Travel Tales

Jamaica's Reggae and Rum Up

I visited Jamaica, a favorite spot for honeymooners, for a few days to bask in the sun at the Grand Lido Braco Resort & Spa. They put on a week-long extravaganza with fire-eaters, jugglers, fortune tellers and pirates in colorful costumes. The cuisine was exquisitely displayed in fruit trays of works of art, with delicious suckling pig, red snapper, conch, and lobsters caught from local waters, grilled and splattered with lime. Dance 'till the wee hours with their signature music: reggae while learning outrageous dance moves, then relax on their beautiful beach with an Appleton rum drink.

Walk over to the Grand Lido Braco's town square and talk to the vendors selling mint balls, gimberline wine, Black Mountain coffee, Wassi art and interesting wood carvings with intricate designs. Don't miss the Village Fiesta Street party all around Victoria Market Square. This resort also offers excursions on inner tubes down the refreshing White River, or plan a visit to the Bob Marley Museum; the essence of Jamaican culture.

This tiny island in the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba, is smaller than Connecticut, with a population of about 2,731,832. Unfortunately, their deteriorating economic conditions during the 1970s produced recurrent violence and led to a considerable drop off in tourism. Elections in 1980 saw the democratic socialists voted out of office. Their coastal waters are polluted by industrial waste, sewage and oil spills which have damaged their coral reefs, and air pollution is heavy in Kingston from vehicle emissions.

Their hurricane season starts in July and lasts to November. English and Patois English are spoken. They have about 61% of Protestants, 4% Roman Catholic, and over 35% of different spiritual cults. Their legal system is based on English common law. Jamaica gained its independence from the British Commonwealth in 1962.

The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services and its foreign exchange is derived from tourism and remittances. They export sugar, bananas, rum, coffee, yams, and wearing apparel. Colombian narcotics traffickers favor Jamaica for illicit financial transactions, and it is a major transshipment point for cocaine from South America to North America and Europe.

If planning on going make sure you book through a travel agency and stay well within the hotel compounds. Ocho Rios and Montego Bay areas are still favorite places to play in the sun, but a good time to go would be in October during their annual "Best of Jamaica" event at the Four Diamond Grand Lido Braco Resort & Spa in Trelawny on Jamaica's north coast, to party every day.


Photography: Alinka Zyrmont

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