When I first landed in the tropical paradise, I was in complete awe. White-sand beaches, swaying palm trees, a warm breeze, and an ocean so blue it almost hurt to stare at. Jamaica is not a well-known vacation destination for families.
Honeymoons, yes. But a summer family vacation, not so much. I did not know anybody who had traveled to that island before.
But as I gazed at our gorgeous hotel and the exquisite shores just steps away from the lobby, I knew we were in for a fantastic week. Jamaica was unlike any vacation I had ever been on. Because we were on a remote island, virtually all foods and merchandise were created on the mainland.
They took pride in their national dishes and their jewelry that was created from natural seeds and stones. We visited many craftsman stands in the shopping areas and saw that many people made a living selling and doing what they loved. The natives were so friendly, always laid-back, always saying hello.
The fact that they had so much pride in their country amazed me. Americans lack the patriotism I saw there. Everyone was there for each other.
I saw poverty in many places. But I saw more smiling faces and more happy families in one small island than I have seen in all of America. The chance to see how some people can live life one day at a time without entering the rat race inspired me to enjoy my own life.
The places we visited and the activities we took part in were unlike anything I have done in my life. We spent a whole afternoon climbing Dunn’s River Falls. Unlike other waterfalls, this one was suitable for people to actually climb, because the water crashed on rocks and formed natural springs and bridges, which we climbed and swam through until we reached the top.
That was an experience I will never forget. Another memorable day was spent floating down a river in a bamboo raft. The instructor told us of Jamaican legends.
He climbed a coconut tree for us, cracked open the fruit for us to eat. The coconut was delicious. He gave us foot massages using natural stones from the river, making our feet soft and clean. We swam through the calm river and he even let each of us have the opportunity to steer the rafts. We also spent a day zip lining in a Jamaican forest. Swinging from treetop to treetop strapped in a vest hooked to a wire is probably one of the best ways for a human to feel like a bird flying. To see the beautiful rainforest down below was beautiful. Just in one week, I felt I learned and gained so much. I tried authentic Jamaican cuisine and spoke with many locals. I visited many of the beaches and tourist spots. I spent time snorkeling, windsurfing, swimming, and kayaking. I watched the sunset each night and sunrise each morning. If I have the chance to go to Jamaica ever again, I will jump at the opportunity. I believe everybody should spend some time away from the rat race, away from technology, away from this world. Everyone needs a time to relax and genuinely enjoy the simplicity of this world. Jamaica embraced simplicity and family value. Even today whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I allow my thoughts to travel back to that wonderful week last summer. That helps me to realize that life really is a treasure and whatever I am worrying about is probably not that significant in the scheme of life. Jamaica was an amazing, enriching experience. I hope one day everyone can see its beauty.
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