What excites you most about Jamaica?
On the eve of celebrations for Jamaica's 55th anniversary of Independence, I asked Jamaicans and non-Jamaicans what are the things they love most about the island. Here are the top 10 Jamaican treasures that my Facebook friends from around the world find most alluring.
1. The warm, friendly, and welcoming people. No surprises here, as for decades, the trademark friendliness and hospitality of the Jamaican people have brought untold joy to both locals and overseas visitors.
2. The dazzling array of hearty food, from traditional dishes of oxtail and curried goat, run down to patties, coconut cake, roasted breadfruit and coconut drops, sweet potato and cornmeal puddings to the natural fruits like mangoes, sweet sop, naseberries, and June plum.
3. The natural beauty of the island with all its diversity - shimmering sea, rivers that make you want to jump in or go rafting, breathtaking mountains, and magnificent waterfalls.
4. The pulsating culture that includes Jamaica's gift of reggae music to the world. But, there is also dance, theatre, and the dramatic arts, and visual arts as well as the traditional folk forms of music and dance.
5. Jamaica's all round dominance in sports, especially in track and field. Usain Bolt is perhaps Jamaica's most admired personality. Few things excite Jamaicans as much as the harvesting of Olympic gold medals.
6. The dynamic, colourful and expressive sounds of the Jamaican language. New words like 'tun up', 'goodaz' are manufactured daily to add to the already formidable body of Jamaican vocabulary.
7. The climate is certainly an attractive feature for many. Even though Jamaicans take the year-round sunshine for granted, tourists understand and appreciate the joy of flying into warm Jamaica on a February morning when it's below zero in Edmonton, Toronto, and Chicago.
8. The legendary resilience of Jamaicans to bounce back from any adversity of crisis. Looking back at history, Jamaica has survived some of the most devastating tidal waves, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and political upheavals, and the nation still stands tall and proud.
9. A wickedly classic Jamaican sense of humour. Jamaicans have the ability to find fun in even the most serious situations, and they can turn a tragedy into a raucous laugh.
10. Entrepreneurship in medicine, science, and engineering. Imagine a country smaller than the state of Connecticut helping to lead the way in global cancer treatment!
AND NOW FOR A FEW OF THE COMMENTS ...
Christine Lewars: Driving from Kingston to Portland. Beautiful scenery.
Esther Tyson: The variety of the landscape that we can enjoy in this small country: rugged mountainside showing beautiful vistas, the waterfalls, the rivers and the our lovely beaches. Then there is the food of all kinds: patties, roast breadfruit, ackee and salt fish, rundown with 'scotchie' pepper. And, of course, our jerk pork and chicken and on and on I could go! Love my Jamdown!
Owen 'Blakka' Ellis: The national resilient 'bounce back' characteristic. The ability to find humour in every situation as we 'tek kin teet kibba heart bun' and tek bad ting mek laugh. We even put FUN in funeral!
Pam Hunt-Bromfield: We are colourful and a warm, friendly people. Vendors, little shops and bars and churches everywhere, our sense of humour, accents, dominoes. We are very godly and free spirited.
Jean Lowrie-Chin: Our people, our natural beauty, our music, our sportswomen and men, the food, our sense of humour, our democracy, our free press, our anthem, our flag, Negril, and so much more!
Patrick Delano Bailey: The descriptive nature of our language. Words like 'chaka chaka', 'boonununus', 'irie', 'licky licky', etc describe exactly what is meant to be conveyed. Onomatopoeia all the way.
Ijahnya Christian: There is always something dramatic going on in Jamaica. I call it Land of Drama.
Justin Peart: People of good character who are super-resilient under intense multifaceted pressure.
Dave Sappleton: The physical beauty is stunning and unique. The food is mouthwatering delicious and unique. The spirit of the people is resilient and unique because we are fighters. We have a 'can do' spirit or a 'no problem, mon' spirit. The above is found nowhere else on Earth.
Marlene Pat Walker: The natural attractions, the people's ability to laugh, make fun of themselves and their proclivity for hospitality. Jamaica, the best place on Earth!