A trip to Jamaica

Jamaica is an amazing place. Growing season lasts all year long, there are fruits in trees I have never seen or heard of, and the landscapes are lush.

One of my favorite savory fruits, the ackee is essentially in everyone’s yard, and if you are a vegan, this would be the egg replacement for you. I have free range chickens, and I enjoy their eggs, but I definitely like the ackee better. I am determined to grow my own ackee tree, but first I have to winterize my greenhouse, as Ackee is definitely a tropical tree.

When still hanging on the tree, and closed up, the ackee fruit is poisonous, but as soon as it opens up, and releases its poisonous gases, it is ready for you to cook it up.

Nadine, the chef at the Source Farm, shared her recipe with me:

  1. Boil the ackee, and set aside
  2. Chop up onions, garlic, a little bit of a scotch bonnet, and some green peppers then sauté
  3. Add ackee and cook thoroughly
  4. Enjoy

Most people enjoy ackee with saltfish in Jamaica. I prefer it without, cause you really get to taste the ackee.

Then there is also breadfruit, naseberry, star apples, jamaican apples, june plums, sour sop, jackfruit, sugar cane, coconuts and their jellies, mango pears, the list goes on and on and on.

This trip was special, cause we got to explore Jamaica a bit more this time. We had planned a trip to Ocho Rios to explore a new location for our Blue Portal project. Tradd, Larry Evans, Mark, Heidi and I, piled up in a rental car, and made our way through Port Antonio.

We checked out the coconut coir mountain, spent some time at the Frenchmen’s Cove, we ate jerk chicken, hired a local guy named Karan to take us on a magic mushroom hunt in the cow fields, we explored Ocho Rios and it’s hill sides for more magic mushrooms, and ate patties.

The best and worst part of that trip was driving into the cloud forest in the Blue Mountain. Larry Evans, who has experience driving on the left side of the road in Japan years ago, was our driver. Larry is a great driver, he just likes to drive a bit fast. Driving up into the mountain, enough space on the road for one car, meant for a two way traffic, with plenty of pot holes, on one side of the road is a straight up mountain, and on the other one is the abyss.

I was having a near death experience being on that road, so I didn’t take any pictures of the abyss, so you will just have to use your imagination. There are structures built right on the edge of the road, and people live in them. They also farm the sides of the mountains, bananas, coffee. I am not really sure how they do it, it’s pretty much 80 degree slopes. It is a cloud forest, and it is so beautiful, completely different climate than on the coast. We bought some Blue Mountain Coffee, and made our way down through Kingston, alive and in one piece. An unforgettable experience.

Jamaica is also known for its Blue Lagoon. The color of this lagoon is pretty mesmerizing, it is turquoise and deep blue, and it reaches depths of up to 200 feet deep. You can see the Jamaica’s national bird there as well, the doctor bird.

Then there is also the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios. This place was something special with the White River flowing through an area of what I saw a dozens of crystal clear swimming holes, with amazing vegetation everywhere, and soothing sounds of water flowing.

The gorgeous White River in Ocho Rios

Hanging out with Larry Evans, and with his constant search of fungi, we saw lots of auricularia, amaurodermas, pleurotus, trametes and pycnoporus. March is one of the driest months in Jamaica, so we didn’t find plethora of mushrooms, but we plan to return to Jamaica in the rainy season, and hopefully go back into the treacherous terrain of the Blue Mountain.

We also spent a lot of time at the beach and in Morant Bay. As I found out quickly with my sunburn, you do not go to the beach just at any time. You either go early in the morning or late in the day, that being 4pm. I collected beach glass for a project back home, and found several very large coral rocks, which I wanted to take back with me to the US, but they were just too heavy.

The beach was probably one of the best places to meditate, and relax, with the water being crystal clear and warm, and the sunsets were pretty captivating. People play soccer at the beach, and go spear fishing on coral reefs. There are semi precious stones all over the beach. I spent lots of time, just looking at different hues of all the rocks.

Morant Bay market was another place that I enjoyed going. Fruits and vegetables off all kinds, vendors selling jerk chicken, and people are everywhere. It is very busy, action everywhere. Jamaican people are some of the most awesome people I have ever met, they are so welcoming, so family oriented and have warm personalities.

Dougie who is a close friend now, invited us one night to his grandmother’s birthday party. This party stood out to me, because everyone attending was called up to say something nice about the birthday girl, even Mark, Tradd and I. The sense of family there was so strong. And they made us feel like part of their family as well. We sang with them, and celebrated the queen of the night. The food was out of this world.

Anyways, all in all, I have been back to the US for a few weeks now, and I still think about Jamaica every day. Till next time. Much love, Olga

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