Hi to my family back in the UK and my friends old and new. I moved to Jamaica 8 weeks ago and am having so much fun.
I heard there is a Jamaican saying that ‘If you are starving in Jamaica you are lazy’. With the amount of fruit in Jamaica I can see the logic. You could literally walk down the street and eat fruits off trees. The soil is fertile and the rain make the conditions for growth great.
The other morning my fiance disappeared for about half an hour- returning to collect a ladder- saying something about a tree up the road. An hour later he returned again. He explained with the help of a friend and a very big stick he had managed to get 2 coconuts down from the neighbours tree. Just to confirm he did ask the neighbour first.
These are the two coconuts he managed to knock down with a big stick. One is darker because it is older.
So unbeknown to me coconuts have 3 layers. The outer layer, which is typically green and smooth. The middle fleshy layer and then the wooden type material which protects the seed inside.
Coconuts in the supermarket have had the first 2 layers removed. If you are a novice like Fitzroy this process is quite difficult…. but fun to watch, lol. Online I have seen more experienced coconut eaters do this without any tools!!! 😎
Using a big knife cut, and bang and tug at the outer layer. Yank and pull and wrag it around until you have removed this outer layer.
Pull and separate the next layer which consists of a woody type material. This woody material is great to make sweeping brushes.
Now you have the seed in the middle- the actual coconut. The fun doesn’t end there you have to get into this now, lol.
Using a corkscrew make a hole in the top of the coconut. Turn it upside down over a glasd to get out the coconut water, (This is different to coconut milk). Alternatively insert a straw and drink. 😉
Coconut water can help lower blood pressure, reduce cellulite, boost energy and help weight loss.
The white fleshy bit of the coconut- my favourite- is used for all types of cooking and baking. The flesh is rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals iron and calcium.
You can grate the flesh and boil in water to make coconut milk.
The Coconut Palm is referred to as ‘Tree of Life” because all parts can be utilised. It can produce drink, fiber, food, fire wood, cleaning utensils and musical instruments.
It was great fun watching Fitzroy fight with these coconuts- not something I would want to tempt. I will stick with coconuts from the supermarket 🙂
I have lived in Mandeville, Jamaica for 9 weeks now- so okay I’m not an expert…. but I wanted to talk about what people asked me before I left the UK and what I found when I got here.
1. All day long Jamaicans with dreadlocks sit under trees on the beach drinking from coconuts and getting stoned. Now I cannot speak for the Jamaicans that live near the sea……some may well do this, but from what I have seen up in Mandeville and the neighbouring towns the people work very hard – be it driving taxis, working in shops, in the market or selling on the street. Every now and then you will get a wiff of weed- but not very often. I’ve not seen one person drinking from a coconut lol.
2. There is Reggae and Dancehall music playing everywhere with people dirty dancing in the street. Maybe if there is a carnival on, lol. I haven’t seen any dancing in the streets (however having a toddler I am not out late at night).
Surprisingly you do not hear Bob Marley everywhere….. maybe in the holiday resorts, but up hear in Mandeville you will hear a mixture of gospel music, pop, Reggae, lots of 90s (Mariah Carey, Boys 2 Men) and classic RnB. My kind of music 🙂
3. Jamaicans are so laid back everything takes ages. When I came to Jamaica 17 years ago I remember waiting for a taxi at the resort- we were told it was ‘Just around the corner’, the taxi finally turned up around 2 hours later (I’m not sure what corner it was around, lol).
To be honest I was worried this would still be the case. However it’s not at all! We have had furniture delivered the same day, taxis turn up on time- every time, shops open on time, children get to school on time. I have never had to wait for anything or anyone- a great service in my eyes.
4. Jamaicans live in huts (I’m sorry some of my friends are not well travelled 🙈) There is a mixture of houses in Jamaica and just like any other country there are richer and poorer areas. You may have a large family living in a small house with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom- and then you will see a house the size of a holiday resort (especially in Mandeville).
Throughout Jamaica there is a real mixture of houses. The huts you do see are little shops or bars- normally brightly coloured and beautiful.
5. There are gangs everywhere and people getting murdered. It is such a shame people have this image of Jamaica. I am not saying it is safe everywhere – crime is high and gangs fighting gangs are a big problem in some areas. Jamaica does have a high murder rate- certainly compaired to UK. However you are unlikely to be murdered in the street minding your own business.
Most houses have metal bars up as a securitymeasure. Many also have guard dogs.
As a white woman often walking around alone I stand out so I do have my whits about me, just as I would walking around some areas in London or other cities. I have had people approach me asking for money but I have never felt threatened in any way.
The Jamaican people are friendly, very opinionated and not reserved one bit. I am confident if I did have a problem on a street many people would come to my aid.
6. There are big spiders and snakes in Jamaica . Jamaica is not known for snakes or biting spiders. There are 7 species of snake and none of them are venemous- you are not likely to see one. The main pests here are mosquitoes.
7. It is always sunny and never rains. Well…. where I live it rains nearly everyday- you can have rain and sun intermittently all day long. This rain makes the island lush and green. Mandeville is up in the hills so it is cooler. Once you go down to the coast (2 hour drive) it is significantly warmer.
You can see the temperature difference in the images below. The first is Mandeville.
8. If you live in Jamaica you must live near the beach. Not unless you live on the coast, lol. It is a 2 hour drive to my nearest beach.
9. The roads are terrible with pot holes everywhere. Okay I will forgive this one as where I live all the roads have recently been redone within the last 6 -12 months. There seems to be significant amount of money being spend on the country to update the roads- as well as rubbish removal and recycling. Onwards and upwards for Jamaica. Yayyy 🇯🇲
10. All Jamaicans can run fast. Jamaica does well in all athletics- but that does not mean every Jamaican is fast. Athletics are very important in Jamaica and if you show promise you could be scouted from school and be granted a sports scholarship. Something low income families may struggle to provide.
11. A third world country must be worse than first world. Watch this space…. Jamaica is beginning to change. They have introduced rubbish disposal and recycling, the roads are being fixed, and crime is down due to improvements in the police force. In 2018 Jamaica experienced a growth in economy with lower unemployment rates recorded.
Jamaica also won numerous tourism awards at the Travvy Awards 2019 (including the best tourist board in Carribean, best wedding destination, best honeymoon destination and best culinary destination).
Along with all of the changes above is the fact that the pace of this country is slower. There is not as much red tape. You can ask people to help you and they will – such as getting a ride home with the delivery driver, and taxi drivers collecting items from the supermarket if you forget. Neighbours share food and produce. People help each other here- nothing is too much trouble.
The food is nicer too- the fruits and vegetables are natural and home grown. The meat is not tampered with here so when you cook a chicken it is not pumped full of water or antibiotics to make it bigger. For an average chicken here you would have to pay say £8 in UK for an equivalent ‘Free range’ chicken.
12. This last one is more of a worry of my mother’s than a misconception. Jamaicans may not be welcoming to white people.
Everywhere I go the people are nice to me, my daughter and my fiance. I have never heard one negative word about being white, being different, having a mixed race daughter or being in a mixed race couple. Quite the oppisite- people wave and say hi everywhere I go, they ask me where I am from and how I like Jamaica.
Everyone comments on Monique being a ‘pretty girl’. I’ve even had a couple of people come to me and say ‘A white lady with a black man, what a beautiful thing, one love’. The people here are lovely, happy and welcoming. I truly feel blessed to live here.
I truly hope not to have offended anyone with this post, much love ❤
This is Manchester Shopping Mall in Mandeville, Jamaica. It is one of my favourite shopping places in the area. It also has fast food restaurants across the road- including Burger King- anyone that knows me knows how much I love Burger King 🤣🤣
Kfc is very popular in Jamaica. I must say the popcorn chicken is amazing- propper chicken…. I’m not sure where Kfc get their chicken in UK it’s nowhere near as nice as Off Jamaica.
This shopping mall is quiet with easy parking- unlike the centre of Mandeville where it is very busy buzzing town.
At Manchester Mall there is a supermarket, shoe shop, clothes shop, an atm machine that allows foreign cards, and a number of restaurants-that sell jamaican breakfast and lunch. I got a lovely breakfast of eggs and bacon and Monique had toast. They have tables and chairs so you can eat outside.
There is also Fontana, this shop sells alsorts- things for the home, toiletries, hair products, toys and stationary. Another favourite shop of mine is Body and Soul- here you can get souvenirs, baby products, toiletries, fancy ornaments and household items.
There is another shopping mall 10 minutes up Caledonia Road that is very nice also. It is called Midway Mall and has an Island Grill takeaway (chips are amazing), shopping mall, Chinese and Jamaican restaurants, clothes shops and internet cafes.
I did think I would loose a bit of weight when I moved here- but with all the lovely food everywhere it’s not likely to happen anytime soon 🙈
There is a very false perception of Jamaicans chilled out all day sat under a tree getting stoned, I can confidently say this is not something I have seen. The workmen and women work very hard.
From what I have experienced the furniture shops offer a Fantastic service.
Our rental property is unfunished so we have to pretty much start from nothing. Where we live in Mandeville and at another nearby town called Christiana there are lots of furniture shops – more than I had ever realised before.
The shops here are quite hard to spot as they are so small and everywhere. They are upstairs and downstairs in malls. There are very few supermarket sized shops like you would get in UK or America.
The variety of furniture in this town and the next town along is not varied at all, they consist of wooden beds and headboards, drawers and chairs.
Most shops have similar things- all dark wood, and compared to furniture back home is quite old fashioned. The washing machines are top loaders and the ovens and fridges vary from small to large American type.
For the first couple of days we wandered around the shops and managed to get a good deal on a cooker and a fridge. The service was fantastic. We ordered and paid at 4pm and the furniture was at our house by 6pm same day. I cannot think of service like this anywhere in UK. It was the same when we ordered the bed- we paid and they delivered- (and gave us a lift home) straight after. Now you definitely would not it get that in UK.
You can get made to order furniture. We did manage to get a leather headboard made to order from a shop. We had to wait 2 weeks but the finished product was great.
Another option if you do not like the furniture available is to travel to Kingston or Montego Bay. There is more variety there, however looking at prices online it is more expensive to get modern furniture than in UK and US.
We also considered buying from US and shipping the furniture here. The price to ship furniture to Jamaica in our eyes was too expensive, especially after customs charges.
There are some shops that sell furniture with credit options. Courts and Singer both offer credit. The payback is very expensive however and they may need to see that you have employment within Jamaica.
All the sofas we have seen are very hard and uncomfortable. However with a few cushions you can get around this problem. The shops around here do not offer any leather sofas- for this you would have to go to Kingston or Montego bay.
The shops all have signs up saying you cannot sit on the sofas. The security guards (most shops have security guards in the doors) will tell you off if you do. They will also tell you off if you have a toddler touching cushions, tables etc. This has happened to me a few times. To be honest I think the guards are bored and want something to do 🙂
For smaller household things (such as pot drainers, washing baskets) you can get from a number of stores.
Renting in Jamaica in my experience is fabulous. The rent is cheap and the property is beautiful.
I rent in a town called Mandeville. Here there are many stunning beautiful proprties. I currently rent a large 3 bedroom detatched house on a hill with large garden, 3 balconies, 3 reception rooms and many mod cons. The cost per month is less than what I was paying for a grotty 2 bedroom flat in the seaside village of St Annes in Lancashire, England.
Arriving at our beautiful house.
Arriving in Jamaica was different the last time I had been here as we landed late. By the time we got through customs it was pitch black.
We were met at the airport by our lovely friends and family. We drove for 2.5 hours to Mandeville to our house. We live up in the hills far away from the tourists on the beaches that most people see in Jamaica.
It was very exciting as we had seen pictures and video of the house but not actually been there yet. Two and a half hours later on very swervy roads we arrived- me feeling a little travel sick.
It was a quick dash into the house to avoid mosquitos. Our lovely friends had arranged for a blow up bed, mattress, bedding and pillows for us, so after a quick look round I was feeling ready for a sleep- not forgetting I was poorly with a sickness bug before we set off.
There is a Jamaican custom when people move into a new house that the home is blessed. So before I went off to bed we all joined hands and our preacher friend said a prayer to bless the house and protect us from evil. This may sound unusual but it was a very moving and beautiful that our friends and family would go out of their way *(some having to travel 2 hours back to where they live) to welcome us and care enough to say a prayer for us. What a lovely start to our new adventure in Jamaica.
We are sending all our love and best wishes for 2019.
It was strange seeing everyone’s posts about the New Year come in last night. We are 5 hours behind the UK. I was tempted to start celebrating from 3pm Jamaica time- but did not, hehe.
I had a drink at 7pm with everyone else that was bringing the New Year in. Having a toddler we are limited to what we can do, so decided on a quiet night in.
So where we live is in the hills. High up about 2 hours from the beach. There was lots going on around. We could here the base of the enormous Jamaican speakers coming from a party nearby. There was also services going on in churches all around, as Jamaica is a very religious country. The majority of people I know do go to church.
So today we are venturing up to another part of the Island to visit family. We are just about to get all covered up because of the mosquitos. Where we live is not to bad only at night time do you see them, but this other part of the island- close to where Usain Bolt is from is very much countryside. That’s a point u will look out for him just incase he is home visiting family too 🙂
My other half is currently preparing chicken which we will take with us and cook outside. We’ve also got some chicken feet to be used in chicken foot soup, hmmmm. I think i will pass on the soup this time, lol.
Monique is looking forward to seeing Moma Thorpes (she hates being called grandma) 2 dogs and possibly their donkey.
My experience of Christmas in Jamaica is a positive one. I love Christmas it is one of my favourite times of tre year, however I always feel as though there is so much hype surrounding it. In the UK they start advertising Christmas from October and to be honest I’ve had enough of hearing Christmas songs in December.
In Jamaica it’s a lot more laid back- the odd Christmas song is playing in the shops and on the radio. The odd shop has decorations up and a tree. One or two houses have decorations up. That’s it really. It is not over the top- no scary elves, no Santa’s grotto, no selection boxes even. This may sound terrible to sime people but I don’t mind.
We did manage to find an Xmas tree in a shop on Christmas Eve. There is not a lot of choice. However Monique and I had great fun decorating it (although she did try to unwrap the decorations that looked like little presents, you really do need eyes in the back of your heads with toddlers!!)
The Grand Market
I did not see this myself but was told about the Grand Market that is held on Xmas Eve in the town’s. The shops and street venders set up and sell into the early hours. The taxi driver told me they close the roads off to transport and pedestrians are out shopping until 2-3am.
Not me however I’m hiding from mosquitoes from 5pm, and normally sleeping early. There were a few house parties around with music blasting out. We didn’t mind however as it was our kind of music- Mariah Kerry, Boys2Men and lots of old school R and b 🙂
Christmas Day for many is spent at Church. We didn’t go this year. Monique had a lovely morning opening her presents- we got her a few bits from the local shops. I didn’t emphasise the whole Santa thing as she is so very scared of Santa at the moment. I think the thought of him coming in the houses night would gave pushed her over the edge, lol.
Christmas Day was very relaxed. We had a bit of food, Face timed family back home and relaxed in the garden. Overall a great day.
My experiences are simply that…. I am not trying to stereotype anyone in anyway. I am simply putting into words what I have seen in the countryside in Jamaica where I live.