Last summer, I traveled to Jamaica for the first time since 2004. It was Seeing my family for the first time in years was both emotional and nostalgic. Though the trip was short, I decided that we would come back for Christmas and New Years. For the last few years, my mom and I didn’t do much for the holidays. Going to Jamaica was the perfect opportunity for some long overdue family time. Plus, it also coincided with the 50th anniversary of my grandfather’s death, and I knew my mom wanted to visit his grave. With all things considered (including a STRESSFUL year), we booked our flights for a two-week stay.
Once December finally rolled around, I was too ready to leave for Jamaica. Classes were stressing me out, and I was desperately waiting to go home. December 21 couldn’t come any sooner, and once it did, I was out! My flight was leaving at six in the morning, so I left around 2:30 A.M. since I don’t live far from the airport. Being that my flight was so early, I only slept for about an hour (if that). The only downside to leaving so early is that most of the airport stores are closed. Once I got there, I wasted no time changing my clothes for the warmer weather (it was 30 degrees in Brooklyn and 85 in Kingston).
As soon as I walked out of the airport, I instantly felt the heat of the Jamaican mid-morning sun. Which I might add, wasn’t too bad for the first day of winter. In no time we were on the road to my aunt’s house, and I couldn’t wait to start my vacation and take a break from the stresses of everyday life.
A traditional Christmas in Jamaica usually includes rice and peas, macaroni pie, ham/pork, and goat (and/or chicken, beef/oxtail, and fish). For dessert, it’s Christmas pudding, black cake, ice cream, and you can’t forget sorrel as the holiday drink. Since Boxing Day is also widely celebrated, it’s pretty much a Christmas part two, as most businesses are closed for the holiday.
Over the course of the trip, my mother and I really got a chance to spend time with family and enjoy the holiday. I even met some older cousins of my grandfather’s, who’ve been nicknamed ‘The Golden Girls.” They’re out here living their best lives, traveling the world and planning new day trips everytime they come down to visit.
Not to mention that they’ve all been friends since high school, and now live together in Florida. In fact, they had invited us to go to a beach called Sugar Pot Ruins in Saint Mary, Jamaica. For those who may not know where it is, it’s not too far away from the well-known Ocho Rios. The beach itself is just along the border of the Saint Ann and Saint Mary parishes.
What the day trip all the more interesting was that it was a “blind meeting” of sorts. We were going with cousins that we’d never met — but it was a success!
It was almost as if we had all known each other for years, and we all enjoyed ourselves. Here are some of the pictures I was able to take down at Sugar Pot:
The Beauty That Is Jamaica
Now, of course, this rustic scenery wasn’t the only thing I was able to get in photos. I also had the chance to see some of the flowers that bloom in my uncle’s garden in Mandeville on New Year’s Eve. My late great-aunt, Carmen Stephenson was well-known for her garden, which has won numerous awards over the years. She also ran a flower shop, which my aunt and uncle have since taken over. I only wish that I could’ve taken more photos of the flowers.
Even though Jamaica’s national flower is the lignum vitae, you can expect to see plenty of orchids across the island.
Overall, to say I enjoyed my time in Jamaica was an understatement. I didn’t take too many selfies as I was living in the moment for the most part. I can’t wait to go back down, and learn more about my family’s history, and to enjoy more of Jamaica as an adult. Until next time!
Header Image & Photos: Amber Lauren