Last updated by at .

Time for Church!

I’m fascinated by churches, especially their design. Sometimes they’re simple, almost stark, other times elaborate.

If I have my camera and can stop, I’ll take photos or I’ll get my camera and return later.

Whatever their design, however, churches inspire reverence.

The Parish of St. Agnes Cathedral
St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockvile Center, NY

As I waited at the Rockville Center station for the train to Long Island a few years ago, I saw this church in the distance. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it looked but I couldn’t get close enough without missing my train. Interestingly, the first mass was celebrated in a blacksmith’s shop with an anvil serving as the altar. St. Agnes has come a long way since then, hosting Mother Theresa in 1986.

Ephesus Church
Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist, New York

I used to stand on the corner opposite Ephesus in Harlem and stare up at the steeple. At 37 stories, it seems as if it could touch the sky. After doing that on several different occasions, I went back specifically to take a photo of it.

A fire in 1969, damaged the original steeple. It was replaced 35 years later with a new one which weights 7,000 pounds.

The Second Reformed, Hackensack, NJ
Second Reformed Church, Hackensack, NJ

I spotted this church on a side street in Hackensack, NJ. It wasn’t the one I set out to photograph but I liked the quiet elegant look of it. Researching it later, I discovered that the stained glass windows in the sanctuary were designed by Tiffany.

Capuchin Monastery Church of St. John
Capuchin Monastery, NY

I’m not sure how many times I walked pass this monastery near Penn Station, New York before I noticed the sign. Except for the statue, little else about the building says religion.

When I got home, I Googled the name and discovered that the Capucin Monastery Church of St. John is an Order of Friars that arose in 1520. It is part of the Catholic church.

This is my submission to 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.


The Jamaican Cherry

The Jamaican Cherry has red, sometimes yellow skin, is yellow inside and has two to three small oval seeds. It is slightly sweet, slightly tart and juicy, and is used to make juices, or washed and eaten just picked from the tree. The cherries are low in carbohydrates and are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.

Lone garden cherry on a tree Jamaica
Jamaican Cherry

The Jamaican Cherry is native to the Caribbean, southern Mexico, Central America and south to Peru and Bolivia. But it has also been found as far away as India and the Philippines. The Jamaican Cherry is known by several names, including Panama berry, Singapore cherry, and manzanitas.

Garden Cherry Jamaica
Jamaican Cherry
Cherry pits Jamaica

Flesh of a garden cherry Jamaica

The Jamaican Cherry is also a flowering tree. The flowers can be used as an antiseptic and also to relieve headaches and colds.

I took this flower, which I’ve magnified several times, around November. Since then, there has been two crops of fruit – cherries are in season again.

Flower of a cherry tree, Jamaica
Cherry flower

The trees are beautiful in season with specks of red peeking out from among verdant green leaves. The fruit can be picked individually or shaken from the tree, which typically grows no more than 6 or 7 feet tall. And since the trees are not very large, they can be found in the backyard gardens of most Jamaican families.

Cherry Drink, Jamaica
Jamaican Cherry Drink

During the season, it’s possible to get dozens of cherries – more than enough to juice. I usually freeze them and use them sparingly until the next crop. For color, I add some to my homemade fruit juices.

The Jamaican cherry is in season now so if you’re visiting or planning to visit soon, you should try the fresh juice. Ask at your hotel or guest house if there’s some on the menu, or if they can get some. I know some of the smaller establishments will gladly oblige.

The juice is quite easy to make. Put cherries in a blender, add enough water to cover the fruit and blend. (You can also add a bit more water if the juice is too thick.) Strain, add a little nutmeg, lime or ginger, and sugar to taste. Serve over ice or chill before serving.


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.


The Jamaican Pineapple

I’ve been eating pineapples all my life but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I discovered that there are different varieties. On a recent visit to Croydon Plantation (more on that later), I tasted the Cowboy, Ripley and Sugar Loaf.**

Ripley Pineapple
The Ripley

Some Pineapple Facts

The pineapple was brought to Jamaica from South America by the Tainos, the island’s first inhabitants. The Spanish took it to Spain, then to Hawaii and the Philippines, and other countries.

Five golden pineapple can be seen on the red cross on the Jamaican Coat of Arms, which has been in use since the 1600s.

Jamaica Coat of Arms, pineapples
Jamaica Coat of Arms

Pineapples are cultivated island-wide but the main growing areas are in the parishes of St. Elizabeth, St. James, Westmoreland and Portland, and the main reaping time is from May to July. Most of the pineapples grown here are consumed locally.

Besides being delicious, the pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamins C, B1, B6, copper, manganese and dietary fiber. It can be eaten fresh, baked, juiced, or even grilled.

Fresh pineapple juice can be used as a meat tenderizer.

The pineapple can also help to prevent inflammation.

All of the fruit, except for the top, which can be replanted, is eaten here. We combine the peel with ginger to make a delicious drink (recipe follows).

**Del Monte scientists have developed a new strain of pineapple variety, the MD2, which is sweeter, grows to a uniform size, ripens evenly, and has a longer shelf life.

How to Peel a Pineapple

Using a sharp knife, cut from top to bottom.
Remove the eyes by cutting a long V-shaped channel diagonally down through the centers of the diamond
Remove the crown and the bottom end.
Cut into slices and remove the core from each slice, or leave the core in. (I eat the entire slice, core included.)

Pineapple Ginger Drink

Peel of a fresh pineapple, washed. You can also use the fruit but the peel holds more of the flavor.
2-4 ounces of fresh peeled ginger
4-5 cups water
Reserve a few chunks of pineapple to garnish
Maraschino cherry to garnish

Bring water to boil. Add pineapple and ginger to a metal pot or large pitcher that can withstand heat (you don’t want to use anything that would leach into the drink). Let steep overnight. Strain off the juice and add sugar to taste. Add ice. Garnish with pineapple chunks or a Maraschino cherry.

Did you know that there are different varieties of pineapple?


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.

This week, I’m also linking up with the Friday Daydreaming series organized by Becca at Rwethereyetmom. Hope to see you there!

A Tour of Falmouth Pier

If I had my way, there wouldn’t be a Falmouth Pier. Heck, there wouldn’t have been even one cruise ship pier in Jamaica, period. But of course, no one asked me – they never ask the people, the ones who really matter. Anyway, it’s here now but believe me, there are more than a few disgruntled residents in Falmouth.

Entering Falmouth Pier
Entering the pier at Falmouth

Falmouth, capital of the parish of Trelawny, is located on Jamaica’s north coast about 30 minutes from Montego Bay. The town is home to approximately 4,000 residents.

Falmouth was founded in 1769 by Thomas Reid, an English planter. During sugar’s heyday, the port was the major shipping point for sugar, molasses, rum, coffee going to England, and slaves coming to the island.

Falmouth Pier's stores
Stores and immigration building, Falmouth

After the trade ended, the once booming town, which had piped water before New York City, fell on hard times. But with its extensive stock of Georgian buildings, the largest in the Caribbean, the town is experiencing new interest.

The Pier opened in 2011 following a nearly $200 million construction of a new deep water pier that can accommodate the largest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. These 16-deck mega ships can transport 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew.

On cruise days – Tuesdays to Thursdays – sometimes two ships dock at Falmouth Pier. However, even with the many historic Georgian structures in the town, the majority of passengers are bussed to Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. A small number do a walking tour of the town.

Falmouth Pier's immigration building
Immigration building, Falmouth

The US$100 per person that cruise ships passengers were projected to inject into the local economy hasn’t materialized. And when construction is completed at the Pier, Royal Caribbean will have practically duplicated the historic town and even fewer of its passengers will need to leave the pier.

One of two berths at Falmouth Pier
Berth for Royal Caribbean’s big ships

The building of Falmouth Pier changed the coastline and has caused considerable damage to the mangroves and coral reefs. When ships are in port, residents complain that there’s less water coming from the taps as they refill before leaving.

Despite how I feel about cruise ships, however, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to tour Falmouth Pier. I had to see it for myself.

Royal Caribbean's Craft Market at Falmouth Pier
Craft market, the pier at Falmouth

On the day we went, no ships were in port – only construction workers and a few employees were around so we had unobstructed views. The pier has customs and immigration offices, stores, restaurants, and a Margaritaville, which is under construction. We were told that Falmouth residents will have access to Margaritaville when it opens.

Falmouth Pier seen from the Courthouse
Falmouth Pier seen from the Courthouse
Royal Caribbean's ship docked at Falmouth Pier
RC Ship dwarfs the town of Falmouth

Storyboards that tell the history of Falmouth line the main walkway and there’s a performance area where cultural groups to put on shows for passengers.

Of course, what I’ve written here was not part of the tour. But it’s difficult to see Falmouth Pier and not feel a bit sad. Once again, we’ve sold out our beautiful island and swapped one master — sugar planters, bauxite companies, other multinational organizations, etc. — for another.

What are your thoughts on cruise ships and the impact they have?

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.

This week, I’m also linking up with the Friday Daydreaming series organized by Becca at Rwethereyetmom. Hope to see you there!

Moving Day, Westmoreland Jamaica

Sometimes, moving day can mean much more than moving household furniture and personal belongings. Sometimes, it also involves the  moving of the actual house.

Moving day, Westmoreland, Jamaica
Moving day, Westmoreland, Jamaica

When I read Budget Jan‘s post for last week’s Travel Photo Thursday, it reminded me of the times, in Westmoreland, when I’d see houses like this one being moved from one location to another, usually on a tractor. Westmoreland has a long history with tractors and sugarcane so it’s not unusual to see them pulling double duty. Still, I couldn’t believe my luck at seeing a house moving so soon after I was reminded of it. I was anxious to take the photo, I didn’t have time to adjust the lens on my camera.

Typically, the houses are made of wood (board) and have two rooms – a bedroom and living room. They are raised off the ground and sit on stones, sometimes blocks. They are usually called ‘board’ houses and because of the transient nature of their owner’s work, are never made of concrete.  Other rooms will be added as the owner’s economic situation improves and his family increases.

As we got closer to this house, we noticed that curtains were still hanging in the window and there was a television antenna on its side in one of the rooms. A car traveling ahead seemed to be transporting the owners as well as some of their belongings.

So popular was this way of moving houses that there are work songs created specifically for the occasion.

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.

This week, I’m also linking up with the Friday Daydreaming series organized by Becca at Rwethereyetmom. Hope to see you there!


Street Food, Jamaican Style

We don’t call it street food here, though that’s what it is and it’s been around for a while. When I was about 6 or 7, and we only used to jerk pork, there was a man who’d go from house to house selling pork from a metal pan that was attached to the front of his bicycle. The pan was like a portable barbecue with smoldering pimento coals at the bottom and another pan which contained the pork. You could smell it long before he arrived at our gate.

Back then, the economy was mostly agrarian and families prepared their meals at home.  Women would send their men off to the fields with lunches that were packed in “carriers,” aluminum containers that had compartments to keep the components of the meal separate. It also had a handle that made it easy to carry — I suspect that’s how it got it’s name.

If they had further to go, say to Kingston, the capital, there’d be stalls that sold seasonal fruits, like oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, otaheiti apples, etc., and a few that sold roasted yam and salted cod fish – inexpensive, popular and easy enough to make over an open fire.

To supplement the household income, some women would make baked goods – coconut drops (called drops for the way the sugary coconut mixture was dropped from a spoon and baked), cut cake, grater cake (a coconut and sugar reduction that is cooled and cut into small squares), peppermint candy, gizzadas (grated coconut in a crunchy shell), etc., that they sold as snacks, mostly at schools.

With more Jamaicans working further from home in the service based sector, few have time to prepare home cooked meals and stalls selling a variety of foods have become ubiquitous. Here are a few that I’ve eaten at.

Street Food, Jamaican Style
Food Stand

Despite its name, not all the food here was roasted. We stopped for a breakfast of green bananas and mackerel.

Street Food, Jamaican Style
Food Stand

Food stalls can be as elaborate or as rudimentary as the owner wishes. Some are small enough that they can be placed anywhere. At this stall in Clarendon, our lunch consisted of soup, roasted yam and codfish.

Street Food, Jamaican Style
Crayfish soup

At festivals, the number and variety of food stalls are sometimes overwhelming. I get food overload and can’t decide what to eat, like the day I took this photo at the Accompong Maroon Treaty Celebration.

The operator at this stall didn’t want anyone taking photos of his dressed up pigs but I couldn’t resist.

Street Food, Jamaican Style
Jerk Pork
Street Food, Jamaican Stye
Roasted Yam

Roasted yam is still quite popular maybe because it’s relatively easy to prepare. All you have to do is put the yam over the fire and the heat does the rest.

Street Food, Jamaican Stye

On hot days, a drink of cold coconut water is refreshing.

Street Food, Jamaican Style
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!

My friend, Karen, is taking her coconut with a shot of Jamaican rum – a delicious combination. We were laughing at how decadent it was to be drinking so early in the morning. It might have been about 11 o’clock.

Here, the stall was the back of this guy’s car. He also had straw bags, change purses made from small calabash gourds, banana chips, knitted caps with locks and frozen jelly coconuts – one stop shopping.

Street Food, Jamaican Stye
It must be the rum that’s making her laugh so much

Do you try street food when you travel?


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.

This week, I’m also linking up with the Friday Daydreaming series organized by Becca at Rwethereyetmom. Hope to see you there!







The Jamaica Visitors Rarely See, II

I love road trips and in December, I took a few which brought me into the interior of Jamaica. Here are a few photos of what I saw.

We left early on the morning of the first trip. The air was fresh and cool and as the sun grew higher above the St. Elizabeth hills, it began to burn off the mist that had covered the mountain.

Morning near Spur Tree
Morning near Spur Tree

Rising more than 2,000 feet up the Don Figueroa Mountains in Manchester, Spur Tree Hill offers breathtaking views of the lowlands of St. Elizabeth and Manchester. Spur Tree got its name from the ‘spurs’ that were thrown out by the giant cotton trees that used to grow in the area. The undulating terrain in the middle marks the distinctive Cockpit Country.

View from Spur Tree Hill
View from Spur Tree Hill

Alumina has been mined in St. Elizabeth since 1953. This factory at Nain processes 2 million tonnes of alumina each year.

View from Spur Tree HIll
View from Spur Tree HIll

Continue reading “The Jamaica Visitors Rarely See, II”

New York’s Fashion Walk of Fame

′Think New York and you’ll think either theater, fashion or finance.  Theater has Broadway, finance has Wall Street with its iconic bull, and fashion has Seventh or Fashion Avenue.

Did you know that Fashion Avenue has a Fashion Walk of Fame?

Established in 1999 by the Fashion Center Business Improvement District (BID), the Fashion Walk of Fame celebrates American designers who have influenced fashion worldwide. Twenty-eight designers have been inducted into the Walk of Fame to date. Each has a bronze plaque that is engraved with a description of the designer’s contribution, and an original sketch. Each bears the designer’s signature. The plaques are embedded in the sidewalk on Fashion Avenue from 35th to 41st Street.

Plaques commemorating designers on Fashion Walk of Fame
Fashion Walk of Fame

Continue reading “New York’s Fashion Walk of Fame”

My Year of Travelling in Jamaica & Elsewhere, Pt II

As 2012 drew to a close, I was plagued by the notion that I didn’t do enough travelling. It was making me feel a bit regretful so I started making a list — I love lists! Sure enough, I realized I had done a lot of travelling in Jamaica and that made me smile. I had even managed to slip in a few trips to New York and Toronto.

My photos helped to bring back memories of each place I’d visited, the people I’d met and the experiences I’d had. In the end, I realized that it wasn’t a bad year of travel after all.

Appleton Rum Tour
Appleton Rum Tour

Rum has become my drink of choice and in 2012, I was fortunate to visit Appleton Estate, the undisputed home of rum, twice. While the first visit was an amazing experience (we were offered rum punch and 13 rums to sample!), on the second visit, I joined the Jamaica Rum Society on a deluxe tour that came complete with a complimentary bus, tour guide, and bartender who served us sandwiches and as much Appleton Estate Extra and the Master Blender as we could handle.

On arrival at Appleton, we were welcomed with complimentary breakfast. We did the usual tour but at the end, we had a private tasting with four premium Appleton rums. Afterwards, we were certified as Appleton rum ambassadors.

The Colors of Independence
The Colors of Independence

In 2012, Jamaica hosted a year-long celebration of her 50th anniversary of independence from Britain. In August, I took these photos at the Independence Village that was set up at the National Stadium in Kingston.

The Colors of Independence
The Colors of Independence

In St. Ann, my cousin pointed out this statue of Christopher Columbus, near Seville – the place where he landed when he arrived in Jamaica in 1494.

La Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus Statue, Jamaica
La Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus Statue, Jamaica

Continue reading “My Year of Travelling in Jamaica & Elsewhere, Pt II”

My Year of Travelling Jamaica, Part I

As 2012 draws to a close, I’m eagerly anticipating another year of travel and discovery. But before I start the New Year, I wanted to look back at my year of travelling Jamaica.

Since January, I have logged hundreds of miles around the island. Sometimes I traveled solo, sometimes I was with friends who were visiting. Each trip though, brought me face to face with intriguing individuals, or took me on explorations of interesting and historic places, or opened my eyes to things I’d missed or just hadn’t paid attention to before.

The best times during the year though, were the simple ones. At those times, my camera felt intrusive. I didn’t want to break the flow of conversation or make notes. I only wanted to savor the moment that I was no longer observing and reporting, the moment I felt a part of the story.

Here’s some of what I experienced.

Sunrise over Negril Jamaica
Sunrise, Negril

At dawn one morning in February, friends and I walked the beach in Negril from our hotel near the center of town to well past the Hanover border. It was the first time I’d done that and I loved the near emptiness of the beach and the pinkish color the sun had painted the sky as it climbed above the horizon to start the new day.

Herb vendor, Jamaica
Herb vendor, Negril

The first person we saw was this guy who was walking the beach selling various herbs. After chatting with him, I bought a bag of ground bissy or kola nut. Bissy came to Jamaica from West Africa and is used to help digestion, and fight fatigue and hunger. It’s also good for the heart.

Tall and cruise ships, Jamaica
Two ships docked at Freeport, Montego Bay

Two, sometimes three times a week, ships dock at Freeport in Montego Bay. Usually, it’s a ship from the Carnival fleet but early in 2012, I spotted this tall ship. It looked impressive even from a distance and I watched it almost all day.

Pink skies over the Blue Mountains Jamaica
Blue Mountains

In March, I fell short by a few hours in my attempt to hike to the top of the Blue Mountains, Jamaica’s tallest, to greet the new day. I was very disappointed but on the hike back, I was able to see what I had missed in the 2:00 a.m. walk up. These views almost made up for the sunrise I didn’t get to see.

Coffee Beans on the Blue Mountains Jamaica
Coffee Beans, Blue Mountains
Clouds and house on the Blue Mountains Jamaica
Clouds on the Blue Mountains

One day, I visited King’s House, the official residence of the Governor General who is the Queen’s representative in Jamaica. A few days later, I was at the former home of Bob Marley, the King of Reggae.

King's House external view - Jamaica
King’s House
Bob Marley Museum Jamaica
Bob Marley Museum

Two places of worship caught my attention during my travels: Holy Trinity in Kingston and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in St. Ann.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Jamaica
Holy Trinity, Kingston
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Jamaica
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Ann

In July, I discovered Fay who still practices the (almost) lost art of making peppermint candy by hand. I also found out that it was a skill my paternal grandmother had.

Fay, the Peppermint Candy Lady, and her family
Fay and members of her family
Peppermint candy swirl Jamaica
Peppermint candy mixture

It was fascinating to watch Fay’s mixture turn from brown to white then, as she added coloring, to red and white. (More about Fay in an upcoming post.)

Hope you’ll check back for Part II of highlights from my year of travelling Jamaica.

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.