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Jamaica

Jamaica is one of the larger islands in the Greater Antilles chain in the Caribbean. Its name comes from the word Xaymaca in Arawakan, from indigenous Taíno people. English is the official language, and most people speak Patois. The interior of the country is mountainous, and there are also plains, rainforests, and reefs. Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is a great place to see interesting trees and rare animals. Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios are terraced waterfalls where visitor can take a refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable hike through pools. In Portland Parish, jump into the azure depths of The Blue Lagoon, fed by a fresh water mineral spring combined with saltwater. In the Blue Mountains, tour a coffee plantation, or hike up to a rasta camp in the hills to hear them expand on their worldviews and see their outsider art, complete with UFOs. Starchy staples include rice and peas (red beans), taro, and sweet potatoes. Festival is a fried cornstick that tastes great with jerk dishes. Callaloo is a popular green, and plantain and chayote are also common vegetables. You can get a little bit of vegan or organic Jamaican and Ital cuisine, the latter being a natural style of cooking among Rastafarians. Bless the Rastas, not only for reggae, but for their multigrain dishes with vegetables and legumes. Some excellent soups and stews include conch chowder, or Run Down with mackerel and coconut. Raw juices and healthy smoothies aren't hard to find. If you crave a refreshing, cold drink, sorrel juice is a tasty, sweet treat, as is the spicy ginger beer. A Red Stripe or a rum-and-Ting (grapefruit soda) won't treat you wrong either.