For the first Christmas after Jordan and I met in 2012, we spent the holiday in Jamaica. It was such a special time in our brief courtship and a trip I’ll always remember fondly for a few reasons. For starters, it was Jordan’s first Christmas away from his family, which was a huge deal, given how tight-knit his family is and how much he looks forward to holidays with his relatives. It meant so much that he made the sacrifice to be with me and my family (even if it was in a tropical paradise). The trip was also significant because while Jordan had been to Jamaica for his first honeymoon, our trip was his first time exploring “the real” Jamaica, and it made me and my family so happy to see how much he loved it.
Since that first trip, we knew we wanted trips to Jamaica around the Christmas holiday to become a tradition for our future family. So while we alternate where we spend the actual day of Christmas (between NY and Jamaica), we’ve been able to make trips during December for a few years now.
2015 was a year for being in Jamaica for Christmas day, and we were pretty excited this would be the year we’d get to introduce Jameson to his Jamaican roots. We were also excited that because the last church service of the year was canceled, we’d get to have a full 10 days in Jamaica.
The extended time meant we could catch up with family and friends and see different parts of the island at a leisurely pace. We landed in Kingston, and our first stop was for lobster and beef patties at Devon House Bakery. They were fresh out of the oven, so we struggled to devour them and not burn our mouths.
Once we got to my mom’s place, we settled in. Being the doting grandmother she is, she had a pack n’ play, diapers, wipes, a space ship walker, booster seat, and an activity mat waiting for Jameson. Ha! And Jordan and I were welcomed with curried fish, rice and gungo peas, and the most amazing sunset over the hills. We sat on the veranda and just watched it get better, and better, and better.
The next day, we packed up, grabbed some Kentucky Fried Chicken (this is weird, but any Jamaican will tell you it tastes way better in Jamaica than it does in the States), and headed to Discovery Bay on the north coast of the island, which is situated between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. We spent three days at the home of friends who live right on the beach, enjoying delicious food, entertaining conversation, and the constant sound and sight of ocean waves rolling in. I think those three days solidified in my mind that there’s no better vacation than a villa vacation.
While in Discovery Bay, we found an amazing local beach just down from a stretch of homes called “millionaires row,” and it was everything a good beach experience in Jamaica should be. Bright sun. Ridiculously soft sand. Blue water. A rasta selling his homemade goods (Jameson is the proud owner of a hand-painted maraca, courtesy of his Aunt Bianca). The random brown dog rummaging for food. Reggae renditions of pop songs piping through speakers. Fried fish, festival, and bammy all eaten with the very best utensils — fingers.
Jameson loved the water, splashing his feet, beating it with his hands, and trying to drink the salt water. After a short nap on the beach, he had fun digging his toes into the sand and trying to put fists of it in his mouth. Please brace yourself for Jameson’s cuteness in his Jamaica outfit. The visor just takes things over the edge. My likkle yardie.We headed back to Kingston on Christmas day, but not before snapping a few pics of Jameson in his Christmas jammies and our family.
Once we were on the road, we made a quick stop to see a family friend who was staying at an amazing villa in Ocho Rios called Scotch on the Rocks. It was incredible. It took everything in me not to dive into those waters.
Back in Kingston, we had dinner at my mom’s cousin’s house. His wife apparently only knows how to cook for 30+ people, and she prepared a feast. I’m talking filet mignon, turkey, chicken, roast pork, duck — and those were just the meats. I had the best stuffing of my life that night. And three plates.
After dinner, we took brief naps so we could recharge and go out to a party my cousin was throwing. It’s worth noting that I napped on the couch and set multiple alarms, while Jordan chose to nap on the floor, because he knew if he went in the bed, there was no coming back from that. Oh, to be parents of an infant. I can’t tell you the last time I arrived someplace at 11:30 p.m. But I’m glad we rallied, because the party was held outside on the grounds of this huge mansion, and the food and music were on point. And Sean Paul was there with light-up sneakers kind of like these. So yeah, there’s that.
I just love that pic above of my mom — for what it captures of her and Jamaica. The next few days were a mix of catching up with friends and family and eating more delicious food. Jordan read a few books. My mom and I visited the boutiques of some of our favorite Jamaican designers, and we had a night of chatting about life while coloring adult coloring books with gel pens.
On our last full day, we spent an afternoon driving up into the hills and made a stop at the Cafe Blue in Irish Town. The views were beautiful, and my latte, made with Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, was one of the best I’ve ever had. And though Jameson hates his car seat, I was able to keep him occupied by singing Jamaica, Farewell (a song my mom used to sing to me) and his favorite song from his Music Together class.
At the end of 10 days, we were sad to go but pretty relaxed and ready to jump back into the buzz of NYC and the New Year.
Heading to Jamaica? Here are just a few of my recommendations of things to check out, particularly if you find yourself near Kingston:
For Jerk: Scotchie’s
For fried fish and festival: Hellshire Beach
For an amazing villa vacation: Four Winds or Scotch on the Rocks
For ice cream: I Scream, Devon House
For my favorite patties: Tastee
For brunch with live music: Terra Nova Hotel
For coffee with a view: Cafe Blue Irish Town
For farm-to-table: EITS Cafe
For history: Bob Marley Museum