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My Travel Seven Super Shots – Jamaica

I am taking part in Hostelbookers 7 Super Shots photo post game that has been making its way around the blogosphere.  The premise was to choose seven favorite photos fitting pre-defined categories.  Then, nominate other bloggers.  Hence, the game of tag ensues.  Huge thanks to Mary from The World is a Book who tagged me a few weeks ago.

A Photo that… takes my breath away

Without question, Trident Castle took my breath away the first time I saw it, and each time I look at the photos I took, my breath still catches in my throat. This gleaming, white structure seems to just sprout out of the lush Portland vegetation. It’s totally unexpected, totally unusual and totally unique.

Hostelbooker Seven Super Shots - Trident Castle, Portland

My Seven Super Shots – Trident Castle, Portland

A Photo that….makes me dream

Looking at this photo makes me dream of reaching not just the summit of the Blue Mountains but maybe even Mount Kilimanjaro. One of these days.

Hostelbookers Seven Super Shots

My Seven Super Shots, Blue Mountains, Portland/St. Thomas

A Photo that….makes me think

I’m used to seeing ships here but when I saw the Mariner of the Seas in Falmouth, I did a double take. Falmouth is a small town and the ship almost dwarfs it.

More than anything, though, is the striking contrast between this modern ship and the old town, which was founded in 1769 and had piped water before New York City. To the left is the court house, which was built originally around 1815. Several buildings skirting the harbor date to the 17th and 18th centuries. It made me think of the ships that used to dock in Falmouth. Back then, they brought Africans to the island as slaves, and left with sugar and rum.

My Travel Seven Super Shots

My Travel Seven Super Shots, Falmouth

A Photo that….makes me laugh or smile

My nephew, Malcolm, was visiting from London with his parents for a few weeks. My sister, a friend and I decided to take him for a swim in the Wag Water River. All the way there, Malcolm kept saying, “I’m not going into the water. I am not going into the water. I’m not going into the water.”

In case you missed it, that’s Malcolm in the water, enjoying himself, like he always swam in a river. When we were ready, he didn’t want to leave. I chuckle every time I see the photos.

My Travel Seven Super Shots

My Seven Super Shots, Wag Water River, St. Mary

A Photo that….makes my mouth water

I never tire of eating fish. My preference is red snapper, which I love fried crispy, escoveitch, or steamed, as it is here. With chunks of potato, carrots, okra and chocho (chayote), it’s a meal in itself. Sometimes, I get bammy (a flat bread made from cassava — the round thing on the left) steamed with the fish. Ahh, delicious!

My Travel Seven Super Shots

My Seven Super Shots, Little Ochie

A Photo that….tells a story

As I said, my favorite meal is one of fish or seafood, though I must admit, I rarely think of the work that goes into bringing them to my table. Believe me, it’s difficult, backbreaking and can be deadly.

I chatted with a few of these guys before they set out and I was surprised by how young they were – none was older than 25 – and how long it takes them to return — sometimes up to a week when they go far as South America. Their boats looked as if they could hardly withstand a good shower of rain. I promised myself never to haggle with a fisherman again.

My Travel Seven Super Shots

My Seven Super Shots, Little Ochie

A Photo that….I’m most proud of (aka my worthy of National Geographic shot)

This has happened a few times. I take a photo on the fly, then look at it later and realize it came out really well. That’s the case here. I’m really proud of this shot.

My Travel Seven Super Shots - Negril

My Travel Seven Super Shots – Negril

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.

I’ll post the 5 bloggers I’m tagging shortly. Till then, enjoy!

#TPT: A Tour of Jamaica’s King’s House

I’m not sure why it’s called King’s House as no king has lived there but the official residence of the governor-general, the Queen’s representative in Jamaica, and the home of visiting royalties and heads of state, is known as King’s House.

Jamaica's King's House

Jamaica's King's House

The current King’s House is the third governor’s residence. Although Jamaica has had governors since at least 1661, there was never an official residence. They had to find their own accommodation. This changed around 1690, when the first residence was established in Port Royal. By 1762, however, a new King’s House was completed in the colonial capital, St. Jago de la Vega or Spanish Town, as it is now known.

Jamaica's King's House - The Official Entrance

Jamaica's King's House - The Official Entrance

In 1866, when Sir John Peter Grant, the governor at the time arrived, he set about to make radical and far reaching changes in the country, which was almost bankrupt. Sir John, who was quite private, lived in the governor’s residence in Spanish Town for three weeks before moving to the home he bought in the Port Royal Mountains, where the climate was more to his liking.

Jamaica's King's House - First floor reception area

Jamaica's King's House - First floor reception area

Sir John thought the capital should be in Kingston and by 1870, the government had acquired Somerset Pen, the 190-acre property that for 46 years, had been the residence of the Anglican Bishops of the Diocese of Jamaica. Sir John stayed at Bishop’s Lodge, the bishop’s residence on the property while construction of the new King’s House took place. Two years later, the capital was moved to Kingston.

Jamaica's King's House - Ballroom for official dinners and functions

Jamaica's King's House - Ballroom for official functions

Unfortunately, the house was destroyed by earthquake, and a fire in 1908 that destroyed the stables, a coach house and some of the manservants’ rooms. Some of the features of the old house were incorporated.

The current King’s House is three stories covering approximately 16,000 square feet, and includes a 60-foot indoor swimming pool, which is fed by a natural spring. The pool, which was part of the original house, was frequently used by Sir John, who had a habit of lying on a sofa or in the bath while doing his paperwork.

Jamaica's King's House - The drawing room

Jamaica's King's House - The drawing room

Jamaica's King's House - The chandelier

Jamaica's King's House - The chandelier

On the ground floor are the official entrance and reception area and a ballroom where ceremonies are held. Also on the ground floor are portraits of past governors, governors-general, kings and queens.

Jamaica's King's House - The morning room

Jamaica's King's House - The morning room

The second floor houses the drawing room, where the governor-general meets guests, including visiting heads of state. It is decorated by gold leaf hurricane globe chandeliers that were brought over from the house in Spanish Town. Also on the second floor is the morning room, where the governor-general’s wife greets her guests, has meetings, etc. It has a fine collection of silver which was owned by the British West India Regiment. Living quarters are the third floor.

Jamaica's King's House - Back entrance to carriage way

Jamaica's King's House - Back entrance and carriage way

An exceptional feature of King’s House is the mile-long driveway, which was known previously as Governor’s Road. It is now called Palm Tree Avenue. Several trees, some planted by visiting dignitaries, can be found on the property: a cotton tree which was imported from South Africa in 2009, mahoe and banyan trees from India, and flowers, ferns and plants from all over the world.

The lush grounds are the venue for the annual ceremony on National Heroes Day when the governor-general presents honors and awards.

Jamaica's King's House - The dining room, formerly Bishop's Lodge

Jamaica's King's House - The dining room, formerly Bishop's Lodge

Interestingly enough, Bishop’s Lodge, which has been around since the 1800s, has never been destroyed.

Jamaica's King's House - The key to Bishop's Lodge

Jamaica's King's House - The key to Bishop's Lodge

When you arrive at King’s House, it’s hard not to miss several nests on the portico. Those belong to swallows, that are now dubbed King’s House Swallow, that seemed to have followed the governor from Spanish Town to Kingston.

Jamaica's King's House - The secretariat

Jamaica's King's House - The secretariat

During his time in office, Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke (1991-2006) started a vegetable garden, which still provides vegetables and fresh fruits to hospitals in Kingston.

King’s House in the Movies

King’s House was a shooting location for the 1962 James Bond film, Dr. No. In the movie, however, Bond calls it Government House.

How to Schedule a Tour

Guided tours of King’s House are available by appointment from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday. Apply in writing to:

The Office of the Governor-General
King’s House
Hope Road
Kingston 6

Or email kingshouse@kingshouse.gov.jm

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.

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds over Jamaica

I’ve been traveling for the past few weeks and have amassed quite a collection of photos but since I forgot to pack the USB cord for my camera, I won’t be able to download them until I get back home. So I’ve had to go through my old photos to find a theme for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday.

I spent some time looking at each photo, trying to come up with an interesting theme. Each time I changed my mind only to come back to these shots of the Caribbean Sea that I’d taken over the last several months here in Jamaica. For the first time, I think, I really noticed how prominently clouds were featured in each shot and how beautiful they made them look. Let me know if you agree.

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, St. Mary

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, St. Mary

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, Falmouth

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, Falmouth

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, Falmouth

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, Falmouth

Kensington, Portland

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, Kensington, Portland

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, Montego Bay

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, Montego Bay

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, Negril

Travel Photo Thursday: Clouds, Negril

As I continued to look through the photos, Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell’s song popped into my mind as did Wordsworth’s poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, and Shelley’s, The Cloud – first verse below.

Enjoy!

The Cloud

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,

From the seas and the streams;

I bear light shade for the leaves when laid

In their noonday dreams.

From my wings are shaken the dews that waken

The sweet buds every one,

When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,

As she dances about the sun.

I wield the flail of the lashing hail,

And whiten the green plains under,

And then again I dissolve it in rain,

And laugh as I pass in thunder.

 Percy Bysshe Shelley

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.

Travel Photo Thursday: Jamaican Poui Tree

It’s hard to miss the poui tree with its brilliant yellow (or pink) flowers. It appears in full bloom, as if by magic one day, then a few days later, its flowers carpet the ground.

Travel Photo Thursday: Jamaican Poui Tree

Travel Photo Thursday: Jamaican Poui Tree

I don’t remember poui trees in the Jamaica of my childhood and had not noticed them on any of my many visits back. But sitting on the porch one morning a few months ago, a bright yellow tree in my neighbor’s backyard caught my eye. Then a day or so later, I watched as pieces of yellow fluttered silently to the ground, in ones or twos, like flakes of snow. By evening, the branches of the poui tree stood bare and forlorn; its flowers clustered so closely together, it looked as if the tree had on a bright yellow skirt.

I was disappointed and mystified. What happened? I wondered. How could such beautiful flowers not stay around longer for me to enjoy?

Travel Photo Thursday: Jamaican Poui Tree

Travel Photo Thursday: Jamaican Poui Tree

Sometime later, out of the blue, a riot of yellow appeared again in the backyard. This time, I snapped away happily and decided to watch, not sure whether the flowers would return and, if they did, how long they would take.

Two Fridays passed and the limbs were still brown. About a week later, I noticed flecks of yellow and the following morning, the poui tree was once again in full bloom. Sadly, these delicate flowers were no match for the torrential rain that came mid-morning. When the clouds cleared and the sun returned, not a speck of yellow was left.

But the poui tree was not to be beaten. Within a day or two, there was the unmistakable yellow calling out to me. I smiled. The world was right again.

Tabebuia, photo from Wikipedia

Tabebuia, photo from Wikipedia

Some Poui Facts:

Scientific Name: Tabebuia Serratifolia (Yellow), Tabebuia Rosea (Pink)

Common Names: Poui, Trumpet Tree, Pau d’Arco, Ipê

Location: Can be found from Southern Florida to Northern Mexico and South America. Also found in the Caribbean, notably in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago.

Size: According to the species, the poui tree can grow up to 150 feet, with a base 4-7 feet in diameter. The flowers are about 1-4″ and grow in dense clusters. Flowering season runs from January to May.

Uses: Because of its durability — it lasts 25 years — and ability to resist insects and termites, the wood of the poui tree is commonly used for decks, furniture and other outdoor projects. Since the 1960s, the New York City Parks Department has used the wood to maintain its boardwalks, including the one at Coney Island.

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.