One of the stops on the mini Jamaican Safari that Cecil Beharry took my cousin Alex and myself on was the Cinchona Gardens. As captivating as the old Gardens itself was, the first thing, and the last thing, that we looked out upon was the view from the mountainside, down into the St Andrew parish.
Although I can try with every possible photographic tool at my disposal to convey to others the emotion that I felt standing there, I don’t think I can ever truly do it justice.
As we stepped out of the vehicle, we were greeted with a clean, cool mountain air that revived the senses and the spirit, after that long arduous drive, I’m sure that Cecil was the most grateful of us for that.
The view was breath-taking, the clouds and mists had claimed the tops of the mountains leaving just the valley for the viewer. From the flowers dotting the edge of the road where the steep descent began, the valley spread out and rose and fell to the distant mountain peaks, from our vantage point, the mountain-sides that envelope and nestle the Cinchona Gardens framed the scene beautifully.
This is a view of an Island Paradise… from 5,200 feet up.
This is a Panoramic Photograph from thirteen images (each taken in portrait orientation) stitched together. Click on the image to see it in the Gallery
While traipsing around Cinchona Gardens (Jamaica) snapping photographs like a giddy schoolboy, we came a cross what looked to me like a Bamboo Grove, and although there seemed to be many pathways to explore, we were hoping to get to many more places that day, so we stuck to the main areas. In the Bamboo Grove I decided to take a few exposures to use as bracketed shots later. Standing under the boughs, it was more like standing in a rainforest, than on a mountain 5000 feet up. 🙂
As I stood there in the gloom created by the thick stands of Bamboo all around me I couldn’t help but remember an old Calypso (much older than myself) called the Big Bamboo. Although I know that it was covered by many Jamaican singers and bands, my recollection is usually of either the Mighty Sparrow or the Merrymen. It is a song that was typical of the Calypso songs of its time, with its marked double-entendre, giving the song a light but naughty air.
Ironically, the song could be traced back to a calypsonian who called himself The Duke of Iron 🙂
If you’ve never heard the song, Google it, I doubt you’ll want to be staring at this photo while listening, but here’s the photo anyway 🙂
Whilst staying at my Uncle Brian and Aunt Kamala’s house in Jamaica (before and after the whole large family reunion gathering) we noticed a photograph that none of us could remember seeing before, but had obviously travelled the thousands of miles from Guyana to Jamaica (with unknown stops in between). It was a photograph of my paternal grandparents; George and Louraine Lam.
The reunion in Jamaica was mostly of their children, grandchildren and great grand-children (etc etc etc), I thought that I’d photograph this photograph and share it so others may see. It doesn’t appear to be an original photo, but a print from an original, maybe.
As familial names go, we’re now not only Lams, but also Lees, Rajacks, Junors, Mihelichs, Townsends, Heads, Hutsons and others that slip my mind (I’ll probably be chopped off the tree for forgetting) 🙂 We all share a common ancestry, and we’re all family.
It was great meeting all those cousins and in-laws, aunts and uncles, that I’ve heard of so often in my life but never met before; seeing people who grew up oceans apart, but in whom I could still see physical and character traits that are so familiar that they remind me of closer family members. And it was a great treat to see this photo of a couple that I vaguely remember from my childhood, a couple that many of us have never met, but a couple to whom we are thankful for giving life to the family that we are today.
We now span cultures and continents, yet through snail mail and e-mail and social networks like Facebook, we remain Family.
George Lam was already among the third generation of Lams born in Guyana, his great grand-father being the first generation to come here, that makes me a fifth generation Guyanese Lam 🙂 or sixth generation on Guyana’s shores, and proud of it.
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 🙂
By the fourth day of the reunion I had gotten so far into the Family mode that as I was hunting through the photos from that day I noticed that I had only taken three photos that were not of the family at the reunion 🙂 So that’s what you’ll see today, those three photographs.
There’s a bridge that crosses a pool area between the “entertainment” section of the hotel and the “dining “ area of the hotel, it’s a Genuine Rope bridge, but with wide wooden planks for the base to walk on, many of the children (yes, and some adults too) quite enjoyed bouncing across the bridge to have it sway a bit 🙂
For some reason I took a photograph of a portion of a Palm Tree’s trunk, with the rock formations in the background, I blame Nikhil, he does this kind of stuff all the time, juxtaposing one thing in front of the other!
That evening we were sitting near the poolside and I took a photo just “to take a photo”, This area photographed is the general area where we sat and ate most of our meals, it is part of the buffet dining area, where every meal was a spread!
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 🙂
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 🙂
Most of my photography from this day (18th July) was of a family gathering in the evening (those photos I’ll save for the family rather than subjecting everyone to them) 🙂 Earlier, I had accompanied the ladies (my wife, my cousin and my sister) into a shopping area not far from the hotel where we were staying, I think the Jamaican vendors on this side of the coast are the most persistent and persuasive vendors I’ve come across, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be walking by a stall and suddenly be inside it without knowing what happened 🙂
I didn’t do much photography in the shops/arcades, but I stepped away from the shopping every once in a while to snag a few shots. The first one I’m not too happy with but I couldn’t let that Schwinn bicycle pass 🙂
This one I believe is of the old Fire Station in Ocho Rios.
Here’s a bunch of thinkers 🙂
A Tourist trap (a more appealing shopping area)
And on the way back I tried a photo of the hotel before entering the gates 🙂
Being in Jamaica for at least two weeks, I figured I’d have some scenic photo to use for the Deck Project, but I just could not resist this one of my daughter, Miriam. She’d had her hair done in Kingston, plaited in the local style and with beads on the end 🙂
I was trying to get a nice photo of her, but she kept giving me that fake smile she has for cameras, my sister Joan told me to wait and she waded up to Miriam and began ticking her foot, and I got a genuine smile 🙂
Before departing from the Kingston Area to begin the Family Reunion in Ocho Rios, my dad thought that getting a photograph of everyone who were in the Kingston area would be a good idea, so after everyone had eaten some breakfast, packed their bags and were ready to go, we all got together for the group photo.
I was hoping to do some photography whilst on the drive over, but the high grasses after the recent rains and a few other adverse conditions made that a bit impractical 🙂 I did manage to snag a photo of a vendor’s stand with some of the fruits out front during a brief stop.
One of the areas we drove through was Fern Gulley, but photographs can’t tell that story, you have to take the drive through yourself, but I took one of the curving road and the enclosing ferns to give the general idea, this spot had a nice window in the canopy above for extra light, many other sections did not, the ferns would enclose the road and create a lovely rainforest feel.
Once at the hotel, we checked in, went for lunch, then to find our rooms, We had chosen the mountain view option rather than the ocean view rooms, just to save a few dollars 🙂 This is part of the view from our room, not too bad 🙂
After some afternoon swimming (or more like wading in the pool), we were taking a walk to see the Gazebo at the ocean’s edge and I snagged a few more photos, after that it was dinner and bed 🙂 Not a bad day overall.
Yesterday we took a drive down the hill to go get some fruits and some tea bags. Our route would carry us to pass by the house where I walked for the first time (not made my first steps, but actually walk), it was in Princess Alice Drive, the house itself had changed, so although I took a photo of it I didn’t bother to post it, I sufficed with a photo of the street sign:
On our way to the market we next made a drive through the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, to see the University Chapel where many of my family who grew up in Jamaica got married (according to my cousin) 🙂
Then we finally made it to the market in Papine, where we wandered around for a bit while Nyuk Lan bought some fruits:
Of course, before we left to head back home Alexis insisted we stop at Tastee to buy Jammie Patties and Coco Bread. I have to admit that I prefer the Jamaican Patties from Tastee over those from Juici, but will eat either 🙂 The Coco Bread is very similar to what we call Butterflaps in Guyana.