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The Jamaica Visitors Rarely See

Less than 20 minutes from the Montego Bay International Airport, we ditch the car and begin what turns out to be a 50-minute hike up into the hills overlooking the second city.

Within minutes of leaving the main road, we are surrounded by dense vegetation. All around are mahogany, cedar, mango and other trees, many of which no one in my party recognizes, small clumps of sugar cane, succulent and creeping plants, moss and vines. The trees grow close together and straight up in an effort to find the sun. Their leaves form a protective canopy.

It is cool here – at least a degree or two below what it is in town. The air is fresh and clean.

We leave the feeder road and take a path that is wide enough for one person, or a donkey, the only mode of transporting heavy loads in these remote areas.

Pipes taking potable water stop at the road. There’s no electricity, and the only people we see are the ones in our party.

Each careful step takes us higher into hills, further away from the noise of the city. Except for the sounds of the birds chirping above, it is peaceful here. I have to remind myself that another Jamaica exists just beyond the trees.

We spot a neat little house, fronting a lush vegetable garden, its doors and windows open but not a soul, not even a dog is in sight. Sometimes, when his farms is in a remote area, a farmer will build a hut nearby with a bed and a kitchen in case he gets trapped by rain, but this isn’t a hut. I wonder how people find these places and how they decide to build where there are no modern conveniences. Not even cell phones work.

But it’s the view that captivates. Through the clearing, we can see directly out to the airport and the hotels at Freeport. It feels like you can just reach out and touch them. We watch a plane descend slowly over the Caribbean Sea until it comes to a stop on the tarmac.

Freeport and Mobay airport, Jamaica

Freeport (in the foreground) and Montego Bay Airport

Men Are in Charge of the Cooking

By the time we arrive at our destination, cooking is well underway. It’s the men who typically do the cooking here in the bush. It’s their domain.

There’s curried goat, (the goat had been killed a few days before, cut up into chunks and left to marinade in curry, onions, thyme, garlic, pimento, salt and Scotch Bonnet peppers), rice and peas, roasted yam and breadfruit, dumplings, fried chicken, boiled green bananas, and yellow and white yams. All this will be washed down by copious amounts of JB (affectionately called, Jamaica’s Best) over proof rum, that promises to ‘come in like a lion but leave like a lamb, a Trojan horse in reverse.’

Between now and the end of the year, the bush around the island will come alive with events like these as Jamaicans begin to celebrate the holidays.

This is the Jamaica that visitors rarely see.

Mango tree with few leaves, Jamaica

The largest mango tree I’ve ever seen

Yellow Slipper, a tree with spikes Jamaica

Yellow Slipper

Green bananas, Jamaica


Three large pots with dinner, Jamaica

Dinner’s on!

Cleaing the rice, Jamaica

Preparing the Rice

Chopped vegetables for the soup, Jamaica

Preparing the soup

Man checking curried goat, Jamaica

Curried Goat

Man checking saddle on a donkey, Jamaica

Saddling the donkey to leave

Hiking or running shoes are advisable here. We also wore long pants, and packed hats and mosquito repellant but there were no mosquitoes or bugs, and the trees provided shade.


  1. Great post and I love the photos – really takes me back to Jamaica! Nothing like cooking curried goat in the great outdoors.

  2. This sounds like a great hike and a fun outing especially with so much delicious food at the end of it all. I didn’t appreciate mango trees got so big!!
    Leigh recently posted..Reader Photos: Eating Your Way Through ThailandMy Profile

  3. What a wonderful hike. Interesting post, Marcia. Loved getting a glimpse of Jamaica beyond the tourist areas.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Giving Thanks in 7 LanguagesMy Profile

  4. It was, Cathy. I got my weekend exercise in, for sure.
    Yes, it’s an entirely different place!

  5. This was definitely off the beaten path for the tourists. I’ve never had goat curry but it’s that uniqueness that will surely make my husband happy and willing to try it. What a wonderful view and worth the hike. It sounds like you had quite a feast up there too.
    Mary recently posted..Mission La Purisima: A Step Back in TimeMy Profile

  6. Love learning about the hidden places that most tourists miss. Also love that the men do the cooking 🙂
    Laurel recently posted..Following in Gaudi’s Footsteps in BarcelonaMy Profile

  7. Awesome day…I’ve been to Jamaica 3 times, and yes, I’ve only seen what the tourists see. Perhaps you can help me change that next time we are on the island!

  8. Absolutely, DJ! Just let me know when you plan to visit.

  9. That’s actually the best part, Laurel. Wish it happened more often!

  10. When I make it to Jamaica you’ll be my guide! Love these types of experiences.
    Debbie Beardsley recently posted..European Villages Discovered-Saint-Cirq-LapopieMy Profile

  11. Love your descriptions here. And the photo of the green bananas 🙂
    Sophie recently posted..What to do in Lloret de MarMy Profile

  12. Thanks, Sophie. It tasted good too!

  13. Absolutely, Debbie. I’m here when you’re ready.

  14. We definitely had a good time, Mary, and the view was worth it.
    I think your husband would like it — and you might too.

  15. It was, Leigh. Like you, I was surprised to see such a huge mango tree — it really dominates the place.

  16. It’s probably the best way to cook curried goat — out in the open.
    The wood gives it a lovely flavor.

  17. Really nice shots, I really like this side of Jamaica as well, it’s more personal, that’s how the people are living there, not what’s in the travel reports.
    Anita recently posted..Egy kis történelem: esztétikai fogászat régen és maMy Profile

  18. Thanks, Anita. You’re right, it is more personal and that is exactly how people live. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

  19. Such a fantastic see as well as really worth the actual walk. This might sound just like you experienced a significant banquet upward generally there as well.Thanks for the classic shots sharing with us.I hope to see more informative and useful articles in future.

  20. Very cool photos and experience! I’d say you deserved such a yummy reward after an hour-long hike! LOL! I can almost smell the curried goat. Yummm!
    Michaela recently posted..Musings Of A Beach BumMy Profile

  21. Thanks, Michaela. There’s no mistaking that smell!

  22. It was definitely worth the walk, Shan.
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  23. What a great adventure. Does the mango tree still produce fruit. It looks like the whomping tree from Harry Potter.
    Narelle recently posted..An artful taleMy Profile

  24. Great trip… I’m impressed! By the way, i voted for you. Good luck! 🙂
    ElizOF recently posted..Haiku: The Oasis Within…My Profile

  25. Bananas, rice. goat and food? Very good!
    Calogero Mira recently posted..A painting of Biddestone Village in WiltshireMy Profile

  26. Hahahaha, yes!
    Thanks for leaving a comment.

  27. So it was, Elizabeth. It was a great trip.
    And thanks for voting for me.

  28. Hahaha, that’s an interesting thought. It’s not mango season yet but I’m sure there will be.

  29. AMEN and thank you for posting this! You’re a traveler after my own heart getting off the beaten roads in Jamaica. I can see you enjoyed it to the fullest.

    Jamaica My Way recently posted..Dekal Wireless Internet in JamaicaMy Profile

  30. Definitely did and definitely prefer going off the beaten path.
    Nuff rispek!


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