Tourist in Jamaica

The last week here in Jamaica was very uneventful, except for the many drives down the hill and back up the hill, the amazing meals we had each and every day, and the comfort and kindness of our Jamaican family!  The last full day saw us heading downtown for some shopping (obviously I wasn’t shopping), and we were the tourists, seeing the place, and taking photos  🙂

Jamaica is famous for its Reggae music and for the legendary Bob Marley, so we stopped to see the statue erected in his honour.

And its a good thing that the only erection involved in the Emancipation monument / statues was the act of putting up the statues:

Downtown I saw an old abandoned building with a painted sign that reminded me so much of home  🙂

Another building had two coconuts lying on the steps

On the way back up to Gordon Town, we stopped for a photo at what was once a Lookout Point but is now a Lookout Community 🙂

And finally, a self-portrait; thinking about the people I’ve met, the places I’ve seen and the things I’ve done; and wondering about the next brief stop on my trip 🙂

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Chaos to Calm

Third day of the full reunion, we visited the famous Dunn’s River Falls, and the tour guides split us up into two groups (we were apparently too large a number to keep together, especially with other tourists there too  🙂  )  In their introduction the guides said that there were two famous waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls and Dunn’s River Falls, ALL the Guyanese in the group said without hesitation “KAIETEUR FALLS”, after giving us a look that could curdle milk in the goat, he ignored us and carried on with his “talk”  🙂

I didn’t mind a talk about safety on the falls, but when I have to start chanting “hot hot hot” and “wet wet wet”, and have to answer tour guides questions on camera, when all I want to do is enjoy the climb, I can get testy, I didn’t go for the Kumbaya and to make the guides look good on camera, especially when all the notices going down had a number of warnings for climbers and at the very top was “Anyone climbing the Falls to so at their own risk”, so kept thinking to myself “back off Rasta, and let me climb”

The guides were only interested in getting photos and video of their groups to “sell” to you after the climb, safety was the last thing on their mind.  Our group got separated numerous times, members fell, and even had slight injuries.

At the beginning of the climb, from the bottom of the falls, there were at least five groups of people trying to climb the same section, simultaneously…  The first stop they made was at a “pool” in the falls where they got small groups (families etc) to get in (it was fun!) and smile and wave for the camera  🙂  It was all for their camera, this was the photo they’d try to sell you when you reached the top!  Yes I’m complaining, and I’m a photographer!  Here’s one Andre took at that point  🙂

An Andre Lam photo

I prefer his photo, not because it is better (which it is), but because he didn’t twist my arm to take it, and he didn’t twist my other arm to buy it  🙂

Remember I mentioned the groups of people trying to climb simultaneously?  Here’s a photo of a (relatively) calm spot, now go pick out the groups, remember that each group has two “guides”, one has on a blue shirt (he’s the official guide) and the other has on a yellow shirt (he’s the one with the video camera, who will disappear halfway up to go make the DVD)  🙂

Somewhere before this point (after my daughter had fallen and was saved by my cousin Nyuk-Lan in true action hero fashion, and my father had fallen twice, a few of us departed the falls, and I took over Andre’s camera to get some shots in, I really have to get more experience on strange cameras, I got fewer good ones than I’d hoped  🙂

Being totally fed-up with the guides, Nyuk-Lan led a team of rebels on their own merry way up the falls, including a section that was obviously being avoided by the guides and their groups, and it made for a few lovely photos  🙂

After all that, getting back to the hotel and it’s pools was relaxing  🙂   Joan had made reservations at La Diva Italian Restaurant, while waiting for dinner we noticed what was going to be a lovely sunset, both Andre and I headed out (while the servers were serving the appetizers) to take a few photos.  The sight of the two of us taking photos seemed to have spurred numerous diners in other restaurants to do the same, and heading back to the restaurant, Andre noticed numerous people on their room balconies with their cameras too  🙂

From my seat in the restaurant, I noticed the colour of the sky contrasting nicely with the lighting in the restaurant area  🙂

Into the Mountains – Part 2

After lunch on my second day in Jamaica, we drove up to Cinchona Gardens, what was once a beautiful Botanical Gardens, a destination for families and tourists, an old Colonial house and out buildings, gardens and ponds, and bamboo copses.  The road up to it is impassable by regular cars, so Cecil’s Safari enthusiasm came out as he tackled the mountain with gusto.

Before even going towards the Cinchona Gardens proper, the view to the right of us as we drove up was very compelling, so I just had to take a few photos in the hope that one would help express what I saw,the tops of the range were obscured by low-hanging clouds:

The Gardens stand in a spot of the mountains that is five thousand two hundred feet above sea level (5200ft), and there is usually a constant “misting” from the clouds, so most everything is wet.  The first steps into the garden proper brings you to some tree stumps of tree cuttings, makes great seats for the weary 🙂

From an upper vantage point, you can see the seating area in the walled section of the garden with a small man-made pond, the sky had begun to clear a bit so that I could get more than just a blanket of gray clouds in the photos  🙂

Alexis stood for quite a while admiring the view of the valley below and the mountains in the distance, he even went as far as shouting out to hear the echo… which he got  🙂

The main building was cordoned off with a “Danger” tape,warning visitors not to go in, I was tempted to venture in, but Cecil wisely told me not to try it, so I satisfied myself with a few photos from the outside.

As the skies were clearing a bit, I took another set of photos of the view into the valley and across at the Blue Mountains, this time I could actually see the tops of the range in some areas.

From the Cinchona Gardens we were to make our way towards the Blue Mountain to visit Whitfield Hall, where people desirous of climbing the peak would start their trek, on the way there as we neared Hagley Gap, we stopped to take photos of and near an old bridge that appears to be out of use.

We stopped along the road to get a few photographs of a beautiful view down another valley, this was probably about 15 minutes outside of Whitfield Hall.

Whitfield Hall is an old House and Coffee farm, it is snuggled beneath some very very tall trees and is such a tranquil spot, we sat and ate the rest of our food before heading back home.

On the way back I couldn’t resist a passing shot of the hills/mountain showing the barbed demarcation of the end of the road, where the cliff drops down to the valley below.

Into the Mountains – Part 1

Veteran Guyana Safari expeditionist Cecil Beharry (CB to his friends), told me to just let him know when I’m in Jamaica, so I told him I was coming down for a family reunion, and he insisted that he take me into the mountains, how could I refuse?

The day after I arrived in Jamaica, he took me and my cousin Alexis (I’m told he is my First cousin Once Removed, although I prefer not to have him removed) on a mountain drive, some of these spots were apparently where he “practiced” for the Pakaraima Mountain Safari in Guyana.  He had just gotten back his vehicle from the last Safari, and we were going to give it another mountain drive  🙂

As it happened, we were on the road near Irish Town when we noticed some strange sounds coming from the vehicle, on stopping and checking (Alexis being a hobby mechanic and Cecil being Jamaica’s Power-steering specialist) it was discovered that there was a leak somewhere, Cecil called his son Craig to come exchange vehicles (a Trooper to the rescue)

I didn’t mind stopping / breaking down in that spot, I got a few photos, my two favourite are below:

With a new vehicle at our disposal (ok, we’ll apologise to Craig for the dents and scratches and the dirt…), we headed onto Newcastle where there was on old colonial army base that is now housed and maintained by member of the Jamaican Armed Forces (restoration work was being undertaken while we were visiting), I’ll share two photos from that location, one of the “barracks”,as I thought of them, and one of the cemetery, I must say that the view from the cemetery was very tranquil 🙂

On the way to Newcastle, we stopped to take in one of the breathtaking views of the hills/mountains, but I was also captivated by the walls along the road, they are apparently built to help retain the earth on the sides of the hills and prevent landslides, in these “walls” are holes which are meant for the drainage of water caught behind the walls, the holes are called Weeping Holes.

From Newcastle, we moved onto Holywell, where there is a camping ground, there were quite a number of youths there camping and playing.   The air is crisp and cool,and the views are pretty:

And if you want to just sit and enjoy the view, here’s the chair:

After Holywell, we went to visit an old abandoned Coffee Mill, from somewhere back in the colonial days.  Some of the building(s) is still intact, and the mill mechanism can still be seen there, what I was impressed to see was the waterwheel that drove the mill, I had never seen one before and I was excited about it, especially when Alexis tried to push it and it actually turned!

There was an archway in the rear wall to access the “Tennis Courts” and to see the building from the side with the water wheel.  I think that archway would make a pretty nice night-time photo  🙂

I realised that this post suddenly had a lot of images, so I decides to split it, so this is it for the first part, we actually left this building and went down to the stream/creek behind it to have our lunch; KFC, stale bread and liquid refreshment (in my case a bottle of Coconut Water)  🙂