As a graduation gift for my sister and I, my parents planned a family vacation to Jamaica. Coincidentally, a friend of the family was getting married, so July worked out to be the perfect time for the trip.
Both of my parents are from Jamaica and were born in the Saint Mary's parish. They eventually found their way to the urban capital, Kingston, before migrating to the United States in the 1990s. For the first and last part of the trip, we spent time in Kingston with extended-family but also drove to other parishes for excursions during the day. Jamaica has 14 parishes and we visited 6 of them : Saint Elizabeth, Manchester, Saint Ann, Saint Catherine, Saint Mary, Kingston, and Portland. My mom loves visiting tourist and historical spots so we also did our fair share of stops at many important sites. We visited King's House, the residence of the Governor-General, who functions as a representative of the British crown in the country. The Governor-General is a good friend of my great-aunt's and so we were able to sit with his wife and get a tour of the grounds and the small museum that they are hoping to expand. That same day we visited the Bob Marley museum which was AMAZING. No really, everyone needs to visit that museum I loved it. If you don't know much about Bob, or if you only know that he smoked weed, the visit will educate you. If you're a fan of his (like me), this will only make you love him more. On our first excursion trip, we drove to Portland and visited the Folly Mansion, one of the largest mansions to ever be built in Jamaica. The house was built by an American for his bride but because he rushed construction and mixed cement and sea saltwater, the house began to disintegrate as soon as it was finished. All that is left are the ruins of what once was. One of our last days we went to Lovers Leap in Saint Katherine, a site where two slaves allegedly jumped off a cliff to escape a jealous save master. The site is marked off and there is a beautiful restaurant and bar overlooking the coast.
These were the most important sites but we made many pit-stops along the way! [Pictures Below]
I am a huge fan of traveling, both domestic and international, but there is honestly something about traveling to the place where your people are from and where your parents were born. Traveling to the place where your family originates, you learn about them and, by extension, about yourself. I have been to Jamaica twice in my life, but I was much younger then and definitely not as appreciative of the culture/history. Jamaica is not a perfect country. It is a definite paradise but also has some real problems as well. The same way I can appreciate the beaches, the cuisine and the music, I also see the things that need to be fixed, such as the high poverty and crime and the fast-growing presence of China within the country. They were even experiencing a severe drought in some parts when I came which made everything look a bit dryer than usual. Regardless, driving to all of the parishes and seeing the land and interacting with the people for myself was the best part of the trip. Most times, when people travel, they stay at the resort and don't venture out to engage with the actual people. The resort, however, is not an actual experience with the country but more with a beach a pool and some reggae performances. Though I loved staying at the resort, I valued my time with my family much more.