Sunday, 25 March 2012

Frenchman's Cove & Hashing in Maroon Country

Once more, home from a wonderful weekend exploring in Jamaica. Headed up to Portland Parish on Saturday morning, traveling over The Junction (again!) and through the delightful towns of Annotto Bay, Buff Bay, and Port Antonio on the way to the San San Tropez. San San Tropez is across the road from Frenchman's Cove - tried to get reservations there, but place was book. Though if you stay at San San Tropez, you ca use Cove beach.  Actually, I prefer the San San beach (see September blog) as it is more sheltered with better swimming and snorkeling. 

I enjoyed an afternoon at the beach and a real treat of linguine carbonara for dinner. The owners are Italian with Andrea (male), with significant dreadlocks, being the porter, clerk, gardener and cook.  The spanish omelette for breakfast was equally tasty. 

Then off on Sunday to Charles Town, a maroon enclave in the Blue Mountains. If you are interested in the maroon culture - runaway slaves established themselves as guerillas in the mountains beginning in the 1600's - the history is most interesting and I am sure there are many online links that you can find. I had done a fair bit of reading on the maroon culture before I came to Jamaica - hoping to hike the old maroon trails in the mountains! - and refreshed my knowledge with some good beach reading on Saturday. The maroon culture is alive and celebrated in several mountain communities, some in the east and some in the west. 

Another installment in my bi-weekly Sunday addiction to fording rivers, climbing steep hills and coming down again on slippery stones, often on a trail that is unrecognizable as such. And safely back with no broken bones or twisted ankles, which is a miracle.

Lots of pictures and some stories attached . . . 

San San Tropez Hotel

The patio off my room.

Pool, which I did use as enjoyed the beach across the road.
Gardens at San San Tropez where I spent several hours reading in the shade.

Frenchman's Cove

Beach at Frenchman's Cove. Note villa on top of bluff, which is one of the cottages available for rental.

Weather Station.

Port Antonio.  A lovely town in Portland Parish, the 'garden centre' of Jamaica. 

Trident Castle which was originally built as an estate, then failed as an hotel and is now, I believe, vacant and falling into ruins.
Start of the hash.

The asafu yard, or meeting/ceremony compound on the left and the Maroon Museum (in blue) on the right. Many of us arrived early to visit the museum. Usually we hash right from our meeting place, but this time we car-pooled to the beginning of the trail about 1 1/2 miles away - the hash was longer than they intended and we wanted everyone back before dark!  But there wasn't much parking at the trail head so we had to share. It is quite usual to see many people in the backs of Japanese pick-up trucks on the streets of Jamaica, often waving orange or green banners!  It is unheard of to see such a sight when some of the faces are white: there were nine of us crammed into the back, receiving many stares from the locals. Of course, I would never let my children or grandchildren so that but when in Jamaica . . . alas, no pictures as could not move to find camera.

This gentleman, a maroon from Charles Town, stood at the entrance to the asafu for hours, simply watching us come and go. 

Of course, he had his machete handy just in case . . . 

House in Charles Town, with bicycle proudly parked at the front gate.  If you look closely you will see that it is comprised of parts of at least five different bikes put together to make a whole. I love it. 

These little girls, "Nana" on the left, loved having their picture taken. Little Nana later took part in the dancing. 

These lads were having a wonderful time using dried banana branches as hockey sticks! They had a great game going. 

Sundays in Jamaica are the day to put on your best dress.

House in Charles Town. It is a hard scrabble life.

This is where our post-hash tasty meal was cooked. Really. Note there are a few chickens scratching under the tree.  After the hash there were noticeably fewer chickens. Curried chicken was on the menu. 

Colonel Frank Lumsden, the leader of the Charles Town maroons, calling everyone together with the abeng (cow horn). Not sure of what he is a colonel. However, a very nice chap and a fine artist. I bought two prints of his work. 

Hashers watching the drumming and dancing before the hash. Notice how clean and dry they all are.

Where there is music, you will find Erin in the middle!

Why does the hash invariably begin with fording a river, ensuring that we have wet boots and socks for the rest of the hash?

Erin on her way up a waterfall - you can just see Danielle (in red) up top - both soon to be joined by Delphine.  They went swimming in the pool at the top.  Convinced that discretion was the better part of valour, I stood in the river and took pictures. This fall was about 3/4 of the way up the trail.

After an hour's climbing, we came to the top of the trail and the ruins of an old coffee plantation from the 1700's.  Many buildings, walls, steps, and roads all overgrown by the tropical forest - and all of it originally built with slave labour. Almost inconceivable when you see it, understanding that all the stones were brought to the top of the mountain for the structures. 

Ruins of the slave quarters.

It is spring in Jamaica and the forest flowers are at their best.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Yard Sale Success!

The Canadian Women's Club (CWC) in Jamaica held their annual Yard Sale today.  It may have been St. Patrick's Day for the rest of you, but we were all dressed in red and white! \Somehow last fall I got appointed at a meeting as the coordinator for the 2012 sale. I think I was scratching my head at the time and my eager colleagues took it as I sign that I was volunteering. I was too embarrassed to confess that I was simply itchy. 

The Yard Sale is an annual event and one of the major fundraisers for the CWC. All proceeds go to the charities that the CWC supports through its Outreach Committee.  A few that have received the support of the CWC over the past year are: Maxfield Park Home for Girls, Verley Home for Gentle Women, Jamaicans for Justice, Bustamante Hospital for Children, Jamaican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA), and Trench Town Reading Centre. (Please forgive me if I have spelled a few of these wrong: it is late, though a long and rewarding day, and I would rather share our success and feeling of accomplishment than check minutes for details :-)

It was a successful day with more vendors than in 2011 and a 28% increase in the number of attendees - ie. shoppers!

There was such an amazing array of goods: baking, second-time-around clothes and stuff, books, plants and produce, jewelry, accessories, art, food, preservatives, and much more . . . .

Too many people to thank, from the vendors who provided amazing wares to the CWC volunteers who spent many hours on the Yard Sale - and all of their partners, families and friends who came to help! A particular thanks to Maree for providing the beautiful garden of her home as a venue.

A few pictures to give you an idea of what a delightful day it was . . . my apologies for those who do not appear here, this is only a sampling . . . 

Erin & Erin greeting guests

Brenda and her orchids

Marlene & Sybil at "Second Time Around"

Laura with her all-natural accessories

The book table and produce/plants table were very popular

Pauline's orchids

This stunning orange hanging orchid is now hanging on my patio - my indulgence of the day

Bougainvillea in full bloom in the garden

The garden and sale went far beyond this shot . . .  such a lovely setting.
See those little red tents? We put those up on Friday afternoon, incredibly successfully with no instructions, no idea what the finished product should look like, with a lot of laughter and  teamwork. Miraculously they were still up when we arrived at 7 am the next morning!  
A long story as to why Maree has a dinosaur, who has moved with her to several residences . . . and it is bigger than it looks

Wee Alex, riding the dinosaur

Monday, 12 March 2012

Kokomo Beach Hash

On Sunday, March 11, we met at Kokomo Beach, on the north shore between Port Maria and Oracabessa, for the bi-weekly hash.  I have missed the last few - it's a busy life! - so was keen to be there. Rented car, as usual, sharing with Erin, Erin, and Kim. I am the "car rental mum", but everyone shares the cost and I quite like the driving. I am driving "more Jamaican" every time I go out!

We went early and spent some time on the beach just past Oracabessa.  Oracabessa is where Ian Fleming lived when he wrote all of the James Bond novels - his estate is called Goldeneye. Haven't been to Goldeneye yet. We planned to go to "James Bond Beach" but they wanted $350 each  and we declined as we were only staying an hour. The chap at the gate offered us a special deal of $1400 for the four of us - we couldn't quite figure out the deal, so declined again. Though it is a nice beach and would happily go there again and spend the day.

Most beaches in Jamaica are private; either owned by hotels/resorts or operated as day beaches. The more you pay, the better the facilities. 

A few hundred metres from James Bond Beach, we stopped "Calabash In & Out Beach".  It was free.  As noted above, you be correct in assuming that "for free" the facilities were fairly rustic. But we were happy, ordered Red Stripes from Joey, and I bought a carved coconut bowl from Sky Lion. 

Back to the hash. There was a good turnout with about 50 hashers. I met the other Wendy Lee hasher, who is a bit younger than me and has lived in Jamaica since a child and her parents are from Vancouver! The hash went straight uphill and I confess that while I was feeling the years, I was feeling good that I was passing the thirty-somethings :-) Of course, what goes up must come down and my arthritic knees are paying the price today :-(

We stopped at the jerk centre in Lanrumney on the way back and topped up on chicken, arriving in Kingston just before dark.  Ended the day with a trip to MegaMart after I dropped my friends off: not very exciting, but wanted to take advantage of the car to stock up on the heavy things.  (The car is always a 24 hour rental, so I take is back on Monday mornings and then bus to work.)

Such is another day in the life of a CUSO volunteer in Kingston. 

Calabash In & Out

The river at Calabash (just behind the beach)

The beach at Calabash

Meet Sky Lion. He is a young rasta, posing in front of his home. Yes, this is where he really lives. I had a long conversation with him ad he is quite delightful and happy in his humble home. Right behind him is a stone hearth and fire, where he will cook dinner for visitors to Calabash. Note portrait of Haile Selassi adorning Sky Lion's home. 

Hash Master Owen at the peak of our hash. We started on the beach somewhere down there to the right. 

The hash took a detour up to the Jamaican home of Noel Coward, Firefly.                           "False Trail!", but worth it.

Coconut bowl carved by Sky Lion. Beautiful.

Volunteer & Media Appreciation Day

On Saturday, March 10, I was privileged to be invited to the United Way Volunteer & Media Appreciation Day.  It hosted by Noranda Jamaican Bauxite Partners near Discover Bay, St. Ann's. The 7 am departure and the 2 1/2 hour bus ride each way - thankfully I brought my Kindle! - was long, but scenic. I have been on this route a number of times, even driven it myself, but this is the first time that I have gone through "Fern Gully" - exquisitely beautiful. The Fern Gully route has been closed for some many months for road works and recently reopened: I will definitely rent a car and go again just to take pictures - narrow, twisty road, tropical rain forest, fern canopy.

Of course, the trip began with the requisite group hallelujahs, praise the Lords, and invocation. All events and meetings begin thus.  I still find this most curious. It is a nation that wears Christianity on its sleeve, yet has one of the highest murder rates per capita in the world. And there are many immigrants, generational, in Jamaica.  What about those who are of other faiths such as Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist or those who are agnostic? 

I have been to many events like this in Canada - indeed, planned and hosted many - so it was nice to see it "Jamaican style". 

It was a long day, not returning to Kingston under well after dark. But worth it. 

Noranda Buaxite

Volunteers waiting to participate in the campaign review and recommendations for 2012.

This chap was, very quickly!, peeling young coconuts so that we could all have fresh coconut water. Delicious.  But I can't believe he still has all his fingers!

My colleagues and friends: Verna, Sharon, and Terry. 

Taniesha posing with the driver of this enormous ore truck.

Every event in Jamaica has music, loud and continuous. Here it takes one DJ and three helpers on cell phones to produce the required sound. 

There was a free rum tasting bar - not like at Canada volunteer events!  Terry, Angie, ??, and Damien. It was a busy place :-)

Dominoes in Jamaica is a very serious game, with many carrying their own domino cases on their hips just in case a game breaks out.  Several did after lunch!

"Lovin Deer" entertained us with song after the awards in the afternoon.  Wonderful voice, matched by his character and repetoire. Jamaica music at its best.

Mr. King is as serious about his dominoes as he is about the accounting department at work - he is the manager. 

Mr. Hamilton

The grounds of the community centre at Noranda.