Saturday, January 29, 2011

Musings about Jamaica pt2

There are many places in Jamaica totally unlike Negril, to name a few, St. Elisabeth, Clarendon, Kingston, Port Royal,Trelawney, Cockpit Country, so many other townships in so many Parishes. Most people in these places though they look up to see whatagwan are mainly minding there own business and not interested in yours other than to wonder what you are doing there.

I believe mainly the harassment hustle happens in Negril, which is a tourist/resort town, mostly done by  people dependent on the tourist dollar for survival. Go to Sav, Broughton, Brighton, Sheffield, Orange Bay, other places near Negril, and  you don't get these problems and hassles. Lots of the problem comes from most of the guys who are originally from other parishes, coming to Negril for work or whatever, see how things work on this side and follow suit. As I stated I observe that most people are hard workers hustling the dollar, but in the same manner as hustlers where we come from, in Negril it seems magnified, because people have for lack of betta word spoiled them into thinking its alright.

I have even encountered foreigners who work and live here hustling for the dollar, not beggy beggy like the guys on the beach but trying to survive here without a substantial income is hard. And you will find them just as mercenary as the best hustler on the Negril Beach.

I know there are those with horror stories to tell, and I don't belittle that, I guess my life here is so dull that I have stayed under the radar the past 2 years of living here, and the years as a tourist, I get what you guys are saying, but maybe it does not affect me in the same way. Perhaps waiting to come as an old bird, has it's advantages.

Musings about Jamaica pt 1

I shared these thoughts on another website but they are still relevant to this one. Because they belong to me.

 I count myself lucky, because by the time I GOT IT, (the love bug for Jamaica) the rose colored visions were gone. In it's place was an appreciation for all of the beauty of this place warts and all. But there are for me still so many places here that remain still unspoiled and with people that have high morals, kindness and decency.

Yes there are bad places and bad minded people, there is what we would consider poverty, and crime. But as we all know we can encounter that any where in the world. I am of an age when I have been there and done so much, that's the advantage to waiting til I was in a position to not have to worry about every penny, just have to squeeze a lot out of the dollar. And perhaps to have a likkle mother wit about myself.
I have stayed in all four corners of Jamaica and found that each one has its own personality.

 From Ochi I gained a love for such places as Murphy's Hill, a place where you can go for a drink and smoke and sit and look over the complete horizon of Ochi, Firefly the home of Noel Coward, poet and screen writer, a place so beautiful that every female that I have gone with sees this as the place she would love to take her vows at. Nine Mile birth place, now resting place of Bob Marley, also St. Ann's Bay birthplace of  Marcus Garvey, considered Jamaica's 1st National Hero. Marcus Garvey was buried in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic cemetery in Kensal Green, London. However, on November 13, 1964, the remains of the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey were exhumed in London and reentered into a special Marcus Garvey Memorial in National Heroes Park in Kingston, Jamaica. It was here that Garvey was declared Jamaica’s first national hero.

Dunns River Fall a place that many tourists consider too touristy for them, most who have never been, but one of the most beautiful falls in Jamaica. Port Maria for Cabarita Island for a variety of bird species. The site for one of the bloodiest battle against slavery lead by a runaway slave named Tacky, there is a monument to him in the yard of the St.Mary Parish Church.

Plaque at the birth place of Marcus Garvey

On the road to Nine Mile birth/final resting Place of  Bob Marley

Nine Mile

On road to St Mary

A room with a view home of the late Noel Coward Fire Fly Statue of Noel Coward

The view from Firefly

Port Antonio, a place where I have never been hassled, in town, nor on the beach, it seems to be a live and let live, type of place, to me. Norma's on the Marina good drinks, decent food lovely ambiance. Mocking Bird Hotel, where you can become one with the Blue Mountains from afar. River Rafting down the Rio Grande River, an amazingly romantic journey even if you are rolling down it with a girlfriend or two and a few kids thrown in, how can it not be, beauty in sight and sound, and if you get a captain who sings as he paddles you down river,  and you catch it in the hours close to sunset, it's pure magic. I must add sleepy though it may be, if you seek a little cultural respite this can be found here also. Fashion shows, book signings, festivals, live music when a renowned Reggae artist sneaks into town.  Boston Bay home of some of the best Jerk everything, from chicken, to pork, to lobster and sausages, sit, eat, enjoy the vibes. Or sneak into the Blue Lagoon, trying to touch the bottom of a bottomless place. Mooretown a Maroon settlement that hoses the monument of Nanny, legendary eighteenth century female leader of the Windward Maroons in their battle with the English.
                                       View from Ivanhoe Guest House

Sleepy Town of Port Antonio                            

Down town Port Antonio

         Port Antonio business center

Kingston, which gives me Devon House a great house once owned by the first Black millionaire George Stable who made his fortune mining gold in Venezuela, which was once the home of the National Gallery, but now home to many quaint likkle shops boasting of beautiful handmade jewelry, to lace for tablecloths, place mats and some very nice dresses, quite a few nice restaurants and also Devon House ice cream parlor all these meet in the courtyard which is a very nice place to sit and people watch,while you listen to music and the sounds of the city.

 Emancipation Park is the home of the monument named Redemption Song,  by Laura Facey. This is an 11 ft statue situated at the main entrance of the park, made of bronze of  a black man and woman looking to the sky. A symbol of their freedom from slavery. It is set in a fountain to also symbolise how important water is to life, and the purification needed to wash away the pain and suffering of the past.

 The Monument Redemption Song found in Emancipation Park in New Kingston

 It gives me Papine and Gordon Town sweet neighborhoods with working families, who don't beg up, pressure, or higgle you, just busy living life from day to day. No Muss. Also on another side it gives me the opulence of Strawberry Hill one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen with gardens and views to thank God for your eyes. One day I would love to stay here for a while. There are also theaters, the Pegasus Hotel, art museums, Emancipation Park, and on Sunday night there is Rae town for those who love the oldies, and want a chance to go to a place that sadly is only open to all, one night of the week Sunday, but people of all walks of life and class go and mingle together and enjoy the vibe and the music. Kingston the place where culture still lives.

Knutsford Express Yard in New Kingston

Gordon Town on the road to the Blue Mountains

                                      Kingston Old Hope Road

Blue Mountains Kingston Side                            

Near by you have Port Royal which still captures the colonial adventure. The old pirate hangout. Henry Morgan was one of the  most notorious. Pirates from around the world, some as far away as Africa. On June 7, 1962 a massive earthquake struck at 11:43 am which brought widespread destruction. Two thirds of the city of Port Royal fell into rumble and sank into the Caribbean Sea.  It was once known as the 'Richest and Wickedest city in the world'.

 Now it is  more of a quaint little fishing  village with a few points of historical interests.  There is the old fort,  Fort Charles, and  nearby is Giddy House, a former artillery store, and it gets it's name because of its strange tilt, the result of having been moved by the 1907 Earthquake. When you walk in side you are walking on an angle, causing a 'giddy feeling' thus the name. Port Royal is also home of Gloria's for some of the tastiest and freshest seafood you will find on the island.

Fort  Charles in Port Royal

Giddy House in Port Royal  

Black River, capital of St Elisabeth and one of the oldest towns n the island giving you a river ride through and amongst sleeping alligators and a stroll down a street that houses some of the cutest buildings in Jamaica, one of which is Ivercauld Great House, one of the oldest buildings in Black River, eventually turned into a hotel that my friend Libby Thompson used to manage. It was amazing realising from the set up of the rooms in the old house how small people were back in the day. Also on main street there are other buildings made out of wood that  look like gingerbread houses.  Black River is the first place where electricity was used in Jamaica, it's harbor was also important to the Slave trade.

 Nearby is Parotte a good jump off place for Pelican Bar, a bar built on a sand bar in the middle of the Sea. Catch a fishing boat out to the bar for lunch and drinks, An interesting place to spend the day. Wear your swim suit, you might want to swim out to the natural reef

Ivercauld Great House n Black River

An abandoned boat in Black River

The beach at Idlers Rest Hotel in Parottee

Pelican Bar a swim up bar on the sand bar in the middle of the Carribean Sea

I guess I got a little carried away, but you get my drift, some come and look around and find nothing of interest, but there is so much more to do and see and learn, so much more than Negril and it's beach, just come now take a look, you will be amazed at what you might find.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I've Got 'IT" Bad

This musing was inspired by Tatto Charlie,  regarding Romance in Jamaica.

I came across something that I wrote 6 years ago and realised that nothing has changed, my heart still feels the same way.

Here goes:

Slithering to the front of the auditorium at a community center in St. Louis, going to the podium and declaring" Hello my name is Orbra and I am a Jamachoholic and I don't care who knows it".

I had been to Jamaica three times that year and it was just April, and I was looking for any excuse to return. Because after 20 years of going to Jamaica, I finally GOT IT...... Love.. Love for Jamaica. I realised that it was not about anyone, or anything in particular it was about breathing in that smell you can only get from the waters surrounding Jamaica. About the way the sun feels and smells on your skin as you walk the streets of Jamaica, not even the sweet caresses of a gifted lover can make you feel as loved as the lyrical finger tips and being engulfed in the arms of the breezes of Jamaica.

Its about walking up and down every road you encounter be it the hillsides in the country, or the streets of Negril, or the mountains in Kingston, walking so far that your legs ache and then walking even further because you don't want to miss a thing, eyeballing and soaking up everything you encounter, putting it in that computer chip in your Soul so that you never forget anything, because even if you have a camera or camcorder, you still want to remember how it FELT to experience each memory.

It is about stopping in a bar or restaurant and having a lovely meal and wonderful conversation with your waiter, the barkeep and Locals buying them a drink or two getting to know them and letting them get to know you being invited into places they consider special and being allowed to share their private Joy. It is about knowing that people are the same no matter where you are from and that sometimes a Smile, a Hello and a Thank you are the price of admission.

Its about riding with your favorite cabbie and listening to the music coming from his car stereo and listening to his beautiful voice as he explains the beauty of his country and why contrary to popular belief, all Jamaicans are not trying to flee Jamaica, that the majority of them love their country and would never leave. Also all of them are not looking for a foreign mate to rescue them.

If you listen to the music you will hear their love of country, their Women, their Men, their Children an the unity of their people, Period. Stop talking and listen because when you are there it is not about you, its about the warm and engulfing embrace of our beloved Jamaica.

As a Black Woman born and raised in US when I am in Jamaica I experience a love for me that I have never felt at home and it is the reason that I encourage friends and family who are planning a vacation to come to Jamaica and feel aright. There is nothing like that feeling, it has nothing to do with the romance of any one person or thing, it is about all things Jamaican. There is no way to describe this love I have, it just is. And for that love I am grateful. Its about being embraced by a place that embraces you as the Special Person you always knew you were.

Most of these thoughts were felt by me April 24, 2004 at 3:00 am in the morning, the day when I had the epiphany of how much I love Jamaica. The ironic or blessed thing is that I still feel the same way today. I hope that never changes. Back then it was all about Ochi with day trips and adventures. Now, I live in Negril, but I travel to all parts of the Island, each one has a different flavor but they are all the same, hey its Jamaica, and most days I would rather sit across the street from the Corner Bar, on Easy Rock Sues veranda, on a bar stool at Catcha, or Bar B Barn on a mountain top or hillside in Ochi, Negril, or Kingston, than to be in a place, that were it not for my Family I would never return to.

Tatto Charlie asked if anyone has had Romance and wanted to hear about romances that were successful, well I think my story fits, but probably not what he meant.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jamaica, Land that I love. From the Mountains, to the Sea, to the Food, to the People.


Gifted by Wit
Thank You

Subject : 7%

This is something we should all read at least once a week!!!!! Make sure you
read to the end!!!!!!

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is
the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck..

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is
all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never

16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to
you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't
save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will
this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or
didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd
grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42.. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Its estimated 93% won't forward this. If you are one of the 7% who will,
forward this with the title '7%'.

I'm in the 7%. Friends are the family that we choose.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Home from Rick's Cafe Negril,Jamaica pt 2

Soon it was time to head back over to MoBay, by now it's dark, obviously the coast road was not being used then because we headed back up through the hills, same way we came. Then as now I wonder why Jamaican drivers have to go at breakneck speeds through streets, around potholes and other cars, around animals slowly walking out onto the roads, add to that you are on the side close to the edge, going at it seems 80 miles an hour, in the dark.

There is not always lighting in the hills, something that kept running through my mind. I am also wondering how they would get the car containing our burned up bodies, if that car went over the cliff. That night sitting in the second seat of that van in the dark I wrote a letter to my Grandson, telling him how much I loved him, and how much I would miss him, if something like the above were to happen. Honestly, It had been a while since I had attended a church, but that night I recalled every prayer that I had been taught, every bible verse, every phrase from the Catechism, prayers of Oh Lord! My God!, Heavenly Father, I promise that if we make it back to Mobay safely I will do good works, be a better person, and never ride with this Fool again, were running through my mind as I told him to slow up. Suffice it to say, we made it, and the next day we were off again, on another adventure.

The funny side to this is I have stayed in MoBay twice, but never hung out there, because each driver that I used while there was one who gave such reasonable rates, that each time, it was hit the road on a "Whatever, Wherever adventure. And off we'd go.

I still like to do that, just pick a direction, not necessarily a destination and just go.

Rick's Cafe Negril,Jamaica pt 1

Years back, my daughter and I came to Jamaica on Jan 2. For the first time and because of the deal I decided to stay at an AI. SunSet Beach in Montego Bay. When we arrived our rooms were not ready, so we went to have lunch, after getting seated we began talking and a woman over hearing us came over and asked where we were from, turns out she is one state over and she sat with us and we talked. She and her group were leaving that day, they had been there for a week, which included New Years Eve, she went on to tell us of the wonderful celebration Sunset had, and on to tell us of some of the things the group had done. Sounded interesting, so she gave me the number for the driver they used. After finally checking in and being happily pleased with our room and the view I called the driver, and set up an excursion for the next day.

Next morning at precisely 9:00 I got a call, letting me know my driver was in the lobby. A tall good looking drink of wata. "Hello my name is Robert, we are just meeting now, but at the end of the week, we will be family, he was right. Robert picked us up every morning and off we went to somewhere different each day from a Mobay city tour, to Ochi, to Negril.

The day of the Negril trip, we drove over and he took us up into the hills, instead of the coast road, not even sure now if that road was completed, but glad for his choice, going to Ochi was beautiful, but the ride to Negril, on the scenic route was amazing. Through the likke towns, getting a chance to see real people, going about their real life. What struck me is seeing the diverse architecture of the homes, board houses, concrete one and two room houses, huge mansion like houses all in the same neighborhood, I mention this because where I come from, you can tell poor and middle class from rich. Here you don't have a clue, also the fact that a home is huge is not a statement of wealth, nor a board house meaning poor. This was the best road trip ever.

We stopped at likkle hole in the wall bars as well as fruit stands, to experience new tastes, and cook shops for jerk chicken, jerk pork and steamed fish, festivals, and bammy, it was a very pleasing pig out ride. This is how I love to travel, a slow and easy ride going to Wherever, stopping to just watch a cricket game, or the guys playing dominoes, having a drink or some food or a smoke. I love it.

We get to Negril and Robert pulls into Treehouse, at the time the beach was pretty nice so we hung out ordered drinks and soup, by far at the time the best soup I had ever tasted. We also did a Negril City tour, found myself fascinated by the 7 miles of beach as well as the laid back vibe of the place, and decided that next year this is where we would stay.

Soon its time to head up to Ricks Cafe, not the same as from the Bogie movie, but close enough. We get there and get for me what turns out to be the best seats in town. We walk around a likkle checking out the place, the water, the cliffs, the people, so many, so cool a vibe. Finally the two shows begin, the one on stage and the spectacular nature show, the reason most folks come to Negril, the Magnificent Sunset. A truly outstanding vision. Imagine really noticing for the first time the colors God used to create a sunset, reds, and yellows,turning into gold and orange, then the sky all shades of blues, purples, pinks, overlooking the deep blues and turquoise of the sea combined to take your breath away. Add to that the beautiful sounds of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Beres Hammond, Luciano and many others coming from the selectors. Purely delightful.

Next the show, the Rasta starts singing, this was my first night time show this trip, first time to Negril, first time to Ricks so I was totally entertained. I am watching , singing along, just having a good time, when he says"I want to sing this next one for my sister", he walks from the stage, everyone is getting into the music, and I am looking around to see where he might be headed also, he walks over to our table and takes my hand and begins singing 'No Woman, No Cry' I thought I had died and gone to heaven, A wonderful day, a beautiful sunset, a beautiful man, singing to Me, in the most beautiful place in the world. Jamaica. I found out he does this all through the show chooses someone to serenade, didn't matter, because this night was my night and I felt so Blessed.
Could life get any betta?