marketplace in a tropical rainstorm. We were shopping and before we knew it, it was raining. Instead of running for shelter, I stopped, looked around and realized I would never be in a Jamaican marketplace covered in warm rain again.

As I stood there, everything seemed to swirl around me. The shops, the cars honking, the stray goats two feet away from me, the music blaring from someone's shop speakers and the smell of a city I had never imagined I would visit. It was one of the most magnificent moments of my life.

The entire trip was filled with special moments. I'd never been in the Caribbean, and it truly is as beautiful as it looks in all the glossy photos. It's so naturally blue and clear.

I already miss the palm trees and the way the wind blows against your skin before a rainstorm. If you haven't been to Jamaica, I highly recommend you visit at least once in your life.

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1

I know exactly what you're talking about Sigournee,

I went down to Jamaica a few years ago and had a blast. The people were as nice as any I've met anywhere. Some of the old "Rasta" men I met were real characters. Some were incredible carvers and I have what I consider to be one of the most interesting wood sculptures I've ever come across; it is of an old rasta man holding a dog in his arms and the dog has its legs up and appears dead. There is another dog, alive, sitting at the old man's feet. I always say this sculpture instantly tells a story. I love it.

I also had the strangest experience while snorkling there. I was at the top of about 15 feet of water, just a few yards off shore, and I noticed what I thought was a small group of fish moving along the bottom, coming my way. Just as the group was about to pass under me, they came to a complete stop. Not a wavy, curly kind of stop like you see fish do; these guys halted on a dime, in unison, and then in unison, they slowly turned and looked up at me. They maintained perfect spacing between then the whole time.

They had what appeared to be large black and white eyes and long droopy, pointed noses. Their bodies were like sleek metallic tubes and had fins of some sort running the length of their bodies with various colors pulsing and moving up and down their length. I though I was looking at aliens.

After a few minutes I realized they were squid. I had never encountered them in the wild and the first thing that became apparent to me is that they had an intelligence that was way beyond any fish. Maybe even beyond whales and dolphins.

As I slowly moved, circling above them, they also turned and just kept staring at me. They seemed as curious about me as I was about them. I could not get over the changing color variations I was seeing, even in their body color.

Then they turned like a squad of soldiers and proceeded on their way. It was simply amazing. And no, it was not the Ganja I had enjoyed that day (and the next, and the next). They were just the most fascinating creatures I had ever encountered in the ocean, and believe me, I've done a lot of snorkeling and scuba diving in a number of countries and never had an experience like that.

I'd love to go back, even for just another taste of the great goat jerk. Scrumptious! Ah yes, Jamaica. As my friends say: "Jamaica me crazy!"

Aug. 15, 2011

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