Monthly Archives: July 2014

St. James

Secrets_Wild_Orchid_Montego_BayWhen most people hear St. James, they have no clue what you’re talking about… unless you’re Jamaican or a frequent visitor. Utter the words “Montego Bay” and familiarity hits home. Montego Bay is the capital of the parish of St. James. The parish is relatively small, 11th in size at just 595 sq. km. St. James lies in northwestern Jamaica and Montego Bay lies on the northernmost part of the parish. This is also where one would find the Donald Sangster International Airport. St. James was named for King James II around 1655.

Historically, the parish was still inhabited by Tainos upon Columbus’ arrival and he gave the area it’s own name, “El Cabo de Buen Tiempo” which translates to “Fairweather Gulf.” St. James was one of the larger areas for the slave trade and was therefore inhabited by Maroons. Cudjoe, a Maroon leader, and Sam Sharpe, one of Jamaica’s national heroes are notable people from the parish.  Cudjoe for signing a peace treaty with the British and Sam Sharpe for his contribution to the Montego Bay Rebellion which helped to propel the abolition of slavery on the island. This was also the same rebellion that led to the destruction of the Rose Hall Great House. 

Rose Hall Great House

Rose Hall Great House

 

Montego Bay has also been popular with its status as a city due to its location (close to sea) and the administrative activities that take place since the 17th Century. However, its status of prestige has fluctuated with the many uprisings against plantation owners, not unlike the infamous Annie Palmer of the Rose Hall Great House, who have been irrational, cruel and inhumane.

Today, St. James has regained its momentum and has inherited the title of “Second City” and is a popular tourist destination.  St. James has also adopted the Bogue Islands as part of the physical infrastructure and is used as part of the Montego Bay Freeport. Tourism is the major economic activity in the parish of St. James and accounts for 80% of the revenue in the parish. pictures-of-montego-bay-jamaica-21474194

Outside of the typical hotels and beautiful resorts that one could lodge while visiting the island, there are several other places of interest for the more adventurous tourist.

Rose Hall Great House is a definite once you visit the parish of St. James. The legend tells of a woman who is said to have supernatural powers and was powerful enough to rid herself of three husbands and made herself very wealthy. Her “spirit” is still “haunting” the mansion to this day. Other places include Doctor’s Cave, the Old Fort, Greenwood Great House (for persons who enjoy collectibles and antiquities), Rockland Bird Sanctuary and the various craft shops and shopping areas within the city. images (2)

St. James is full of surprises and every visitor to the island should take a break from the hotel walls and explore the city and learn more about the country they are visiting.

Side Note: Jamaica also has the SECOND FASTEST man on earth, Yohan Blake, and he is from the parish of St. James.

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Later this week: Hanover

 

***Photos and information derived from Wikipedia and JIS Websites

Country Come a Town Part 1: New York

We have a saying or label for just about anything or anyone.  In my case, it’s “Country come a Town” (Translation: Country has come to town). This means that someone who is ignorant to particular things, like food or a new place, is exposed to something new and expresses their excitement (as embarrassing as it is) in a way that makes them seem either backward or stupid. This is usually done with someone who is already experienced.

Well, I us20140720_120455[1]ually pride myself in being very cultured and well aware of the world around me. In my mind, I can handle almost anything in any country. Afterall, I survived a trip to a country whose language I am not familiar with; I had fun and I’m very willing to do it again. So New York should be a breeze. I was ready. I was to meet my cousin outside the bus station, get home, sleep, then have fun… in that order.

The bus ride was horrible. The bus driver was not only incompetent (she missed the exit into New York City because she was blabbing away), but she made me feel very edgy due to her frustration. I collected my wits after exiting the bus FOUR hours past the scheduled arrival time. The place was crowded, I was confused; I have been on the road for over 16 hours with my four-year old in my lap. I located my relative and felt ready to start my adventure in New York.

Now, I’m Jamaican,
so everything I saw had me in awe. I saw the tallest buildings, the largest crowds, and the most shopping areas in a single place. My brain was muddled, but I was ready to conquer. I had to take the subway to see my good friend, Maria, in Brooklyn.

 

I was taking the train for the first time and I was doing it on my own. I survived the journey and made it to Brooklyn smoothly. On my way back however, we took a train that I knew didn’t feel right. After the first stop, the train slowed down and went silent.

“Oh my gosh,” I exclaimed, mortified. I thought we were all gonna die right then and there.

“Did the train die?!” I was genuinely concerned. My heart started racing and my eyes bulged in anticipation for Maria’s response. I don’t know if it was out of embarrassment, or the expression on my face that had Maria in tears as she laughed at my faux pas. She

Off with Maria in Brooklyn

Off with Maria in Brooklyn

assured me that this is how some of the older trains are and I wasn’t to be worried. We laughed about it all the way back to Grand Central Station, and I had to continue the journey by myself. I held my composure and tried to look relaxed as the train brought me back to the safety of my aunt’s home.

I thought to myself that New York was a scary place, but I had only five days in this massive city and I decided that I must make the best of it and try to enjoy the sights and sounds of New York City.

 

*Special Thanks to Maria for making my first train ride relaxing and absolutely unforgettable. Our little “incident” on the train was noted and I made sure it didn’t happen again!

 

Next Week: Part 2

Trelawny

Trelawny lies exactly west of the parish of St. Ann. Falmouth, the parish capital, is the centre for all economic activities. The parish was once very quiet and was only used as a passage to the second city, Montego Bay. However, with the rise of Olympian and 100 meter World Record Holder, Usain St. Leo Bolt, the parish of Trelawny regained momentum and has become as important as it was during 18th Century Jamaica.

Falmouth Square, Trelawny's Capital. Photo Credit: Jamaica Gleaner

Falmouth Square, Trelawny’s Capital.
Photo Credit: Jamaica Gleaner

Before the 18th Century, Trelawny was non-existent and was absorbed by St. James. The Governor at that time, William Trelawny, opted to divide the area into smaller administrative sections to manage financial and trade services, especially since Trelawny was a major port for exporting sugar cane products. It was he that the parish was named after.

Trelawny possessed more sugar estates than any other parish, and therefore was home to many Maroons. There are still two major and active Maroon Tribes within the parish; however, some Maroons fled to Nova Scotia, Canada and became the first Africans to inhabit the eastern Province. Unfortunately, by the end of the 18th Century, with the popularity of larger, more cumbersome steamships and with the shortage of labour, Trelawny lost its lustre as the port was moved to a more central part of the island.

Today, Trelawny has been brought back to life with various economic activities including agriculture, commerce, farming and tourism. Tourism has become the major economic activity and includes Cruise Ship visits, hotels, and craft shops.  A notable aspect of Trelawny  is the Luminous Lagoon. Outside of the usual sun-bathing and “hotelling” is a lagoon which is illuminated with aqua/blue light at night by microscopic organisms. The island is far more than meets the eye. Step away from the coasts and hotels and venture further into the island to have an “Outameni Experience,” or go rafting on the Martha Brae.

Thanks for reading. ~JGIC

Next Week: St. James