This is a tale of midget Jamaican pirates, luxury suites and jerk pork, or as I like to call it: Meagan Does Jamaica.

This past weekend was a milestone for trippin: a travelogue. We hit our 20th country…and it was awesome. First and foremost, I stayed at Half Moon, a luxury resort right on the water in Montego Bay. (I was in Jamaica for a travel conference and was put up there by our hosts. I don’t typically put myself up at five-star resorts.)  My room, a whopping three times the size of my Queens apartment, overlooked the bay and the fridge was stocked with Red Stripes. I love you, Jamaica.

Without a doubt the most popular destination in the Caribbean for tourists, Jamaica has been thoroughly ransacked by the tourism industry. International hotel chains flank the beaches, souvenir shops are bursting at the seams with Bob Marley paraphernalia and Jamaican flags with the silhouette of a pot leaf pressed proudly in the middle, and abject poverty sits right alongside the all-you-can-eat lobster and all-you-can-drink daiquiri resorts.

But through it all, Jamaica manages to retain a very real part of its heritage, most notably in its food. One of the most famous jerk restaurants in Jamaica is Scotchies, a roadside jerk pit between the Sangster International Airport and the stretch of beach hotels. Once a pit stop for the traveling Jamaican, Scotchies has very much become a tourist attraction – but its food has not suffered. I opted for the half-pound jerk pork with sides of sweet potato, breadfruit and festival (a cruller-type bread). Note: If you haven’t had anything “jerk” style…well…you best get on that now. Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica. Meats are dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a sizzling mixture of pimento and Scotch bonnet peppers along with some other spices. You can look it up. Anyway, it makes food succulent, spicy and now my mouth is watering.

And now for the part I’m sure you have all been waiting for. When someone mentions midget Jamaican pirates, they had better deliver. Our last night in Jamaica our group of journalists was sent to check out Jamaica’s newest tourist attraction: Captain Hook Pirate Show and Dinner Cruise. Picture this: About 20 actors dressed up as pirates hijack you on a dinner cruise and put on some sort of ridiculous buccaneer routine complete with dancing, audience participation and dinner. Yes, don’t worry – the price of your ticket ($95) includes unlimited alcohol. We were taken out of the new cruise port in Falmouth around the bay while pirates danced to Michael Jackson, real canons were fired and a midget pirate swung from ropes and leapt onto the laps of women. Ahh slapstick comedy and midget humor.

Look – I’m not recommending this to anyone who wants to see Jamaica. And truth be told, you have to look hard to find the real Jamaica because it has been manhandled by the tourism industry so much that it’s pretty much beyond recognition. But this is the Jamaica of today and it is absolutely a great escape for someone looking to lay on a beach and eat some good food. And if you want to see some pirates dance around for you and embarrass the audience, I’ll tell you that I actually ended up dancing with a couple swash bucklers, laughing and having a pretty good time. But you did not hear that from me.

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