Gurgling and gasping for air I finally surfaced. Shooting pain surged through my legs and back forcing me to float as flat as possible, the transparent water surrounding me. Adrenaline rushed through me as I heard the muffled screams of victory from my newfound friends on the yacht in front of me, their shouts almost drowned out by the soothing reggae beats playing in the background, a sound I had become so familiar with during my time here. As I floated staring up at the sky, it seemed in a matter of seconds the beautiful blue changed into exquisite shades of purple, pink and orange transforming the jagged cliffs right before my eyes, like fire consuming everything it touched. Had I really just jumped off that 30ft cliff in Rick’s Café in Negril? Indeed I had and I’ve never felt more alive!
My time in Jamaica had taught me to look for the beauty in every situation and to stop and appreciate every moment. A few weeks earlier I had been asked the question by a nine year old “How long is a moment?” I told her “ A moment can’t be measured by a certain amount of time, it could be a second or it could be a lifetime. All I know is we need to treasure every one of them.” In Jamaica I had found a place where I didn’t regret stopping and embracing that treasure.
So I spent my 3 weeks in this mysterious and magical country treasure hunting. Like usual I ditched the safe version of travel and avoided the resorts. I wanted the cheap street side jerk chicken, to learn Jamaican patwa and culture from the people and to discover the uniqueness of a secret unkempt bay. I wanted to be completely oblivious to the hours going by as I sit and take in picturesque views, play games with the small children and lap up the heavenly water.
The Jamaicans have an amicable attraction. They inspire you, even if it’s just from the way they dance. There is an alluring desire to converse and form a friendship with them and not in a fearful way like many who have ventured to this land may suggest.
One evening on the drive home famished from a day of scaling a waterfall at the divinely infamous Dunn’s river falls, I pulled into a grimy run-down driveway, this turned into a small parking lot surrounded by shabby beach shacks. My first instinct was to pull straight out from there and find a more tourist friendly upscale restaurant area as my friend and I were going to be the only non-Jamaicans in sight. But instead, I proceeded to step out of the car and found the best local seafood at what I came to know as fisherman’s beach. Fresh Lobsters, avocados and festivals (sweet bread) were laid out for us with a stunning view of Ocho Rios. Small boats, translucent water and trees surrounding the rickety restaurant kept my attention all evening and our young host Charlie the fisherman, entertained us with his captivating thoughts. “White people aren’t always brave enough to come to fisherman’s beach” he explained, “Jamaica has a bad reputation and they stay in their resorts, they may come to this country but they don’t know Jamaica and they never will”.
We spent our evening in the fisherman shambles laughing and listening to life lessons from Charlie, learning about the culture and what it would be like to grow up in Jamaica. Realising again that it is the people here that had made my time so memorable. That night with Charlie I wouldn’t trade in for anything. It was the Charlie’s of Jamaica, the ones that just wanted you to taste their food or see their view, experience their Jamaica and listen to their story that made my time so unforgettable. The times you spend with the Charlie’s in this world are never regretted.
Take a risk. Turn off the beaten track. These will end up being the remarkable memories you collect that will become your treasure for a lifetime.
About the Author: Hannah Watkins – Travel Writer
Hannah has spent the last seven years living, working and studying in Sydney, Australia where she worked professionally in the corporate event industry.She is a recent full-time traveller deciding to quit the rat race and explore the world. She hopes to inspire people to live their dreams as she lives out her own. Only new to the writing game she hopes to captivate people with the lessons learnt and the stories gained from the traveller’s road.
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