Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A road trip through Jamaica

Jamaica boasts over 17000 kilometers of road linking all major towns and cities. Winding down mountains, zigzagging through woodlands, and circling the coastline, these colourful highways and byways are attractions in themselves. Indeed there is no better way to explore the island and explore its myriad faces and culture than by a road trip. And if you want to discover the island at your own pace and leisure, you can choose to stay in any of the numerous Jamaica villas, cottages and apartments that dot the island and provide you the ideal opportunity to gain an insight into the native way of life. Inform the staff of your vacation villa and they will happily arrange a vehicle with a licensed driver to take you around the island.

You can start your trip with a ride between Port Antonio and Ocho Rios. On the way, you can stop at Portland's Boston Jerk Centre or Buff Bay's Blueberry Hill Jerk Stop. The fumes of spicy jerk wafting from the roadside stands will tempt you to stop even if you are not hungry. First invented by Maroon soldiers in the 1600s, jerked meat is today a staple of the Jamaican diet. Seasoned with pimento, cinnamon, nutmeg and hot peppers, jerk chicken or pork is grilled to perfection over an aromatic fire of pimento wood.

En route you’ll come across dutchie stalls housing local craftsmen selling handmade cast iron pots and pans. The dutchies are used to cook a variety of traditional Jamaican dishes.

If you love seafood, you can dine in one of the fishing villages between Negril to the south coast. And for a unique beachfront dining experience, you can check out Alligator Pond's Little Ochie, where you can enjoy your meals on a boat on stilts under a thatched roof overlooking the sea.

Travel through Jamaica and you will find most roadsides lined with farmers markets selling fresh produce and so you can stock up with exotic jackfruits, sour sops, and familiar mangos and coconuts. Also if you are hot and thirsty, you can try out ice-cold jelly made from coconut or root wine made from various indigenous herbs and roots boiled in molasses or honey.

Then you’ll come across many craft markets selling a wide range of authentic Jamaican art and craft including hand-painted woodcarvings, bamboo shakers, quirky t-shirts and live Dancehall compilation tapes.

So make your visit to Jamaica all the more special by experiencing the island’s unique flavours, discovering its rich cultural heritage, sampling the best of the cuisine and topping all this by staying in Jamaica villas and cottages to revel in the country’s famed hospitality.

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