Some Jamaican Spices to Warm Up the Day! #CCLWinter

Montego Bay Jamaica
Montego Bay
It really isn’t hard to convince me to go to the Caribbean in the middle of winter. Especially with the weather we’ve had this year. But when I heard that one of the ports for our trip was Jamaica I was all in for this trip. About ten years ago I spent a week in Montego Bay with some friends for spring break. We had a fantastic time, and explored several areas outside of the main tourist area. There is just something about Jamaica that gets in your heart and doesn’t ever leave.

Rose Hall

As I packed my bag for our trip out today I made sure I grabbed our sunscreen. Jamaica sits right at the Equator, so my pale Michigan skin needed a little protection. But I also went out with a list of items I wanted to pick up in Montego Bay: Jerk Seasoning, Blue Mountain Coffee and some Appleton Rum. All are local, have fantastic flavor and getting it at home just isn’t the same. You can find Appleton at some Kroger stores near home, but only the spiced variety – not the white rum. It is some of the best tasting rum out there. And so far, I have yet to find a restaurant at home that comes close to the right flavor for jerk seasoning.Montego Bay is one of two stops where we actually booked excursions – we’re just going to explore Cozumel later this week. So bright and early this morning we got on a bus and took a trip over to Rose Hall Great House – the haunted mansion. Rose Hall is one of 15 plantation houses left on Jamaica, out of the 700 original great houses. Most were burned or destroyed during the slave uprising, Rose Hall was only spared because it was believed to be haunted by Annie the White Witch.

Rose Hall Singer

Annie the Witch is actually Annie Palmer, the second mistress of Rose Hall. She murdered three husbands, countless slave lovers, and was reknowned for her practice of vodoo. After she was murdered by her freed slave lover, the house was stripped of its belongings and left to fall to ruins. The home was eventually purchased in the 1970’s and reopened to the public. Mysterious happenings still take place in the home, so no one stays on the grounds after dark – but during the day it is open to the public.Besides a tour of the Great House, you actually get to go in the lower level which use to be the dungeon. Now, it houses a bar where a live musician will serenade you while you can enjoy a glass of “Witches brew” – a pineapple and Appleton drink, sip it slowly! The tour will end at Annie’s tomb on the property. The tomb is marked on three sides with crosses, but the fourth is left open so the spirit can come and go as she pleases.

This was my second trip to Rose Hall, and maybe I can appreciate it more and the historical architecture and furniture added throughout the space. Very few items in the home are original to the home since the belonging were stripped after Annie’s murder. One original item that stayed with the home is a painting of children, the only one looking forward is believed to be Annie – and her eyes follow you throughout the house.

After our tour we enjoyed a little shopping at the Shoppes at Rose Hall, just across the main street. Following that our tour took us to the “Deep Pockets” area, and through the Hip Strip (the area I stayed in all those years ago).

With a little more shopping to be done at the port shops, everything on my list was found. I’ve held off on buying too much rum until later since another excursion has a portion devoted to a rum factory. But I have several packages of my loved jerked seasoning, so I should be good for a few weeks ;).

Some notes about Jamaica:

  • Always wear sun screen, especially if you have fair skin!
  • Milk is hard to find, it’s extremely expensive to import so ice cream and most items will be made with soy milk instead
  • Scotch Bonnets are used heavily in a lot of recipes, it is spicy but well worth the flavor!
  • Ya Mon is said to both men and women
  • Jamaican workers on minimum wage make $50/USD a week. That is if they can find a job that pays them that rate and they have the training to do it. Otherwise some make much less than that.
  • Be prepared to barter. In most artist markets they’d much rather see American money than not – so be prepared to walk away. The only exception to this will be in port shops, or themed shops like Margaritaville, or restaurants.
  • Never be afraid to ask for the best, or most authentic option. They wont steer you wrong!
  • You can find just about anything in the artist market, from handmade artwork, jewelry, wood carvings and even clothing. Several stands may have the same wares, so you can always shop around.



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