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Christopher Columbus Monument, Jamaica

When Christopher Columbus arrived in Jamaica on May 5, 1494, he anchored off the coast of the parish of St. Ann. He named the spot where he landed, Santa Gloria.

There is some uncertainty about whether Santa Gloria is now St. Ann’s Bay or Discovery Bay.  There is no doubt though that St. Ann is where Columbus first landed.

La Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus Statue, Jamaica

La Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus Monument, Jamaica

On his second visit in 1503, Columbus was shipwrecked and remained in St. Ann’s Bay for a year. During that time, the first Spanish settlement, Sevilla la Nueva was created. Sevilla is now known by its Anglicized name, Seville.

La Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus Statue, Jamaica

La Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus Monument, Jamaica

This monument of the navigator, called La Santa Maria, can be found near Seville. It’s in a beautiful little spot, but definitely out of the way. If I hadn’t been with one of my cousins, I would’ve driven right past it, like I’ve been doing for months now.

I was struck by how small in stature Columbus appears here but I think I remember (hope I’m not making this up!), that people were smaller then so this might be accurate.

Or maybe it’s that the base is so bulky that it looks disproportionate to the monument. I’ll definitely have to do more digging.

Also, I have no idea when it was built or by whom and so far, haven’t been able to find any information about it, which is a bit surprising.  There’s an inscription on the base of the monument but the gate to the little garden where it’s located was locked and I couldn’t get close enough to read it. Again, more digging is needed.

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.

This week, I’m also linking this post to Rwethereyetmom’s Friday Daydreaming series. Hope you’ll check out their photos too!

 

Out of Many, One: The Outameni Experience

My cousin and her husband kept raving about this place he said they knew I would love. But they wouldn’t say what it was or why they were so sure I’d love it.

I was curious.

We loaded up the car and headed north east from Montego Bay towards Trelawny. Once at the sign to the Outameni Experience, we turned off the road.

Sign to Outameni in Trelawny

So this is where we were going!

The Experience starts before you enter

Outameni, the Jamaican lingo for Out of Many (as in Out of Many, One People – the Jamaican motto) is an interactive look back at Jamaica’s history from the time of the indigenous people, the Arawak or Taino, as they’re now called, through the present.

Jars like these were used to keep drinking water cool

Copper pot

Costumed tour guide

Our entertained us with mento dancing and storytelling while we waited for the tour to begin.

Traditional Jamaican house

Each period is represented by its own display with guides in period dress narrating the story of that time.

Taino woman grinding cassava

The Taino arrived in Jamaica around 650 A.D. from South America. They were said to be peaceful people who planted cassava, corn, sweet potato and got most of their food from the sea. When Columbus arrived in 1492, it was the Taino who greeted him. Unfortunately, within a few years of his arrival, the Tainos in Jamaca were exterminated. It is said that some killed themselves rather than be put to work by the Spanish, others died after coming into contact with European diseases for which they had no immunity.

Descendant of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus and his merry band of sailors stumbled upon Jamaica on May 5, 1494 on his second voyage on behalf of the King of Spain. Thus began the period of Spanish settlements in Jamaica which lasted until the British took over in 1655.

Slave woman about to begin her story

The first Africans in Jamaica came as servants of Spanish settlers. These were freed when the British took over Jamaica in 1655. As sugar production exploded, Africans were again brought to the island, this time to work on the plantations.

Maypole dance pole

The Massa's wife

Our Indian connection

Nearly 40,000 Indians were brought to Jamaica beginning in 1845 as indentured workers to work in the sugar cane industry after slavery was abolished. Many were repatriated but far many remained. Today, their descendants make up the second largest racial group in Jamaica.

The Chinese story

The Chinese began coming to Jamaica in the 1845 to work on sugar cane plantations. Today, they make up the majority of the merchant class.

Present day

The Outameni Experience ends with Jamaica today, a vibrant country that approximately 2 million people – African, Indian, Chinese, Jewish, Lebanese, Scottish, German, Cuban, Haitian, American, Canadian and Latin American – call home.

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Rose Hall, Jamaica’s (Haunted) Great House

Jamaica, the third largest island in the Caribbean, was ‘discovered’ in 1494 on Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to the New World. He was in search of silver and gold. Columbus declared Xaymaca, as it was then known “the fairest island that eyes have beheld.”

Among the ‘gifts’ he brought to the New World was sugar cane, but the indigenous Taino (Arawak) population was decimated before it could be developed into a viable industry. This forced the Spanish to look elsewhere for cheap labor. They turned to Africa.

The slave trade was well underway in 1655 when, after 150 years of colonial rule, the British wrested control of the country from the Spanish.

Sugar flourished and Jamaica was, at a time, its largest producer. The wealth sugar generated made plantation owners extremely wealthy. Some of that wealth made its way back to Britain. Some of it was spent building lavish ‘great houses’ that demonstrated the wealth and power of the owners. About 700 existed on the island — all but fourteen were destroyed during and after the 1831 slave revolt which was led by Samuel Sharpe, a local Baptist preacher.

My next few posts will be about this interesting aspect of Jamaica’s history. Walk with me as we take a step back and discover Jamaica’s Great Houses.

Rose Hall

Rose Hall

Rose Hall was built in 1770 for John Palmer, then custos of St. James, and his wife, Rosa. A ‘calendar house,’ it has 365 windows, 52 doors and 12 bedrooms. The house eventually passed to Palmer’s grand-nephew, John Rose Palmer and his wife, Annie, the infamous ‘White Witch.’

Annie’s bedroom

Annie, Palmer’s second wife, is said to have killed three husbands and several slave lovers at Rose Hall before being murdered in 1831.

The slaves were so fearful of her that after her death, they burned all her possessions, including her photographs.

The property was in ruins for several years before being restored to its former glory by the owners, John Rollins (now deceased) and his wife, Michele.

Truth be told, like a lot of Jamaicans, I’m afraid of ghosts and the stories of the brutality at Rose Hall more than clouded my image of the place. But I realized later that those

stories were keeping me from enjoying something that was almost in my backyard, a place that I now find intriguing because of its history.

I can’t say that I saw any ghosts at Rose Hall but several of the photos I took inside the house

turned out blurry, a few had shadows where I know there hadn’t been any.

Walking down the steps to Annie’s torture chamber, the last thing you see is the azure blue waters of the Caribbean Sea just visible through the doorway. It made me wonder what went through the victim’s mind as he (or she) was being led away to be tortured.

Rose Hall pool

The day I visited, a soft breeze brushed my cheek as I sat near this man-made pool. The peace and beauty surrounding the house seemed incongruous with the stories of destruction inside.

Rose Hall Great House is located about a 20 minute drive from the airport in Montego Bay. Open 9-6. Tours are given daily with the last tour given at 5:15 p.m. Call 876-953-2323 for information.

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Escoveitched Fish: Caught in a Pickle in Jamaica

I love food and I love to eat. But I’m very particular about what I like. I nearly ditched my last year of

Scotch bonnet peppers, essential to Jamaican cooking

university so that I could stay in Barcelona. For the food.

In terms of spices and richness, the food in Spain comes pretty close to what I grew up eating and what my body responds to.

When I’m in Jamaica, one meal I enjoy thoroughly is escoveitched fish – not just any fish. For me, it has to be red snapper. I can eat it by itself, right down to the head and bones, no accompanying dish required.

When I was growing up, I’d watch my grandmother and mother prepare typical Jamaican dishes and though I couldn’t cook then, some of those recipes stuck and I replicated them when I began cooking for myself. But escoveitch I wanted to do just like my mother did – fried crispy (so that it crumbles when you bite it) then marinated, for at least 4 hours, in a mixture of vinegar, onions and pepper. Frying it until it’s crisp keeps the fish firm after it’s soaked in the vinegar mixture and when you bite into it, it  creates an explosion of flavor as tangy vinegar, biting Scotch Bonnet and sweet onions awaken the taste buds. Is the only dish I asked her to show me how to make.

Pimento, another key ingredient in Jamaican cooking

Escoveitch, derived from the Spanish word escabeche, meaning pickled, was brought to Jamaica by the descendants of Christopher Columbus, who claimed the island for the King and Queen of Spain in 1494. Jamaica remained a Spanish colony until the British grabbed it in 1655.

Evidence of Spanish presence is still to be found in place names like Ocho Rios, Savanna la Mar, Rio Cobre, etc., and in some of our foods.

The popular escoveitched fish is a tasty reminder of our Spanish heritage.

Here’s my mother’s recipe for this crowd pleaser.

Escoveitched Fish

3 lbs. fish

4 tsp. black pepper and 3 tsp salt, combined

2 or 3 limes (or lemons)

1 Scotch Bonnet or other hot pepper, cut in strips

1/2 cup oil for frying

2 cups vinegar

1 tsp. pimento seeds

2 large onions, sliced

1/2 tsp. of whole black pepper grains

Wash fish thoroughly in water to which juice of limes have been added. Dry thoroughly. When dry,

Escoveitched Fish

coat the fish on both sides and on inside with combined salt and black pepper. Set aside on paper towels. (Note: Paper towels keep the fish dry so the hot oil doesn’t pop and splash when you put it in.)

Heat oil in frying pan to boiling and fry fish on both sides until nice and crisp. Set fish aside in a glass dish.

In a saucepan, combine vinegar, sliced onions, peppers, pimento seeds, whole black pepper grains and bring to a boil. Simmer until onions are tender. Remove from fire and cool.

Pour over fish and leave steeping overnight (or for at least 4 hours).

Serve with festival (flour and cornmeal dumplings), bammie (made from cassava) or even rice and peas. Escoveitched fish can be eaten at any meal. I could get caught in that pickle any time.