Jamaica: the Treasure Island of the Caribbean

By: Oleg Ishenko

Your flights lands in and you are plunged into the hectic atmosphere of the airport crowded by the hordes of tourists: groups, couples and families. A jolly tune of a steel drum band welcomes you and so do hundreds of merchants trying to sell you almost everything: beer, cool drinks, newspapers, souvenirs. They greet you in the Jamaican manner: 'Yah Mon' (yeah man), 'Y'allright?' (are you all right?), 'Whaapen' (what's happening?).

Finally you find the resort representative. 'No worries mon,' says he while helping you whith your luggage. Now brace yourself, the ride to your resort is about to star. The bus driver seems to have no regard to his, yours or pedestrians life and if you are motion sickness prone -- you'd better get a paper bag ready. Oh no, he seems to be driving the wrong side of the street! 'No worries mon', it's a tradition the Brits left here. By the way, this is a good reason not to rent a car in Jamaica.

Once you left the airport park you start noticing contrasts.

The stunning Blue Mountains are surely a breathtaking view. But they are also a backdrop of the striking poverty reminding you that you are in a third world country. Shacks built of rusty metal and some unrecognizable materials occupy the sides of the road. They are homes for thousands of Jamaicans, and while you drive by you see some of them doing their daily business or simply sitting in the shade and relaxing.

You arrive to your resort which again is a striking contrast to what you have seen on your way there. Most Jamaican hotels are examples of luxury and comfort which are reflected in their far above average prices. You will find the resort staff friendly and welcoming. Let them care about your luggage and go to the nearby diner to enjoy some of the best food in Caribbean.

'Nyam' is Jamaican for 'to eat'. Jamaicans are well known meat-eaters and their favorite dishes are jerk chicken and pulled pork. Patties are also delicious, filled with meat and vegetables, sometimes too hot and spicy. Be careful -- most traditional dishes have bones in them, don't be shy to pick them out of your mouth and place them on the side of your plate, everybody does so.

Be sure to try two famous brands of Jamaica: Blue Mountais Coffee and Red Stripe Beer. And don't miss the awesome liquor they have there: Pimento Dram.

If you want to have some shopping fun, go to a local market, like the one in . Enjoy the whirling atmosphere of a Jamaican marketplace where hundreds of merchants are desperately trying to sell you things you'd never need. Some will meet you before you get into their booth and take you inside constantly talking and piling one item on another into your face.

Jamaica's gems are not just white beaches or glorious nature. Jamaican people, vibrant and friendly folk are the true treasure of the island. Good buy Jamaica, Jah Bless, Likkle more, I'll be coming back soon!

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