Stella, my 9-year-old daughter, and I are going to Jamaica next week. I know … awesome, right?! We are really excited, despite the realization that we actually know very little about this country.
So, won’t you join us as we teach ourselves a touch of geography, history, and social studies?
Where in the world?
First of all, the WHERE! Below is map showing the island of Jamaica in red. From our home town of Ottawa, if you were to catch a direct flight, you’d be looking at about 4 hours in the air. So, relatively speaking, it’s a quick and easy jaunt. About the same distance as Cuba.
Did someone say warm?
Like most other Carribean islands, the weather is extremely attractive to Canadians when the snow is flying. It’s a popular destination for tourists, with peak season ending in mid-April (you know, when Spring finally starts to hit here!). Temperatures range from 26 to 30 degrees Celsius year-round.
Yes, Mom and Dad, I promise to stay safe!
After figuring out exactly where a country is in the world, I then check out the government of Canada’s travel advisories (click here for Jamaica). Now, I know, these are not for the faint of heart — some people might not travel anywhere after reading these — but I like to be informed.
The first thing that you notice when you look at these advisories is that there is a scale of recommended caution for travellers. For Jamaica, the site notes “exercise a high degree of caution.” For comparison’s sake, Mexico and Costa Rica are also classified in the same category, whereas Cuba is noted as “exercise normal security precautions.”
The most sobering fact about Jamaica is that it has one of the highest murder rates in the world. I was also disturbed to learn that the country is considered “adamantly homophobic.”
Christopher Columbus sure got around!
This is about as much history I can absorb at this hour of the night, so forgive the brevity: In 1494, Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain. Spanish settlers brought in slaves, and according to Wikipedia, by the 19th century (Britain had taken over in 1655), Jamaica’s heavy reliance on slavery resulted in a population of blacks outnumbering whites by a ratio of 20 to 1. It was not until 1962 that Jamaica attained full independence.
The place is incredibly beautiful
More than 1.3 million foreign tourists visit Jamaica every year and there’s a good reason for that! In addition to a strong culture of great music and food, the place is incredibly beautiful.
I’ll let a few photos from the National Geographic site speak for themselves …
My photos won’t be spectacular like these due to my lack of photographic talent, but I will be sure to share our mother-daughter adventure with you!
Have you been to Jamaica before? What was your first impression, and what was your lasting impression?