Jamaica: A reflection of my trip
I’ve never been to Jamaica as a tourist. Over Christmas, I jetted off to the birthplace of reggae and jerk to spend the holidays with family. But also, to indulge in authentic jerk chicken and reggae music, of course.
Out there, I spend most of my time with my grandma. Her home sits on a beautiful topography of hills that boast an array of vibrant upmarket houses.
When telling my friends my plans were to go to Jamaica this Christmas, I was met with jaw drops: “You’re so lucky. You’re going to be spending every day at the beach”; “You’re going to get such nice pictures”. They all seemed to have this romanticized idea of Jamaica and the lives of the people that live there – as if the only things people do on the island is float on bamboo rafts and spend all day drinking out of coconut shells on platinum beaches.
As a non-tourist, my time spent in Jamaica is a lot more ordinary than it sounds. But, despite not swimming in crystal lagoons and climbing up waterfalls 24/7, I find anything I’m doing in Jamaica is always a magical experience.
Every time we go to Jamaica we visit my great grandmother’s house in the rural areas up in St Ann’s province, the largest parish in Jamaica. Located north, St Ann is often called ‘The Garden parish of Jamaica’ for its natural floral beauty. As Jamaica’s ‘capital of adventure’, Ocho Rios (locally referred to as Ochi) was close by we decided to do something fun for the day.
A family friend suggested we go to Dolphin Cove, a marine attraction in the heart of Ochi. “You want to be able to go back to the UK and show off!” Berkie says to us, “You want to show your friends back at home what Jamaica is made of, give them stories to tell”. He was right. My family would always take us to Ochi on every visit to do just that.
Ocho Rios is a stark difference from the capital Kingston which I’m used to. Covered by extensive emerald rainforests and lush waterfalls, Ochi is magnificent. Many can attest to that. Its enchanting beauty was featured in the first Bond film, Dr. No. In fact, Ian Fleming birthed James Bond in Ochi in his cliff-hanging home which overlooked a private beach. Fleming saw the allure of the Jamaican idyll in Ochi.
We decided to squeeze in a visit to Dolphin Cove – a natural cove surrounded by five acres of tropical rainforest. And as the name suggests, is home to dolphins!
Walking in, I was welcomed with sounds of splashing, squeaking dolphins, and many American accents. The cove is designed to be a counterpart of a holiday resort. Beaches, crystal pools, slides, and jacuzzies – turned out I was living it out the way my friends were expecting me to after all.
The dolphins aren’t shy and say hi when you come over to them – you can also swim with them if you fancy. Up in the tropical rainforest, there is also a mini zoo where you could get up and close with parrots and iguanas.
I’m not going to lie; the whole marine attraction was giving me Blackfish vibes. My mum and I were even joking with the instructors about it, telling one, “Once you watch that documentary, you’ll want to quit your job”. However, he assured us both that the dolphins were happy and if they wanted to leave, they could easily jump over the floated footpath they were enclosed in. “Here [Dolphin Cove] is their home”, he told us. If what he was saying was true, most likely the dolphins were staying because they were being fed.
I was reminded that a day out in Ochi is guaranteed to refresh and reconnect you with nature. Friendly conversations with dolphins, walking through glistening forests, and quick dips in the ocean, I felt re-energized and optimistic on our journey back home.
Overall, my trip to Jamaica revitalized my spirit. The break prepared me for an intense week of studying for upcoming exams that were waiting for me once I got back to the UK.
I’m hoping to go back to Jamaica this year as a traveller. Even though it’ll be my ninth time visiting, there is so much the country has to offer, you can never get enough. The beauty, excitement, and thrill of Jamaica is never-ending.