"Nita how did it all start with you and Jamaica?"
asked my dear friend Lucka while having a coffee. Myself and Lucka have known each other for a long time, she knows that I am sending Slovakians and Czech tourists to Jamaica and that I know the island better than most of the locals. But she never actually knew how it all started for me here, so I shared some memories of my not so easy beginnings in Jamaica.
I was only a fifteen-year-old girl, living in Slovakia, when I brought home the most amazing and colourful travel magazine called ‘Rueffa’. In those times there was no Internet so it wasn’t easy to see pictures of exotic places. How exciting it was for me to have in my hands a magazine about the Caribbean and on pages 70 – 71 I found my new home: JAMAICA!!! From that moment I started to imagine this little island in the middle of a turquoise Caribbean Sea; endless white sand beaches with palm trees and burning sunsets or mountain peaks covered in lasting mist… Jamaica, a tropical playground, where I could be free to be myself, spontaneous and without limits, where I would be happy even if I would fall down on my knees... I must admit Jamaica seemed to me kinda dangerous. But like the old proverb says: “An adventure without a bit of danger that is not any adventure.”
My heart went crazy for Jamaica but I was only fifteen and I had no money in my pocket. One Christmas I surprised my parents by asking them to buy for me an expensive travel bag. They didn’t understand, “Why do you need a travel bag when you don’t even have money to go anywhere?!?!” they asked. But they bought it for me anyway. And I immediately imagined myself travelling across Jamaica with my new Christmas travel bag... :-)
I am a writer, that is the best description of myself, because everything that has happened to me in my life I have put on paper. I am fascinated by a million things and writing is the way I will never forget them. I’ve now written and published five critically acclaimed books, and my travel articles have been valued by the readers of many travel magazines.
My first book ‘TEARS IN THE RAIN’ was published on my nineteenth birthday – a fictional novel about the hard life of living in a black ghetto. As a Slovakian girl, growing in a times without the Internet and very little informations about American ghettoes in our local media, I have no idea how I described so lively the reality of living in such strange environment, but I could see it all so clearly. Perhaps in a past-life I indeed grew up in such a place. Anyway, the book was successful and brought me the opportunity to travel and make my dreams come true… I was twenty years old, it was in the year 2000 when I finally packed up my Christmas bag and jumped on the plane to travel across Jamaica for two months, to gather real informations for my next book. The main aim was to avoid hotels and resorts, I wanted to get to know the real life of the people, whether rich or poor. I wanted to become a part of their community, because only the people are the true reflection of the country.
Nowadays in Jamaica there exists two worlds. The artificial world for tourists – in gated posh hotel resorts and the world outside the gates – for locals. I wanted to know the second world. Not many people have written about the average life of a Jamaican family, about the things that make them happy or sad. I knew it might be risky sometimes, but I live by my own motto: “they who risk a lot, will win a lot.”
My first encounter with Jamaica was like going on a date with somebody really special for the first time, somebody who bewitched you with romance and stunning beauty. Jamaica could not leave you cold. I fell in love with this wild island instantly. On the plane on the way home I cried and my heart was bleeding… and although I have been to Jamaica a hundred times since, the feeling stayed the same, I always cry when I have to leave, because Jamaica is MY HOME!!!
My first book about Jamaica “JAMAICA, ISLAND OF ANGELS” fortunately got into hands of a Czech filmmaker Janka, who was at that time filming a series of travel documentary films for Czech TV Station NOVA. She called me if I could be her guide on the island. The result of our work was a great TV documentary called “ WHEN REGGAE TALKS…” and the paycheck from it inspired me to develop myself as a tour guide. After months of intense studying I received an INTERNATIONAL TOUR GUIDE LICENSE. So I felt I was ready! I contacted a Slovakian Travel company but I am not going to lie to you – it ended terribly. After that experience I learned a lesson that there is a big difference between guiding a small group of people (2-4) than a large one (15-20)! I said to myself ‘less is more’ and focused only on small groups of tourists. It helped me to get more experience, and it also meant I could give my customers more attention.
The good word about a Slovakian girl doing tours in Jamaica got around quickly, the interest started growing fast and I had to find more guides to join my team. Not every local person is suitable for the role of a tour guide, to be reliable and to make you feel safe. Finding the right guides was not an easy task. Some of them disappointed (started to hustle or rob the tourists), so I had to fire them hard and keep just the best ones. But I have found a team of honest professionals, who relish their job as a tour guide, people from disadvantaged backgrounds who through their passion and ambition have started changing their lives around. Today they are well experienced guides, who judging by your feedback, are giving you amazing, genuine cultural experiences, while helping you save a bit of money (more detailed information about our guides you can find in the section called “ ABOUT US”), and while they are taking care of you, I am managing it all from a distance.
“You are so lucky Nita, just travelling around without any cares,” sighed my friend Lucka and I just laughed. She does not have any idea how much hard work is behind it all. She must imagine that I spend all day lying on a beach but I will tell you guys, my life is not better or worse than yours, it’s just DIFFERENT.
I am lucky; while other people are just dreaming about certain things I am living my dreams in reality. There are people who believe that they need all sorts of things to enjoy their life, but I have only one thing – Life, and life thought me to enjoy all sorts of things. The richest person is the one who needs the least and I have everything I ever wanted. In those years, while travelling around the Caribbean and South America, I gained so many experiences that some people would not have gained in three lifetimes! The truth is that sometimes I was looking for a ladybird and found a scorpion instead, that I was expecting to bite on bread and broke my teeth on a rock instead. But once you pass these tests in life you your resolve is strengthened and your horizons broadened. I am happy and strong. I was never a weak person; never a looser and I have always competed with the belief in winning.
If I had to live even about hundred years old I will never forget about this magical island. I love it with all of my heart and life. If I am waking up or falling asleep I can always feel the sea – warmed by the sun, the fresh hug of the nature… I can still hear words that were said, and see all the things that happened since the beginning. I have not forgotten; I do not want to forget; because in my memories I can re-live it all again. These days I am getting the buzz from you guys, my clients, coming to Jamaica and experiencing it for the first time. Exploring, falling in love with the place and enjoying it to its fullness. That is the meaning of MY LIFE now!!!
MY LIFE BELONGS TO YOU MY CLIENTS, MY LIFE HAS VALUE ONLY IF I CAN HELP YOU TO MAKE ALL YOUR DREAMS ABOUT JAMAICA COME TRUE.
I am currently sitting at the table with my laptop. On the wall is hanging a portrait of Bob Marley, which was the very first souvenir I brought home from Jamaica. Under his thoughtful face is written his quote: “EVERY MAN GOT A RIGHT TO DECIDE HIS OWN DESTINY”…