Where the Sun Shines all Winter

It will be in the eighties for the next week, and for the next month, and the month after that, and…. Not here in Lakeland, Florida, unfortunately. That’s the forecast for Montego Bay, Jamaica. While Old Man Winter blankets most of the Northern Hemisphere with snow, the sun shines brightly in the Caribbean. It’s a wonder anyone who can scrape the necessary airfare together isn’t on the phone to their travel agent today, checking out available vacation packages in the islands.

I’m biased of course, but I would suggest Jamaica as the destination of choice.

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I asked my father why he had returned to Jamaica after his adventures in such exotic places as Panama and Costa Rica. He smiled gently and said, “Son, no matter where you go in this world, you will never find anywhere better than Jamaica.”

In the many, many years since then, I’ve done my share of traveling, and I have to admit, I haven’t found anywhere to compare with my native land.

Jamaica has those wonderful beaches, for one thing. And,if you’ve been spending the past few weeks bombarded by ice and snow, trapped in some artificially heated apartment, slip-sliding to work through those dark, frigid streets – the way I used to in Toronto – imagine how it would feel to be immersed in the warm, frothy surf, watching the sea birds careen across a cloudless sky.

Growing up in Jamaica, we went to the beach a lot, and we also enjoyed the numerous rivers that flow into the sea, but it’s the mountains that I see when I close my eyes at night. The majestic mountains. Mysterious and beckoning, whispering promises of adventure and intrigue.

The mountains make Jamaica special.

You might find beaches in the Bahamas to compare with Jamaica’s, but no mountains. And while some of the other islands have mountains, they are not like Jamaica’s. Where else could you venture into the Land of Look Behind, where the Maroons defied the British soldiers and won the right to a kind of self-government unmatched anywhere in the Empire?

As children we would lose ourselves in the mountains for the whole day sometimes, wandering and wondering, discovering new marvels around every corner. Among the breathtaking surprises we found in those woods were hidden waterfalls, crystal-clear and sparkling, like some fairy kingdom, an array of strange birds and butterflies, and an abundance of fruit trees. The songs of the birds and the murmur of the water created a hypnotic symphony that cast a spell over us, making time seem to stand still.

If you go to Jamaica, don’t just bask on the beach, explore the mountains. They are full of memories that will last a lifetime. Mine have.

Photo shows Hidden Falls, near Port Antonio.

Click for more scenes of Jamaica.

Click for more about the Maroons.