Travel Jamaica

image via Jamaica Olympics/Facebook
Watching team Jamaica arrive in London’s Olympic stadium last Friday and then make a huge impact on the track brought back so many memories of our recent trip.  Between our multiple trips to the island over the last few years and our many precious friends in Santa Cruz, Jamaica, I couldn’t  help but cheer for the Jamaican team as they entered the stadium led by their own national hero, Usain Bolt.
MacKenzie doing her impression of Bolt
 I had shared a bit of our mission work from our June trip,  but we also take time to enjoy the island.
While we do see a lot of the “ugly” on the island that most tourists will never see, we also see some of God’s amazing creation.  From the most beautiful ocean you will ever lay eyes on to the gorgeous resorts there is enough color and floral beauty to make anyone fall in love with this tropical destination!
Dusk on the Caribbean
View from the White Witch golf course in Montego Bay
Walkway into Rose Hall, Home of Jamaica’s own “White Witch”
Gorgeous Bird of Paradise

But, while the resorts of Jamaica are beautiful, I have discovered that the yards belonging to our dear friends in Santa Cruz have the most beauty with their mixture of sustainability and natural floral growth.

Passion Fruit vines with it luscious fruit ripe to eat an cherries ready to eat right from the tree.
Wouldn’t you just love to walk out your front door and pick bananas from your own from yard?
Pomegranates growing. Oh, how I wished they were ripe!
Coconuts that will be carried to the market
Gorgeous greenery in one of the yards.
I would LOVE to have this beauty growing in my own yard!

And if the flowers and fruit growing weren’t breathtaking enough, the view from the front porch of the hotel we stayed in was absolutely stunning!

With just this glimpse it’s easy to see how my family has fallen in love with Jamaica.  We are already planning our trips for next year which is quite exciting!

Jamaican Beauty

Most people who visit Jamaica never see the real Jamaica.  What they do see is the inside of an all inclusive resort, the “fixed-up” area where cruise ships dock, the clean and neat main drive through resort towns and beaches with clean white sand.
While Jamaica has it’s beauty, a large majority of the island lives poverty and general dirtiness.  This is the Jamaica the tourist board does not want you to see, and the Jamaica where I have spent time every summer for the last three years.
In this Jamaica there is access to public beaches where tourists do not go because they are so dirty.
There are thousands and thousands of houses falling down or incomplete.  Homes with outdoor showers, kitchens and toilets.
Shower anyone?
You have to bring your own bucket and cup after you have carried your water to bathe with.
 There are parishes where the main streets are filthy and you feel dirty just driving through.  There are children who roam the streets both day and night who are scrounging for food or trying to con you out of a dollar.  If they can’t afford book fees,  “tuition”, or just don’t make the grade, they do not get to go to school.  It is nothing for a local to walk up (while smoking) and offer you weed (ganja), and to see a man peeing on the side of the road is not uncommon.
But in the middle of this ugly is also a natural beauty.  One that touches your heart and reaches deep into your soul.  It’s beauty that many will never know because they choose not to step out of their comfort zone.  This is the beauty of Jamaica that I love, the beauty that has changed me and my family over the years.
It is the people.
 
We don’t go to Jamaica to “save” them all.  We go to Jamaica to offer hope, love and encouragement.  We don’t knock on doors inviting people to worship, we go into homes and offer love and service.  Over the years we have painted homes, built porches and dressed children.
We do have a Vacation Bible School, but we also go to the schools and read to the children.

 

If just one life is touched, changed, or given hope because we share love, then I see success.  So many people in Jamaica feel hopeless.
I am often asked why would I go to Jamaica for mission work when I can find the same type of poverty here in the USA.  The answer is simple.
In Jamaica, people, especially children want hope.  They are receptive to the love of God and you feel welcomed with open arms.
Here in the States?  God is more often than not, an afterthought.
I cannot begin to put into words the power of this type of trip, so I hope pictures will suffice.
I do know that as long as I can, I will continue to work in Jamaica.  My children are falling in love with the people as much as I have.  They want to make a difference as well.  In a world filled with pamper me attitudes, I swell with pride watching them grow in such a giving manner.

Monday, Monday

Happy Monday!
My girls and I just returned from a 9-day mission trip in Jamaica late Saturday night, and what an amazing adventure it was!
I am spending the day catching up on laundry and cleaning house, but wanted to pop in and share a few pics from our adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be back soon, after I have had a day to recuperate and get my act together!
What have you been up to?

Jamaican Flavor

After eight days out of country, we are so glad to be back home!  Jamaica, and the work we were a part of there was a most humbling and beautiful experience. 
This being my second year, I knew for the most part what to expect, but my dear Audley did not.  I do know that after the time spent there he has fallen in love with the experience as much as I have.  
 
 
One of the highlights of visiting another country for any reason of course is the culinary experience.  We were treated to a variety of dishes from home-cooked meals of jerk chicken and pork chops to an open pit Jamaican bbq.
Ketchup is sweet; CocaCola light is served instead of diet Coke; a salad is made up of shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, & fresh tomato placed pretty on a platter; nearly every meal is accompanied by peas & rice; bammy bread replaces cornbread; goat is served curried; and you had better like chicken!

 

 

While we had a little down time in Negril towards the end of our trip, Audley decided to try fish for breakfast one morning.
This dish known as “escoveitch” in Jamaica, and is marinated in a sauce of vinegar, onions, chayote, carrots and scotch bonnet peppers overnight, since it is a traditional breakfast dish. 
 

 

Audley’s breakfast was made using fried snapper, a pepper, onion and vinegar mixture, and served with Callaloo (kind of like our spinach and prepared similarly), boiled white potatoes & yams, and bammy bread (a popular & traditional flatbread).

 




As a group we had tasted a different version of this same recipe earlier in our trip as one of the local church members there cooked it for us one evening.  



The fish was not filleted as we are accustomed, but laid out and cut as if slicing bread so that you ended up with rounds of fish, bone in the center of the ring.  


I didn’t get the recipe for this dish, but Chef Bobby Flay has a really good one that I thought I would share today.  Check it out, you might have a new family favorite for breakfast!


Escoveitch Fish

Ingredients

    • Pickled Red Onions

 

  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced and rings separated
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

 

 

Sauce:

    • 4 cups fresh orange juice

 

  • 1 habanero or Scotch Bonnet
  • 6 whole allspice berries
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • White wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Honey, to taste, optional
  • Basil Oil
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fish
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • Peanut oil or canola oil
  • 2 pounds pink snapper skin-on fillets, cut into 2-inch strips
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

 

 

Directions

For the pickled red onions:
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil, add the onions, cook for 1 minute and drain well. Transfer to a bowl.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly then pour the mixture over the onions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Stir in thyme before serving.
For the sauce:
Put the orange juice in a medium nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Using a paring knife, make a small slit in the center of the habanero and add to the orange juice along with the allspice berries. Cook until thickened and reduced to about 1 cup. Strain into a bowl and let cool slightly. Add the zest and vinegar and season with salt, pepper and honey, to taste, if needed.
For the basil oil:
Combine the oil and basil in a blender and blend for 2 minutes. Strain into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
For the fish:
Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper and enough water to make a batter with the consistency of crepe batter. Let sit 5 minutes.
Heat 2-inches of oil in a medium high-sided saute pan over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Put the flour in a large shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Season the fish with salt and pepper and dredged lightly in the flour, tapping off excess. Dip the fish in the batter and let excess drip off. Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to a platter, drizzle with the vinegar sauce and basil oil and top with some of the pickled red onions. Garnish with basil leaves.






I truly believe that trying new things in a different culture makes the experience so much more memorable.  Do you step out of the box when you travel?  What memorable dining experiences have you had?




While I loved traveling in Jamaica, I am so glad to be back home.  There is a lot of summer left and exciting things going on.  Most of all I am looking forward to relaxing and catching up with all the happenings in blogland!


I’m a little late linking up, but posting this to Foodie Friday this week!  Stop by and check out all the other culinary delights!