Ahhh….Ras Natango: When Life Gives You Rocks

“When life gives you rocks,” Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden‘s Tamika Williams said, “you make a rock garden!” That’s exactly what Tamika and her husband Ian Williams did with the half acre property they bought 25 years ago. Now, it’s a beautiful garden and gallery, a prominent eco-tourism spot in the small community of Camrose, near Montego Bay, and a fine example of “community tourism” at work.

The idea behind community tourism, which was pioneered in 1978 by local tourism consultant, Diana McIntyre-Pike and Desmond Henry, a former director of tourism, is to use tourism to promote sustainable development in rural areas by bringing visitors to communities where they wouldn’t normally go so that they’d explore and enjoy local resources and talent and meet Jamaicans where they live.

I visited Ahhh….Ras Natango Gallery and Garden earlier this year and heard from Ian and Tamika how they had transformed their piece of rock into their own idea of paradise on earth and got the community of Camrose involved by employing young people, working with the local schools by teaching students art, crafts, how to tend a garden and the benefits of composting. Their story is one of courage and determination, despite the odds, to breathe life into a vision.

I wrote about the couple and their garden yesterday but I wanted to share some of the flowers and other items I saw for today’s Travel Photo Thursday. Enjoy!

“Who takes a hillside and turns it into this?” Tamika Williams

Garden path leading to the gallery
Terraced walkway at Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden

When I asked Tamika what the garden had taught her, she responded without hesitation that it had shown her how to be patient and gentle, and to appreciate everyone. “You can’t appreciate the rose,” she said with a twinkle in her eye, “without accepting the thorns.”

Red multi-bloom roses at Ahh....Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
Roses are red
Orchid at Ahhh....Ras Natango Garden
Phalaenopsis Orchid
Flowers on the steps at Ahhh...Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
Flowers on the stairs
Queen Achmea Bromeliad at Ahhh...Ras Natango
Queen Achmea Bromeliad
Garden lizard at Ahhh....Ras Natango Garden
Tree stump fairy villa at Ahhh....Ras Natango Garden
Fairy villa

Rock painting of three of the eighteen endemic species that can be seen at Ahhh…Ras Natango Garden and Gallery. Twenty-four species are endemic to Jamaica.

Jamaican Mango bird painting Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden
Jamaican Mango
Jamaican Woodpecker rock painting at Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden
Jamaican Woodpecker
Rock painting of the Jamaican Orange Quit bird at Ahhh...Ras Natango Gallery
Orange Quit
Rock painting of a shark's head at Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden
Caught between a rock
Rock painting of a lion's head at Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden
A Gentle Lion

Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden is located in Camrose, St. James, about 20 minutes from Montego Bay. Entrance $30. A free shuttle service is available from town. Hours – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays; on weekends by appointment only. 876-578-2582.

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.



70 comments on “Ahhh….Ras Natango: When Life Gives You Rocks

  1. Anyone would say “ahhh” when they see a gorgeous place like Ahhh… Ras Natango Garden. And experiencing its full beauty is a bliss that will stay for a quite a long while.

  2. What a stunningly beautiful place. I look out at my far-smaller and most feeble attempts at garden and admire even more the energy and effort it would take to achieve this setting. Thanks for sharing, Marcia.

  3. what a beautiful garden – thank you for taking us there. I love the fact that they got the community and young people involved in their project.
    Have a wonderful weekend ahead and thank you for stopping by my blog today.

  4. “When life gives you rocks,you make a rock garden.” I love it! And i like the community tourism concept. What a beautiful garden and I can’held thinking of all the people who lives it helped and touched. I wish for Tamika and Ian to be findmore rocks so then can create more beautiful rock gardens.

  5. That is an outstanding bromeliad and the fairy garden is great. It is amazing what can be achieved if you are determined, and getting the community involved paid dividends all round.

  6. What an absolutely fabulous thing to do, and it really does look like a piece of paradise. I love the bird paintings on rocks too 🙂

  7. This is such a beautiful place. I love all the flowers and especially those rock art. I’m sure my daughter would love the fairy villa. I can probably spend hours here. What a gem! I really love her quote – “You can’t appreciate the rose without accepting the thorns”. So true and great lesson in patience and acceptance.

  8. What I remember most from Montego Bay is the beautiful beach. This would be a nice – and different – addition to a holiday in the area. Gorgeous garden.

  9. What a beautiful garden! Is Camrose headed towards Negril or Ochi? Yet another place to add to my list of places to visit in Jamaica when we make a visit next year.

  10. It is, Dana. And peaceful too. Camrose is located inland from Mobay, going in the direction of Granville, where Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College is located. You should definitely check it out when you visit next year.

  11. I agree, it’s a lovely addition to the beach and a great way to see the countryside. The plus is it’s not that far from the hotels either. Hope you get to see it one of these days, Sophie.

  12. There’s a bit more detail that I didn’t show in that photo but I know your daughter would love it. The garden is peaceful and time seems to stop when you’re there.

  13. Isn’t it, Jan! The first time I saw I the photo – Tamika had posted it on their Facebook page — I thought the pink part was a ribbon she’d tied to the flower. I had to see it myself. They’re a pretty determined couple, who’ve done incredible things in their garden and community.

  14. That’s so sweet, Marisol. Thank you. I’ll be sure to pass on your wish to Tamika and Ian.
    I’m sure, with their spirit and determination, they have more beautiful rock gardens to create.

  15. It’s definitely a beautiful spot, Jill and with the community’s involvement, it makes it way more special.
    You’re welcome. I’m enjoying seeing and learning about Australia from your posts. Thanks!

  16. You’re welcome, Jackie! Like you, I admire their energy and effort. This is a massive undertaking but the results would make anyone proud.

  17. Thanks Rachel. Here at Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden we offer more to our visitors. A chance to experience our culture first hand. Enjoy our food and of course the garden and gallery. thanks so much for commenting.Much appreciated.

  18. Marcia. You out did yourself. i see myself, family and business through your eyes, Oh I love who we are, what we do and how you see us.

  19. Jackie, Ahhh…has been a labour of love. In the beginning it seemed such an impossible task but taking it one rock and one step at a time we finally saw it taking shape. its by no means completed but its such a source of pride to us and our community. taking it to the world. much thanks!

  20. Jill, to be honest it does feel good what we do in our community, seeing young children appreciating art, learning to draw and paint. seeing the excitement on the faces of children who squeal during a field trip” this is so much fun school should be this much fun.” Ahhh.. is my sanctuary, we share it with all who choose to enter. Blessings from Jamaica

  21. Muza-Chan the paintings of our local birds on rocks was the brainchild of Ras natango (my husband) Giving everyone ideas of using what we have as a canvas. i even use egg shells to make fine art! Thanks for you kind comment.

  22. Mari Sol. Every life we touch is a rock, Just like a diamond began as a lump of coal. . we all can use what we have instead of focusing on what we do not have, Its a gem of a garden, Thanks

  23. Vera, thanks from Ahhh… I hope you will visit Jamaica and us. we think and act outside the box.

  24. Thanks Jenna, just used what we had. A perfect addition to any garden , flowers can also be painted on rocks with their names instead of paper or plastic, saving the environment is all our responsibilities.

  25. yes the icing on the cake is the involvement of our community. The ideas just keep coming, Ahhh…

  26. Mary, often we see the dark side of things, people nature but we all know how beautiful roses are and the scent is usually divine. Sometimes gloves are needed sometimes a gentle touch but we all agree roses are beautiful. The fairy village is used as a teaching tool in English Language where students come to stimulate their imaginations by writing stories of life in the village.

  27. Sophie. We extend ourselves to highlight another side of Jamaica. Our culture. the perfect way to experience our culture is with our people, through our arts enjoying our food, dancing sharing our music and meeting our children who will be our leaders sooner than later.

  28. Dana, we offer a free shuttle to all our paying customers. Ahhh is in Camrose, call when you are in Mobay for exact directions or for shuttle pickup. Ahhh…

  29. This is just so wonderful. I love the flowers, Lizzie and the fairy garden… All are quite magical. What a delightful place. 😉

  30. “When life gives you rocks, you make a rock garden.” Such a beautiful thought!
    And they have maintained the garden so very well. It must be meditative to spend time in there. Lovely captures. Have a nice day Marcia 🙂

  31. Our short drive into the hills of MoBay brought us to the unique gallery and gardens of the Ras Natango Gallery and Garden. Situated high above MoBay the setting offered breathtaking panoramic views and gracious welcoming hospitality.Our hosts introduced us to the terraced garden’s offering information on Jamaican flowers, herbs, birds and fruit trees. Their knowledge of Jamaica’s natural environment combined with the creative and unique design of the spacious gardens provided a wonderful botanical experience to be enjoyed by all ages.Inside the gallery, beauty comes alive in Ras’ vibrant colorful paintings clearly inspired by the colors and textures of the rich natural surrounds. In addition to his own work the shop offers a range of high end crafts/collectibles made by both his wifeTamika, and their son Ayale.After an insiring few hours we went home enthusiastically clutching our 2 Ras paintings and a beautiful handmade collectible doll. We look forward to many return visits both for ourselves and visiting family and friends. Definately on our list of MoBay must dos.

  32. Thank you! I recently started exploring gardens — what beauty. We did the prescribed touristy things in Jamaica and I think I would have enjoyed this far more.

  33. Thanks, Tamika. I’m just very impressed by what you do and what you’ve been able to accomplish. I agree with you when you say, “When life gives you rocks, you make a rock garden.”

  34. Thanks, Lisa. It is a lovely garden with such beautiful flowers, many of which I was seeing for the first time.
    It was a brilliant idea to paint the rocks and make them come alive like that.

  35. Wow! Just ike you I am a nature lover, very beautiful photos, I love flowers! Thank you for sharing, I hope I can be like you someday!

  36. What a wonderful story about Tamika’s Garden. This is how I discovered your Blog. I’ll work my way through it.

    Jamaica is such a stunning island and every time I visit I fall in love again with it’s Beauty. Can’t wait to see Tamika’s garden when I go next.

  37. Thanks, Gertraud. I’m glad you like the story of Tamika’s Garden. I hope you get to visit it the next time you’re here.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  38. This is a beautiful endorsement, Sheri and I’ll share with Tamika. I’m thrilled to ‘meet’ someone else who’s experienced Ahh…Ras Natango and the Williamses hospitality. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

  39. I love the flowers on the stairwell. They have that at a lot of tropical locations I’ve seen around the world. I think it gives character to the stairs. Right?

  40. Thanks Lisa. We have now added a waterfall so the garden is super magical with all the elements.The painted rocks shows how we use what we have. even the labeling of plants are done on rocks not paper or plastic..

  41. We hope to inspire others in using what they have to enjoy life. Thanks The fairy garden is one of my favourite places in the garden

  42. Sheri..Thanks is not enough. Your review has addred credibility to this awesome product we share with the world. Sincerest Gratitude

  43. We are a needed addition to our tourism product Karen. Its really an experience. gardens teach so much about life, patience and beauty., Give it your best and leave the rest to Mother nature and father Time.

  44. One day at a time Kelly. We all make our different marks of beauty . Just keep sharing , you will be amazed at the lives you touch.

  45. My very own Gertraud!!! Thank you.. I ampresently working on booklets of my flowers and one will be of all blue blooms. Guess who inspired that one? Cannot wait to share this garden with you!!

  46. Yeahhh!!! That is exactly why I put them there to add tropical character. Thanks for noticing the simple detail you made my day…Sherry you rock.

  47. Must say nature has its own flair. The flowers are just awe-inspiring, they are capable of captivating an individual with just one look. The element I loved the most about this garden is the rock paintings, they are incredible. I never witness such an exclusive piece of craftsmanship before in life. Thanks for taking us to this worth applauding place.

  48. It seems to be such a peaceful hideout and a great collection of wildlife. The beauty of It is however its inception how it became a dedicated place for conservation of natural beauty. Thanks for sharing

  49. You’re welcome, Anushha! You’re so right: “nature has its own flair.”
    I’m glad you like the rock paintings. They are indeed quite incredible.
    Thanks for your comment. I’m thrilled to have been able to share this beautiful spot with you.

  50. What a brilliant idea, Narelle, and such a tangible way to honor your indigenous people. Thanks for introducing me to William Ricketts. I always learn so much from you!

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