Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Apologies about the lack of posting recently, I usually try to write something on my days off, but I spent them in Kingston this weekend, sans laptop, and thus had to hold off until today. Coincidentally however, that's what today's entry is going be about.

I left for Kingston on Saturday morning with one of the other volunteers, Stephie, and following a 30/45 minute wait for the bus to leave (the buses here don't really follow a timetable per se, rather they just wait until they're full and then leave) we headed off for a very picturesque, albeit slightly squished, trip through the Blue Mountains to Kingston. This two hour trip, literally from one side of the island to the other, cost $3.50 Australian. I call bullshit on the price of Perth taxi fares.

Devon House
Once we arrived in Kingston we managed to find our hostel (Reggae Hostel) pretty easily, and after dropping our bags off we decided to start exploring. The first stop was Devon House, a stately home built in 1881 by Jamaica's first black millionaire, and home to Devon House Bakery and Ice Cream (our main reasons for visiting). Our first stop was the Bakery in order to sample some of the gourmet Patties on offer. Patties are basically the Jamaican version of a meat pie, except the pastry is a bit flakier and closer in appearance to a Pasty. I was really keen to get involved with the lobster patty, but unfortunately it's out of lobster season here so you can't get them anywhere. Nevertheless, the meat patty I had in place of it was excellent, with deliciously flaky pastry and just the right amount of spice. Next followed the ice cream. I went with mango and guava and was very impressed, although Stephie had some issues with the rapid melting of her ice cream, as it quickly became apparent that Germans don't have much experience with eating ice creams quickly in the heat. 

Bob Marley Museum

We then walked to the Bob Marley museum, although we decided that our dedication to Bob Marley did not extend to the $20 US entry fee, so we just wandered around the courtyard and took some photos, while marvelling at the sheer size of the American tourists wandering (waddling) around the museum grounds. We spent the rest of the day wandering around New Kingston, before attempting to find the National Stadium. It took us quite some time to do this (and no small amount of walking), and as a result we missed the cheerleading competition that had been taking place there.

Later that afternoon we got back to the hostel and had a few beers with some of the other guests, including a couple of Colombian girls who took great delight in teaching everyone how to salsa dance. I also spent a good deal of time being amused by the antics of Fiyah, the hostel's resident kitten, who would lie in wait in the grass before stalking, and attempting to pounce on, everyone who made their way to the bar.

We went for dinner at the Usein Bolt 'Tracks and Records' restaurant, which I was initially sceptical about, thinking that it was going to be one of those lame 'branded chain restaurants that serves shitty tourist food. In actual fact, the food that we had there was amazing and some of the best and most authentic food I've had in Jamaica so far. I also conducted experiments to determine whether the 'Reggae' sauce they had could compare with the alliterative juggernaut that is 'Reggae Reggae' sauce. Unfortunately, while good, the sauce just lacked that something that the extra 'Reggae' obviously brings to the table. Being the committed scientist I am, I also conducted other experiments to determine the differences between draught Red Stripe and bottled Red Stripe.

After a brief stop off at a rooftop bar in Halfway Tree, we headed back to the hostel and hung out with the guests there for a bit. Astoundingly, one of the guests had whipped out his portable 7-inch record player and we chilled out drinking a few beers and listening to rare 7-inch reggae and dub tracks that he'd bought in Orange Street that day. A couple of kiwi guys tried to convince me to hit a club with them, but unfortunately the day's ridiculous amount of walking had taken its toll so I had to crash.  

Downtown Markets

The next day (after deciding that we would stay one more night) we headed to go check out Downtown Kingston with a Dutch couple from the restaurant. Unfortunately, it being a Sunday, the area was a bit dead, but we nevertheless managed to check out some markets and wander down to the waterfront. At this point the Dutch couple went off to chill on the beach, while Stephie and I headed back into the centre of town to go and check out the Botanical Gardens. The gardens were pretty cool, and it was nice just wandering around and checking out all the different areas there. Then we headed back to Devon House for more ice cream (this time I went for the stout flavoured one).

That night we linked up with some Americans, the Kiwis from the night before, and a bunch of other people from the hostel to have a few beers and then party. The options were a beach party, 'Dub Club' (an event in the mountains), or the weekly Sunday street party that goes on in Raytown. We ended up choosing the party in Raytown as apparently it had an amazing vibe and we were definitely not disappointed. Highlights included the rasta lady who dreadlocks that dragged along the ground, women daggering with cars in order to stop them driving through the centre of the dance and the discovery (once we got back to Port Antonio) that we had actually been very brave to check out that party as apparently it's normally a pretty locals only thing.

Car Daggering
On that note though, I have to say that I never felt unsafe or threatened in Kingston. Everyone had been all 'don't go downtown/to Kingston you'll get stabbed/raped/robbed,' but I had a wonderful time there. I'm definitely looking forward to going back and spending a few more days there towards the end of my trip. 

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