Best Things to do While in Jamaica
When visitors to Jamaica ask what they should do while vacationing here they’re often told to visit the usual tourist spots like Dunns River Falls and White River on the north coast and Bob Marley Museum and Devon House in Kingston. There’s nothing wrong with these attractions which are wonderful parts of Jamaica’s heritage but we feel that visiting these places, by themselves, wont give a vistor the full pungent, unadulterated flavour of Jamaica. If you really want to experience Jamaica we suggest you extend your trip by a few weeks and rather than merely visiting places you use the time to immerse yourself in the following experiences:
- Go to a Manning Cup Football Game. Forget Real Madrid vs Barcelona and Manchester United vs Liverpool, nowhere else in the world will you find a better example of religious loyalty and bitter, partisan rivalry leavened by nuff joke and friendly camaraderie. I recommend a match between Kingston College and Calabar High or Kingston College and St. Georges College.
- Date a fat country-girl named Joyce.
- Go to Boys and Girls Championships. Chants, cheers, drums and vuvuzelas. Roasted peanuts, pan-chicken, box juice and beef patties. KC, Calabar, Holmwood Technical and Edwin Allen. Vast seas of green, black, purple, gold and blue. Boys and Girls Championships, the annual athletic competition between Jamaican high schools which has existed for over a 100 years is another haven of long-running rivalries but the entertainment value of ancient rivalries is only a small part of its attraction. Seeing Jamaica’s magnificent athletic talent on full display in what has become the best event of its kind in the world is an experience not to be missed.
- Go to a political rally. This is the most potent mix of drama, theatre and pure hogwash you will ever experience. You’ll hear eloquent, blood-stirring speeches mixed with mean-spirited diatribe and cheap jabs at the other party. Our advice: don’t get caught up in the hype; believe only half of what you see and none of what you hear. Remember that this isn’t politics, its just entertainment.
- Go to a uptown session and a garrison dance. While you’re there listen to the latest dancehall tunes, learn the newest dances and tief a wine from a slim brown girl name Shaneeka. Do all this while drinking white rum and Red Bull and smoking a spliff.
- Get your hair cut in a neighbourhood barber shop – The sweetest joke and the most profound insights you’ll ever hear can be found in a Jamaican barber shop. I’ve learnt the solutions to Jamaica’s economic problems, some all-natural alternatives to Viagra, the meaning of life and how to lie to your woman with a straight face… all in a 35 minute haircut and shave.
- Adopt Rastafarianism. Grow your locks, reason wid the elders and read a chapter a day.
- Do a Kingston to Mobay Rum Bar Hop - Rent a reliable vehicle (preferably an SUV) enlist two friends, get up early one morning and take a trip from “town” (Kingston) to “country” (Montego Bay or Negril) and stop at as many roadside bars as you can along the way. This is an excellent way to meet ordinary Jamaican people, experience local hospitality and learn how to hold your liquor. But pace yourself, please. Don’t run out of liver before you run out of bars.
- Do a Cook Shop Tour of Kingston. We recommend Big Taste on Red hills Road, Norma’s on Whitehall Avenue, Lorna’s on Mountain View Avenue and The Cove on Winchester Avenue. Ask for curry gravy with your fry chicken, request a little scotch bonnet pepper on the side and wash it all down with a Big Jo box juice.
- Take a bus from Papine to Half Way Tree. Find your way to Papine Market at the northern end of Kingston just below Irish Town one evening at say 5pm and wait for a bus that will take you to Half Way Tree in the heart of Kingston. Wait for the buses to arrive. Avoid the big JUTC uses and wait for one of the smaller privately owned 30-seater buses. When the bus arrives, fight your way to the front of the line, wedge yourself into a tiny space on the steps of the bus and wait for the bus to move off. Don’t concern yourself with why the bus’ tyres are so smooth, why there are people hanging out of windows and why the conductor goes by the name “Gully Rat”. For thrills, spills and life-threatening danger a bus ride at peak hour is better than bungee jumping, sky diving and hunting Great White Shark, all put together.
- Get up early one Saturday morning and go shopping for fruits and vegetables at Coronation Market. Stroll through the market. Look carefully at assorted yams, bananas, breadfruits, mangoes, oranges, potatoes, plantains, pumpkins, carrots and cabbages. Select the best of the lot but do so without squeezing or otherwise molesting the produce. This is considered bad form. Attempt to haggle but be prepared to lose. Having done your food shopping at Coronation Market head over to Orange Street to get the best Brazilian weave and some fancy clothes for the party later.