My Caribbean trip was full of emotions and unexpected moments – good and bad. It was truly an adventuring one. On this trip, I travelled in Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Spoiler alert, going to Haiti was one of the most challenging and unexpected adventures that I’m not recommended to anyone.
But let’s not wasted more time and dig into the colours of the Caribbean, I’m sure that you are already curious to learn more about the trip.
The centre of Caribbean – Pirates stories, never-ending fiesta and weed aroma
Jamaica is much more than reggae and Bob Marley songs. The island offers up resorts from posh to lurid and a distinct urban culture. Spicy food, spicy music, resort holidays, urban and natural adventures, and of course so many pirates stories. I couldn’t miss the Port Royal or as I like to call it “the gate to hell”. This was the biggest pirate port in the world. One of the oldest and most historic regions of the country, Port Royal has maintained much of its independence as well as its heritage. If you love pirates this is definitely ‘must go place’.
My trip continues to Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city. Is hard to describe it with words it just has to experience the vibe for yourself, but I will try to paint the picture for you. So the first thing is that for the locals’ music is literally life! Kingston is the birthplace of Reggae Music! So on Friday at 5 pm all of the streets are like an open-air club and the party doesn’t end. Second, as you guessing in the air are floating so many aromas but the main one is a weed. It’s so strong that I get a little bit dizzy just breathing on the streets. Another smell that catches my sense was the smell of the local street food – in other words, the jerk meat. Jerk is a style of cooking, in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice.
Street-side “jerk stands” or “jerk centres” are frequently found in Jamaica. I found this traditional meal on the streets in my next stop in Jamaica – Port Antonio. This city is a quiet and beautiful haven. There I was able to take discover incredible arts and crafts, and all the jewels Jamaica has to offer. Furthermore, as a nature lover in Port Antonio, I had the chance to wander through the lush greens of the jungle trails, taking in the misty mountains and sail down a winding river on a bamboo raft. It’s was a stay to remember.
Especially after I mine wild adventure in the Blue Lagoon. The aria is seven miles east of Port Antonio, surrounded by steep hillsides and dense green vegetation. The lagoon is made up of seawater entering from the surface; the surface of the lagoon meets the surface of the Caribbean Sea. But one of the best Jamaica’s hidden gems in the area near the famous Treasure Beach. Amazingly, the beaches remain untroubled by hustlers and jet skis and parasols and hair braiders, making it perfectly possible to while away a peaceful day doing nothing but lie in the sun.
One weekend to remember in Paradise
Before I tell you about this heavenly beautiful island, I will first explain why I went there in the first place. Originally my plan was from Jamaica to go directly to Haiti, but it appears that from there wasn’t a direct flight and I have to transfer in Turks and Caicos. I have never been there so it was a perfect opportunity to check out the island from my travel list. So I stayed there for a weekend, enough time to get to know to place. First, think that grab my attention was that during the weekends’ everything is closed. Only the restaurants were open and thanks to God, because this was the only way to enjoy the local beer. Let me give you a little background on Turks and Caicos. Because apparently not everybody is familiar with this place. Turks and Caicos is a British territory in the Caribbean consisting of two groups of islands.
The smaller is the Turks Islands and the largest in the Caicos Islands. It is located southeast of the Bahamas and North of Hispaniola. It is still a British Overseas Territory but has its own Governor. The best attraction here is the beaches. There are breathtaking. Unreal beautiful. The islands are pretty expensive for average travellers. It’s full of beautiful villas and hotels. The locals are mainly Americans and Canadians. But the staffs are from Haiti or the Dominican Republic. I had the chance to warm up for Haiti with one Haitian waiter, that I met there, who told me that is a really beautiful place and I will truly enjoy it. But this is not what happened in reality…
Do Not GO to Haiti – NOW
My adventures in Haiti started the moment I set foot at the airport in Cap-Haitien. Apparently nobody told me nothing about the recent political situation and all took me by surprise. The place is not a tourist-friendly right now. My first bummer was at the rental car office, where it took me 3h to get the car, due to the lack of electricity in the town. Then the car came, but with a half-empty tank, which normally is not a big problem in a normal place, but due to a shortage of petrol there and the only way to get it is from the street vendors it is a real challenge now to drive there.
Well finally I have managed to reach the hotel and guess what – no electricity during the day hours. Can you guess how many guests the hotel has? Yeah, it was only me. There weren’t other enthusiasts, who want to discover Haiti.
While I was there I wanted to see the main tourist attraction in the region – Sans-Souci Palace. It was the royal residence of King Henri I, better known as Henri Christophe, of Haiti. Sans-Souci is now an empty ruin, at the time its splendour was noted by many foreign visitors. One American physician remarked that it had “the reputation of having been one of the most magnificent edifices of the West Indies
The other interesting site build by the same Henri is Citadel La Ferriere – “The Eighth Wonder of the World” and Unesco Heritage site. Since there was no petrol, I went there with style – by horse.
Then my trip to the capital was, as you can imagine again an epic experience. My GPS showed me that the 200 km ride, have to take about 5 hours and I taught that it’s just a long way. It wasn’t like that. The problem was that there isn’t an actual road, it was all mutt and trees. On top of that my trip was troubled from all kind of barricades due to the civil protests. Burning tyres, flying stones and rocks, cut trees on the road, and very “friendly guys” with machete knives walking around. When they see me they probably thought – “Blanco is coming, let’s get some cash from him”. So to pass them I was forced to give them money. I started with a dollar or two, but that wasn’t working well, so I started to offer them 5-10 and up, but eventually, I run out of small money.
Then it’s started to get dark outside and luckily for me out of nowhere a police car appeared – my guardian angels for the next 15 min. Well, they wanted to help and escort me to my hotel, but after a few efforts to do it, they just said to me “Manage yourself, we can’t continue furthermore”, so I went to the first available hotel around where again I was the only guest. The staff was really friendly and we had a great evening together, we drank all the available local beer in the restaurant.
On the next day, my original booked hotel has promised me to send an armoured vehicle to pick me up, but then they call me that the driver was so scared to pass the barricades, so I had to go there by myself with my funny old Terios. The next day I spend in my hotel as everybody told me that driving or walking around is a very bad idea. The original plan was to take a local guide with a car to take me to the border with the Dominican Republic, but the guide service was suspended and nobody of the local taxi drivers wanted to drive me to the border.
So the only way to go out of this hell was a flight, but another problem – how to reach the airport. The locals have advised me to try to reach it early in the morning when the protesters are still asleep. So I managed to catch the only available flight to Miami and left the island with a big relief.
Escaping from the all-inclusive resorts
After my unfortunate trip to Haiti, I decided that I need something to wash away the bad experience. What a better place than the Dominican Republic to do that? Away from the all-inclusive resorts at Punta Cana in the east and Puerto Plata in the north, beguiling pictures emerge in the Dominican Republic. I was charmed from the capital city, Santo Domingo, which is a home of the oldest buildings in the Western hemisphere, and has a great attitude, traditional feel and locals who like to party.
But you know me I can’t be at one place for long so after the capital I headed to the north-eastern coast of the Samana Peninsula, to discover the not so well known resort, Las Terrenas. This small city offers miles of protected inshore waters and beautiful, undeveloped white-sand-beaches, lined with tall palm trees and pastel-coloured fishing boats. In the Dominican Republic, I discovered beautiful waterfalls. These beauties make me feel fresh and humble all at once, escaping from the Dominican heat for a while.
The Caribbean cuisine
And to wrap up my Caribbean trip I would like to tell you about the cuisine there. It’s a fusion of African, European, Latin American, South Asian and even Middle Eastern. These traditions were brought from many different countries when they came to the Caribbean. French influence in Haiti, British in Jamaica, American style in Turcs and the cuisine in the Dominican Republic which is predominantly made up of a combination of Spanish, indigenous Taíno, and African influences.
And the ‘ King Lobster” which anyone from the Caribbean will loudly tell that the local lobster is ‘Da Best’ – served in so many variations. And have you ever heard about I-tal food? If not – please check with the Rastafarians.
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