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A Few Things You Might Not Know About Jamaica

Jamaica is a Caribbean island with a lot of personality. In addition to its postcard-worthy beaches, it’s known far and wide for its relaxed reggae music, its savory jerk spiced-cooking, its sweet rum, its Blue Mountain coffee, and its Red Stripe beer. But these popular Jamaican exports don’t give the full picture of an island that’s got a few surprises up its sleeve.

For starters, while the jerk chicken is ubiquitous, the island is actually very vegetarian friendly. Many Rastafari avoid meat products of all kinds (although some eat fish), so virtually every restaurant has a vegetarian option on the menu, and it’s often quite exotic. Some of my favorites were peas (beans) and rice and scrambled ackee fruit (which, when cooked up with butter, salt, and pepper, tastes quite a bit like scrambled eggs).

Road Trip! Playing around Pescadero

Here’s a drive more than worth a car rental from the city of San Francisco.

It was a rare, crystal-clear, northern California morning, and we were driving south along famous Highway One past Pacifica toward the small town of Pescadero. Climbing through Devil’s Slide, we could see the surf crashing on shore as calla lilies bloomed wildly beside the road’s edge. We were in no hurry, and stayed to the right to let cars pass so that we could savor the view, which seemed to change with every big bend in the road.

Appreciate Surfing in Santa Cruz Without Getting Wet

Surfing is a sport intrinsically tied to the California psyche. It captures that be-in-tune-with-the-universe craving that draws so many dreamers out to live along the Pacific-fed West Coast. It’s a chance to get a great work-out, be outside in a spectacular setting, and look super cool while doing it. And one of the best places in California to experience surfing in all its glory is the seaside city of Santa Cruz, where surfing is so hallowed that there’s an entire museum dedicated to it.

Mexico: The Vacation Next Door

It was late at night, in the time before the U.S. state department travel warnings and color-coded terrorist threat levels. I was running on no sleep, and I was surrounded by smiling people jabbering at me in another language. Shaking my head to clear the brain-fog, it came to me that they were asking me a very important question: What toppings did I want on my pizza? (It was the mention of corn that had thrown me off.)

I’d just arrived in the Mexican mountain town of Uruapan after a winding bus ride from Mexico City. The friends I’d made just a few days before had dispersed into the night, and I found myself alone with my new “family” for the next four weeks (I was 16 years old and participating in a program called Experiment in International Living), a young couple with two adorable and chattery kids, all excited and speaking to me at a fast-clip in Spanish. (The true test of fluency in a foreign language has to be, I think, to try and have a normal conversation on very little sleep with an overexcited seven year old and her five-year-old brother, who will show no mercy with regard to their pace of speaking or your mispronunciations but instead look at you with totally unfiltered hilarity whenever you respond like you’re talking in some sort of monkey language.)

In Search of What’s Rare: Solitude and a Songbird

Editor’s Note: Earth Day is April 22, and this week’s blog posts are dedicated to preserving the world as we continue to travel. Learn more about green travel, including green hotels and voluntourism, by visiting Travelocity’s Travel for Good homepage.

If you read Jonathan Franzen’s blockbusting, Oprah-picked novel Freedom when it came out last year, then you know there was a heavy environmentalist component (if you didn’t read it, be grateful for less wasted hours in your life—it was definitely not my favorite), so it wasn’t surprising that, in a recent New Yorker article for the annual “Journeys” edition, Franzen admitted an affinity for seeking out rare and/or endangered animals, particularly birds. In the article, he writes about when he trekked all the way to the middle of nowhere to spend some time in solitude on the island where Robinson Crusoe supposedly was marooned centuries ago, many hours away by plane and boat and foot from any nearby civilization (500 miles off the coast of central Chile).