I'm from Canada and have worked with 20+ Jamaicans over 18 years. They come up in late March, early April and return in late November. A Jamaican vacation was a natural conclusion to cement my friendship I had developed over all those years. I stayed with one of the guys that I worked closely with and got to know his family. His kids were so polite and respectful. He had made our stay so enjoyable that we wanted for nothing. His wife even tried to do my laundry. I told her no I had brought so many clothes that I wouldn't need to wash anything till I got back. I felt bad because at home I have washing machines and she's scrubbing everything by hand.
Jimmy had arranged a car for us even though he didn't own one at the time. He borrowed his brother-in-laws and chauffeured us around to anywhere we asked. I can't count how many times I made him drive me to Faith's Pen for jerk pork and Ochos Rios to snorkel.
He lived in Ewarton at the time and it was a good two hour trip up to the coast each time. He even got a flat tire on the way back once and had to change it on the side of a winding mountain road where the logging trucks were mere inches from hitting him.
From day one he had us up and at it even though we tried to protest that we were on vacation and wanted to lounge around. He would have none of it. He was so excited to show off his beautiful island. I can't believe the travelling we did in just two weeks. The long and short of it was the amazing, incredible stuff we did that you would never dream of doing if say you were to book a regular vacation through a hotel or resort.
I drank water straight from a river out of a cocoa pod to quench my thirst after gorging on Parson Brown oranges. I walked abush to gather yams at another friends place in Morant Bay. I couldn't believe how many people are out in the woods. Everyone gathering food or wood or other products. I even saw a donkey even though you said they are rarely used these days. He came out of the woods loaded with firewood. No-one was with him. After a few minutes his owner eventually appeared carrying a load of water coconuts.
We returned to Browns place and had a meal of fish that he had just caught that morning. The thing about Jamaica that I can't get over is that everywhere we went people kept giving us food if not outright feeding us. In St.Elizabeth we got tomatoes, lettuce and carrots from one friend. From another friend there he gave us thyme, salt cod and mangoes even though they were out of season. And from another in Maggotty District we got real pimentos. In Canada we call it allspice but because we have French as our other official language they label the cans we get as piment de Jamaique so I knew what it was.
In Morant Bay we had some kind of blue fish and the yams we dug up. The fish was the best I've ever had. In St. Catherine we had Parson Brown oranges, sugar pine and cane. The cane makes my jaw ache. That was from Jimmy's mom's place who owned a coffee/cane plantation and orange grove. He also picked us a breadfruit from one of the trees down by the river where I drank from. We had it for dinner that night.
As we drove around we ate like kings too. We ate pepper shrimp, jerk pork, jerk chicken, and mannish water. I drank so much rum cream that I was half lit most of the time. Those little bottles sure do spring up.
All in all I got to say the people are what make Jamaica so inviting. Everywhere we went people giving so much of themselves. I met Jimmy's auntie (not his real auntie) and had told her I would like to buy a t-shirt from her shop in Linstead next time we got to market. Well lo and behold the next day she arrived at Jimmy's with 10 t-shirts. I felt so grateful that she made the trip I bought all 10 from her and it was so cheap. I felt that wasn't enough so I went to Jimmy's tangerine tree and tried to pick some tangerines for her. They were so ripe that the slightest touch they would fall off the tree and smash on the ground. So I decided to climb it to pick them. Those trees have thorns..who knew. She was so impressed that I would actually climb a tree for her she raved on and on about it and she was gonna bring me more t-shirts. I told that it was very much appreciated but that because I brought so many clothes from home I wouldn't be able to fit more than the ten I had already bought.
The people, the food, the good times, the natural beauty, the weather all so amazing I returned the following year. It's been a good twenty years since I was there it's about time I returned. Oh and Jimmy moved to Ochos Rios now I don't have to drive as far to go snorkelling!