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St. Andrew Parish Courthouse Jamaica

The St. Andrew Parish Courthouse is located in Half Way Tree and is popularly referred to as the Half Way Tree Courthouse. Built in 1807, this Georgian style building has louvered windows and a closed verandah.

It was damaged in a storm and repaired in 1882, then repaired several times after. Miraculously, it escaped damage in the 1907 earthquake.

St. Andrew Courthouse Jamaica

St. Andrew Parish Courthouse Jamaica

The Courthouse was the setting for the trial of Alexander Bedward (1859-1930), a preacher and a Black Nationalist after whom the Revival movement, Bedwardism, the Jamaica Native Baptist Free Church, was named. Bedward spoke out against the government and was arrested and tried for sedition. He was committed to the mental asylum at Bellevue, where he died.

The St. Andrew Parish Courthouse was listed by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust on their register of historic sites in 1957 and declared a national monument in 1985.

This is a elegant building that I hope the Jamaican National Heritage Trust will restore and make it open to the public once again. In this part of Kingston, there are several other historic buildings including the St. Andrew Parish Church, which is just next door to the Courthouse.

The St. Andrew Parish Church was founded in 1666, just after the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish in 1665, making it one of the oldest on the island. (More on the St. Andrew Parish Church in a later post.)

 The Secretariat

Another example of Georgian-style architecture is the Secretariat at King’s House.

The Secretariat, King's House, Jamaica

The Secretariat, King’s House, Jamaica

This building is now used as an office.

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

 

5 Reasons to Visit St. Elizabeth Jamaica

Most people who visit Jamaica, never make it to the south coast. Those who do, experience a side of the island that’s unhurried, unspoiled and ruggedly beautiful.

Located on the southwest coast is the parish of St. Elizabeth, the second largest parish on the island. It shares part of the area known as the Great Morass, a wetland area that stretches from the neighboring parish of Westmoreland, and has one of the longest rivers, the Black River.

Over the years, the parish has been settled by various groups – from the Native Tainos and Miskito Indians of Central America to Scott, Spanish, Irish, Germans, Chinese and South Asian Indians – making for a racial mixture that is unique to St. Elizabeth.

Despite getting not a lot of rain, St. Elizabeth produces most of the vegetables sold on the island and has earned the reputation as the nation’s ‘bread basket.’ In its diverse landscape can be found swamps, waterfalls, rivers, mountains and caves.

Electricity was installed in Black River, the capital as early as 1893.

Here are 5 reasons why you should visit St. Elizabeth.

Nature

Bamboo Avenue– Also known as Holland Bamboo, this 2-mile stretch of road between Middle Quarters and Lacovia is

5 Reasons to Visit St. Elizabeth: Bamboo Avenue

5 Reasons to Visit St. Elizabeth: Bamboo Avenue

bracketed by towering bamboo trees that form a natural canopy that makes the area lush and green.

Black River Safari – The hour-long ride down the Black River takes you into the lush vegetation of the Great Morass, a crocodile-filled swamp, with ducks, egrets, and other species of birds, rare plant life, logwood, royal palms and red mangroves with roots that go as deep as 40 feet. South Coast Safari, 876-965-2513

Spot a Manatee – Manatees can only be seen on Jamaica’s south coast. If you’d like to see one, head over to Alligator Park Nature Park, an eco-attraction that has three manatees, or to Treasure Beach, where they can be seen in the wild at certain specific times. Manatees weigh up to 3,000 pounds and can reach up to 14 feet. Because of their dwindling numbers – they usually get caught in fishermen’s nets or are caught and killed for their meat — manatees are now protected by the National Environment and Planning Agency.

Lovers’ Leap – According to local lore, rather than give herself to her master, Mizzy, a slave woman and Tunkey, her lover, plunged off the 1700-foot cliff to their deaths rather than allow him to be sold off. Despite the tragedy in its past, Lovers’ Leap offers some of the most breathtaking views of Jamaica’s south coast, especially from its restaurant. There’s also a lighthouse and wooden sculpture honoring the lovers.

YS Falls – YS Falls is the place to be whether you want to sit and read, spot birds, do a canopy tour of the falls or swing off a rope into the cool water below. Seven waterfalls, natural pools fed by underground springs, kids’ pool and activities for children make this an ideal spot for singles and families.

History & Culture

Accompong – The Maroons were runaway slaves who defeated the British many times over and eventually signed their own treaty with them in 1739. They were given lands in eastern and western Jamaica, one group settling in St Elizabeth in the foothills of the Cockpit Country. They named their community after Accompong, one of their leaders. Every year on January 6th, the Maroons celebrate their independence from Britain with a day-long celebration at Accompong.

5 Reasons to Visit St. Elizabeth: Appleton Estate & Rum Distillery

5 Reasons to Visit St. Elizabeth: Appleton Estate & Rum Distillery

Black River Heritage Tour – This hour-long tour takes you back in time to the Black River of the 19th century when wealthy landowners made this one of Jamaica’s richest towns. This former shipping port was one of the most modern towns in Jamaica. It was the first to have electricity and motor cars, and one of the first to have telephones. The tour stops at the Georgian style Invercauld Great House, the Court House, another Georgian structure, and the St. Elizabeth Parish Church among other historic buildings.

Lacovia – Also known as the longest village in Jamaica, Lacovia is the site where a duel was fought between a Spanish and British soldier. The Spanish soldier won and won the girl. A tombstone marks the place where the British soldier, Thomas Jordan Spencer, age 15, was buried. He has been traced to the family of Princess Diana and Winston Churchill.

Rums

Appleton Estate & Rum Distillery – Covering more than 11,000 acres, Appleton Estate & Rum Distillery is one of the oldest in the country. It has been making rums since 1749, which makes it the second oldest distillery in the Caribbean. The tour of the distillery starts with a complimentary glass of rum punch, lasts about an hour, and ends with a tasting of 13 rums!

Beaches

Font Hill Beach – Part of a nature reserve, this golden sand beach is located near the Westmoreland /St. Elizabeth border. Open 9-5 daily.

Treasure Beach – The community of Treasure Beach comprises scenic bays, offering plenty of places to go for a swim, and watch the sun set.

Offbeat Places to Eat

5 Reasons to Visit St. Elizabeth - Pelican Bar

5 Reasons to Visit St. Elizabeth – Pelican Bar

Pelican Bar– Located on a sandbank about a mile from Black River, Pelican Bar is the dream of owner, Floyd, who says he got a dream to build it. Pelican Bar is reachable only by boat. Food’s cooked to order.

Little Ochie – I debated whether to include Little Ochie in this list because, geographically, it is located in the neighboring parish of Manchester but most people think this cool little place, on the banks of Alligator Pond, is in St. Elizabeth. While there might be some confusion about its location there’s none about the food. Go here for some of the best seafood, done to order. Takes about 30 minutes.

 

 

Does St. Elizabeth sound like the kind of place you’d like to visit?

If you’re already in Jamaica or planning to visit, add St. Elizabeth to your itinerary. Check with your hotel to arrange a tour.

Negril, Miles of Beach

Ask anyone about Negril and the first thing they’ll mention is its beach. Nearly 5 miles long (though everyone claims it to be 7 miles) of unobstructed beach, it’s the place to go if you’re looking for the best white-sand beach and spectacular sunsets.

Negril straddles two of Jamaica’s western parishes – Westmoreland and Hanover – and hugs the coast from Bloody Bay (Hanover) to the lighthouse, in Westmoreland, which was built in 1894.

The lighthouse near the west end of Negril

Lighthouse, built in 1894

Along the rugged cliffs of the southwestern stretch in Westmoreland, the so-called West End, there are several underwater caves, restaurants and cottages and exclusive guest houses.

Negril boats

Boats

Negril cabanas

Cabanas

The northern end is home to the larger hotels and all-inclusives such as Couples, Riu, Hedonism II, Sandals by Beaches, etc.

The first time I visited Negril, I wasn’t yet in high school. The youth group I belonged to had our first camping trip there. Back then, Negril was a quiet place with a few houses, even fewer hotels, lots of land and sea crabs and its now famous beach.

Negril crab

Small sand crab

Today, Negril still has the best stretch of beach in Jamaica. However, in the space of thirty years, it has been transformed from a tiny village to a bustling resort town with a mix of accommodation, an assortment of places to eat and an active night life. Negril however attracts couples, singles and families – some come year after year to this beautiful spot.

Negril sunset

Sunset

Beside the beach and the clear blue water of the Caribbean Sea, Negril is also known for its spectacular sunsets. As evening draws to a close, legions of visitors and locals alike flock to Rick’s Café, or one of the resorts on the water side, to watch the sun turn crimson and orange and purple before it disappears from view.

Getting to Negril:

Negril is about an hour and half’s drive from the Donald Sangster Airport in Montego Bay. You can also fly there from either the Montego Bay or Kingston airport.

Accommodation:

With more than 90 places, from luxury retreats at $500 or more to rooms for $50 a night, you are sure to find the perfect place to spend a night, or two, in Negril.

Travel Photo Thursday: Jamaican Orchids

I don’t have a green thumb but I love flowers, especially orchids. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to love me. Each time I buy one, I think it will be different, it will last more than a few months.  Each time, I’ve been wrong.

Now that I’m in Jamaica, where orchids are plenty and grow wild, I’m tempted but I’m gun shy. So for now, I’m satisfied to take photos of the ones I see.

Jamaican orchid

Jamaican orchid

Over 30,000 species of orchids can be found worldwide. Approximately 230 are found in Jamaica. Of that number, about 70 are endemic to the island.

The main threat to Jamaican orchids is from the destruction of their habitats caused by land clearing for housing, hotel and agricultural development, bauxite and/or limestone mining, harvesting of forest products for timber, fuel wood, fish pots, yam sticks and fence posts.

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

The second greatest threat to the species is believed to be collection by orchid enthusiasts for local and international trade. The government has enacted legislation to protect their habitats and regulate the orchid trade. Sanctuaries have also been established to relocate orchids that are found in areas under threat.

These orchids are from the gardens of friends and family.

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

Jamaican Orchid

This one is known locally as Poor Man’s Orchid. It sure looks like it could be.

Poor Man's Orchid

Poor Man's Orchid

This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website!