A Sweet Christmas Time in Ja
It's no lie -- Christmas time in Jamaica is without compare.
While I was at the recent Frenchman's fete I ran into a Trini and a Bajan, both of who I knew from before and both of whom confirmed that a Jamaican Christmas is just the best.
My wife and I spent the last ten days or so immersed in events that we just simply love to do, and here are some of them.
Thurs -- I flew back from Barbados/Miami and started the recovery process (from several weeks of very intense work.) We still found the time to go out and buy an (imported) Christmas tree, which looked quite nice once it was dressed.
Fri -- Took one last business call in the morning. At night, we went out to a free concert in Emancipation Park. The concert had been running for a week, featuring some of the almost but not quite the hottest acts in Jamaica. It was quite enjoyable, and peaceful, with lots of kids and a mild crowd by Jamaican standards. We also sampled a Hellshire-style fish place in New Kingston -- Prendy's.
Sat (Christmas Eve) -- My wife and I started with a ride to Skyline Drive, and after shopping all day we went to the Quad which was dead as a door-nail. Things have changed since last year when I went on Christmas Eve and had a blast. I visited Jamaica's largest sports store in Half Way Tree (whose name I can't quite recall) and bought some weights for my wife. She spent the day cooking her first ham, and got some good tips from her father in Trinidad (e.g .put the cloves in AFTER it's cooked.)
Sun -- (Christmas) -- A Jamdammers 6am run at Constant Spring Golf Course started off the day on the right foot, and set up what was to be a day of plenty, plenty food. We went to church after opening presents, stopped by my parents for a snack, and then made our way to my aunt's for the big family gathering. There was almost no downtime, which left us quite tired at the end of the day.
Mon -- I went biking in the morning with my father, after which my wife remembered to tell me that my mother had planned a big dinner over at her place... oops, surprise! Out went the plan to head to Lime Cay with a school-friend, and we had a really nice day.
Tues -- Jamdammers organized a hike to Cinchona which was just a superb hike. We drove to Clydesdale, and then walked for a couple of hours to the gardens, which offer a great view of Blue Mountain, Jamaica's highest peak. A few unfortunate club-members decided to ride mountain bikes, and they arrived at the top exhausted after getting lost several times on unmarked trails. Cinchona may be 5000 or so feet up, reminding me that one of the great things about living in Jamaica is how close so many good things are (this after years of living in Florida.)
Wed -- We took a breather from the exercising (after still being sore after the hike.) We did some more car shopping, and then went to 3 parties one after the other, ending up at my friend's party at which we got to meet his new South Korean wife.
Thurs -- A beautiful run from Mona Dam up to Gordon Town at sunrise was a great way to start the day... it's many Kingston runners' favorite run. We did some more car shopping, after my doctor's appointment -- the last one regarding my shoulder surgery. I got a clean bill of health, thank goodness. Some Chinese food from a place we were trying for the first time turned out to taste very, very good, and we'll definitely go back. Jamaica has better Chinese than I could ever find in Florida or New Jersey (and it's more expensive.)
Fri -- A bike ride with the Old Man was a prelude to a day at Hellshire, where we devoured the usual fish, festival, lobster, shrimp, oysters, Red Stripe, coconut water. It was to be the perfect day until we got the bill, and either we were horribly ripped off, or the prices at Hellshire have risen tremendously. Our bad -- we didn't ask about the prices before the meal and got sticker shock from the $1300 lobsters and $1000 fish. (US$20 and $15.) That night we ended up liming at Cuddy'z with a new determination to stick to our budget, which has taken a beating.
Sat -- (New Year's Eve) We tried our hand and what I thought would be an easy ride up to Peter's Rock. My memory of that route was that of a quick ride downhill about a year ago. That memory has, of course, shifted over time. The ride is a steep 7 mile uphill slow over rough roads, with very little traffic thankfully. That night we went to a party put on by one of the Frenchmen that was just superb -- a great way to bring in the New Year.
Sun -- Church, and lunch with the parents, came before the big fete of the year -- Frenchman's Christmas Party, at a cost of J$6500 / US$100 per person. I personally know it's the best fete I've ever been to, including Trinidad and Florida all-inclusives, with goodies such as lobster, premium drinks, sushi, cigars, excellent music, beautiful people, amazing ambiance and a very high level of organization and security.
Mon -- A one hour run lead into a day of doing absolutely nothing -- now I've started a recovery process (from a week of very intense partying.)
But wait ... isn't that where I started?