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A Photo Review of 2013

Maroon procession 2013

Like a lot of people, I can’t believe 2013 is over. While it wasn’t a bad year overall, it presented a major personal challenge that forced me to change course, literally and figuratively, early in the year.

As many of my regular readers know, I’ve been exploring Jamaica, my home country, since late 2011. I’d hit most of the places I wanted to see but there are still more that I haven’t touched. 2013 was the year I had planned to do that. But at the end of April, I fractured my ankle when I fell in my backyard.

Everything changed in that instant. For the following three months, all my attention was on getting whole again so I could continue traveling. Although I still have some pain and stiffness, my ankle’s much better now and I’m anxious to resume my exploration of Jamaica and see other places on my list.

Before I do that, I’d like to do a photo review of 2013. Looking back now at the photos of these high points brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart. Hope they do the same for you.

January – St. Elizabeth

Every January 6th, for the last 275 years, the Maroons of Accompong Town in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica celebrate the anniversary of the signing of their treaty with the British and the birthday of their founder, Kojo. I was thrilled to join the celebration last year.

A Photo Review of 2013

Maroon procession, January 2013

This man and his partner drew a crowd as they danced for a good five minutes. They moved so well together — he matching her move for move – I wondered if they were a couple.

Dancing

Maroon Dancers

February – Falmouth

Thanks to my work with an organization that restores historic buildings, I spent a lot of time in Falmouth and went on several walking tours of the town. On my first tour, we visited this masonic lodge, now the Baptist Manse. Built in 1798, it was the first masonic temple in Jamaica.

A Photo Review of 2013

Falmouth Baptist Manse

March – Westmoreland

I’d never had a fish pedicure and honestly, that wasn’t what I expected to do when I made a return visit to Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park. The property gets its name from Abeokuta, the Nigerian city. Its Olympic-sized pool, which has been on the property since it was part of the 18th century Deans Valley Estate, is fed by water from the Sweet River, which has its source about a 15-minute walk away. The pool is now home to inch-long carp that nibble on the dead skin on your feet. It’s hard to keep still while they exfoliate the skin but they are so sensitive, they disperse at the slightest movement.

A Photo Review of 2013

Fish pedicure at Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park

Seaford Town is the largest German settlement in Jamaica. It was established in 1835 for immigrants who had been recruited from Bavaria, Westphalia, and Waldeck. On my second visit, I accompanied Inge, a family friend from Germany. Here she meets one of the residents, a German descendant. Do they look to you like they could be related?

A Photo Review of 2013

Inge and Mr. Kameka, Seaford Town

April – Trelawny, St. James

I was excited to return to Good Hope Great House and Plantation in Trelawny. On my first visit, I fell in love with its location in the expansive Queen of Spain Valley, the warmth and elegance of the old house with its orange wood floors and tray ceiling. This time, I got to see parts of the Martha Brae River which flows languidly through the 2,000-acre property, tour the estate and see the citrus factory.

A Photo Review of 2013

Good Hope Great House

My neighbor told me about Ahhh….Ras Natango, an eco-tourism spot just outside of Montego Bay. One of the owners, Ian Williams, came to pick me up for the 10-15 minute ride up the winding road to the property. I was blown away by the views, by the garden Ian and his wife, Tamika, had carved into the rocky hillside, and the birds that flitted among the flowers.

Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden & Gallery

Ahhh…Ras Natango Garden & Gallery

May, June and July – Kingston

My travels came to an abrupt stop at the end of April when I broke my ankle. Between May and July, I shuttled back and forth between Montego Bay and Kingston – first for surgery, then for follow up visits with my orthopedic surgeon.

 

Despite my crutches, I took a trip to Holywell Recreational Park with a friend. I couldn’t move around much but the views fed my soul.

Holywell Recreational Park Entrance

Holywell Entrance

Flowers and the mountains, Holywell

Flowers at Holywell Recreational Park

To get to Holywell, we drove through Newcastle, a military center that was established by the British in 1840. Its location, high up in the cool Blue Mountains, was perfect to inoculate the troops from yellow fever, a common cause of death back then. Newcastle is now a training camp for members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

Newcastle parade square with medals

Parade square at Newcastle

Barracks for soldiers at Newcastle

Red roofed barracks at Newcastle station

I don’t usually like to see animals in captivity but when I heard that a donor had gifted Hope Zoo with a lion named Lucas, my curiosity got the better of me. I had to see him.

Lucas was sleeping when we arrived. One of his handlers said he was getting acclimated to the heat — it was July and Lucas was in the open part of the enclosure with very little protection from the sun. We waited for several minutes and finally, he raised his head. He looked docile and tired, likely because of the heat.

Lucas, the lion waking from his nap

Lucas, slowly waking from his nap at Hope Zoo

Sharing space with the zoo is Hope Botanical Gardens. After walking around the zoo, I was in no shape to do the gardens justice. I took this photo while I waited for my ride.

Hope Botanical Gardens

Hope Botanical Gardens

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to Devon House for its famous ice cream, and to shop, dine or visit the wine bar. But I’d never done a tour of the house.

For me, one of the high points of the tour is this elegant and impressive 35-foot ballroom. It isn’t difficult to imagine the music that was played on its Broadwood piano, or the dances that took place under its Wedgwood ceiling with its English chandelier.

Wedgewood ceiling and English chandelier at Devon House

The 35-foot Devon House Ballroom

I was excited to see this exhibition, titled Rastafari: Unconquerable! at the Institute of Jamaica and I wasn’t disappointed.

Rastafari exhibition, Jamaica

Installation

It takes perfect timing to catch the night blooming cerebus, which blooms only once per year. Luckily, I was no longer on crutches so I was able to go back and forth several times to catch it as its petals opened slowly during the night. These were taken near midnight and it’s still not fully opened.

Night Blooming Cereus

Blooms by night

Wilted Night Blooming Cereus

Wilted by morning

August to December – New York, New Jersey and North Carolina

I returned to New York at the end of July and got right back into the swing of things. Since I was still nursing my ankle, I didn’t want to risk being in the large crowd that typically gathers on Eastern Parkway to celebrate the West Indian American carnival on Labor Day but I didn’t want to miss out all together. So I made my way to the smaller Kiddies Carnival that Saturday. It was my first time at the carnival and it was thrilling to see the future mas players.

West Indian American Carnival Queen

Taking photos with the queen

Wine festivals abound in New York and New Jersey in the fall. At the Jersey Skyline Wine Festival, my friends and I sampled wines from several vineyards and left with a few bottles of our favorites.

Jersey Skyline Wine Festival

At the wine festival

On a beautiful October Saturday, we traveled by train to Villa Milagro in southern New Jersey for a tour and tasting. I could have bought all the wines we tasted but returned with my two favorites.

Villa Milagro wines

Villa Milagro wines

In November, Elizabeth, a friend and blogger at Mirth and Motivation, and I met at The Cloisters for a lovely afternoon of art and music.

The Cloisters Museum & Garden

Entrance to the museum

A Photo Review of 2013

The Cloisters

Then it was off to work in Charlotte, North Carolina, where except for Thanksgiving and food related posts, I never took a photo.

A Photo Review of 2013

Deep fried turkey

By December, I was already daydreaming of the trips I plan to take in 2014. Here’s what I have in mind:

* a more in depth look at Kingston, including a tour of St. Andrew Parish Church
* Port Royal
* South coast Jamaica

Further afield:

* UK – April
* Nicaragua – August
* Canada – February or March
* Tanzania or Kenya – both would be ideal!
* Gabon or Zimbabwe – October

USA -
* Charleston
* New Orleans

The New Year is time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Here’s wishing you joy and peace for 2013.

Happy New Year!

If you had unlimited airline miles, where would you go?
What would you like to see more of on InsideJourneys in 2014?

 

 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.

 

Our 3rd Blogiversary – in 3 Takes, Take III and a Giveaway

Flowers near the sea

My visit to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Lesotho starting me blogging, but Jamaica was my inspiration to get in to travel. Though I was born in Jamaica, I don’t know it as well as I think I should.

When I got laid off from my job in November 2003, I was excited. For several months prior, two friends and I had been planning our next professional moves. Mine was to start a tour company that would showcase Jamaica the way I see it, not the sand, sun, reggae and rum tour that many people associate it with.

At less than 4,500 square miles, Jamaica is slightly smaller than the Connecticut yet it is as diverse as many countries twice its size. Part of the island’s beauty is its lushness. Jamaica is a garden full of a variety of flowers, including orchids – about 200 species, nearly half of them endemic to the island, several hundred types of ferns and trees which bathes this little piece of rock in a riot of color year round.

It was not surprising then that my first post was about flowers, the kinds of flowers that my mother, grandmother and countless Jamaicans grow, the flowers that make my heart smile. Since then, I’ve blogged about flowers several times.

Our fruits…

Me no drink cawfee tea, mango time. Care how nice it may be, mango time. Mango Time, Jamaican folk song

We’re passionate about fruits but especially mangoes, which is celebrated by its own folk song. Yes, when it’s mango time in Jamaica we eat it at every meal. Almost.

Our food…

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Little Ochie’s Jerk Lobster

Jamaica has more than 300 species of birds, more than two dozen of which are endemic to the island. The doctor bird, a swallowtail hummingbird is our national bird.

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Doctor Bird, Roaring River, Westmoreland

Domestic animals are also quite common. You’ll notice goats, cows, as well as donkeys, especially in the rural areas. 

3rd Blogiversary

Holy Goat, Trelawny

Sometimes, it's the Characters that Make Travel Memorable

Dunns River Falls Donkey, St. Ann

Horse

Horse

From large great houses, opulent castles such as Trident to small board houses, we have them all. Take a look.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Trident Castle, Portland, Jamaica

 Our churches….

Our landscape

Blue Mountain sunrise

Blue Mountain sunrise

 

Our beaches…

Twenty or 30 years from now, I’m going to be on a beach in Jamaica. – Idris Elba

Mobay Beach

Montego Bay Beach

Our people

3rd Blogiversary Giveaway

In celebration of our 3rd Blogiversary, we’re giving away three prizes – two (2) copies of the Lonely Planet travel guide to Jamaica, and a copy of The Real Taste of Jamaica by Enid Donaldson to three lucky winners. Enter by December 22nd by leaving a comment, tweeting about the giveaway #3Years3Prizes or liking us on Facebook. It’s that easy. The giveaway is open only to addresses in the United States and Canada. Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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.

Our 3rd Blogiversary – in 3 Takes, Take II

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

In the Take I on InsideJourneys’ 3rd blogiversary, we looked back at the trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Lesotho, that inspired me to start blogging. The year following that momentous trip, I visited London, Paris and Toronto.

Here are some of the photos I took:

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

London Eye

Usually, I stay clear of tourist traps but on this, my third trip to London, I decided to do some touristy things, like stand on line to see the London Eye. It had been calling out to me all during the week and that first weekend, I stopped ignoring its pull.

The lines were long but moved pretty quickly – about 45 minutes from the time I joined to the time I climbed aboard one of the pods. The ride took less time, about 30 minutes, but unparalleled views like this makes the wait definitely worthwhile.

3rd Blogiversary

Parliament from the London Eye

The other touristy thing I did in London  during this visit was seek out fish and chips. Okay, so it wasn’t wrapped in newspaper but it still counts. My opinion: do it once and you’re done.

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Fish and Chips

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

The Circus

As soon as I booked my ticket to London, I bought a ticket to visit Stonehenge. Besides meeting my new nephew, it was to be the highlight of my trip — and all I could think about for weeks before I left.

Bath Houses, Bath

Houses, Bath

I wanted to have a good view of the English countryside so I was one of the first to get on the bus when it arrived and took the seat behind the driver. Our first stop was the historic town of Bath where I got these photos.

The Circus as well as these apartments in the second photo were designed by John Wood, the Elder (to distinguish him from his son). The Circus is actually three buildings, which all together form a circle.

For anyone interested in architecture, especially Georgian architecture, a trip to Bath is a must.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Avon River, Bath

After leaving Bath, we had time to walk around the town. I was taking photos one after the other without really looking to see how well they turned out. I was pleasantly surprised when I downloaded them and saw how beautiful this shot is.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

King Johns Hunting Lodge

We stopped for steak and kidney at the George Inn in Lacock where this bicycle caught my eye.

I must admit, I was a little disappointed when I saw Stonehenge. Over the years, I’d built up such a huge mythology from my readings and the documentaries I had watched on television that I felt a bit let down when I got there. I mean, it’s just a bunch of stones, right? And at first, they looked smaller than I had imagined. But if you look at the second photo, you’ll see that they’re not.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

There’s certainly nothing small about moving these gigantic rocks and setting them into place. And I’m still awed by them. Now that I’ve been, I’d like to go back for one of the solstice festivals. I’d also like to visit Avebury, which our tour guide recommended, but I didn’t have time because I was heading home the following day.

The lines at the Louvre almost made me turn around. But I’m an art lover and any art lover worth their salt cannot pass up an opportunity to visit the Mecca of art in Paris. I could visit this museum everyday for a year and still not see it all.

3rd Blogiversary

The Pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre

The Louvre escalator

The escalator to the underground lobby

I did the usual touristy things in Paris, including climbing the Eiffel Tower. Now, that’s an amazing piece of architecture and huge! Definitely larger than I expected. I was impressed.

Eiffel Tower from bus

Eiffel Tower

 

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Eiffel Tower

3rd Blogiversary

View from the Eiffel Tower

I don’t visit Toronto nearly as often as I should and maybe because of that, I’m continually surprised by how rich and diverse the city is.

Toronto building

Toronto building

On this particular visit, I remembered what I love – the public art – on buildings, on sidewalks, in unexpected places. It was like visiting a museum, I felt soothed.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Public art from Toronto’s streets

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Toronto street art

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Toronto Street art

That’s it for Take II of my 3rd Blogiversary. Hope you’ll stop by for Take III, which will be all about Jamaica.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Our 3rd Blogiversary – in 3 Takes

With Prince Charles, Giant's Castle guide

The date of my 3rd blogiversary hit me by surprise this year. (Honestly, I’d totally forgotten about it!) I was doing a little site maintenance last week and noticed the date of my first post – November 29th. Right away, I knew what I wanted to do – show some of my favorite photos of the last three years but there was no way to weed through more than 2,500 images in two days and decide which ones to use.

I registered my blog about 3 years before I started blogging. Even though I was traveling, I couldn’t seem to get the writing part going. That is, until two of my friends and I made it to southern Africa. Three weeks in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Lesotho and I returned with so many wonderful and memorable experiences, I could hear myself telling the same stories over and over. I needed a medium that would allow me to share my stories and photos – my usual travel journal wouldn’t do. Then I remembered the blog I registered and never used.

Shortly after I returned home, I looked up my blog, downloaded my photos – almost 1000 images – and began writing. Surprisingly, the words flowed and even more surprisingly, they haven’t stopped.

My blog and I have grown considerably since those first tentative moments three years ago. I’ve met and befriended readers and bloggers and can proudly say there’s no group more supportive. It is because of you that this 3rd blogiversary is possible.

In Take One, I’ll go back to where it started – that trip to southern Africa. We visited Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, and Sani Pass, Lesotho.

If you can only visit two continents in your lifetime, visit Africa. TWICE! – R. Elliott

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Entrance to Victoria Falls

3rd Blogiversary, Vic Falls

Victoria Falls Rainbow

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Victoria Falls

Lunchtime at Makalolo Plains

Lunchtime at Makalolo Plains, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Lone bull elephant at Mbisa, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Mandela House, Soweto

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Iconic Soweto Watertowers

Looking down, Table Mountain

View from Table Mountain, Cape Town

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Table Mountain Tablecloth

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Jackass Penguins at Boulders Beach, Cape Town

Vineyard in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Vineyard, Stellenbosch, Cape Town

3rd Blogiversry in 3 Takes

M’hudi Wines’ Oupa Rangaka

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Durban trees

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Sani Pass Hotel

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Durban Rickshaw

Morning on the Golden Mile, Durban

Morning on the Golden Mile, Durban

 Some of the people we met…

It’s been a while since I saw some of these photos so that made it even more difficult to decide what to include. But it was great looking back at the wonderful time we had.

I still keep in touch with several of the people we met in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The first time I visited Africa, a friend told me it would change my life. It took the second visit for it to happen.

Coming up tomorrow, Take 2: London, Paris, Toronto, and New York.

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.