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#TPThursday: An Eyecatching Jamaican Church

I love when I happen upon a beautiful Jamaican church such as this one, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in St. Ann. My cousin and I were taking the kids to the beach when she spun the car around and said she wanted to show me something.

I jumped out of the car before she could come to a complete stop. Thankfully, I had my camera — I hardly leave home without it.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Ann
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Ann

The eye-catching Spanish-style church was built between 1939 and 1943 from local timber, and cut stone, some of which came from the Peter Martyr Catholic Church. Construction of Peter Martyr began in 1534 at Sevilla la Nueva, the first Spanish settlement in Jamaica. Only the walls were completed when the capital was moved from Sevilla to Spanish Town and Peter Martyr was abandoned.

This is my submission to this week’s Travel Photo Thursday series, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Hope you’ll head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.


The Blogger Relay – My Top Three Travel Memories

I’ve heard it said that travel changes lives but I didn’t believe it applied to me until I had to choose My Three Favorite Travel Memories.

I realized that each trip has altered my life in significant and not-so significant ways. Most importantly, traveling has made me more appreciative of what I have, and also expanded my circle of friends. Traveling for me is both therapy and education – it’s my antidote to boredom and malaise.

I have so many favorite memories of my travels, it was very difficult to narrow it down to my top three. Hopefully, you’ll see why I decided on these.

This post is part of The Blogger Relay that is sponsored by LowCostHolidays. The goal is to keep this chain of stories going and the team with the longest chain of travel stories by September 28th wins.

Bronze – Mérida

Mérida was my first trip abroad. I had spent the year before I started university teaching basic and intermediate Spanish to 10 and 11 year olds. When we heard about a one-week immersion program in Mérida that was organized by the Ministry of Education, another Spanish teacher and I decided to participate. in a one-week Spanish immersion program in Mérida and became chaperones for three of our students.

All the arrangements were made through a travel agency contracted by the Ministry of Education and we turned over newly minted passports so they could obtain our visas and tickets and arrange our accommodation.

But when we made the 4-hour drive back to Kingston for our appointment to get our documents, we learned that our passports had been destroyed in a fire at the agency. No one had bothered to alert us and there was no way for us to get new passports and visas in time to leave with the rest of the group. We wouldn’t be going to Mérida. We returned home feeling disappointed and defeated. But that was not the end of this story.

A few weeks later, the travel gods smiled and with new documents in hand, we were on a direct flight to Mérida. Since we had missed the immersion, we were free to do whatever we wanted to do.

The first thing I noticed was how different the Spanish in Mérida was. It sounded like an entirely different language than what I’d been studying since primary school. I could pick out one or two words but the rest sailed right over my head.

At the market the day after we arrived, I met Mario and his friend, Belgio. Between my version of Spanish and his limited English, I agreed to go with them to the beach at Progreso.  (I wouldn’t have done that now!)

We spent a great afternoon swimming, and exchanged phone numbers when they took me back at the hotel. If you think trying to understand a language when you’re face to face with someone is hard, try doing the same thing on the phone. But there’s no mistaking Belgio when he called later that evening and declared, “Te amo. Te adoro.”

‘I love you’ in any language gets your attention. Said in Spanish with Belgio’s intensity and passion, it was a bit romantic. But I couldn’t stop giggling. I was a cynic even then. But what did I really know about matters of the heart at that age?

Continue reading “The Blogger Relay – My Top Three Travel Memories”

Capturing the Colors of Jamaica

Thanks to Cathy from Traveling with Sweeney, Marlys from EasyHiker and Renee of A View to a Thrill for tagging me for TravelSupermarket’s Capture the Color contest.

I can say this now, but I felt quite intimidated by this contest. None of the photos I wanted to share looked ‘right.’ It took me weeks to decide on these five. It was great going back through the photos and reliving the memories.


King’s House official residence of the governor-general, the Queen’s representative. The house was built originally around 1870 but was destroyed by earthquake. It was rebuilt and this old carriage entrance was retained.

Jamaica's Kings House
King’s House


Earlier this year, I took a guided hike up Jamaica’s Blue Mountain. I didn’t make it to the top like I wanted to and I haven’t been back like I promised. But the mountain’s there when I’m ready again. Narelle, who blogs as Hakea, told me the Blue Mountains in Australia, where she lives, got their name from the blue tint that comes from the eucalyptus trees that are found there. There are eucalyptus trees on Jamaica’s Blue Mountain though I’m not sure if that’s where the name was derived.

Blue Mountains
Blue Mountains


I had friends visiting in February and we decided to visit Falmouth in Trelawny. When we were leaving, our driver suggested we check out Glistening Waters Lagoon. The red on this row of warehouses near the harbor drew me in.

Falmouth, Trelawny
Falmouth, Trelawny


This spot yielded lots of color — the red of the warehouses and the yellow on this boat. Oh, and the water? It was actually glistening.

Glistening Waters, Trelawny
Glistening Waters, Trelawny


Trident Castle, Portland
Trident Castle, Portland

Trident Castle is probably the most unexpected property in Jamaica. As you come up on it, you can’t help feeling as if you’ve suddenly been teleported to Europe. Trident Castle was built in 1979 as a private residence for a German baroness. It’s changed hands and is now owned by a wealthy Jamaican, Michael Lee Chin.

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

Top 7 Holiday Destinations in Asia

Asia is a beautiful place, filled with such diversity and the most sumptuous cuisines in the world. If you’re planning your next holiday to Asia, be sure to check out these unforgettable holiday destinations.

Delhi, India

India is known for its rich culture, along with a strong spiritual and religious belief system. If you want to experience the most ornate temples in the world, you must visit India. Delhi acts as a gateway of discovery to the rest of the country, with many temple tours departing from the city. Buddhism and Hinduism are both prominent religions throughout India, with both devout followers and tourists making their way to marvel at the beauty of the temples and shrines in this country.

Langkawi, Malaysia

A tropical island paradise, Langkawi is situated just off the shores of the mainland of Malaysia. Home to some of the most spectacular beach views in the world, it is easy to see why Langkawi continues to grow in popularity. World class resorts line the shores of the island, providing the most sumptuous seafood cuisine to holidaymakers.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Culturally significant to many countries around the world, Vietnam is a must visit Asian destination. Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant destination, home to endless shopping precincts and ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants that serve up some of the finest foods in Asia. The war memorials throughout Vietnam are a must see when travelling through the country, a tribute to the soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War.

Koh Samui, Thailand

While Phuket and Bangkok may be the first destinations that come to mind when you think of Thailand, Koh Samui provides a more relaxed island destination, filled with secluded getaways and tranquil beaches. Koh Samui holiday packages are very affordable and often include some great perks including days of water sports and bookings at some of the finest restaurants on the island.

Harajuku, Japan

The fashion capital of Asia, if not the world, Harajuku attracts millions of international visitors each year. You’ll find all styles of fashion amongst the streets of Harajuku, including gothic, vintage, glam, cosplay and even girls dressed as your favourite fairy tale characters. Most of the people who call Harajuku home will love a photo opportunity, so don’t be shy to ask, particularly if you see little-bo-peep or a Japanese rock god.

Ubud, Bali

Located in Central Bali, Ubud is the heart of music, dance and art in Bali. Visitors to Ubud can escape the hustle and bustle of touristy destinations like Kuta, to experience the quaint village lifestyle of the Balinese hinterland. Almost everything you can purchase in Ubud has been made by hand, including meticulously carved stone statues, standing metres high in the air. Beautiful, handcrafted jewellery stores can also be found throughout Ubud, along with a variety of market stalls selling home wares and traditional Balinese trinkets.

Shanhaiguan, China

Possibly the most well-known tourist attraction throughout all of Asia is the Great Wall of China. The eastern most section of the Great Wall begins in Shanhaiguan, leading to the further most western point of Lop Lake. If you’re travelling through China, a visit to the Great Wall is not to be missed. Holidaymakers can choose to take a day tour to the wall, great for some photo opportunities, or a trek of the entire wall, which can be as long as 7 days. This enormous structure was built and rebuilt over hundreds of years and while much the wall has withstood the tests of time, some areas have collapsed or been eroded by rivers and other natural formations.

Whether you’re looking for a cultural experience, a tropical beach getaway or a step back in time, Asia quite literally has it all. For a holiday to remember, take some time out and experience the wonders of Asia.

– Sponsored Post

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Italy – The Hub of Showbiz

Italy is a country historically rich in culture. From the renaissance era it has been an artistic hub for Europe and much of the western world- and today is no different. From the majestic mountains and tranquil lakes, to the vibrant metropolises of Rome and Milan, it is a country steeped in history. Taking all this into account it is no wonder that, just like in the renaissance era, it attracts a vast array of ‘VIPs’, the stars of show business from across the globe to luxury hotels in Italy.

But what is it that keeps these stars coming back? There are hundreds of fantastic spectacles to see and places to visit as can be seen in this Italian luxury blog. However, many of show business’ biggest names are drawn to Italy for its peaceful holiday locations such as Lake Como and Maggiore. Lake Como and Maggiore are two of the largest lakes in Europe. Situated in the north of Italy near the Alps, they have been vacation get-away spots for Aristocracy and ‘VIPs’ for centuries. Celebrities like world renowned actor George Clooney and British rock band Muse’s lead singer and guitarist Matt Bellamy own properties on Lake Como and are drawn back to the lake’s peaceful waters and magnificent mountainous back drop time and time again. Continue reading “Italy – The Hub of Showbiz”

Jamaica50 The Colors of Independence

This past Monday, August 6th, Jamaica celebrated 50 years of independence from Britain. The festivities here got off to a slow start primarily because we had a change of government in December and the word on the street is that the previous plans were scrapped. There was also a lot of talk that the government didn’t have the funds — at this moment, I have no idea where we stand in our talks with the IMF — so for a while, I wondered if we’d even have anything.

Meanwhile, Jamaicans in Canada, the US and the UK have been celebrating since last year. Whenever friends there would say they wished they could be here, I’d tell them they’d probably better off staying where they were as not too much was happening here.

Continue reading “Jamaica50 The Colors of Independence”

Staying Safe While on the Road

We rarely think about staying safe while on the road but consider what happened to me on a recent trip. While it wasn’t serious, it had me rethinking safety while I travel.

It was a few minutes before 3 a.m. I pulled the shower curtain back and suddenly, as if I had also hit the lights, I was plunged into darkness. I flipped the switch but nothing happened. Maybe the bulb blew, I thought.

The hallway was dark when I exited the bathroom and there were no lights in any of the adjacent buildings. Continue reading “Staying Safe While on the Road”

Happy 50th Birthday Jamaica!

Ernesto lost its steam overnight so today, Jamaicans are focusing on marking 50th years of Independence from Britain and celebrating big wins at the London Olympics. Our medal count’s now up to 2 golds, silver and bronze.

There’s no better way to celebrate than with this fabulous birthday cake that was featured recently in one of our local papers, The Daily Gleaner.

Happy 50th Birthday Jamaica
Happy 50th Birthday Jamaica

From the Jamaican Gleaner —

As we approach our country’s 50th anniversary, it seems Jamaican colours are popping up everywhere more than ever. Now you can have it in a cake.

A few months ago, wedding cake designer Shaun Grant, known for her amazing sugar creations, got an unusual request. “I was challenged to make a Jamaican cake,” she told Food. “The email I received said I seemed like the type of artist who could do something like that. I told her I would have to think about it.” And think she did. After only four failures, the owner of  Delights came up with a cake representing the Jamaican flag in every slice.

The cake that fully embodies Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence was unveiled recently at a luncheon hosted by the Women Business Owners Network. But as Grant explains, the cake is pretty complicated and requires a lot of carving. “It’s actually three cakes in one – dark chocolate, cheese cake and green velvet cake – and it actually takes two hours to assemble free-hand.” The end result is a very moist cake that she guarantees tastes as good as it looks. She uses all fresh ingredients, noting, “It must not only look good, but it must also taste good.”


Olympics: Never Mind the Jeux Sans Frontières, It’s All about the Money, Stupid

If you can’t beat ‘em, confound them! That seemed to be Danny Boyle’s mantra as he unleashed his fantastically whimsical, crazy-mad, nostalgic bells-and-whistles-of-a-British-history-lesson to an astonished world at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London.

Remember Beijing? So pristine, dignified, awesome and, well, staid? There was no way that ‘Great’ Britain could even come close to matching the jaw-dropping spectacle, precision, and spending power of the Chinese, so why even try?

That seemed to be Boyle’s attitude as he elected to celebrate Britain in its glorious idiosyncratic miscellany. Hence, the spectacle of a ‘parachuting’ reigning monarch, appearances by real, fictional and hackneyed ‘celebs’, a hodgepodge of musical genres and the biggest faux self-mocking cum self-aggrandising, barnstorming circus in town.

Continue reading “Olympics: Never Mind the Jeux Sans Frontières, It’s All about the Money, Stupid”

Ernesto Threatens Jamaica50 Celebrations

Ernesto, the latest storm to form in the Atlantic, is reportedly heading towards Jamaica. It could hit between Sunday and Monday.

Since news about Ernesto surfaced, we’ve had our eyes on the Olympics, Jamaica50 Independence celebrations, which kicked off at Jubilee Village on August 1, and weather reports on Ernesto.

If it hits, as predicted, and no one can predict with certainty the path of any storm, it could make for one memorable 50th anniversary celebration. Not only are we planning a grand party on August 6th, it will be another big day for the Jamaican Track & Field team at the Olympics in London.

No, as much as we would love the rain, we’ve already had several torrential showers this week, Ernesto is not welcomed at this party.

We’ve been lucky though. Several storms have had their eyes trained on Jamaica only to turn at the last minute. Their names no longer matter.

We’ve also been unlucky. Jamaicans of a certain age still talk about the hurricane (Charlie) of ’51 that claimed over 150 lives. And in 1988, Gilbert took direct aim at the island, leaving millions of dollars worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure. It was so devastating, a song, Wild Gilbert, which put to music what happened ironically became one of the most popular songs of ’88. I can still hear my niece, who was about 4 at the time, singing Wild, Wild, Gilbert, the chorus. There have been several others, though not as damaging but just as frightening.

Ernesto has already stopped cricket in Barbados and Jamaican fishermen have been put on alert. Although winds have decreased, the storm could still pick up strength, turn into a hurricane and head straight for us.

No, Ernesto must turn back, stall over water, or better still, dissipate.

We can only keep our fingers crossed. Reports this morning are that Ernesto will arrive here on Sunday afternoon. So we’re making sure there’s water in the house. No need to buy any thing that needs refrigeration in case the power goes out.

We’ll sit tight and watch – the Olympics, the Jamaica50 Independence Jubilee, and the weather reports, most likely in that order. We’ll also be praying that the rains and winds don’t do too much damage.

Unfortunately, we’re in the hurricane season so storms can come up at any time. In fact, Florence, the next one is churning around somewhere out there. We’re not paying attention to her just yet.