There is far too much to say about Jamaica to fit in one post so here is just a small taste of some of what interests me.
The Blue Mountains.
If you have followed my blog from the start then you will know that the Australian Blue Mountains are of a special meaning to me so when I discovered that Jamiaca also has Blue Mountains they just had to go on my list. Full of Wildlife, especially birds, it sounds like a magical place to visit. A must do for any traveler with an interest in all things natural is a night time hike of 7 miles (just over 11 km) to the Blue Mountain Peak. This takes approximately 3-4 hours but is well worth effort for the sunrise view on a clear morning. Of course weather and clear views are never guaranteed. On the way down the mountain the views, flora and fauna make this trip an experience you will treasure forever.
Dunns River Falls.
Just one of many spectacular waterfalls the Dunns River Falls is probably the most popular or at least well known. Here you can take a refreshing shower or swim under the falls and it sounds like a great place to relax your muscles after a hike up the mountains. However it is a very busy tourist spot so you might need to pick the timing of your visit here carefully. As a tourist spot it also plays host to a craft market if you want to pick up local crafts to take home to friends and family.
Apart fom the obvious attraction of the pristine waters of this lagoon and the chance of seeing the local wildlife such as Sea Turtles this lagoon has special meaning for me. This is where the movie The Blue Lagoon was shot. This was the first movie that I ever went to with my friends in my early teens so just for nostalgic reasons (and maybe trying to hang onto my lost youth) I had to put this on my list.
Canoe Valley Wetland/Alligator Hole.
You can explore the general wetlands area by kayak (my preferred option), paddleboard or be part of a larger tour group with guides to show and tell you about the local wildlife. Alligator Hole is a must for the nature lover as it is host to 3 Manatees. These Manatees were originally caught by fishermen who turned them over to a Wildlife Reserve. After some time they were released back into the wild at Alligator Hole. While they have the freedom to leave at any time they have chosen to stay in the area. Yes as the name suggests you will also find alligators here. No matter where you are please respect the local wildlife and give them the space they need and make sure to follow any local rules or advice.
Indigenous Rastafarian Village.
If you want to find out more about some of the local culture then the Indigenous Rastafarian Village is a place to visit. On the tour of the village kitchen you can learn about growing herbs and their medicinal uses. You can also learn about becoming closer to nature and take some time out to meditate in the Meditative Labyrinth. The tour ends with a traditional drum and chanting session.
Bob Marley Museum.
The Bob Marley Museum is another must do for someone like me who was a fan back in the late 70’s and after his death in the 80’s. Even still I like to listen to his music when I want to chill out and relax.
Meet the People Program.
This is defintely something for me. If you want to sample the local culture and experience something a bit different to the more commercial tours then I highly recommend this experience. Local people will be matched with your interests and take you on a more intimate tour of their culture. For me this is a great way of learning about the local wildlife and culture and maybe pick up some culinary skills and see how the Jamaicans make their Jerk Chicken.
For this weeks Jamaica night I just had to make Jerk Chicken. I have only made Jerk Chicken a couple of times before and always out of a jar. This time I did everything from scratch and having done so I will never make Jerk Chicken from a jar again. As per usual there were a couple of substitutions. I couldn’t get chicken pieces so had to make do with chicken fillets. The other ingredient I couldn’t get was dark brown sugar. This would have made the chicken a lot darker in colour when cooked and also would have given it a hint of molasses in flavour. I did manage to get a pack of mixed chillies but when I opened them there was only 1 Scotch Bonnet so I had to use Jalapenos as well.
For the marinade/paste:
3 Scotch Bonnet Chillies roughly chopped (I used 1 plus 2 jalapenos)
3 Scallions roughly chopped
1 piece of Ginger 2cm approx (I used 2 tablespoons of minced ginger)
1 tablespoon Thyme
1 tablespoon Allspice
1 tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar (I had to use light brown)
2 tablespoons of Soy Sauce
zest and juic of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon each of ground black pepper and salt
Blend all the above ingredients in a blender (you may need to adjust the salt or sugar to get the perfect balance).
Make some cuts in the chicken pieces (the amount of marinade above is enough for 4 fillets) and put in a container with the marinade in a fridge overnight. Make sure that each piece of chicken is completely covered with the marinade/paste on both sides and into the cuts. You can massage this in with your hands if you like but don’t forget that there are chillies involved so make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the raw chillies and the finished marinade/paste.
The traditional way to cook this dish is on a BBQ but I don’t have one so I used the oven method. Cook at 180C for about 45 minutes. For those of you who have followed my blog from the start and know that I had a dodgy cooker the good news is that my landlord bought me a new one. It’s certainly not top of the range (or even middle of the range) but it works and has a working oven
Serve with Rice and Peas
200g Basmati Rice
1 can of Coconut Milk
300ml or cold water
3 Spring Onions
2 large Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
2 cloves of Garlic finely chopped
2 cans of Kidney Beans rinsed and drained
Combine the above ingredients except for the Spring Onions and Kidney Beans bring to the boil then cook on low heat for 10 minutes or until the rice is cooked and most of the liquid absorbed. Add the Spring Onions and Kidney Beans and heat through. Serve with the Jerk Chicken and enjoy.
Join me next time for Korean night.
Note: The food image is my own but all other images have been sourced online.