That crazy around-the-world trip of ours might have forever changed the way we travel. We might be damaged goods when it comes to enjoying the luxuries and comforts of a plush resort or a packaged exotic tour. We seem to have turned ourselves in total travel hippies, opting for the ordinary over the indulgent, the simple instead of the sumptuous.
To celebrate turning 40 years old this year as well as our 15th anniversary, Brian and I went to Jamaica for a second honeymoon trip. It was our first trip out of the country since returning from our big adventure. As I searched through our lodging options, I found The Real Jamaica, a small vacation property owned by retired Reggae musician Papa Curvin. This was not a luxury facility, but it was perfect for us. No air conditioning, no pool, no room service, no housekeeping. What we did have was a quiet, private cabin in the woods, a gorgeous view of the ocean from the deck overlooking the cliffs and the guidance of locals who drove us to waterfalls, introduced us to Rastafarian food, and took us to late night local Reggae concerts.
Papa Curvin and his partner, Joan, also connected us to a volunteer opportunity while we were there. Joanna runs a small NGO called Love Is the Key. By educating donors overseas on the plight of Jamaica’s poor, Love Is The Key brings supplies and funding to local schools, churches and families in need. One morning of our vacation was spent helping Joan take a shipment of girls shoes to the local school. After getting a tour of the school, where teachers instruct as many as 50 students in a class, Joan, Brian and I set up a little shoe store in a school office. The girls would come in and sit on benches so we could size them and set them up with a new pair.
When we weren’t enjoying the tranquility of our cabin by the ocean or fitting little girls for new shoes, we were exploring the island and getting introduced to the beaches and little restaurants frequented by the locals. The last night of our stay Joan arranged for a local Rasta chef/Reggae singer to prepare a vegan dinner for us and some of the other guests. We ate good food, had long talks with some very cool people, listened to some Rastafarian songs, and then went to a late night jam session of local Reggae artists. Since Brian was able to get back into his photography mode, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.