My specialty is the Caribbean for many of the same reasons that I am a travel agent. I love the work that is associated with the beautiful places I've visited. I'll never forget my first trip to the Caribbean in March 2006 while on board a Carnival cruise we sailed to Jamaica. I honestly can't tell you how many times I've been to Jamaica since then but I know that I will continue to return year after year.
I grew up in San Diego, California. Going to the La Jolla Coves and exploring the coastline is something I've done for as long as I can remember. Although I LOVE the beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, that isn't the reason I fell in love. I mean there are definite differences in the beaches in the Caribbean and California. No matter how hot it is in San Diego, I've never felt bath water temperatures like in the Caribbean Sea. I always wondered why we never snorkeled at Mission Beach and then I spent time in Negril, where the fish eat out of your hand just steps into the clear water. So, yeah, there are differences but beautiful beaches are many places. Not enough to make me fall in love.
The food isn't the reason I fell in love. Okay, full stop. MAYBE the food had a lot to do with it, it's just not the MAIN reason that I fell in love. Ackee and saltfish, curry goat, jerk chicken and pork, oxtails, red pea soup, bammies, callalo0, coco bread, beef patties, rice and peas. What was I saying? Food isn't the reason I fell in love with the Caribbean? Yeah, scratch that. Food in the Caribbean is like an experience. If you've never had anyone dive into the sea to grab a lobster or conch and cook it up for you right there on the beach, then it's probably not something that I could explain to you.
The weather is amazing in the Caribbean. I currently live in Florida so I'm just starting to get the hang of the tropical storms and hurricanes that are a common part of life but after living in Indianapolis, Indiana for the past 13 years I can say the weather is a definite plus in the Caribbean. Who doesn't love 80 degrees and even amazing afternoon rain showers followed by more sun? Right, it's enough to make you fall in love. But the weather isn't my reason for falling in love.
The laid back "island lifestyle" nature is plentiful in the Caribbean. I once sat in amazement and awe as our flight crew for Liat Airways (a Caribbean airline) waited for passengers that were going to miss their connecting flights. You don't go to the Caribbean to behave like an American. You may have to wait 30 minutes for dinner. No worries, mon, just drink a Bob Marley in the meantime. The show was supposed to start at 7 pm and it's 7:15 pm? No worries, mon, just drink a red stripe. I love the feeling of being relaxed and living in the moment. I love not feeling rushed or stressed. This isn't my reason for falling in love but it's a great reason to stay in love with the Caribbean. You definitely get to take the time to explore nature and to commune with yourself. Bless up.
So what's my reason for falling in love with the Caribbean? How come I keep returning "home" to Jamaica year after year? Why have I established relationships and do I encourage people to visit Belize, Barbados, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts, Cayman Islands, Cuba, and Grenada? THE PEOPLE!
I cannot explain how much I love the people in the Caribbean. The warm smiles and the kind words. These people really make me feel welcome in their beautiful lands. I have so many friends that I'm able to call on when I go to the islands. They teach me about their culture and their history and they share hidden, off the beaten path beautiful natural treasures and resources with me. I've been able to visit their spice markets and their roadside gardens and taste fruits and vegetables that I never even heard of before. I've been invited into their homes and met their families. I've been asked to participate in their celebrations. The people of the Caribbean feel like "my people".
They are there to welcome us home each time we come to visit. They are the reason that I fell in love with the Caribbean and the reason I will continue finding different ways to love her.