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November 2015

Solo Trek to Jamaica

Montego Bay, Jamaica, November 2015.

I’m back from a five night, six (6) day solo trip to the northern coast of Jamaica, around Montego Bay. It was my first time visiting the country. Like any other first timer, I found it was filled with preconceptions.

Jamaica has a sketchy reputation amongst travelers, yet its still one of the most visited tourist spots in the region. It sits right below Cuba, which you get to see from the airplane window on the way there.

All my plans were put together at the last minute in about a month. I had no prior plans to go. I lucked into getting a free flight on Southwest Airlines using frequent flier miles.  Total cost: $0.

It was a trip to celebrate my 44th birthday on November 11th.

A few weeks before I left, a Jamaican food festival/charity event called Nyam Jam was announced at Goldeneye, the resort owned by Chris Blackwell. It was hosted by Mario Batali and Chris Blackwell, whom I wanted to meet. He’s such an iconic figure in the music having started Island Records (U2, Bob Marley).  The odds of this event happening on the same week I was going to be Jamaica was one in a million.

I quickly bought a ticket to that event as it was occurring on my last evening there, such an amazing coincidence.

Being on a solo trek, I had no one else to worry about. I’m an avid reader, usually read up on tour books and other online websites. As usual, nothing can prepare you for actually being there, the pace of the place sets the agenda more than anything else.

Before arriving, I read accounts how “crazy” driving in Jamaica is – people say it’s dangerous to drive, roads are awful, etc. Blah, blah.

More nonsense people who are terrified of travel itself, I later discovered.

I did not want to hire a taxi and be shuttled everywhere – it’s costly, time consuming and limits spontaneity.

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