From pure white beaches to incredible food and amazing culture, Jamaica is a place we should all visit. Here is our guide to the nation.
This small island is where Reggae music originated in the late 1960s and went on to become the rage in Britain, the United States and Africa. Think Bob Marley and you’ll think of the four beat music that makes you want to dance.
A Brief Background
The island was originally inhabited by the Tainos who were simple and gentle people and called their home Xaymaca.
Then came the Spaniards in the early 16th century, captured the island and began calling it Jamaica. They wanted to enslave the mild mannered Tainos to grow sugar cane to be shipped back to Europe for profit.
However, disease soon spread from the Spaniards to the locals and large numbers of them died. Not ones to let go, the Spaniards decided to bring slaves from Africa and massive sugar plantations soon started.
The slaves would sing soulful music while working in the plantations to soothe themselves.
In fact the popular Salsa dance also originated in sugar cane plantations in Cuba where the slaves would do a kind of a dance to avoid injuries to their feet.
Come 1655 and the English colonised the profitable island of Jamaica, which later became a British colony in 1707 straight through until 1962. At that time sugar was the most expensive commodity in Britain.
The Jamaicans did not lose heart, kept their peace and continued with their lifestyle despite being slaves and forced labour. It all shows in their dance, music and cuisine. In fact, the Jamaican national motto is “Out of many, one people”. This is on account of the many ethnicities that the Jamaicans originate from.
Coming to today, the island bubbles with life and attracts tourists from all parts of the world. The people are candid, co-operative, sociable and hospitable.
A Closer Look
Apart from Bob Marley the island has produced many greats for Reggae music. This Caribbean country also gives the word some of the fastest runners. The closest explanation scientists are able to give is that their muscles twitch differently when they run. The fastest being Usain Bolt.
The nation has also produced some of the best cricketers. To name just two, Michael Holding and Courtney Walsh.
English and Patois are the official languages. Patois is only a spoken language and uses words from Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, many African languages and English. It’s one of the most friendly sounding and expressive languages.
Some consider it the best. It surely is one of the best, the Blue Mountain coffee. Grown in fertile volcanic soil, and with regular rainfall, the coffee grows amid fog, clouds and the rays of the sun. One of the most aromatic coffees that sets you back a good 50 euros for a pack of 100 grams if bought in Europe.
The tropical country has more than 50 public beaches including the Negril Seven Mile Beach. Every one of them is magnificent.
It also produces some of the best rums in the world. The most expensive one from Wray and Nephew is said to have been sold at $54,000 per bottle.
Port Royal in Jamaica was once among the most dangerous cities in the world. A haven for pirates.
The country is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls.
This is a country of the most laid back people and you’ll find music being played in many places. In fact, they spontaneously break into a dance and are able to produce a melody just by clicking their fingers and clapping.
Things to do in Jamaica
- Go with the intention of enjoying it to the fullest. Mingle with the locals and the local cuisine before going to those magnificent beaches.
- Go hiking. Depending upon where you go you’ll be wearing your normal hiking clothes or your swimwear and hiking shoes.
- Try bamboo rafting.
- Visit the waterfalls. You’re allowed to swim too. Also, swim in the Blue Hole. One of the clearest natural swimming pools. Take a night trip to the haunted Rose Hall.
- See some of the historic sites and plantations.
- Go swimming at night in one of the many lagoons.
- Go horseback riding in the waters of the Caribbean.
You will see two weeks just pass you by. Remember to bring home the famed Blue Mountain coffee, rum, a set of Calabash wooden bowls and plenty of Jamaican Jerk seasoning, which is one of a kind and is used for several kinds of Jamaican cooking.
Prefer the mountains to the beaches? How about going to Peru instead?
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