The island of Jamaica has many faces – beach, mountain, rainforest, farmland –all of them exquisite and different in their own right. The country is probably most famous for its luxury all-inclusive resorts, ganja, and of course, Bob Marley, reggae’s founding father.
But Jamaica is also home to some of the hardest working, friendliest people on the planet. To get a sense of the “real” Jamaica, you just need to move off the well-trodden path that includes Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
When I was looking for a warm weather break from NYC’s brutal cold, I went in search of an easy access part of the country that wouldn’t be full of tourists and all the trimmings that go along with them, namely pushy vendors, rip-off prices, and westernized culture.
I found exactly what I wanted in a tiny enclave called Bluefields. About an hour and a half south of the Montego Bay airport in Westmoreland parish, Bluefields and tiny Belmont, are perched on a spot in the Caribbean that offers the most picture-perfect sunsets.
The area has no five-star hotels, no fancy restaurants, and most importantly, no tourists. In fact, other than the Canadian mom and daughter duo renting the cabin next to mine, I was the only white person for miles.
And as a result, everyone in town comes to know you sooner or later – in the hills just off the main road, at Robert’s fried chicken shack, and at the many roadside stands along the main road through town, including this quirky artist’s shack.