A few weeks ago our CEO June Crandon embarked on a journey to the one and only Caribbean island of Jamaica to visualise and get a feel of whether or not this was the country she wanted to take her business.
Jamaica is very much a tourist destination and many of us associate the country with sun, sea, reggae Usain Blot, jerk chicken and good rum! June’s trip was more on finding out important facts legalities, locations, and the lifestyle of the locals. It was important for her to connect with local businesses and make connections with people who she thought will influence her in what she is doing with her own business.
What specifically were you hoping to gain from the trip?
Eventually I want to move to Jamaica so this was a fact finding trip for me. I just wanted to find information to check to see if this is the place I really want to live. It was fact finding, not a holiday – it wasn’t about me going to lie on the beach it was more about getting to understand the local people, how local businesses work, and to make contacts with who I think will influence me in the future. I wanted to make contacts with people who make furniture, who make home grown food, and clothes it was just about meeting people in general and finding out who I can link up with in the future.
What was the highlight of your trip?
I didn’t really have any, it was a balanced trip. But I really enjoyed the Trelawny Parish fair, there was a woman there with 190 pound piece of yam, Trelawny is known as the “yam parish”, and they say it’s the yam that makes Usain run so fast. People were also selling goods which they sell on their farms as well as new products which I’ve never seen such as pimento wine, ackee wine, sweet potato flour, and ganja soap and oil. I must add the Jamaican people are hard working and take pride in want they do.
People at the fair were happy and open to talk about what they do – it gave me a broad perspective of what they sell and what motivations them to run small businesses. I got to have an interview with Barry G who is a popular radio broadcaster, I saw a guy who makes honey, and the honey has coriander and ginger. There was a local company selling chickens which were good priced. They were also giving away baby chickens at the of the day, this was a good way of encouraging people to have fresh organic food.
When I think of Jamaica (the Caribbean or Africa) I like to think of organic living; countries and islands which get the best of Mother Nature in terms of climate and food. As a wellness consultant it goes without saying that diet is something June is passionate about and paid close attention too during her travel.
In terms of wellness how would you say Jamaica differs from UK?
Diabetes is high in Jamaica so health and wellness is a topic which has been pushed amongst the general public through Jamaican media such as TV and radio in order to educate the nation.
In the islands capital city Kingston organic vegan and vegetarian food (vegan piazza was awesome). This was much more prominent than the other parishes I visited. I was a bit disappointed that I saw a lot of KFC, Wendy’s, Burger King – and I was like “really”?, however they seem to love it. I was surprised that Montego Bay Airport did not have any vegan or vegetarian food outlets all fast food. It was such a disappointment for a number of us who were hungry and believe me people were getting angry.
To tell you the truth I was surprised Kingston had a lot of wellness therapists. The amount of men who were having wellness therapies was very encouraging. I was also impressed with the large number of people who still use alternative medicine; especially those who live in the country areas. Therapies such as Reiki massages were very popular.
Did you want to add anything else about your trip?
My tip for travelling around the island is to use the Knutsford Coach services. The service is reasonable price and extremely efficient.
I also wanted to add the Usian Bolt foundation is doing a lot of good work for young people. Shaggy the singer is also raising money to help those in need. Personally I love to see those who have made it give back to the community.
In regards to the violence it was not as bad as the media made out. They are not all criminals or con artists. Whilst I was out there I didn’t see any or feel any of that. I feel it was blow out of proportion by the media to fill the gaps for 24 hour news. The violence was not ear mark to tourist or the public in general in my opinion it was gang to gang. People who knew each other. I actually went to Montego Bay to see for myself. I did see the police and soldiers doing random searches of vehicles which helped stop the violence from continuing. The curfew included shops, bars, and night clubs closing early for several days.
A point to note treat the people with respect and just behaviour ordinary and not show off. Dont’t behave like some arrogant tourist and you will have a wonderful time like I did. I love JA and the people. Overall it was a brilliant trip for me as I went on my own and moved around on my own without family and friends. I wanted to see JA for myself. It was safe nobody troubled me apart from men chatting me up and those trying to sell me souvenirs. But once said no they left me alone. The Caribbean lifestyle is amazing especially the Jamaican style and I cannot wait to go back.