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The Short-Lived Night-Blooming Cactus

The Short-Lived Night-Blooming Cactus

I thought it quite an achievement when I caught the once yearly flowering of the night-blooming cereus last year. I had experienced a phenomenon many flower lovers would probably give a vital body part to see.

Visiting a family friend over the weekend, I noticed several unopened buds on a cactus on the periphery of their property. How unusual, I thought to myself. You should get a photo. But I returned my attention to the people with whom I was speaking, people I hadn’t seen in a while.

During a lull in the evening’s activities, I looked over and saw that flowers had replaced the buds I had seen earlier. I didn’t have my camera so I grabbed my phone and practically dragged my cousin, an award-winning flower lover, over to where the night-blooming cactus was. She had seen it too and told me after that she planned to ask our family friend for a cutting.

The Short-Lived Night-Blooming Cactus

Cactus

(Jamaican women are passionate about their gardens and will willingly trade cuttings with friends and other flower lovers. So you’ll see the same flowers in the gardens of women who are friends.)

The flowers looked similar to the cereus I had seen last year. It was surprising to me then I remembered that the cereus is from the flowering cactus family.

Here’s a photo of the night-blooming cereus for comparison.

Night Blooming Cereus

Night-Blooming Cereus

While the night-blooming cereus lasts only one night, this genus of the night-blooming cactus lasts two. Both attract a special moth that causes them to pollinate.

As I write this I realize that one thing was different — the cactus didn’t have the subtle fragrance that accompanied the cereus. But it had rained, no poured, that evening so the rain could have washed away the scent.

Have you seen a night-blooming cactus?

This week, I’m linking this post to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox and  Travel Photo Monday. Be sure to check out the other photos that are posted there.

Colbeck Castle

Closeup

Leaving Old Harbour, we drive north for about three miles then turn off the main road and into a small community. We follow the signs pointing to Colbeck Castle, our destination, which we reach after going through what looks like a private road.

We drive this narrow road pass a few houses and small farms. Two men, standing next to a car, wave to us as we drive by. A few yards further and I see it, a stone and brick structure which sticks out above the vegetation. It feels entirely out of place and absolutely out of time. It’s Colbeck Castle.

Continuing on the road, the only visible access to the property, we drive around the back and to the side and park near an L-shaped building that is at one corner of the property.

Exiting the vehicle, I take in the imposing and impressive rectangular mansion before me. A stone and brick two-story, it is the centerpiece of the property and is marked off by a rope  – a clear sign to keep our distance from the building, which is now in ruins.

Colbeck Castle was likely built around 1680. It measures about 114 feet wide by 90 feet deep.

Four towers, one at each corner, make up the third story. They provide unparalleled views of the surrounding area and as far as the Caribbean Sea, some ten miles away. The towers served as the castle’s defense system (against the Spanish). Four outer buildings sit at each corner of the property.

Brick ovens in one of the buildings suggest that it was used as a kitchen. This building also has a sunken bath and at least three enclosures that probably were toilets. A three-foot high brick wall rings the property.

Colbeck Castle got its name from its owner, Colonel John Colbeck, who came to Jamaica in 1655 – the same year the British captured the island from the Spanish — as a member of the expeditionary forces that was led by Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables.

As was the custom at the time, Colbeck was given land – 1,340 acres – for his services. During his short time in Jamaica, John Colbeck became of a member of the Assembly and was Speaker of the House from 1672-73.

It is unclear whether Colbeck Castle was ever finished or whether Colbeck lived in it as he died in 1682. It doesn’t appear as if he left an heir as there is no record of the name after his death. He was buried in Spanish Town.

Colbeck Castle, one of the oldest ruins in Jamaica, was declared a national monument in 1990.

Linking up this week with Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox organizes. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

Gingerbread Houses, Jamaica

Residential Styles:

With so many Jamaican homeowners embracing modern design, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see gingerbread houses, especially ones that seem relatively new. Gingerbread houses probably came to Jamaica around the turn of the century.

My friend and I spotted this gingerbread house in Trelawny. We had spotted some lovely green bananas and stopped to buy a bunch. The house was directly across the street from the farmer and the minute I saw it – it was such a delight to see – I forgot why we’d stopped in the first place.

After he cut the bunch we decided on, I asked the farmer who asked the resident who graciously allowed me to take a photo. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the owner and couldn’t tell me much about the house, like the year it was built, for example. We guessed it to be about 50 years old.

Gingerbread houses

Trelawny

Another day, another drive, this time in Westmoreland. I was surprised by the number of houses I saw that had gingerbread designs.

Similar in design as the one above, this sand-dashed house has sash windows, French doors, and detailing on the eaves. Sand dashing is a process that is used to retard fire in homes made from timber.

Residential Styles:

Similar style, Westmoreland

This eye-catching house sits on the side of a hill and at a bend in the road. We had to drive slowly on the way back so I wouldn’t miss it. We called but no one came to the door and a really high gate kept us out. I was a little bummed that I couldn’t get closer but I managed to put my camera on top of the gate, and extended the lens so I could get this shot.

Residential Styles, gingerbread house

Colorful house surrounded by tropical plants

A house like this, with its wooden shingled roof, is rarely seen these days. Wooden shingles are attractive to look at and keep the home cool but are the most expensive roofing material on the market. In addition, the shingles offer no protection from fires and are very labor intensive to install. Eventually, owners exchange them for corrugated zinc, which is less expensive.

Residential Styles

Victorian house with wooden shingles

Devon House and the shops on the property have some of the most beautiful gingerbread designs. When I took these photos last July, workers were replacing the wooden shingles on the shops in the background.

Gingerbread houses, Jamaica

Shops at Devon House

 

Linking 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.

The Monkey Jar

Replica of a monkey jar

The monkey jar has been used for several centuries in Jamaica and the Caribbean though no one knows the origin of the name. (There’s probably an interesting, perhaps even a funny story that could be inserted here.)

Monkey jar

Replica of a monkey jar

The technique used to make earthenware pieces, like the monkey jar was brought to the Caribbean by enslaved Africans. Once here, they adopted European, indigenous Indian and other local techniques that influenced form, function and manufacture.

Made of porous clay, with an oval-shaped body, flat base, a handle and an abbreviated spout, the monkey jar was used to carry and store water. Clay pots were used to keep water cool in the days when there were no refrigerators. Clay is still used today to keep water in communities that have no refrigeration.

Cooling jar

A large cooling jar (seen at Outameni)

Pottery-making is still practiced in Jamaica with local artists using clay that is found primarily in the northeast section of the country. The clay is mined by hand then transported out of the area. Traditional items like the yabba, a large earthenware bowl that first produced in Jamaica around 1692, are still being made. The yabba was usually handmade by women and are either by glazed or left unfinished.

 

A yabba was one of my first purchases after I returned to Jamaica. I’ve used it as a tureen and as a mixing bowl. (Will post a photo later.) The monkey jar above is a replica that I bought at the Hanover Museum last year. I’d love to find an old one for my collection.

 

 

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.