I have been discovering Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, for a couple of days now and I have to say that it has been interesting. To begin with I must explain to you the context of my trip here. I’m in Jamaica basically because my best friend J loves it here. She has been here twice before and I’ve heard countless times how Jamaica is the best place on earth and how she would love to live here if she could. So of course I had to come check out this place and see what all this buzz is about.
J was nice enough to come with me (honestly, I don’t think I would have come here alone and also, I don’t think J minds at all being here again), which is great. It is so good to be here with someone like J, someone who knows where to go and how to get along, a perfect tourist guide and a true insider. People even say that she looks local because she has a “Jamaican attitude”, whatever that means. I, on the other hand, am a true outsider and it is kind of funny. But I must say that the locals have been extremely friendly and welcoming.
The truth is that there are not many white people here (we’ve bumped into barely any tourists while walking in the town) and of course all the guys must say something when we pass by. At first it took me by surprise to hear things like “whitey”, “cutie” or “sexy” every ten seconds but then somehow I got used to it. Because the thing is, it is not annoying in the same way than guys whistling to you on the street for example in France. Here either they just say something when they walk past, or they may stop to chat with us for a while. But usually they leave us alone quite easily, I guess they are just curious to talk with foreigners. Of course quite often they want to know if we have boyfriends (when we say yes they ask if we already have a boyfriend in Jamaica and when we say yes to this they kindly remind us that two is never too much!) and they want to exchange numbers. But very often they just try their luck and when we nicely tell them that we are not interested they say bye and leave, with a smile on their face. Easy. Then of course sometimes we just don’t know how to say no so we give them our numbers and then roll our eyes when we get weird whatsapp messages from guys we don’t remember ever have met. But men or women, everyone here is so kind and helpful, it is amazing!
The first day, J took me sightseeing, if it can be called sightseeing, I’m not sure. We strolled around in the central area, called Half Way Tree, and then went to Downtown. Downtown is a not so good neighborhood but during the day it looks like a huge market place, all the streets are full of stands where people sell anything – food, clothes, shoes, toiletries, electronics, and so on. And you try to find your way around people, cars and all that stuff. I think this is an area where mostly locals spend their time because we didn’t see any other non-Jamaican-looking. And also, J told me that when she first came to Kingston and wanted to go to Downtown people were like “why, why you want to go there??”. So I guess I saw some real Kingston.
We didn’t buy anything though but had a nice lunch. There are not really restaurants here but more like fast food or take away places, nothing fancy. But the food is delicious! We had some patties and festivals, traditional Jamaican pastries. I didn’t take any pics, I need to find some. Then they also serve all kinds of fish, chicken and sometimes pork, with rice and beans or vegetables. Can’t wait to try everything, although I have a feeling I might get bored with the Caribbean food at some point.
After Downtown we went on with our tourist tour and visited Devon House, a national heritage site. A beautiful property and garden that offer a nice contrast to the hustle of the rest of the city center, or the town as the locals say. At Devon House we enjoyed the sun and J enjoyed some ice cream, which is told to be the best on the island.
To get from one place to another we take a route taxi. It is a taxi to share and it is very simple, you just hop on when you see a taxi going to the right direction and you tell the driver where you want to hop off. And you pay basically nothing, a lot less than for a normal taxi. The driving is a bit chaotic in my opinion, as well as crossing the street, but less scary than what I expected (and I’m afraid of cars, for everyone else it is probably ok).
On our way back to the hostel we saw a man selling whole coconuts that he cuts in half so that you can drink the pure water that is inside. It looked absolutely delicious but so heavy to carry that we didn’t buy any yet. But we promised him to be back soon.
I’ll get some rest now and then prepare going out, I’ll write more soon.
Btw, I already learnt a local saying. Everything here is about “vibes”. I think it can be translated as a mindset or simply a feeling about something. People like the vibes of a place and follow their vibes to decide what to do and if they don’t like someone’s vibes they try to stay as far as possible from that person.
Read the next story here.
I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!