Jamaica: Big up yourself

Hey girl hey! I’m here to share my travel experiences with you. I grew up in a small village in the south of the Netherlands, which has always been too small for me. On my nineteenth I went to London for an internship, where I lived in a hostel. I was so fascinated by all the people I met who where traveling around the world, I wanted to be just like them. Now -10 years later- I’ve been to over 40 countries and I am looking for a new home in South America. My biggest dream is to start my own hostel. In this blog I will share my adventures from Jamaica! – XOXO Kris

Jamaica: Big up yourself

I was not looking forward to the winter in Berlin. So I asked my boss if I could work in one of our other locations; Jamaica. I made a ton of over hours to have more time in Jamaica and on the 31st of December I landed in Jamaica. Jamaicans are so funny and welcoming, the nature is just… wow, and the beaches have pearly white sand and that perfect blue water.

The trip to Jamaica was super long and I don’t really sleep on planes. If I do not get enough sleep I am a different person, not someone you want to meet. So when I couldn’t find my driver and everyone was talking to me ‘do you want a taxi’ ‘where are you going’ I was stressing out like crazy! Finally I found my driver and he took me to my hostel that I found on Airbnb.

The hostel – Cedar Ridge Lodge- is located on a hill at the edge of the town. There were not many guests, one girl lived there and we had a house mama. She took care of the house and was always in the hostel. Out on the balcony we had a nice view, a perk of sitting on top of the hill. I stayed in a small room, which was fine for me. There is one big downfall with the hostel: it was not safe to walk down from the hill. Several people had been robbed going down and there are stray dogs. So every time I wanted to go town I had to call a taxi to pick me up, which is expensive if you do this every day. This made me feel kind of trapped. The hostel is very safe with a good security system, my Jamaican boss drove to the hostel to check if it was safe enough for me, so sweet!

At work my colleagues were amazing, I was part of a small team. They made me feel super welcome and thought I was very brave for coming alone. In the Jamaican culture it is important to take care of guest and make them feel welcome. We went to the movies together and I got invited to other trips. Their language is amazing, they speak Patwah, as they call it themselves, ‘very bad English’. But that does not mean you can understand what they are saying. I bought a book to learn Patwah so I could say a couple of words. My favorite are: Wah Gwaan me G – what’s up my friend, Big up yourself – Saying hello, respecting someone. How we go reach – how are we getting there.
It is such a flirty culture, to me it looks like everyone if flirting with each other. My boss would have a team meeting while holding my coworkers hand. This is totally normal in Jamaica, but would be sexual harassment in the Netherlands.

The taxi system in Jamaica is a bit of a challenge. You have tourist taxies that all work the same, but the normal taxies work a bit different. The taxies have a region where they drive in, you have to be in the right area to go a certain way. You share the taxi with other passengers and will get dropped of at a taxi stand or in the taxi’s region. So if I wanted to get to the hostel I would first take a taxi to the taxi stand. Then I have to find the right spot for the taxi that goes to my area. Were in Europe being polite you say, ‘can you please stop here’. In Jamaica you say loudly, ‘driver one stop!’.

A few things happened at the taxi stand. And let me tell you: don’t go there at night, it does not feel safe, especially when you stand out being a white girl with blond hair like me. One thing that put me in a awkward/ scary situation was my own fault. I wanted to buy a pineapple. The guys who sell fruits look like gangsters with face tattoos, a little bit like these Soundcloud rappers or Lil Wayne. I did not want to get ripped off so I asked the guy behind me what I should pay, and he said ‘I don’t know’. But the fruit guy heard me and said aggressively ‘WHAT did you ask him’  while waving a big knife at me. I felt there was no point in lying to him, that would only make matters worse. We had a discussion about the price and I got my pineapple, but I will never make that mistake again. Obviously it was rude of me to ask someone else for the price and it happened to me with the wrong person. You don’t mess with Jamaicans.

There is violence in Jamaica but it is not targeted to tourist. There are revenge murders. So for example, a guy beats up his wife and then her brother murders this guy because the wife’s family seeks revenge. There were some similar stories in the newspaper when I was there. My regular taxi driver, who’d pick me up from work, owned a gun and at night sometimes you could hear gunshots. So it’s definitely not the safest country, but going to Jamaica and staying in a resort is just a waste. Jamaica has so much to offer besides that.

My fist trip was to Negril. To get there from Montego Bay, I took two busses and one taxi (2 hours). I visited my colleague and her son. The beach is amazing, so clear and beautiful. We went to Rick’s cafe; an absolute must if you are in the area. This cafe is on the edge of a cliff and guess what?! You can jump! There are several heights, I jumped of the lowest one of 7 meters. There are people who regulate the jumping and they jump themselves as well. But not just of a cliff, no, they climb up a tree (+-17m)) and jump off with some super flips. They have beer, food, entertainment and adrenaline. What else can you ask for.

The day after we went to YS falls, It felt I walked into Jurassic Parc! The trees are so massive, the jungle is breathtaking and the falls are so much fun. You can swim, chill and rope swing. Before we went to the YS falls we took a boat tour and drove down the black river. The tours are not expensive and you will definitely see some crocodiles. They don’t really treat the crocodiles with respect because they poke them with a stick to make them move which might look really cool but is also so wrong.

My boss took me to the worlds biggest reggae festival in the word. We went with another colleague/ friend. Reggae also means no alcohol nor meat but lots of weed. For the festival, weed was condoned. I’m Dutch, but I have never seen so much weed in my life. Big jars filled with all kinds of weed, I did not smoke just as most of the people I met in Jamaica don’t smoke weed. But still a LOT of people do. There was lots of food, but the acts were not super interesting to me. There was a lot of preaching, I don’t like that at all. Jamaicans do! I heard a lot of ‘AMEN’ around me. The festival never stopped, it just kept going on and on. I think the acts went on non stop throughout the entire weekend.

With my Jamaican ‘boyfriend’ I took a trip to Ocho Rios; a popular place for tourists. It’s filled with luxury hotels and there are plenty of activities. But we went for Dunn’s river, which is one of the best waterfalls in the word. You start at the bottom of the river and climb up. There are plenty of small pools to swim in and all is surrounded by jungle. When we went is wasn’t so busy, but it’s very popular so I can imagine it’s less fun when it is crouded with tourists. On our way back to Montego Bay we went to glistening waters. This is an absolute must. The luminous lagoon lights up when you touch the water. This is caused by some kind of plankton, I’ve seen it before but never this bright and the whole water just lights up. Truly a magical experience!

The last trip I took with my colleague was to Kingston. For me, Kingston was just too busy and almost everywhere I was the only white girl which made me stand out and people noticed that. Luckily I was with my friend and I felt safe enough with her. When we went to the park, my favorite artist was preforming, google Style X – Me love my fatty. If you are in Kingston you have to go to Bob Marley’s house, it is turned into a museum where you will learn a lot about him. The hostel (reggae hostel) we stayed in had a live band preforming in the garden which was perfect. I had a great night without leaving the hostel after dark.

The next day we went to Blue Lagoon to celebrate a friends birthday. We stayed in Bay View Eco Resort, the room was in wooden hut with views over the jungle. The blue lagoon is so clear and deep! We went rafting (a.k.a. floating). There was nothing wild about it.

Let’s talk about safety. I wouldn’t recommend going to Jamaica by yourself. I only took trips with my friends and they are locals. I felt a little trapped in the 6 weeks I spent in Jamaica. It is just not safe enough to go wandering on your own all the time. I did take some trips by myself and all the time people said: ‘where is your boyfriend’ ‘why are you on your own’ ‘you shouldn’t travel alone’ ‘this is dangerous’. I think if you go with someone you will have more fun! Also there is a lot of staring, cat calling and all the attention you don’t want. Going out after dark is a no go. The traffic is dangerous too, they can’t drive, seriously! I saw at least 6 accidents in the time I was there.  I don’t want to discourage you from visiting Jamaica because the people are as beautiful as the country.


Top 3 Activities

Ocho Rios

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Glistening waters

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Top 3 Restaurants

Rick’s cafe

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Local Jerk Chicken

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Margaritavill price icon

Travalas Friendly        

Travalas friendly 

Favorite travel quote

‘Never stop doing things for the first time’

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