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Out of Many, One: The Outameni Experience

My cousin and her husband kept raving about this place he said they knew I would love. But they wouldn’t say what it was or why they were so sure I’d love it.

I was curious.

We loaded up the car and headed north east from Montego Bay towards Trelawny. Once at the sign to the Outameni Experience, we turned off the road.

Sign to Outameni in Trelawny

So this is where we were going!

The Experience starts before you enter

Outameni, the Jamaican lingo for Out of Many (as in Out of Many, One People – the Jamaican motto) is an interactive look back at Jamaica’s history from the time of the indigenous people, the Arawak or Taino, as they’re now called, through the present.

Jars like these were used to keep drinking water cool
Copper pot
Costumed tour guide

Our entertained us with mento dancing and storytelling while we waited for the tour to begin.

Traditional Jamaican house

Each period is represented by its own display with guides in period dress narrating the story of that time.

Taino woman grinding cassava

The Taino arrived in Jamaica around 650 A.D. from South America. They were said to be peaceful people who planted cassava, corn, sweet potato and got most of their food from the sea. When Columbus arrived in 1492, it was the Taino who greeted him. Unfortunately, within a few years of his arrival, the Tainos in Jamaca were exterminated. It is said that some killed themselves rather than be put to work by the Spanish, others died after coming into contact with European diseases for which they had no immunity.

Descendant of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus and his merry band of sailors stumbled upon Jamaica on May 5, 1494 on his second voyage on behalf of the King of Spain. Thus began the period of Spanish settlements in Jamaica which lasted until the British took over in 1655.

Slave woman about to begin her story

The first Africans in Jamaica came as servants of Spanish settlers. These were freed when the British took over Jamaica in 1655. As sugar production exploded, Africans were again brought to the island, this time to work on the plantations.

Maypole dance pole
The Massa's wife
Our Indian connection

Nearly 40,000 Indians were brought to Jamaica beginning in 1845 as indentured workers to work in the sugar cane industry after slavery was abolished. Many were repatriated but far many remained. Today, their descendants make up the second largest racial group in Jamaica.

The Chinese story

The Chinese began coming to Jamaica in the 1845 to work on sugar cane plantations. Today, they make up the majority of the merchant class.

Present day

The Outameni Experience ends with Jamaica today, a vibrant country that approximately 2 million people – African, Indian, Chinese, Jewish, Lebanese, Scottish, German, Cuban, Haitian, American, Canadian and Latin American – call home.

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What’s Great About Jamaica’s Great Houses?

Jamaica’s nearly 300 year old great houses provide a peek into a byegone era. Some have been turned into museums, others offer a beautiful backdrop for weddings and events.

Today, we’ll visit three: Bellefield Great House and Gardens, Good Hope Great House and Devon House.

Bellefield Great House, located just outside Montego Bay, has played host to Queen Elizabeth

Bellefield Great House & Gardens - photo courtesy of Bellefield

II, John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill. Built in 1794, it is part of the Barnett Estate and is owned by the Kerr-Jarrett family. The house, gardens and Sugar Mill are available for tours and private events.

For more information, (876) 952-2382

Good Hope - photo courtesy of Good Hope

Good Hope Great House: Nestled on 2,000 acres more than 500 miles above sea level in the lush mountains of Trelawny’s Queen of Spain Valley, Good Hope was built in 1755 by Thomas Williams. It was later purchased by John Tharp and has changed ownership many times. The current owners have restored the property, where the first hot water bath in the Caribbean was installed, period furniture, stables, a lily pond and bird sanctuary.

For information, 876-469-3444

This Georgian style mansion was built in 1881 for Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George

Devon House - photo courtesy of Devon House

Stiebel. Purchased and restored in 1968 by the Government of Jamaica, Devon House, now a historical landmark, is decorated with French, English, Jamaican and Caribbean antiques and reproductions. Located in Kingston, it is known as a venue that promotes Jamaican art and culture.

For information, call 876-929-6602

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