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It is with regret that we leave the island of Jamaica. Here, in Port Antonio we have found genuine people with large hearts and big souls. Yesterday we made our rounds to the veggie market, the butcher, and the bakeries. Each stop we said our goodbyes and the shop keepers came around to give us hugs, squeezes, and knock fists (Jamaican handshakes). As we walked around others that we had met stopped us, greeted us, and asked how our day was going? We had over 20 locals that made us feel valued. It amazed us that by day three we felt accepted here.
Daily we walked the length of the town in both directions, went out at night eating at the local drive-by Jerk Chicken stand, and never had a moment of worry or fear.
Everyone said we must come back and be in Jamaica again---and you know what, we will. This part of Jamaica made us feel welcomed, accepted, cared for, and appreciated. Yes, the hagglers were there, the beggars were there, and the hustlers were there, but if you talked with them, exchanged pleasantries about the weather or their town, and then said, "Not today, another time." they felt respected and gave back respect. Respectful actions and words make all the difference in the world. They are living examples of their national anthem. Often their parting words were, "Respect, mon." The rest of the world could learn a lot from this model.
Here in the anchorage we have met so many great people. First we met Mucho Gusto, Jeannie and Keith from Albuquerque, New Mexico-who knew Inspiration's Sandy and Ralph. Then we met Andres and Petra Heimlich from Vienna, Austria on Ulysses, and 8 of their 10 children-pure joy and love surround them. We also spent some time with Tim and Alexandria on Braveheart (who gave us valuable information about the Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic). We played with their 7 month old daughter, Amelia, and spent a bit of time with their crew Annie, Ben and Wendy from England. The crew went with us to Piggy's and to the Saturday night music fest that they called Carnival. Dave said the dancing style was close mashing body contact with clothes on-that is my G-rated publishable version of what he described.
Tasting foods, new to us, has always been a priority and our favorite was Piggy's Chicken-it's a drive by stand located where the road splits into three lanes--two going one way and the third going the opposite way. You ran for the middle space between lanes, order your chicken, and then ran back to a triangle in the center of the road and ate your dinner at a table for 4. Then for a beverage you waited for traffic to clear, walked to the bar across the street, ordered a beer, and returned to your table in the intersection. Dessert was a 50 cent bag of roasted peanuts from the appliance repair shop next to the bar. Best smoked chicken in town and definitely the hottest home made spicy jerk sauce.
While here we have been introduced to all sorts of new things:
Holey Bulla, a spice cake donut with banana flavor
Naseberry, a kiwi looking fruit that taste like buttery brown sugar and fruit mixed together
Sweet apple, slice open & white custard oozes out, be sure to spit out the watermelon size seeds
Otaheiti, a pear shape fruit that is a blend of apple and pear flavor
Saltfish, a salted dried cod similar to jerky
Ackee, a starchy veggie that cooks up and looks like macaroni and has a nutty flavor
Jamaican Jerk chicken with a wet and dry rub
Curried goat and coconut rice
Brown pork and brown chicken
Wild cinnamon, with a deeper, smoke flavor
Patties, a meat or veggie filled turnover
Banana flavored deep fried fritters
Calaloo, greens like collar or spinach
Blue Mountain Coffee
Nutmeg nuts and pimento that you grind fresh into your recipes
Red Stripe beer and Rum punch
News Flash: For the first time ever Dave actually said NO to a new food--twice. He decided he could live without tasting cow foot soup-the chef showed him the delicious amount of oozing gelatin between the joints) and the turkey neck/nuts stew.
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