Last week I took trip back to Jamaica which was my home for the first 19 years of my life. My daughter, son-in law, and my grandson made the trip also.
It had been twenty four years since I paid a visit to Jamaica. Such as long time! I asked myself why had it been so long?
There was no legitimate answer that I could find.
It is true that before retiring, my time was not fully my own. I also had other plans when I had vacation days. My parents are both deceased, and I have very few family members still living there.
Whatever the reason, I vowed never to stay away for such a long time.
What a joy it was to look down from the plane, and to see the majestic mountains stretching across the island!
As we landed in Kingston, I was filled with excitement, and thanks to God that I had been privileged to return.
I stepped out into the hot sunshine, and looked around at the island scenery. Memories came flooding
A CHALLENGING JOURNEY
Driving along the highway from the airport, I noted that the road looked so different from my previous visit. The pavement was smooth, and there were large rocks on one side, and the beautiful ocean on the other.
Every Jamaican has either heard of the road to Morant Bay, St Thomas Parish, or has experienced it firsthand. This road is legendary not only because of the beautiful scenery, but also because it is narrow, and winds through the mountains.
Our driver did not seem phased by the unexpected curves, twists, and turns.
It was picturesque because I could see sudden glimpses of the ocean.
If you are hungry, there are many roadside eateries to satisfy your appetite. There were people selling mangoes, and other Jamaican delicacies, seemingly at every turn.
Others sold Jamaican patties, Jerk chicken, Rice and peas, and other delights.
Our first stop was in the town of Yallahs. This a small but busy town, with men and women cooking out in the open, by the side of the road.
What a treat it was to sample some of the delicious dishes!
I had heard about Yallahs from the time that I was a child, but this was probably my first time stopping to eat there.
Within a half hour from Yallahs, we arrived at our destination in Morant Bay, population about 9,602. This was not my first time visiting this town. My sister and I spent some of our most cherished summer holidays there– many moons ago.
This was the home of my son-in law’s parents. They have a large home situated in a central area in Morant Bay.
Since our visit was for the most part of a religious nature, most of our time was spent in worship services, rather than in sightseeing.
However, I did have the opportunity to meet several individuals who remembered me as a child. The question was, did I remember their names, and faces?
While I was able to recall some names, yet there were others that I could not remember. Everyone was very gracious whenever I drew a blank, and could not remember their names, nor even their faces.
It was heartwarming to meet and greet them, and to hear the stories that they told of my parents, who are now deceased.
What was also special for me was seeing the tropical scenery; the mountains, sugar cane fields, and the breadfruit and ackee ( fruit) trees.
I also realized that driving on the left side of the road was something that I had never tried! I was not sure that I would be able to master this feat, having learned to drive on the right side of the road.
I must say that I was in awe of the drivers who zipped around the corners like a bullet!
I found that the livestock – specifically the roosters, made themselves noticed by their frequent, loud, and insistent crowing. It did not matter the time of day or night. They seemed to be sending an urgent message to each other,in their own language.
Every meal that we ate consisted of freshly cooked meats, fish, and vegetables straight from the garden. Because this was the week of Passover, only special foods could be eaten (i.e. cooked without leavening agent such as yeast).
So many delicious, healthy dishes! Breakfast consisted of callaloo (somewhat like spinach),fresh mint tea, ackee and salted fish, eggs, fried plantain, and a host of other delicacies.
Lunch and dinner were mainly chicken, or fish dishes.
The side dishes included– rice and peas (kidney beans) cooked in coconut milk, green or fried plantain, shredded cabbage with carrots. Several varieties of yams were also included.
The star of the meal was usually breadfruit which is sweet, and has a potato like consistency. The breadfruit is usually roasted in the thick green skin. The skin is then removed and discarded. What remains is a delicious, yellow looking bread like flesh that can be eaten by itself, or with any meat dish.
The drinks included carrot juice, soursop juice (made from the sweet flesh of the soursop fruit), sorrel and ginger drinks- just to name a few.
Snacks included mangoes, oranges, bananas, various plums, and custard apple (not really an apple). Also included was a sweet “pudding” made from yams, sweet potatoes, eggs, sugar, and various seasonings. Sugar cane juice was a refreshing treat!
At the end of my stay in Jamaica, I concluded that this had been one of the best times that I had experienced.
I will treasure the beautiful memories of this trip. I am also looking forward to a return journey in the near future.
Have you visited Jamaica? Are you planning a trip soon? Let me know what your experience has been.