So, this past weekend was one of my last weekends away with the volunteer group here in Jamaica. I say one of my last because I’m not sure if I’ll be doing anything on my final weekend here in Jamaica because I’m a broke girl atm 😂
Anyway, this weekend was a bit different from my past 2 weekends- I actually partied with the squad, tried some new and different ways of hanging with them, and despite being short on cash, I made the decision to try some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, the memories of which I will cherish till the end of my time.
I knew this was going to be one of the more expensive weekend getaways, because nothing in Ocho Rios is free…including their beaches. Idk about you, but that blew my mind! Granted it was only around $5AUD for entry into a beach minutes away from our accommodation, but having lived in Australia [the land of beaches], this just seemed like a waste of money to have to sunbathe and swim in the salty sea waters – something that is readily available as a natural form of the environment. But, as I learned from some of the other volunteers, it’s a thing in the UK…OK then!
Anyway, our accommodation cost around $50AUD for two nights – a fairly outrageous $10AUD more than I would have liked to spend. However, it was the local rate, came with really good WiFi outside the rooms, had an air conditioner in the room that I shared with 3 other volunteers (a huge win in the Jamaican heat!!!), had hot water (praise all the Gods!), and even had a kitchen where you could prepare and/or store your own food! Plus, it was minutes away from the local beaches – 1 free and 1 paid – along with the local markets. So, all in all – a decent deal! Bonus that it had some gorgeous art murals and Rasta-inspired vibes spread throughout the hostel. 🙂
After arriving at Ocho Rios Friday evening, our tiredness soon dissipated as we made our way to the free beach, took a swim in some of the coldest and uneven temperature-d waters, and enjoyed the view of a sunset (behind an ultra-cool party boat of people who came to shore struttin’ their dancing moves)! Shortly after, we decided to head to the supermarket, buy some groceries and booze to have a fairly social and relaxed night back at the hostel.
Except it got pretty wild (and awesome) after that! While my Friday night ended up being a big one, I was glad to have experienced it all – we had our dinner at a place where counting was a skill that was lacking 😛 However, the food and drinks were tasty, so it made up for the sloppy service. Next, we went back to our hostel and popped open all the booze and played a game of Kings Cup on the balcony, where our circle of friends grew bigger and bigger by the hour. Before you know it, a bunch of backpackers and our group were bonding over our mutual love for travel and all things Jamaican. Up to this point, I had sworn off checking out the clubbing scene in Jamaica, based on the stories I was told. However, this night was different – I really loved hanging out with the volunteers (old and new) and decided to try it out. It was an awesome experience, where my [ridiculous] dancing moves came to surface, but it was a good night! A seriously sweaty but good night at a club where ‘the Whiteys’ took over and brought down the house in the best way possible! We danced, we drank, we made new friends, and we learned a lot about each other in the process.
After a fantastic first day / night in Ocho Rios, Saturday was when I chose to take it super easy and be a lazy beach bum at the paid beach. I was a bit disappointed by how the depth of the sea was constant, as I love swimming in the waters [in case my Instagram didn’t give you that idea ;)], but it was still a nice beach to relax with some of the volunteers and have a super chilled day.
Here’s a thing that happened though (and Im surprised it took this long tbh), but I got tanned. I got tanned REAL NICE. Except, it made me cry. Now, I don’t think it’s obvious or even logical as to why I responded the way I did, but hear me out. Having hailed from a culture where moisturizing creams called “Fair and Lovely” are a thing, you can only imagine my utter disgust at seeing my skin turn two shades darker than usual. Now, I love to see other girls and boys getting tanned – somehow it looks amazing on them. But on me, it’s a whole different story. I can’t stand to look at my body when Im tanned. It legit makes me wanna gag. As hard as it has been though, I have had some conversations on this topic with the other volunteers and am trying my hardest to accept the fact that a tan on me is beautiful and makes me look good. But, it’s hard to come to terms with it when you grow up in a society where the concept of “fairer is more beautiful and prettier” is unofficially indoctrinated into the young minds.
Anyway, aside from that, my Saturday was fairly chill – I got to eat some delicious Margarita pizza with my new home-slice Kirsty, share a few drinks with the gang, and have [several] fits of laughter with my girl Enya when looking at Trip Advisor photos of people who have been to Mystic Mountain. Seriously, just go through the photos and spot the two gems (if you can) that made us crack up for close to 45 minutes! I was fairly content at not having spent much like the rest of the crew that day – even though they spent it on some seriously awesome places such as Dolphin Cove and the Blue Hole. Having come to Ocho Rios with a fairly tight budget, I was ready to spend most of that at Mystic Mountain.
Cue in Sunday – Mystic Mountain was the place that I had been wanting to visit since before arriving in Jamaica. They have the Sky Explorer, which takes you up to the highest possible point of the Mountain and provides you with some seriously picturesque views of Ocho Rios. For nearly $100 (US), I chose to go for the package of using the Sky Explorer and trying Ziplining through the rain forest of Ocho Rios. I was incredibly terrified, but I was also excited beyond belief. I have been wanting to check out the sport of ziplining for the longest time and this was my chance! While it may have taken out a big chunk from my bank account (#sorrynotsorry), it was well worth it. The feeling of having all those tall trees surrounding you and embracing you as you make your way from one part of the forest to the other in seconds is something that is unexplainably adrenalin-filled and oh so awesome a feeling!
Snorkeling in Pirates’ Cave, swimming in the Blue Hole in a cave, and now ziplining- I think I’ve made the most of my time here in Jamaica. It may have killed my bank account, but my god I had so much fun that I wouldn’t have it any other way! As the saying goes, “travel is the only thing you’ll buy that makes you richer”.