Spontaneous was the theme of a 2006 trip to the island of Jamaica. In the first week of May, friends called to invite us to accompany them on a trip to Jamaica at the end of the month. There was no reason for the trip other than to get away and have some fun in the sun with friends.
Longtime friends Angela and Mark would be leaving for Jamaica from Miami, we left from Chicago and would all meet at Sangster International Airport. We flew down on Air Jamaica, arriving in Montego Bay where the family's driver, named Shorty for obvious reasons, was there to pick us up and drive us to our friend Victoria's home in West End, Negril. Victoria's Parents, Tom and Sandy, owned a bar just down West End Road called the Pirates Cove. Tom and Sandy have since sold the Pirates Cove to the Rock House Hotel where it is now called the Pushcart. The bungalow was situated on the rear of their property, directly oceanside leading to a fourteen-foot rock cliff to the Caribbean ocean. The sunsets here were phenomenal and the starry sky was as I've never seen before.
Our days comprised of hanging out locally in West End. We visited the LTU pub where we had the most delicious banana pancakes. We also had breakfast at one of Sandy's favorite breakfast places. It was a small, family affair, consisting mostly of a shack on the roadside and a couple of tables outside. The owner's two young daughters joined us for breakfast, as did their chickens. I had the traditional Jamaican breakfast consisting of Ackee and Salt fish with Fried Dumplings. It was served with delicious Jamaican bananas and Blue Mountain coffee. It was here that my wife and I first had sweetened condensed milk in our coffee, a practice we continue to this day. With Victoria's parents owning Pirates Cove, we spent a good deal of time there eating and hanging out. I've not always been a fan of fish, but in keeping with the spontaneous nature of the trip, I was up for anything so my first dinner was Escovitch Red Snapper. The jerk was phenomenal as well.
The cliff diving here is world renowned and after some prodding, I did make the jump. I learned here that if you tip the boys who hang around the cliffs and dive for show (and for profit), they will give you a tip on how to survive your first cliff jump. Through another friend of the family, we were taken on a wonderful guided snorkeling adventure that started out at Xtabi and continued through to Rock House Hotel.Trips into West End for shopping and local flair had us visiting the Two Sevens Clash bar and a raucous night of fun at Alfred's Ocean Palace and another night at the Jungle Nightclub and Dancehall
In all, we had a wonderful six days in Jamaica and are looking forward to a time when we can return to Jamaica. In the mean time, we enjoy our once a year trip to Island Fest in Kalamazoo, and monthly trips to the only place in West Michigan to get authentic Jamaican food: Jamaican Dave's.
About the author:
Ted Droski is an account manager for the Heart of United Way of West Michigan.