Hi everyone, it’s Amir here, aka “A“. Since I spent eight weeks in Jamaica and was the reason behind our adventure around the country, Joanna pitched the idea that I should write this post from my perspective and share my experience. Hope you enjoy! If I do well, she may let me come back for another post 😉
Here’s a little background on my reason for being in Jamaica for two months. I was sent to Kingston, Jamaica, as part of a corporate partnership with my company, where I spent eight weeks volunteering in Business Development. I was connected with the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture to mentor youth entrepreneurs with their businesses. It was a life changing experience. I was able to travel all over to different neighbourhoods of Kingston (depending on gang violence), meet up with youth entrepreneurs, and help them with business plan writing, strategic planning, social media strategy, and risk management.
Lucky for me, after 7 weeks of being alone in a foreign country and feeling extremely homesick, Joanna came to join me in Kingston. In no time she would learn for herself all the crazy stories I was telling her about – life in such a cut throat society. We took off to Port Antonio for the first weekend and than Ochos Rios for our last weekend in Jamaica.
Lime Cay – the only beach escape in Kingston is about 20 minutes away by fisherman boat
Locals will tell you it’s “the city of no pity” and it couldn’t be further from the truth! Most foreigners who come to Jamaica do so to indulge in the beautiful pristine beaches and experience the “yah mon” culture. But the truth is if you want to experience the real Jamaica you need to head to Kingston and get a “wagwan” from the local cornerman. Living in a local community, in an apartment complex as the only foreigner, was quite challenging. As amazing and hardworking as Kingstonians can be, it was a much more dangerous life than what I was used too. Safety was on my mind essentially every single day and it was exhausting keeping a firm back bone due to always being targeted for being ripped off.
All that aside, Kingston has a lot to offer. It is the birthplace of two global legends: Bob Marley & Usain Bolt. If it weren’t for these two I don’t believe foreigners who travel to Jamaica would even make a stop in Kingston. Locals will tell you for every Gold medal Bolt won the more influx of tourists the city would see. The Trench Town Culture Yard provides an in depth walking tour into the original government housing where Bob Marley and other great legends were created. If you’re feeling hungry for some Jerk Chicken you can make a pitstop at Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records which is filled with his legendary memorabilia. If you’re looking for an authentic Kingston street selling experience take a stroll in Half Way Tree where Downtown meets Uptown.
Fort Clarence Beach
Local Boxing Card for charity – I love Boxing so I had to get my fix in Jamaica
Port Royal, Jamaica’s first capital city- What’s left after the earthquake and tsunami of 1692. Divers come here to see the entire city underwater unwrecked
Trench Town Culture Yard – Bob Marley’s birthplace which unfortunately is in shambles now
Bob Marley’s first van
Murals at Fleet St. – the vision behind this project is that by beautifying the abandoned areas you can create an improved environment for the community
Enjoying the pina colada’s and beef/curry goat meat/pork patties at the historic Devon House. I think Joanna set a new Guinness world record for eating patties 2 times a day for seven days straight at the Devon House
PORT ANTONIO |
On our first weekend, we went to the beautiful coastal town of Port Antonio, where Ian Flemming wrote the James Bond series from his home there. Port Antonio is the place to getaway and we needed just that. We stayed at the historic Frenchman’s Cove resort which is a lush tropical paradise. Unfortunately for us, we had nothing but rain for the entire weekend. Although we didn’t get to do most of what I had planned, it was a a low key and relaxing weekend. Port Antonio, is an underrated city, especially in comparison to the more widely known Montego Bay, Negril, or Ochos Rios, but as Anthony Bourdain puts it, this is where the real untouched Jamaica is. If you’re looking for a quieter Jamaican getaway with less tourists and more seclusion but with the same Jamaican hospitality and culture, I would highly recommend the extra little trek to this junglehemmed town on Jamaica’s northeast coast.
Our villa in Frenchman’s Cove
Frenchman’s Cove most popular photo op
We headed to the famous GeeJam Hotel for a dinner with a hefty price tag but an even better view. This hotel is set high on a jungle-covered hill overlooking the sea and takes luxury to another level.
OCHOS RIOS |
Ochos Rios needs no introduction, as the cruise capital of Jamaica, this port town on the north coast of Jamaica is world renowned for its beaches, nightlife, and Margaritaville. I spent some time here for my volunteer work, where I met sustainable farmers in the area. Also, Joanna and I spent our last weekend here. Again, we were caught in rain but were able to explore a few different things such as the Green Grotto Caves and Discovery Bay. Our favourite memory from Ochos Rios is the seafood feast we enjoyed at Anglers, a local restaurant specializing in Jamaican seafood.
Understanding the future of Jamaican farming. 100% sustainable farmer teaching us the ways..
It was crazy being in a country where basically only 1 beer brand is consumed. Red Stripe is a way of life I easily adopted and brought it back home with me to Canada
The “North-South Hwy” better known as the China Hwy – China basically blasted through the mountains to achieve a direct path from Kingston to Ochi. The catch? They own the toll rights for 99 years and allowed to bring in workers from China.
Green Grotto Caves
Apparently they filmed the Bachelorette Canada in this section
A couple hundred years old arch still standing from the Spanish Colonial days at Columbus Park
The famous boardwalk in Ochi