A Photo Review of 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.

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

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

* 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.


25 comments on “A Photo Review of 2013

  1. Great photo retrospect, Marcia! I enjoy all of your posts and especially the ones learning about Jamaican history and OMG the food! Lucas looks very old…I love lions. And I would love some of that deep fried turkey. I had some a few years ago it blew my mind with deliciousness! All of our best to you to this year! 🙂

  2. So sorry to hear about your injury, but despite that, it seems like you still got a fair amount of travel in! I just wrapped up my first time (and honeymoon!) in South East Asia, which was fabulous! This year looking forward to lots of local weekend trips around the NYC area, and planning a Europe trip for the summer! Here’s wishing you happy travels in the coming year!

  3. I have learned so much about Jamaica thanks to you Marcia.

    Unlimited miles – nasty question as there is no easy answer. I would probably go to Eastern Europe via Iceland.

    I hope you have a superb year in 2014 – and no more broken bones.

  4. Apart from breaking your ankle last year, 2013 looked like a fun year but 2014 looks even better! You were very lucky to catch the beautiful night blooming cerebus. It’s a shame it wilts the next day. All the best for a great 2014 Marcia!!

  5. Thanks, Jenny! I had a wonderful year, even with my accident.
    I was very lucky to see the night blooming cerebus, another lovely highlight of my year.

  6. Thanks, Leigh! Not if I can help it.
    Eastern Europe and Iceland keep coming up a lot these days. Yes, fabulous destinations for unlimited miles.
    Best wishes for 2014.

  7. Thanks and congratulations, Jess. It really put a crimp in my year but thankfully, I still managed to get quite a bit done.
    Happy travels in 2014!

  8. Hi there, Let’s see if I can leave a comment on your post!
    What a wonderful retrospective you gave us Marcia and I am doubly impressed that you covered so much ground even on crutches. Love your new Foodie Tuesday as well. And I am sending big wishes for a happy –and HEALTHY – New Year to you; one that is filled with lots of travel.

  9. Slow travel is a wonderful way to visit and really absorb a place and discover it’s essence, I think you did that very well with your beautiful stories, thanks for sharing them Marcia.

  10. I particularly liked your first two photos. They describe a culture that is foreign and appealing to me. I love the old people out dancing!

  11. I agree, Noel. Slow travel is a wonderful way to dig deep into the culture, history and everyday life in a new place.
    Thanks for reading and commenting this year. Best wishes for 2014!

  12. Thanks very much, Jackie!
    So glad to have you along this year and for participating in FoodieTuesday.
    Best wishes for a wonderful 2014 to you as well.

  13. Hi Marcie, your photo review of Jamaica certainly accentuates the diversity and richness of Jamaica’s heritage and nature. I didn’t know that you hurt your ankle. Glad to know that its slowly healing and I hope and pray that it heals completely soon. I wish you the very best in 2014 and I hope you made it to all places in your wish list this year.Take care.

  14. I have loved learning more about Jamaica this year, Marcia. It’s great to see some of these beautiful photos again. I’m so glad your ankle is much better. We were so looking forward to meeting you at TBEX but hopefully this year. Wishing you even more speedy recovery and more travels in 2014. If I had unlimited airline miles, I’d take a trip around the world.

  15. I’m continually surprised at all the gems in Jamaica, considering it’s a (relatively) small country. Lots of travelling for you in 2014, then, Marcia – and to some interesting places. Would love to see Nicaragua, and I love Africa, so hope to go back this year. Unlimited miles? Give me unlimited time 🙂

  16. Ah, yes, time is the one thing we can all use more of, especially when we’re traveling. There’s so much to see and do!
    You’re right about Jamaica, we do have quite a few gems there for such a small place.
    Hope you make it back to Africa this year, Sophie!

  17. Thanks, Mary. I’m thrilled that my ankle is doing so much better now and really looking forward to getting out more.
    Sorry I missed meeting you at TBEX. Do you think you’ll go this year? They’re still working out the details and haven’t announced the city yet, but I’m hoping they will soon.
    It’s a pleasure sharing Jamaica with you and all my readers. Please stay tuned for more on Jamaica and the places I visit this year.
    A trip around the world would be so amazing, hope you get to do that soon.

  18. Thanks, Marisol and Keith. Yes, unfortunately I did but it’s much better now.
    Wish you both the best for 2014. Hope you make it all the destinations you want to this year. I also hope we get to meet one of these days.

  19. Jamaica is a great, I have been there once in 2008, I personally loved the place, Not really surprised to see such gems from there.

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