I tried, I really did. I even wrote most of this post yesterday, but then I went out to meet a friend "for a little while" and didn't make it back home until like midnight and by then I was too tired to keep writing. And you want me to have a social life, don't you? See, so you shouldn't be mad.
OK, so Kingston.
I'll be honest, I didn't do much in terms of visiting places and playing the tourist. I didn't want to. These past two months were basically one journey: from Vienna to Cartagena. It just took me longer than it usually would... to months instead of a day. More about the why and how of that a little later. The point here is that Jamaica was my last stop before finally coming home - the new home, Cartagena.
Therefore, what I wanted was to have a few last really great days on the road before commencing the long really great time at home, with friends and as-good-as-family and work and a new routine.
Lady luck decided to come back to me after Barbados, and she decided to make my experience in Kingston the best one I could possibly have asked for. Although, no, not really. I couldn't have asked for that. Because I didn't know it was even possible. Everything just played together perfectly. Not in a tourism kind of way, again that's not what I was there for, but in a way that combined all the things that make me happy.
Let me tell you what some of those things are, randomly, in no particular order:
Milo. Floating in a pool. Breathtaking views. Friends. Meeting new people and taking part in their day. Ting. Being accepted instead of feeling like an intruder in someone's personal life. Chocolate. Laughter. Riding a motorcycle and feeling the wind in my face. Being able to move around a place freely. Fish. Trying new things. Geckos. Rum. A seabreeze.
I had all of that and more in Kingston.
Let's do this chronologically.
On the flight from Bridgetown to Kingston I got a window seat in an exit row - view and legroom: yay. And I shared the row with a lady from London who had gone to Jamaica on a vacation, but then, while there, decided to take a trip within a trip to Trinidad, which is why she was on that plane with me. It was a Caribbean Airlines flight and they were doing their hop-hop-stop style of flight, so there were people from Trinidad as well as Barbados going to Jamaica on that plane. We talked for a while about her trip and mine and what we liked or didn't like about Trinidad (What I liked and she didn't like, I didn't have anything negative to say.) and then we got to the topic of transportation in Kingston and she said she was going to a hotel close by Half-Way Tree. Knowing that I'd have to go past that place to get to my host's house, I asked if she wanted to share a taxi and she said yes. What I didn't know was that she had already organized a ride for herself and her boyfriend and was planning on just taking me with them to the hotel. She didn't even want any money from me. Her driver then called a taxi driver he knew and trusted (there was the careful-in-Kingston issue again, but I'm grateful for the help) and that guy took me the rest of the way. All the way up into the Red Hills.
I got to P's place and we headed back out almost immediately, because some friends of his were getting together for a BBQ and he brought me along. Such a nice evening. Of course, my English isn't good enough for Jamaica and I have to confess that I was only able to follow about thalf the conversation that evening, but nobody seemed to mind and they still included me in their talk. P wasn't feeling too well, so we went back home early, but it was a very fun evening nonetheless. Talked for a while after coming back and then retired, me being completely overwhelmed by the amazing view from P's place:
The next morning he showed me how the public transportation system in the area worked in a learning-by-doing kind of way and we made our way down the hill/mountain to Price Right, where we did some grocery shopping. Which is where I got my Milo. I love Milo. We went back home after that, in a packed minibus, but not the most packed one I've been in on this trip. In this 12-seater that took us back up the hill/mountain I counted 18 people. Eighteen. And that's excluding the last row, so it must have been 22 or 23 people, actually. The next day, the bus was even fuller, because there were children, so there may "easily" have have been 25 or 26 people on that bus. Gotta love that about a place.
Back at the house we proceeded to play card games for half the day, then have lunch and then spend the other half of the day in the pool. Yeah, P has a pool. How cool is that? Very? Wait a second until I tell you that his pool also has a view over the city. Now the coolness of it can't even be measured anymore! After enjoying the cardgames and the pool and some rum and coke, or in my case rum and Ting, we headed out again, this time to go to Port Royal. Another one of P's friends was celebrating her birthday and again I got to go.
I was already hungry, because I always get hungry when I drink alcohol, so we stopped on the way to get some jerk chicken from a street food vendor. It was really good, but I only ate half my portion and none of the bread, because I didn't want to spoil my appetite completely - we were going to Port Royal to eat fried fish, after all.
Really, though, I only ate a quarter of the portion, because of that half I had to throw half out - all bones! But it was still very good. Also, eating chicken in a car in the dark and throwing bits of bones out the window was a lot of fun and definitely a first for me.
So we got to Port Royal and first of all, P gave me a little tour of the place. Then we parked the car and walked to the seashore, the outside one, not the inside one. Have a look at a map and you'll see what I mean. From there we went to Gloria's, the original one not the new one, and met up with his friends who arrived shortly after we did.
I had really good fried fish (in my fish top five, in my fish and seafood top ten) and it came with bammy and festival. That was something new for me, I'd never had or even heard of either of those two. Bammy is a bit like a fried arepa, but made of cassava. It tastes almost exactly like yuquita frita, but it's crunchier. And festival P described to me as "fried sweet bread" and all I can say about it is YUM!!! Here's the food:
My juice, my water and P's "fish tea" (a fish soup, basically, spicy and hot).
Fried fish with escaveche, toss salad and bammy and festival.
The quarter-pacmans are bammy and the thing that looks like a fried chicken leg is festival.
Again, I did not finish my food, this time because I was already so stuffed I couldn't even think of eating any more. The good thing was that when we went home, I got to take my leftovers with me, and had bammy and festival for breakfast. Awesome way to start your day, seriously.
The next day P had to work, so I had the morning and early afternoon to spend by myself. I spent the first hour or so of my day talking to my dad via Skype and Gmail chat, because it was his birthday (Yaaay!!) and then after that I went for a walk around the hillside/mountainside.
View by day.
Ackee on a tree by the roadside.
I enjoyed the sunshine and the view of Kingston for a while, then I took a bus and a route taxi and went to Half-Way Tree, because P had told me about an ice cream place in Devon House, a historical complex in Kingston. He called it the best ice cream in the world, so I had to go try it. I wouldn't say that it was the best I've ever had, there's others I love way more, but that might have been because the yellow part of my ice cream (you'll see it in a sec) tasted like mango, which I hate. Devon House used to be a plantation and now it's a little park with a cluster of small buildings in its centre, where you find a bar and restaurant, a bakery, an ice cream parlor and various little shops.
Half-Way Tree. Kingston proper.
My ice cream sundae with chocolate and nuts over the special anniversary flavour "Jamaica 50".
After spending some time on a little park bench in the shade, watching people and enjoying the pleasant day, I headed back to Price Right. Yes, correct, I was about 10min from the Bob Marley Museum and did not go. I didn't want to. I said it before, I wasn't in Kingston to be a tourist, I just wanted to have a nice time and in order to continue having a nice time I had to go back. So I walked back to Half-Way Tree, took a route taxi to Price Right, got some more water and cranberry water and Milo for the next morning and headed back to the house from there. A little while later P got home from work and guess what we did? Yes, pool. Obviously!
And then, guess what, P took me along to a family birthday dinner, because his birthday was also the same week. So not only did he include me when he spent time at home or with his friends, no even when it was family time. That just made me feel so special, because it's not something usual, not even on CS. Yes, you do let a stranger into your house and share your space and time with them and you might become friends. But it doesn't often happen that you have an instant connection with the person you host or you surf with. It happened here, though - and, lucky me, not for the first time. So I got to go to a really good chinese restaurant with P, his parents and his sister and her husband and it was great.
The next morning was uneventful, I packed and we chatted a bit and then the taxi came to pick me up and take me to the airport. At the airport I had breakfast, which completed my Jamaican food experience: a patti with DG and then a Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
Pretty good. < > Incredibly good!
And because that awesome time in Kingston apparently wasn't enough, I also had a great evening in Fort Lauderdale! My friend Robert had offered to let me stay at his place, because he didn't want me to spend the night at the airport as I'd originally planned. So I took a GO Shuttle (right route this time) to his place and then we went to a steakhouse to stuff ourselves with cows and cake.
It's a chunk of cow wrapped in pig and with more bits of pig on top. And more bits of pig on the baked potato, too. BACON!!!
Molten Lava Cake. Yes, that happened. But don't worry, we shared.
The next morning Robert dropped me off at the airport on his way to work, which was incredibly kind of him as it meant that I didn't have to take the bus with my big backpack.
And now, here I am. At home, in Cartagena.
We'll see what happens and if it is what I wanted it to be.