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Jamaica’s Rockfort Mineral Baths

Rockfort Mineral Baths is located in East Kingston, at the foot of the Long Mountain. It includes an historic military fort which gave the area its name. The complex operates as a subsidiary of the Caribbean Cement Factory.

Rockfort Mineral Baths
Entrance to Rockfort Mineral Baths

The fort was constructed around 1694 to defend the island. Though it has been around since the 17th century, the mineral spring was discovered only in 1907 following the earthquake which caused extensive damage to Kingston and took 800 lives.

Rockfort Mineral Baths
Rockfort Mineral Baths

Mineral springs occur naturally and produce water that contain minerals or other dissolved substances that alter its taste or give it therapeutic value. The water at Rockfort is piped from a cold spring into a swimming pool. It contains sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and copper. To avoid overexposure to the minerals, patrons are advised to spend no more than 45 minutes in the water. Continue reading “Jamaica’s Rockfort Mineral Baths”

Travel Photo Thursday: Noni

A few years ago, Noni was all the rage. Everyone was buying and drinking the juice for its health benefits. When I returned to Jamaica on vacation during the heights of its popularity, a friend pointed it out to me — I had no idea that it grew wild here. Locally, it’s known as “Duppy Soursop.”


In Jamaica, a duppy is a ghost and since the Noni does look a little like a soursop, another tropical fruit, but in a weird and unusual way. It stands to reason that if it looks like a soursop, something people are familiar with but is weird or strange, it must belong to the other world, hence duppy soursop.

Soursop, courtesy

Noni is said to contain nutrients such Vitamins A and C, niacin, iron and potassium. Like in other countries where it’s grown, in Jamaica, the Noni fruit and its juice, leaves and root are used for a variety of ailments from diabetes to menstrual cramps.

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!


[Home = Jamaica] Where My Heart Is

Until I purchased my apartment several years ago, home, for me, meant the place where I grew up in Jamaica; the place I go to relax and recharge when life in the U.S. takes its toll, the place where my heart really is.

Then, it became “home, home” to differentiate it from my “home” – the place I owned.

When I go “home, home” I revert to the person I was when I lived there, except now, I’m the adult. I have the freedom to do whatever, go where ever.

So I explore. I explore the place and I explore the me I am when I’m there. The me that feels free – to engage, to push back, to confront, to love, to be passionate, to be playful. It’s the me that sometimes comes to the fore when I’m in the States but takes so much more energy to be.

And simple things, like drinking the juice or water of a freshly picked coconut, make me smile.

Getting the coconut
Getting it ready
You really have to know what you’re doing
It’s all in the wrist

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Traveling Sick: What would you do?

I felt a chill shortly following our presentation of the gifts and supplies we had brought

Taking off

from the U.S. for students at St. Peter Claver Primary School in Soweto. Then a general feeling of weakness throughout my body that forced me to grab the nearest seat. I felt drained.

I took an aspirin that I got from Sandra, one of my traveling partners, and waited for it to take effect. All I wanted to do was go back to bed, pull the sheet over my head and sleep. But our flight back to the States was leaving in less than 7 hours.

Up until lunch time, I still had no idea what was wrong – just that I felt lousy. And a few hours later when we were having lunch with the teachers, Judith our other traveling buddy, started to feel sick as well.

When the coughing started, I knew for sure – it was the dreaded cold – the last thing I wanted to have on any flight, let along one that lasted 17 hours.

A cold in an enclosed space is bad for everyone so after checking in, we stopped at a pharmacy at the O.R. Tambo International Airport and bought cough drops and other cold remedies. Once on the plane, we got blankets and pillows so we could sleep.

Despite taking the cold medication and continuing to pop cough drops throughout the flight, we coughed sporadically. We felt badly about being sick and I hope we didn’t infect anyone else.

Two things come to mind on looking back: if there is a optimal time to get a cold while traveling, it would be on the day of. A day or so later, when a full blown cold developed, would probably have forced us to postpone our flight. It is never advised to travel with a severe cold as changes in cabin pressure on takeoff and landing can cause serious hearing problems.

Since our bodies were dealing with the onset of a cold, it was easy to sleep. We did for most of the 17 hours and it made the time pass quickly.

If you feel a cold coming on or get one before you fly, take the same precautions you would if you were at home. This is what I usually have on hand: Vitamins C, D and zinc – great immune system boosters and cold fighters; my personal favorites – Alpha CF and Kold Kare, taken at the start of a cold to reduce its severity and duration. If I’ve waited too long, I take over the counter remedies such as Sudafed, Afrin, etc., which help to relieve the symptoms.

So, do you think we should have flown with the early signs of a cold?

Should We Extend Our Germ-Free Bubble of Protection When We Travel Abroad?

A collection of decorative soaps, commonly fou...
Image via Wikipedia

Living in the U.S., we’ve become accustomed to a certain standard of living and hygiene and assume, unwittingly, that these same standards are more or less universal.

I was reminded of this while traveling through South Africa. We couldn’t get used to bathtubs and basins in older establishments that were equipped with separate taps for hot and cold water – but no mixer.

Obviously, the smart thing to have done was to run a bath but that involved a whole set of assumptions all connected to other people’s germs and how clean the hotel bathrooms really were. (I doubt we had brought bleach with us!)

So it got me thinking about our preoccupation with germs. Don’t get me wrong, I know they can be deadly. A co-worker once went on vacation and a few weeks after returning, fell into a coma from which she never recovered. But that’s an extreme situation.

Germs are everywhere, including on our own bodies. So why have we become so preoccupied with something we can never get rid of? Have we become phobic?

Whenever we women use public bathrooms, we squat or line the toilet seats with covers and never touch the taps or door handles after we wash our hands.

We spray the air to camouflage normal, everyday odors and ourselves to control and mask our natural scents.

Following the 2009 H1N1 scare, hand sanitizers became ubiquitous at office doors, restrooms and outside elevators, even though washing with soap and water would have been sufficient.

Of course, the more potent the products we develop to combat everyday bacteria that simple soap and water can counteract, the more resistant they will become eventually.

Will a day come when we export to other countries those bacteria that have become resistant here, like H1N1 came here?

Further, should we extend our germ-free bubble of protection when we travel abroad?