Recently, I was invited to explore Jamaica. If you follow me on twitter (follow me now on Relentless Bride or via my Weddzilla account), You will have seen a few tweets and photos from this trip. It was much too short of a trip and I only had time to explore a small portion of this gorgeous island - Montego Bay; but let me just tell you... I only scratched the surface.
I admit it, I fall easily into stereotypes and stereotyping. Many times I repeat or even think the common "stereotypes" for cultures, people, foods, states etc... I mean, I am a So-Cal girl to the core; a total coaster, so until I went to Indiana for school - I just knew Indiana was somewhere in the middle - I mean, would I really know anything but coasts? Other common misconceptions I've run with...the fact that I'm a coaster and that somehow validates being geographically challenged LOL; of course the typical Asian ones - I always have a camera on me (typically), I am good at math (i'm not), I take pictures of my food (I do); I flash the peace sign in my pictures (sometimes both hands, sometimes just one)... and of course we have the not-so PC stereotypes that I joke with friends about which I won't repeat, so i don't offend. HAHA. But i'm not easily offended if you know me, and I find I'm an equal opportunity stereotypists - i pretty much make fun of myself and everybody around me. Laughter is good, right?
So to be honest, my misconceptions about Jamaica seem normal in my mind. When I think Jamaica (here is my word association flowing freely), I think "Rasta", Bob Marley, jerked meat, when working more than one job, someone asking "Are you Jamaican?", marijuana & Bongs, Sanka Coffee from the movie Cool Runnings, Cool Runnings, Dreads, People with dreads, Everybody will have dreads in Jamaica, Fugees and Lauryn Hill (AND i don't even think they are Jamaican), and the list goes on (and sadly, i'm starting to get embarrassed on how bad and simple minded I am...
Happily, I can report, two days in Jamaica and as the Jamaica Tourism Board (JTB) says "Once you go, you know"... and I truly know that I was completely underestimating this beautiful island, centered in the Caribbean Sea (the size of Connecticut), that is so vastly rich in culture the way it is rich in its greenery, its blue oceans, its star filled nights and its people... The JTB promotes Jamaica with another great slogan "Out of Many, One people" and this is just a short phrase to describe how diverse the island is.
Did you know that Jamaica comes from the Tainos word(American Indian people who dwelled there) "Xaymaca" which means "land of wood and water"? Or that Ocho Rios, was actually dubbed "Las Chorreras" which means waterfalls by the Spaniards but the English misunderstood it to mean Eight Rivers, and thus dubbed it Ocho Rios? How about the fact that the island, being colonized for its vast resources in sugar, is chock full of migrants not just from Africa, but from India and China and also Jewish Settlers and Arab traders from Palestine who flocked to Jamaica during the late 1800's? This would explain the Indian curry and Chinese mein influences on the Jamaican food we see today...
Impressed by the Jamaican peoples history of repression, rebellion, and then coming into its own culture - I realized quickly that this island is much much much more than just Rasta, Dreads and bob-sledding. Within minutes of being on the island, i realized that Montego Bay was more gorgeous than I imagined, the people of Jamaica so courteous, friendly and hard working, and that the food - chocked full of so many influences, delicious and so unique.
The JTB uses the slogans "Once you go, you know" and "Out of many, One people" and for very good reason. Because until you go, you really just don't know how rich of an island it is and how much it has to offer. (yes, I'm talking water sports, hiking, snorkeling, lounging, golf, museums, history, scenic views, zip-lining, zoos & animals/wildlife, dining, art, shopping, botanical gardens, biking, water parks and so much more. And what I also didn't realize was how great Jamaica is for Destination Weddings, honeymoons, celebratory travel (baby-moon? pre-wedding vacation? anniversary? proposal?) and even Family vacations. Jamaica is just full of various areas ideal for what any vacationer is looking for and especially for us wedding-obsessed folks - so MANY gorgeous venues and areas to choose from. And of course, I'm always scouting out places for romantic getaways or future family fun vacations. Ok, now I just sound like a PSA... but in complete honesty, i was really impressed with all that Jamaica has to offer so I can't wait to go into more detail with my trip there...So follow me and I'll share with you photos and my experience in Montego Bay, and you can see why I really just scratched the surface of exploring this beautiful island.
**read more about my Jamaica Press Trip**