Although my party lifestyle isn’t as disgusting as it used to be, dragging myself to bed at 10am on New Year’s Day was still an achievement. It wasn’t all gloom though, I was making sure I had a few hours of rest before my flight to Jamaica on the 2nd. Also, I needed to pack.
Jamaica wasn’t somewhere I’d massively considered as a two-week ting for many reasons, the main being I didn’t want to be in some dead resort, eating dead “jerk” chicken, nodding along to old Bob every night. Obviously, I wanted a BLOODY REAL EXPERIENCE, didn’t I?
After a chance link up at a Sean Paul show in Camden, a couple mates (hold tight Axa & Ben) invited us to come along to J.A. in January. They’d both been a few times so we thought this could turn out all right.
First stop: Portland
Where we stayed: San San Tropez
Day One: The Blue Lagoon
Crystal turquoise water surrounded by beautiful greenery, the Blue Lagoon is an absolute must if you're in Port Antonio. It's a mix of cold river and warm sea water, which I would have felt if I could swim.
You'd expect this spot to be packed but it was on the right side of quiet when we went. Bring food and drink with you and something to sit on as the main spot to chill on is a concrete helipad.
We sat in the sun and drank rum (course we bloody did), while locals Mario, Beana and their boys cooked us up chicken stew and rice & beans. All I kept thinking was: "As if this is only day one. "
Day Two: Rio Grande
Activity: Bamboo RafTINGGG
Like quite a few days during our two-week stay, the second was pissin' it down. Well, on and off. We were gonna go bamboo rafting along the Rio Grande but the rain was putting us off.
The sun came out when we planned to leave, so we jumped in cabs and took in the unbelievable views along the way. By the time we arrived at RG, it had started drizzling again. We stopped outside a bar and sipped on some Rum Cream as we hoped for the rain to stop. One thing I will absolutely not talk about is the bathroom at this bar. I simply can't.
After a lot of umming and arring, questions of should we? Shouldn’t we? It was only when Ben said: “It could be a vibe,” that it really put it all into perspective cos really, it could be a vibe. And guess what? IT WAS.
Although the water was more a muddy brown than the clear turquoise it should have been, it was perfect. Each raft has a raised “loveseat” for two people to sit in and tropical flowers at your feet. A throne, my G.
As the Raft Captains guide the rafts down the river, either side of are mountains, rainforest and farmland, something that looked like a scene out of Jurassic Park.
We stopped for food along the river bank, where Belinda awaited us with a whole load of goodness. Every day, Belinda carries all her supplies on her head, walks through the mountains and sets up shop along the Rio Grande. So what did she have on offer? Stew chicken, crayfish and red snapper, plus ALL DI TRIMMINS. Portions were big and taste was HUGE.
After our river bank munch up, we got back on our rafts for sunset, safe to say it was SIMPLY BREATHTAKING.
Later on that evening we went to town and hit up locals' favourite: Piggy's. This place offers all the traditional Jamaican dishes and it's definitely worth a visit.
After a Jamaican gyal telling us all her recommendations (and letting me try her chicken soup), we got a nice mixture of jerk chicken, jerk pork, snapper and festivals.
I'd never had or heard of festivals before I went to Jamaica but by the end I was having them with every meal. For those who don't know, festivals are fried dumplings, sweeter and for me, tastier than traditional dumplings.
Sauce level: I can't even
Day Three: Frenchmen's Cove
If you're looking for the traditional idea of paradise then Frenchmen's Cove is the one. It costs 1000 JMD to get in and that green water is so worth it. Either bring your own food or the hotel at the beach is a banging choice too. Red snapper stole the show here.
Day Four: Roadblock at Cristal Nightclub
Agenda: Shake a leg
We couldn't leave Port Antonio without trying to blend in at a dance and luckily, the night before we left, we got to hit up the shoobz.
Now, this is something I so wish I’d taken a photo of but really, I was enjoying it way too much and it didn’t cross my mind to snap it...just outside the dance, cooked in a steal drum, the best jerk chicken I've ever had was waiting for me. This chicken was fresh, juicy and the flavour was poppin'. Talk about a chicken munch after a rave, boy.
Sauce level: A bit next
We definitely didn’t want to leave Port Antonio but The Blue Mountains and a very scary journey awaited….