Have you ever been to a place that fully captures you with its beauty, people, food? Mel’s place in Westmoreland was more than just a dream, it was a retreat into the hills of Jamaica to remind us of the lost connection between land and community. It was a lesson in slowing down, observing, and communicating.
We got scooped up by Ron, Mel’s neighbor and local tour guide from Montego Bay then headed toward the hills. Along the journey, Ron gave us some hidden history of Jamaica. We talked about music, food, and life in the hills compared to city life. As we began our ascent we knew we were at the beginning of a magical adventure.
Upon our arrival we were not only warmly greeted by Mel, but her neighbors and family. It felt like we were visiting an auntie. We we were showed to our cabin and later Mel gave us a tour of her family’s 9-acre botanical oasis. The walk ended with a sunset viewing of the sun melting into the horizon.
Over the next few days we did the following: took a couple trips to Bluefields Beach, explored the flora and fauna on the family’s land, smelled all the flowers, ate all of Mel’s home-cooked traditional Jamaican dishes, took a trip with Ron to Savannah-la-Mar’s produce market, hunted for breadfruit along the roadside, took a shortcut to the beach aka hiked 3 hours down the hill through the woods with Mel’s neighbor Adrian, painted on the cabin’s porch, learned about Westmoreland’s ecosystem, made new friends, made up stories about hummingbirds and swallowtail’s beef, set off fireworks with Mel’s daughter, and drank rum and Ting by the beach.
It was an unforgettable experience that we still talk about to this day. There’s nothing like experiencing a place through the people that are from there. You gain a better understanding of where you’re taking up space in. Throughout our trip we learned the untold history of Jamaica and its native people. Even in the quiet hills of Westmoreland non-natives from America, Canada, Europe, and Asia are buying up property and building ridiculously huge houses on the land (smh). Another reminder that colonization has never actually ended.
We hope to return one day, but for now we’d like to share a few moments from our journey. All photographs were taken with an Olympus PEN Mini.
*More than just beautiful beaches, rum drinks, and reggae music, Jamaica has the highest number of native birds and plants of any Caribbean island. Unfortunately, deforestation, soil erosion, and pollution are Jamaica’s ecosystems greatest threats. To learn more about these threats and Jamaica’s sustainability initiatives, follow The National Environment and Planning Agency and read.
To read about our time in Ocho Rios, follow this link.