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May 23, 2007

Guide To Renting Villas Worldwide

Schoolchildren in St. James Parish, Jamaica
Charlie and friends he made during our villa stay in Jamaica in January. The students attend St. Mary's Prepatory School in Montpelier, St. James Parish.

by Wendy Perrin

Remember that trip to Jamaica I made with my family last winter?  You may recall that I rented a house, but I never did tell you that it was the best-value Caribbean villa I'd found after weeks of research. The purpose of the research, and of road-testing the villa, was to write the article that just came out in our June issue: Wendy Perrin's Worldwide Guide to Affordable Villa Vacations.  Want to learn more about the house, the staff, the beach-resort access that was included in the rate, and my family's experience of "the real Jamaica" that tourists rarely see?  We've put up a slide show too. Enjoy!

Doug (3) and Charlie (then 4) on the villa's pool terrace soon after waking up, January 11, 2007.

January 17, 2007

Tale of Two Airports

Air Margaritaville, a restaurant at the Montego Bay airport, Jamaica, Jan. 17, 2007

By Wendy Perrin

Just got back from the third-world country that is JFK's Terminal 8.  Getting through Immigration and Baggage Claim was even worse than in Montego Bay last week.  In both Jamaicas (the NYC 'hood where JFK is and the Caribbean country), the process took 1.5 hours.

The chaos in JFK's Terminal 8 did not surprise me. What surprised me was the PATHETIC security inspection we went through at the MoBay airport before the flight to JFK . . . .

Continue reading "Tale of Two Airports" »

January 16, 2007

The Beauty And Tragedy Of Jamaica

Swimming pool in Jamaica
Charlie and Doug "helping" Melvin the gardener at our rental villa

By Wendy Perrin

Sixteen years ago today (January 16, 1991), I was supposed to fly to Vienna for a vacation in Eastern Europe.  That morning the U.S. began bombing targets in Iraq and Kuwait, marking the start of the Persian Gulf War. All flights from JFK to Europe were cancelled, including my Pan Am flight to Vienna. My then-boyfriend and I had already carved out 12 days of vacation time and needed to substitute a new destination. Planes were still operating to the Caribbean, but we weren't lie-on-the-beach types, so we quickly sought a Caribbean island that was not merely a tourist fabrication but was, rather, a real country with a true foreign culture to explore.  Jamaica seemed to fit the bill, so we flew there the next day. We rented a car at the MoBay Airport and spent the next 12 days criss-crossing the surprisingly large and varied island, seeing the lush green jungles and rivers, the mountainous interior, and every coastline. (The undeveloped east coast south of Port Antonio, with its dramatic cliffs, crashing waves, and hidden waterfalls, was my favorite) . . . .

Continue reading "The Beauty And Tragedy Of Jamaica " »

January 15, 2007

Attention, Cricket Fans

This brand-new stadium in Falmouth, Jamaica, will host the Cricket
World Cup in March. Photo taken on Jan. 15, 2007.

By Wendy Perrin

Thinking of attending the opening ceremony of the 2007 Cricket World Cup in Jamaica in March?  Well, I am here to tell you that construction of the 25,000-seat stadium in Falmouth is in good shape.  The highway leading to it from the nearest airport (Montego Bay) is another story.

Tim and I drove from MoBay to Falmouth this morning to check out the stadium. There was a ton of traffic on the potholed two-lane "highway," which is under construction as they try to widen it to four lanes in preparation for the Cup.  They're going to have to pick up the pace if they want to finish in time.

As for the town of Falmouth itself, I doubt anyone will be heading there for an after-match beer on a hot day. Don't get me wrong: I like Falmouth because it's an authentic Jamaican town with no souvenir shops or standard tourist amenities. Which is precisely why it's hardly ready for a big international event.

The main road from the stadium into Falmouth, Jan. 15, 2007

January 14, 2007

Two Faces Of Jamaica

Sunday morning service at the Parish Church of St. James (built in 1775), Montego Bay, Jamaica, Jan. 14, 2007.

By Wendy Perrin

In yesterday's New York Times, guest columnist Orlando Patterson filed an op-ed piece from Kingston. He wrote:

"Drug addiction and violent crime are now endemic in Jamaica . . . . The corruption of the police and other security forces has reached a crisis point . . . where an officer can earn the equivalent of half a year's salary by simply looking the other way. Last year, 1,300 people were murdered here, in a population of only three million--and that was an improvement on the previous year."

I was thinking about this at the 7:30 a.m. Anglican service at the Parish Church today because here are three things I saw: (1) A tearful family whose teenage daughter was beaten and stabbed to death a week ago, in her own home. . . 

Continue reading "Two Faces Of Jamaica" »

January 14, 2007

Why I'm in Jamaica

Tim and the kids at a Jamaican resort that will go unnamed, Jan. 12, 2007.

By Wendy Perrin

I got a kick out of reading a post about my blog at, which calls itself "The Pop Culture Travel Guide."  It's a cool site by people who, unlike me, know how to blog. I wish I had time to educate myself about the blogosphere, but it would take more than the 8 seconds of spare time I have daily, what with my insanely busy day job offline as an editor at Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, my travel schedule, and mothering two kids (who at this moment are climbing all over me as I lie in bed trying to write this at 5:15 a.m.).

Continue reading "Why I'm in Jamaica" »

January 13, 2007

Discovered Jamaica

Roadside "rasta mon" (Jamaican for male rastifarian) in the mountains near Montpelier, Jamaica, Jan. 11, 2007

By Wendy Perrin

Sorry you never heard from me last night. No, I did not get wasted away at the Margaritaville down the road. Nor did I smoke too much ganja with the rasta mon above. The reason is much more mundane: The Wi-Fi in my Jamaican rental villa went kaput.

Continue reading "Discovered Jamaica" »

January 11, 2007

Undiscovered Jamaica

Students at St. Mary's Preparatory School, Montpelier, Jamaica, Jan. 11, 2007

By Wendy Perrin

Whenever I travel abroad, I get the warmest welcome when I visit a school or church. It's a great way to meet outgoing locals and gain insights into the culture. One thing I learned today: Crime in Jamaica may be on the rise, but the children could not possibly be friendlier. (I also learned that here in St. James Parish, named for King James II of England, Brittania is a very popular name for girls.)

Continue reading "Undiscovered Jamaica" »

January 10, 2007

We Made It To Jamaica

Charlie (4) and Doug (3) at our rental villa near Montego Bay, Jamaica

By Wendy Perrin

We made it!  Somehow or other we managed to get 2 preschoolers, 1 grandmother, 4 suitcases, 8 carry-ons, 2 car seats, 2 laptops, and 1 camera bag out of the house at 5:30 a.m., into a car to JFK, through the 45-minute check-in line (JFK's Terminal 8 does not allow curbside check-in!), through several security stations, onto AA flight 1193, through the Montego Bay airport, and into a van, which delivered us to our rental villa here in Jamaica.

Continue reading "We Made It To Jamaica" »