From the BlogSubscribe Now

Last updated by at .

The Quakers in Jamaica

Until I spotted this pretty little church in Portland, one of Jamaica’s eastern parishes, I had no idea there were Quakers still on the island.

The Quakers, also referred to as the Society of Friends, were among the earliest settlers in Jamaica having come to the island after the English conquest in 1655.

They believe that God is in everyman, therefore there’s no need for priests to speak on their behalf. That was revolutionary thinking at the time and many were charged with religious blasphemy. Some were jailed in the UK, others were sent to abroad to serve their sentences. In Jamaica, the Quakers continued their religious dissent. They refused to serve in the militia or to be sworn in as jurors.

In 1671, George Fox, founder of the Quakers visited Jamaica and established seven meetings on the island and by the start of the 18th century, there were nearly 10,000 Quakers on the island.

Pretty Quaker Church in Portland

A Quaker Church, Jamaica

Although the Quakers became the face of the movement to emancipate the slaves, for a time some were involved in the trade. Following abolition in 1834, there was an “apprenticeship period” before full freedom, but ill treatment of the almost free slaves continued.

In 1837,  Quakers Joseph Sturge and Thomas Harvey traveled to Jamaica and other islands to investigate reports of brutality on the plantations. Sturge and Harvey’s journal notes were published under the title, The West Indies in 1937, and were used to create the storyboards at the Hanover Workhouse.

In 1898, the Quakers established the Happy Grove High School in Portland. They also created the first public health facility in Jamaica in the 1970s, and boys’ and girls’ homes for orphans.

Today, they are 14 meeting houses and about 500 Quakers in Jamaica. Their numbers have dwindled reportedly because their form of worship – no pastor, singing, rituals or collection of tithes – is too staid compared to the more exuberant congregations that are referred to locally as “clap-hand” churches.

I was curious to go inside but we didn’t have enough time.

This little church can be seen just outside of Hector’s River, Portland, near the border with St. Thomas. It’s about 30 miles from Kingston.

Finding Romance in Jamaica

Romance isn’t something I think about when I travel as most of the times, I’m traveling solo. When I travel with my partner, it’s an entirely different trip as every activity we engage in, whether we’re looking at art, admiring the architecture of an old building or sharing a meal, is infused with the passion we have for each other, and romantic feelings bloom.

That’s not to say that when I travel solo I don’t notice places that evoke romantic feelings or ooze romance and make me wish he’d come with me – I do – but I focus on what interests me. So in celebration of romance and Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing some of the places and things that, to me, scream romance.


Sunrise, especially those moments when night is slowly giving way to day, always stir romantic feelings. I was halfway up Jamaica’s Blue Mountain as the glow of the moon receded and the sun began to stain the sky with a muted palette of colors that made me feel just warm and fuzzy.

Early morning romance on the Blue Mountain

Sunrise on the Blue Mountain, Jamaica

[Read more…]

What visas do I need when travelling?

Most travelers and backpackers are familiar with the feeling: The journey has been planned long in advance but as the date of departure approaches, many new questions arise. What should I pack and what items do I really need? Luxury hotel or no-frills hostel? Did I plan my travel route and budget correctly? They are common questions that pop up during the planning process. Another equally important aspect to be considered is the travel documents and visa requirements for the respective countries. As visa applications can sometimes take a few weeks to be processed, it is important to consider this aspect well before the planned departure to save unwanted bureaucratic stress.

Miss Liberty I

Getting the right visas
When planning to travel to any foreign country, always be informed about the respective visa requirements. For travelers from the US or Europe, most countries can be explored for 90 days without having to apply for a visa beforehand. It is, however, important to check whether this rule applies to all the countries one plans to visit. In most cases, this information can often be found on a country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. If for the rare occasion that visa requirements are not stated, you can always call the respective Embassy you are planning to visit. It is always better to read up and double check on such information when thinking about travel so you don’t experience an embarrassing situation in customs.

Tips for the USA
The USA is a popular destination to visit. Its differing lifestyles, natural beauty and its world-class cities make the county highly alluring for different people. Despite this, many potential travelers are still uncertain about specific visa requirements to the United States of America. The country’s strict border controls probably add to that uncertainty. Yet, the US visa requirements are clearly defined and constantly updated. The Visa Waiver Program enables citizens of 37 countries to visit the US for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. However, if one plans to permanently live and work in the US, it is necessary to obtain permanent residency, more widely known as the Green Card. One increasingly popular way of getting the permanent residency status is through the Greencard Lottery System. More information about the whole process can be found on this useful site. Of course each country has a different entrance policy, with the US generally being a lot more selective and strict with its security control. However it is wise to treat any country with the same vigilance and double checking their border security policies before making any spontaneous travel bookings.

– Guest Post

photo by: laverrue

The Best of Travel 2012

I spent most of 2012 traveling around Jamaica and did a two-part review a few weeks ago but it’s great pull out the photos again and reminisce. Thanks to Michael  at Strux Travel, for helping me see my year in a whole new light. Here then is my Best of Travel 2012.

Best Domestic Travel Destination 2012

Blue Mountain travel

Blue Mountain

Hiking isn’t the first activity I’d pick to do on vacation but Jamaica’s Blue Mountains have always fascinated me. Last year, I decided to try to catch the spectacular sunrise I’d seen on a travel show several years ago. My guide and I left at 2:00 a.m. on a freezing cold Friday so that we’d be at the peak by daybreak. Unfortunately, sunrise caught us a few hours from the summit. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement so I’ve made a promise to myself to return.

Best International Destination 2012

Travel to Toronto

Shrimp and vegetable

My best trips are the ones where I connect with friends or family, or make new friends. In 2012, I returned to Toronto for the first time in nearly 5 years. Toronto was a second home for me during my years at university in Ottawa — it was where I’d go when I needed to escape. I still have close friends and family there so when I heard my godson was graduating high school, I knew I had to attend. I also knew I’d see my friends from school and we’d do what we always do when we get together: cook, eat, drink and talk about life at university. One of my friends is an amateur chef who used to cook us these fabulous meals when we were at school. We still depend on him to deliver.

Travel to Toronto

Variety of food, toronto

[Read more…]