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Boats

I was so taken by this boat – its color and design, and the way it contrasted with the blue of the water – that I had to take a photo.

Dragon boat near Montego Bay

Dragon boat

It also gave me the idea for today’s Travel Photo Thursday post. Here are a few other ‘boat’ photos I found in my archives.

Treasure Beach Boats

Fishermen and their boats

Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need: a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing. – Jerome K. Jerome

Glistening Waters Boats

White boats

Any damn fool can circumnavigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk. – Sir Francis Chichester.

Falmouth Boats

Lazy boats

Only the guy who isn’t rowing has the time to rock the boat. – Jean Paul Sartre

Boats going out

Little Ochie

We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now. – Martin Luther King

Boats waiting for sunset

Negril

I still remember my first time on a boat. I was nervous as we sailed away from shore, and overwhelmed by the vast expanse of water around me, and the smell of it. I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the early navigators and explorers who set off in search of lands they thought were there; how endless days at sea could easily discombobulate and disorient.

I’ve been on many boats since then, though I’m not confident that I could navigate one, even with a compass. There are no reference points on water!

What do you think of when you see a boat?

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.

Eating Lionfish

I love fish, especially red snapper and salmon but I’ve found a new love lately: the lionfish. I’d been hearing about the lionfish since I arrived here last year but I was nervous to try it.

From news reports, I learned that the colorful spiky fins of the lionfish are full of venom and that makes them deadly to other fish and potentially dangerous to fishermen and swimmers. If stung, the venom can cause a variety of illnesses from numbness, pain, nausea, headaches, redness, dizziness, difficulty breathing, fever, and vomiting to, in rare cases, heart failure and death.

No, there was no way I wanted to endanger my health by eating lionfish.

But I kept hearing more and more from people who’d eaten lionfish, without ill effects, and my curiosity began slowly to overcome my initial apprehension. A few weekends ago, I decided to give it a try.

[Read more…]

5 Reasons to Get Out of Ocho Rios and Visit St. Mary Jamaica

One of the smallest parishes in Jamaica, St. Mary has been home to the powerful and the famous. James Bond came to life in the St. Mary home of his creator, Ian Fleming, and Noel Coward lived and entertained at GoldenEye.

St. Mary is located next door to the parish of St. Ann, and is approximately 2 hours from Kingston.

Its capital, Port Maria, was the site of the most serious rebellion in Jamaica’s history. The 1760 revolt spread almost island-wide. Five years later, another rebellion in the parish was suppressed.

St. Mary was also the location, at Rio Nuevo, of the last battle between the English and the Spanish, who fled to Cuba after their defeat. A monument commemorating to the English leader, General Doyley and the last Spanish Governor, Don Cristobal Ysassi, was erected to commemorate the take-over.

Following the decline of sugar production, the parish turned to bananas and began shipping them from Port Maria, Annotto Bay and Oracabessa as early as 1887, making Jamaica the first commercial exporter of bananas in the Western Hemisphere.

In addition to bananas and its famous former residents, St. Mary is also known for the beautiful James Bond Beach, and White River and Wag Water Rivers.

St. Mary is also the location, at Boscobel, of Jamaica’s third international airport, named for Ian Fleming. It was opened in January, 2011.

Brimmer Hall – Located in Port Maria, Brimmer Hall produces bananas and coconuts. There’s a pool, gift shops, restaurant and a bar.

Castleton Gardens – Established in 1865, Castleton Gardens was once the most richly stocked botanical gardens in the Caribbean. About 400 specimens from Kew Gardens in London were transplanted there. Castleton is located approximately 20 miles from Kingston. Admission is free, however tips for the guides are welcomed. Combine with a visit to the Wag Water River.

Boulders in the Wag Water River, Jamaica

Wag Water River, St. Mary

Firefly – Noel Coward fell in love with Jamaica in 1948 while on holiday at Ian Fleming’s GoldenEye. He eventually moved from his first house, Blue Harbor, which had become a popular spot for his celebrity friends, to Firefly, the house he had built. Coward is buried at Firefly. The property is now a historic site owned partly by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, and the Noel Coward Estate.

Firefly Estate, Jamaica

Firefly Estate

Statue of Noel Coward at Firefly Estate, Jamaica

Coward’s View, Firefly Estate

Golden Eye – The former home of James Bond’s Ian Fleming, Golden Eye is now owned by former Island Records owner, Chris Blackwell, who has kept it furnished as Fleming left it. Unfortunately, bus tours are not allowed.

Wag Water River – The Wag Water originates in the parish of St. Andrew, flows through St. Mary, and empties out into the sea near Annotto Bay in the parish. Combine with a trip to Castleton.

White River Rafting – Take a leisurely rafting trip down the White River to Dunn’s River Falls. Your hotel can arrange a tour with a rafting company.

The Jamaica Visitors Rarely See

Less than 20 minutes from the Montego Bay International Airport, we ditch the car and begin what turns out to be a 50-minute hike up into the hills overlooking the second city.

Within minutes of leaving the main road, we are surrounded by dense vegetation. All around are mahogany, cedar, mango and other trees, many of which no one in my party recognizes, small clumps of sugar cane, succulent and creeping plants, moss and vines. The trees grow close together and straight up in an effort to find the sun. Their leaves form a protective canopy.

It is cool here – at least a degree or two below what it is in town. The air is fresh and clean.

We leave the feeder road and take a path that is wide enough for one person, or a donkey, the only mode of transporting heavy loads in these remote areas.

Pipes taking potable water stop at the road. There’s no electricity, and the only people we see are the ones in our party.

Each careful step takes us higher into hills, further away from the noise of the city. Except for the sounds of the birds chirping above, it is peaceful here. I have to remind myself that another Jamaica exists just beyond the trees.

We spot a neat little house, fronting a lush vegetable garden, its doors and windows open but not a soul, not even a dog is in sight. Sometimes, when his farms is in a remote area, a farmer will build a hut nearby with a bed and a kitchen in case he gets trapped by rain, but this isn’t a hut. I wonder how people find these places and how they decide to build where there are no modern conveniences. Not even cell phones work.

But it’s the view that captivates. Through the clearing, we can see directly out to the airport and the hotels at Freeport. It feels like you can just reach out and touch them. We watch a plane descend slowly over the Caribbean Sea until it comes to a stop on the tarmac.

Freeport and Mobay airport, Jamaica

Freeport (in the foreground) and Montego Bay Airport

Men Are in Charge of the Cooking

By the time we arrive at our destination, cooking is well underway. It’s the men who typically do the cooking here in the bush. It’s their domain.

There’s curried goat, (the goat had been killed a few days before, cut up into chunks and left to marinade in curry, onions, thyme, garlic, pimento, salt and Scotch Bonnet peppers), rice and peas, roasted yam and breadfruit, dumplings, fried chicken, boiled green bananas, and yellow and white yams. All this will be washed down by copious amounts of JB (affectionately called, Jamaica’s Best) over proof rum, that promises to ‘come in like a lion but leave like a lamb, a Trojan horse in reverse.’

Between now and the end of the year, the bush around the island will come alive with events like these as Jamaicans begin to celebrate the holidays.

This is the Jamaica that visitors rarely see.

Mango tree with few leaves, Jamaica

The largest mango tree I’ve ever seen

Yellow Slipper, a tree with spikes Jamaica

Yellow Slipper

Green bananas, Jamaica

Bananas

Three large pots with dinner, Jamaica

Dinner’s on!

Cleaing the rice, Jamaica

Preparing the Rice

Chopped vegetables for the soup, Jamaica

Preparing the soup

Man checking curried goat, Jamaica

Curried Goat

Man checking saddle on a donkey, Jamaica

Saddling the donkey to leave

Hiking or running shoes are advisable here. We also wore long pants, and packed hats and mosquito repellant but there were no mosquitoes or bugs, and the trees provided shade.