It’s been 11 days since I’ve had any down time to post. It feels like way too long and I didn’t realize while I was gone, I forgot to set the recipes I made in the days leading up to my trip to post, so those will be going up over the next few days. But who could blame me? I was so excited about heading to Jamaica that everything else fell into second place.
We experienced so much, I don’t know where I should start.
About two months ago, we decided it was about time for our first winter trip to the Caribbean and we mulled through all of the usual suspects; Cuba, the Dominican, Mexico. We had taken a look at Jamaica, but thought it was just way beyond our budget, until my friend Beth introduced me to the place that I knew instantly was perfect.
Moonlight Villa in Negril and it’s wonderful owner, Debbie Lightheart, became my home away from home the second we opened up the gate and were greeted by 6 of the most beautiful and fun dogs on the planet.
Debbie showed us that first night what Jamaica was really about. We had barely unpacked and Debbie took us down the street (in Negril, everything is just down the street!!) to Canoe, this brightly coloured restaurant on the first bit of sand when you get out of the cliffs. It was run by one of the many Canadians we met in Jamaica (Debbie herself is included in that list) and was having a St. Patrick’s Day dinner & drinks when we got there. We sat and drank loads of green rum punch and ate our first bit of Jamaican food – pineapple ginger chicken for me, and grilled king fish for Joey. The view of the sunset while we were eating was phenomenal.
That first night we realized that everything they tell you about Jamaica is wrong. The people are beautiful, warm, kind and happy. They welcome you with open arms and open hearts. They make you feel like you’re a member of the family and don’t ostracize you or frighten you. The streets (although plagued with crazy driving, some monster pot holes, and no sidewalks) are safe to walk down even after dark.
You can, as we did, stop in any number of small “mom & pop” restaurants for meals and you’re treated like gold. There’s no worries about getting sick, or being served ill prepared food. At most places, you can get dinner for two (with left overs to take back with you for later) and a couple of drinks each for around $2000 Jamaican, which is about $23.50.
For breakfast on our second day, we ordered “Jamaican Breakfast” which consisted of chicken curry, callaloo, potato, yam, dashin, and warm slaw. It sounds more like supper to us, but let me tell you, it is perfect to fill you up before a day of snorkeling at the cliffs, walking the 7 mile beach, or traversing the Jamaican mountainside with one of our new found Jamaican-Canadian friends.
If you get the chance to and you have a local guide who knows the mountains, you must take the drive out there. The roads are terrible and so close to the edge of a cliff, but they are lush and green. The temperature is a bit cooler than it is down on the coast, which is a nice break from the heat, and there are fruit trees and bright flowers everywhere. If you can be as lucky as we were, you may just be able to get fresh picked mangoes, fresh cut sugar cane and giant coconuts picked from the top of 40 foot tree by someone in barefeet.
If you start feeling homesick, you can head to Sunset on the Beach and get one of their amazing hand made burgers. When we were there, Chef Patrick, the owner and another Canadian (who lives about ten minutes away from my sister & older brother in Alberta) let us know that he was thinking about having the restaurant open for the winter months and maybe closing it during the Jamaican summer, when he heads home to Canada. He does have another restaurant (with a hotel attached I think) up on the cliffs, aptly named Sunset on the Cliffs.
If you can’t decide what to do, just ask Debbie. During the week, we went out to Little Bay and had the opportunity to see one of Bob Marley’s houses – one that is little known to tourists and was blown down during Hurricane Ivan and has yet to be repaired. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to swim in the blue hole cave. I warn you on this one – wear shoes, not sandals as there is a trek through some rocky forest to get there. And please make a small donation to help with the repairs.
On Sunday night, Guako taught me how to make his Grandma’s real rice and peas and rundown (an amazing sauce that goes with absolutely everything). My camera battery was charging, so I don’t have pictures of Guako cooking, but I will be attempting it myself next weekend, so I will post the recipe with pics then.
Click over to Debbie’s site, drop her a line, tell her Angela & Joey sent you and head to down to experience what the real Jamaica has to offer.