Childhood Love For Local Exploration in Jamaica Turns Into Tour and Travel CompanyFeb 06, 2021 11:35AM ● By Candice Stewart
The saying, “not all who wander are lost” is somewhat cliché but it stands true.
As a child, I travelled and wandered with my family, especially my mother, to other parts of Jamaica to visit family and sometimes just to lounge and have fun.
Though we probably lost our way from a geographical standpoint, we always got back on track and uncovered new places within our country. In those experiences, we often also found a deeper connection with each other.
I never imagined, at that time, that my yearning for such experiences would follow me into adulthood. Additionally, in my young and naive mind, I never imagined that I would meet like minded strangers.
In 2020, I was introduced to Being Jamaican, a tour and travel company whose mandate includes providing a less commercialised experience in local exploration. That instantly triggered my desire to uncover more and before I knew it, I joined a tour group exploring sections of the beautiful and picturesque parish of Portland.
During the tour, childhood memories of long journeys and endless chatter came rushing back and I fell in love. I was able to unlock parts unknown to me, learn some history and make connections.
Recently, the principal consultant of Being Jamaican, Ms. Teika Samuda, shared details about her company with FunTimes Magazine.
Teika Samuda, Principal Consultant, Being Jamaican
About Being Jamaican
“Being Jamaican is a travel and experience company and we focus on taking people off the beaten path,” Samuda says.
“We are committed to unveiling what I call the oftentimes overlooked natural and cultural beauty that the island of Jamaica has to offer,” she continues.
“Without hesitation, a lot of people would be able to tell you about Dunn’s River Falls in St. Ann or they’ll tell you about the Seven Miles beach in Negril, Westmoreland. However, there are so many beautiful spots that are just as fantastic but they don’t often get the same kind of shine or representation,” she stressed.
That is among a host of reasons that explains Ms. Samuda’s desires to take persons on paths less travelled. She wants to shine a light on other aspects of nature, culture, history and geography across Jamaica.
In our conversation, it was revealed that Samuda’s love and appreciation for local travel, exploration and discovery also started when she was a child.
When she was young, her father would take the family on road trips across the island. They lived in St. Elizabeth but on weekends, especially those at the end of the month, her family would travel to Savanna-la-mar in Westmoreland and sometimes to Clarendon.
They would travel to family and friends but the adventure happened in the journey and not the destination.
“From that experience, I developed a love for travel and having new experiences from a very early age. It grew as I got older,” she says.
Samuda, who spent a little over 16 years in corporate Jamaica, is a Marketer by education. She studied Marketing at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Though she no longer works in the corporate world, marketing is still very much part of her life as she uses it for her business.
“It [corporate Jamaica] was fantastic; I learned from it. I loved it. But, I had come to a point where I really wanted to do something different. I wanted something more,” she tells FunTimes Magazine.
With that desire to find more, Samuda jumped at the opportunity to start her business by turning her passion into a profession.
Check out other women who have turned their passion and hobby into a business!
The start of Being Jamaican
Among her friends, Samuda is the go-to person for destination recommendations.
As chance would have it, in 2018, one of her friends had a visitor from New York and they wanted to see the island through a different lens.
Instead of giving the typical ‘top ten tourist hot spots in Jamaica, Samuda wrote a proposal for the visitor with her as the tour guide.
The proposal was accepted, Ms. Samuda was hired and the seed was planted.
Needless to say, a few months later, Being Jamaican was officially born with Samuda being the Principal Consultant.
Since then, the company has become one of the well known local travel companies that provide carefully curated experiences for those seeking adventure in lesser known parts.
Warm marshmallows at an elevated location in St. Andrew
Why is the unbeaten path more fascinating?
According to Samuda, the path less travelled is more fascinating “because it is hidden and you rarely ever see it. As such, it becomes intriguing and mystifying”.
The idea of going somewhere that is relatively unknown and new to some adds to that sense of adventure.
“That’s the appeal. The unbeaten path is so pure; it is not commercialised and almost untouched,” she tells FunTimes Magazine.
Additionally, the travel enthusiast encourages persons to get to know their own backyard.
“I’ve often heard people say that visitors come to Jamaica and find spots that locals are oblivious to. I think that’s because we kind of grew up in Jamaica, we take it for granted that our local gems are already known so we look to foreign land for the new and wonderful gems. I think foreigners are of a similar mindset. Though I understand, I think there is importance in knowing the value of what you have,” Samuda says.
Samuda then mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic in that it has been a blessing in disguise for some. Jamaicans have seemingly taken to exploring the country since their ability to cruise and jet-set has been hampered. So in truth, “now is a perfect time to explore the backyard”.
In the town
Chasing waterfalls at an elevated location in St. Andrew
Being Jamaican tours
As Principal Consultant, Samuda offers group tours with pre-selected locations and activities.
All the tours are unique as Samuda curates the packages for the general group tours. So, she creates a package, she makes it public and people will opt into it.
The packages often include multiple locations within the same parish. The journey to each spot sometimes turns into either a history lesson or a geography lesson. At the crux of it all is a sense of community among strangers and the undeniable desire to see the country.
A bigger part of the business, however, is private tours. Those are curated in such a way that Samuda personalises the experiences for her clients.
“I ask a few questions to understand what their preferences are and then based on whether they’re seeking adventure or relaxation, history or culture, I create a package specific to them, I make the proposal, they review it, tweak it and we proceed,” Samuda explains.
Some of the private experiences she has curated includes: birthdays, wedding parties, vow renewals, family reunions and even small company team building activity trips.
You may contact Being Jamaican at [email protected]jamaican.com and Being Jamaican Tour Company on Instagram and Being Jamaican on Facebook.
Ms. Samuda turned her passion for local exploration into a business. She changed her occupation and unlocked her calling to continuously explore. She continues to wander with Being Jamaican and sets the tone for her clients who also long for getting lost by finding new places in their ‘backyard’.
Candice Stewart is a Jamaican content writer specializing in human interest feature stories. She is a web content writer, blogger, and budding podcaster.