Thursday, December 29, 2005

Xmas at Treasure Beach

We recently stayed in Treasure Beach (in St. Elizabeth on the South Coast) over Christmas, and I must say that the place pretty much lives up to the hype. It's renowned as a Jamaican hotspot for "community tourism", where visitors can interact with Jamaicans and get to experience some of the local way of life. It certainly does this much better than a town like Ochi (Ocho Rios), on the North Coast where many of the cruise ships dock.

Some highlights.
  • The Treasure Beach hotel is pretty nice. It has a different feel than many of the other lodgings down here: stately rather than funky. However, it is owned by a Jamaican and many Jamaicans stay there. Their breakfast is also quite good, although the rest of the meal offerings seem way overpriced (e.g. US$45 for lobster?). The grounds are really beautiful and it's a good place to chill out and has easy access to the beach.
  • Jack Sprats restaurant is really good. Try the conch soup and pizza. (We can give you the conch soup recomendation on good authority now because we have just begun eating seafood after a 5 year hiatus.) There is also a nice stretch of beach here. The atmosphere is casual and the prices are very reasonable.
  • Floyd's Pelican Bar is a must-see. It is a bar built on stilts on a sandbar a half-mile out from the coast. You can get a boat ride from Treasure Beach. The drinks are cold, the water is clear and warm, and there are sea creatures to look at underneath the bar.

We also shared Christmas with a group of volunteers at another PCV's house, which was a lot more fun than eating at a hotel buffet. There was stuffed chicken, gungo pea stirfry, roast yams, and homemade carrot cake, among other things. We opened some crackers which had 8 whistles inside. Each of the whistles had a number that corresponded to a note in the C scale. The set came with songs; each person blew the whistle when the conductor pointed, and you could recognize the Christmas Carols. You haven't been moved by "Silent Night" until you have heard it done by eight kazoo-whistles blown by people who are laughing so hard they sometimes get confused about when they are supposed to blow.

Definitely check out Treasure Beach if you are looking for a relaxing place to spend a few days and unwind.

-Shane and Kaelyn

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