A former volunteer recently shared with me an interesting reflection about our time in Jamaica. They said that day-to-day life here is not really hard, but it’s wearing. Volunteers will need to find an outside source of rejuvenation because our daily work and community life will, more often than not, be draining. I didn’t want it to be true, but in many ways, it’s a pretty accurate statement. Fortunately, we are in a country that offers us numerous ways to re-energize and keep our lives in balance, from exercising outdoors to finding familiar foods in the bigger towns, from decent access to the internet to spending a nice day on a beautiful beach. Just last week, we had a special opportunity to find respite and rejuvenation just when we needed it most
We were delighted to take up an offer to stay at the Galina Breeze Hotel on the north coast of St. Mary parish for a long weekend. We had heard good things from a former PCV and had stayed once before when my parents visited, which is when we were invited back to learn more about their non-profit/mission work in the surrounding community. The hotel is connected to an organization called ACE (American-Caribbean Experience). They’ve been in Jamaica for 25 years and focus on the parish of St. Mary with projects including education, agriculture, child sponsorship, micro-enterprise, and more. Their education coordinator gave us, and our friend Kate, an exclusive tour of a number of their current and future programs. She also showed us a lot of the literacy tools they have been using in their primary schools, so Kate and I were able to get some great ideas for our own work. It was a highly refreshing experience for all of us, not only to see an organization doing good work with a long-term commitment, but also to relax at their beautiful hotel.
The hotel has an amazing view of the coastline, a friendly staff, clean and cheerful rooms, and all at a good price (especially with the Peace Corps discount). There is a nice jerk shack on site as well as the hotel kitchen where you can pre-arrange meals. The local, organic farmers they support supply most of the food. We ate with one of ACE’s visiting mission teams and had some fantastic salads, fresh fruit, steamed fish, candied sweet potatoes, and the list goes on. The hotel also has stairs down from the cliff to the water with a landing to watch the waves and a bonfire pit.
For Peace Corps Volunteers, the air conditioning and hot water is enough to be a big “step up.” But the quality and cleanliness of the hotel also means you can bring your family or other visitors, unlike some of the other budget hotels on island. For out-of-towners, just keep in mind that you are still in Jamaica and though friendly, the service may not be as expedient as you’re used to. Also, if you’re looking for a spring break party place, you should probably look somewhere else. All in all, we highly recommend Galina Breeze.