So much to share, so little time! For the eighteen days I spent in Jamaica, I accomplished quite a lot.
In addition to Milk River, Reach Falls, the Bob Marley Museum, there was….
A visit to the Green Grotto caves Beneath the earth
. Entertainment in Runaway Bay
Rafting on the Martha Brae River
I’d have to say that this was the high point of the whole trip! Make sure you ask for Captain #45, Mr. Daley. He’ll treat you right! Take my photo along with you and tell him the Jamaican in China sent you!
. Tourists from France…psst…ditch mom, and meet me at the mouth of the river!
. Thanks, Mr. Daley! Great guy!
A visit to Rose Hall, the haunted “Great House”
. Tour of Rose Hall
.Our tour guide sings the Annie Palmer song
. Shopping in the markets
. Reconnecting with friends from the old neighborhood….
. As well as with family….can you see the resemblance with Aunt and cousin?
I’d have to say, however, that the simple pleasure (or harrowing, hair-raising, adrenalin-pumping trauma, take your pick) of driving on the narrow winding roads through the mountains of Jamaica was one of the most satisfying activities! It’s sort of a rite of passage for anyone who calls Jamaica their home.
Here’s a video, with “It’s all coming back to me” by Celine Dion providing the soundtrack
And, then, there’s eating locally-grown, tree-ripened, pesticide-free food (pumpkin, sweet potato, green banana, yam to accompany the callalloo picked an hour earlier from my Aunt’s back yard) Last meal in JA
I’ll be sharing more photos and observations of life and my time in Jamaica, but, now it’s time to wrap it up and say goodbye…
Time to hit the skies once again….
This blog is about to become….
As recently as this March, I had the opportunity to tutor some students in New York in Integrated Algebra in preparation for their Regents exams. The students were great, and eager to learn and wished do well. However, while tutoring, I noticed there was something missing in their fundamental understanding of the relationship between and among numbers.
Many of the students in high school simply don’t know their multiplication tables well enough and stumbled when it came to answering simple multiplication queries (eg. “what’s 9 times 8?”).
I realized they hadn’t been sufficiently prepared in their earlier grades.
In Jamaica, starting in second grade, students are taught to memorize their multiplication tables from 2 to 12. When I was at Pembroke Hall, for example, we drilled “Two 1s two.
Two 2s four.
Two 3s six.
Two 4s eight” etc., all the way to 12, ending with “twelve 12s 144!”
This memorization and practice would be drilled day after day from second grade to onward. The result is that Jamaican students have an affinity for numbers which forms a solid foundation for higher mathematics.
I remember my second and third grade teachers, Mrs. Sutherland and Mrs. Downy, respectively, walking around the classroom–with cane in hand–listening to each student as he/she recited, and giving a whack to anyone who messed up. As a result, the recitation becomes automatic, unconscious and quick. In fact, if someone in Jamaica wants to say something is done quickly, they might say it happens in “two 2s.” For instance, the paint advertisement I showed in the previous post could have said alternatively “In two 2s, it dry!” referring to the lightning speed at which one processes 2 times 2.
This simple training has far-reaching effects not only in school, but in daily life as well. For example, if you are purchasing several items in a store each with a price that ends in 5 or 0 (say, candy at 25 cents each), and the cashier tells you the total price is $1.57, you immediately know this is incorrect because any number multiplied by 5 MUST end in a 5 or a zero. It gives you a confidence with how numbers work and interrelate that improves your chances of success in school, life as well as in business.
Here is a video of 3rd grade students at Pembroke Hall Primary school in Jamaica reciting their “times tables.”
I learned that the recitation has been modified to now reinforce the complementary relationship between multiplication and division. (i.e. “Two 1s two. Two into two goes one time…”, etc.)
As mentioned, I went back to Pembroke Hall to speak to the students during their 7:30am Wednesday morning “Devotion,” where the students gather for prayer and a few words of encouragement before their day of class. Here are a few shots from a wonderful day!
click on image to see larger version Students gather outside the classroom
Getting ready for my return engagement with Mrs. Brown
Who knows? One of these kids may just grow up to become another Jamaican in China!
Then I decided to launch Ron’s public speaking career and put him on the spot as a real-life Jamaican pilot living in Macau. The kids loved it! Ron, on the other hand, had a few words to say to me about ambushing him like that! Pilot speaks to pupils
Then, I asked Mrs. Brown to lend me a few students for a photo in front of the school Walking to the front of the school
Say “cheese!” and remember: Only the best is good enough!
Scenes of life and times on the Rock…Seen?
click to view larger image
Jamaican for “eat” is N _ _ _
Pat, can I buy a vowel?
(Answer for non-Jamaicans: NYAM)
As yuh quint, it dry!
In the Oxford Dictionary, you’ll find a definition of quint:
QUINT: five: the cardinal number that is the sum of four and one.
In the Urban Dictionary, you’ll even find a provocative, but misleading Jamaican slang definition.
The truth, however, is that “quint” means blink or squint–as in “as you blink, it’s dry”
I really like the fact that Jamaican ad campaigns now feature our Jamaican patois “language.” Even though practically everyone speaks and understands it, Patois was never considered legitimate enough to sit alongside the Queen’s English in ad campaigns sponsored by corporate concerns. This is major and represents, on one level, an embrace of our culture.
Ben, a friend of mine who reads my blog said: “Walt, I was in the super market yesterday on Cape Cod. One of the aisles said, “Jamaican Food”. It wasn’t even in the international food aisle. Thought it a bit odd.”
Um, psst….Walt…..behind you….take a picture
Oh, well see, the trouble is, as you spend more time in Jamaica going from Parish to Parish, you get so accustomed to the beautiful scenery around every corner and in every crevice, that you forget to take photos
Here, lest I forget, is a random, gratuitous shot of paradise to remind you where I am Random, gratuitous shot of paradise
The infamous “Flat Bridge!” One day this bridge will be improved…..I hope…
From Church on Sunday
Welcome to Montego Bay
Table Tennis in Runaway Bay
No matter how challenging survival gets, you can’t ever really starve in Jamaica. Fruit trees abound along the road and in every backyard and front lawn. June plums in St Mary
This is what a june plum seed looks like. Can anyone from Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic or any other region tell me if you have it in your country and what do you call it?
In the little neighborhood of Pembroke Hall in Kingston, exists a little school called Pembroke Hall Primary.
My family left Jamaica and moved to the U.S. before I had the chance to attend high school. Pembroke Hall Primary, therefore, is where most of my great memories of attending school in Jamaica took place. (I also attended Old Harbour Primary for one year). This is where I met my first “best friend,” Andrew Walters. Here is where I had my first schoolboy crush on a girl named Gail Scott. Here is where I learned my “times tables.” Here is where I walked home from school with my friends and got chased by dogs. This was the first place I would visit once I started to return to the island during the summer breaks from my elementary schooling in New York. The list of names to whom I dedicated my books, Jamaican on Saipan, and Jamaican in China are the names of my Pembroke Hall Primary schoolmates. I’ve never forgotten them, and for some, I even remember their phone numbers! And so, it was with a feeling of great excitement and nostalgia that I visited for the first time in many years. Here are just a few of the shots from that visit.
The front gate
The sign says:
The following will not be permitted on the school compound:
Rollers in hair
Tight, short shorts
Tight, short dresses/skirts/merina
Uncovered stomach (back and armpit)
Please dress moderately
The school grounds
The water pipes! Everything is right where I left them…ahhhh, yes! No crowds now, but wait until lunch time!
“Excuse me, I’m a past student. Who is the principal of the school now?”
Meet Ms. Norma McNeil, the principal of Pembroke Hall Primary
Chatting about past students, what my teachers are doing now, and the auditorium project.
Ms. McNeil gives me a tour of the grounds and shows me the location of the hoped-for auditorium. In this video, Mrs. McNeil explains the need for funds to continue and complete the construction. There’ve been raffles and food sales to generate the money, but there is still a ways to go. I’ll be helping any way I can. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to help, too!
Pembroke Hall represents the foundation of my education. As such, it is an integral part of the path I took from elementary and high school in the states, my engineering degree at Columbia, my path as an entrepreneur and writer, and ultimately, my freedom as a nomadpreneur! Thank you, Pembroke Hall Primary School!
The banner beneath the logo says: “Only the best is good enough!”
p.s.Ms. McNeil has asked me to visit again on Wednesday to give a short talk to the students. Stay tuned!
56 Hope Road is the former home of Reggae legend and Jamaican hero, Robert Nesta Marley, known affectionately by Jamaicans simply as Bob. As I’ve said in a previous post, it is mandated by law that every Jamaican must utter the words “Bob did seh” (Bob said…”) in any conversation about life, politics, religion and any matter of cultural significance.
Fulfilling the vision of Bob’s widow, Rita, the home has been converted into a museum paying tribute to Bob’s legacy and impact on the music industry, the struggles of freedom fighters the world over, and the status of Jamaica and Jamaicans throughout the world.
We did the hour tour of the premises and house ($500J = $5US) The tourist rate is higher!)
There’s no taking of photos allowed during the tour of the house, but we got to see photos, artifacts, clothing, furniture, memorabilia and more details chronicling Bob’s music, career and honors.Great stuff!
You’ll have to experience it for yourself!
After the tour, Natasha and I posed on the very steps Bob Marley would sit and reason with his bredrin!
Next stop: food!
On the way to New Leaf Restaurant (found through Happycow.net) we stopped at a juice bar and picked up a papaya, pineapple and guava juice.
Now then. For my friends who’ve suggested I smile more in my photos. I’m sure you’re not aware of this, but The “How to be Jamaican Cool” manual explicitly prohibits “crap eating grins” and big toothy smiles in photos of men. But, I’m going to do something totally out of character. Here are some photos with smiles for anyone who requested them.–W (These were captured by Ron when I didn’t know the camera was rolling; a clear and flagrant violation of HTBJC Rule #476, but I’m willing to break the rules just this once for you.)
Then headed to New Leaf Restaurant
Finally! A meal!
Yes, I love Jamaica! I feel exceptionally fortunate that I was born, raised and received my foundational education there. However, I believe I can be at home just about anywhere since my home is in my head!
UPDATE FOR 2020:
*Bob’s actual words are:
“My home is always where I am. My home is inna my head. My home is what I think about…how I try to settle my mind into thinking what I think…that is my home. My home is not a material home out somewhere out there. Y’know, my home inna my head.”–Bob Marley
And, if you want to hear Bob actually saying those words, watch this video (go to 3min:34sec). If, for some reason, it’s not available, you can download a brief excerpt here
Wed, April 24, 2013
This time we’re heading east! I figure we should have some nice views of the ocean driving along the south coast and then up towards the north coast. Our destination: Port Antonio!
See the route (in red) along the coastline
and then a little inland while still in St Thomas…
Then, back along the coast through Portland.
On the way there, we saw a sign.
“Hey, look! Reach Falls is that way!” Ron exclaimed.
“Cool! Let’s go!” Walt replied.
And that’s how we ended up at Reach Falls.
Ron likes immersion
I prefer just sitting in the sun
After Reach Falls, we continued north through (5)PORTLAND, took a quick look at the famous Blue Lagoon, and eventually reached Port Antonio, where we checked out the Errol Flynn Marina
Then, we hit (6) ST MARY, Headed further along Buff Bay and Annoto Bay,
…then south back into St. Andrew by nightfall
Nightfall in St. Andrew
Ron got some Jerk Chicken while we were in Port Antonio. Meanwhile, by the time we got back to Kingston, it was too late for me to eat, so I picked up a bag of banana chips at a supermarket, and called it a night. No worries. I’ll definitely eat a meal tomorrow.
You know what? Maybe tomorrow I’ll visit the Bob Marley Museum….hmmmm..
It’s 90 miles south of Cuba, which is 90 miles south of Florida. It takes 3 hours and 20 minutes to fly from JFK airport to Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport.
Here’s a closer look.
And even closer….
I am here:
….in Kingston. Jamaica has 14 parishes. The 14 parishes are Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover, St. James, Trelawny, St. Ann, St. Mary, Portland, St Thomas and as often happens, I’ve only visited about three of the 14 parishes while growing up here.
So, here’s the plan. The goal on this long-overdue trip is to visit all of Jamaica’s 14 parishes during the 18 days we’re here! For that, we’ll need a car of our own!
DAY 1 RECAP: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
On the first day, after much careful cogitation, we decided our plan would be to “head west!” So, we gassed up the car with $1,000 of unleaded. Gas in JA is currently about $120J per litre.
…and we drove from (1)ST. ANDREW, into (2)ST. CATHERINE (where we passed through Spanish Town, Old Harbor, May pen), and then, as we passed into (3)CLARENDON, we saw a sign.
“Hey, look! That sign says ‘Milk River Hotel & Spa’ is that way!” Ron exclaimed.
“Cool! Let’s go!” Walt replied.
And that’s the story of how we ended up at the world famous Milk River Hotel & Spa!
(Well, there’s also the part of the story where we almost run out of gas in the middle of nowhere with not a gas station within immediate sight or recent memory, and having school guard, Sherlene Campbell, help us out, but, um, I’ll leave that part out for another episode!)
Milk River is a hot spring over which a spa has been built. The spring’s water is captured and flows unfiltere and untreated continuously into tile baths. It’s reputed to have tremendous therapeutic effects. We opted to get our own separate rooms to enjoy a 15 minute immersion in the healing waters. ($400J)
The water from the spring flows continuously through these bath houses.
After the bath, the security guard showed us where the spring flows out from the spa into the river
and was nice enough to take us to another open spring nearby. Local residents catch the water for home use, including drinking. (But drink too much and it will “operate” you! In other words, you’ll be running to the bathroom for a bit!)
After my coconut water respite, it’s time to resume the arduous task of finding specific fruits and vegetables I haven’t had since 1997 and before. Actually, one of the things that endeared Saipan to me is that fact that I discovered sweetsop, soursop, nesberry, breafruit and practically all the fruits I knew and loved from my childhood in Jamaica. However, there are certain fruits I haven’t found in my travels through, specifically ackee and June plums.
There’s also something magically restorative, rejuvenative and, perhaps even vital about eating the food grown in the soil and sun from whence this physical form was formed, fashioned and first fed. With that in min, next stop: MegaMart to pick up some nesberries, June plums and mangos!
Now, normally, I would get my fruits from street vendors and open markets. However, it’s Sunday in Jamaica, and vendors are not out on the streets. Many stores are closed, and the few that have opened will close by about 4 or 5pm. (For your information, just a generation ago, by cultural consensus, one simply could not purchase–and wouldn’t even dare to ask for–certain items in the stores that chose to serve the public on Sundays. If you wanted kerosine oil for your lamp, for instance, you simply had to wait for a business day to make such a purchase–so my mother tells me.)
DAY 2: Monday, April 22, 2013
The next day, we went exploring through Kingston to run some errands and to locate some health food spots I found on HappyCow.net. So, it’s off to the wild and wonderful streets of Kingston!
Now, at the risk of dating myself, the last time I drove a right-hand drive car in Jamaica–where we drive on the left side of the street, by the way–The Right Honorable Edward Seaga was Prime Minister (JaminChina JA to US political reference translator: “Ronald Reagan was President!”)
Every payment to the government gets done here. Driver licenses, tax payments, you name it.
While driving, Ron spotted a “Natural Health” sign, and we made note to check it out. It was the perfect first stop on my continuing global quest for vegan-friendly destinations!
There were no health food stores like this last time I was in JA! Supplements, apple cider vinegar, health bars, wheat-free snacks and much more!
Natural Health has two locations in Kingston. One at 134 Constant Spring Road and another in Orchid Village Plaza.
As mentioned, we just chanced upon it while driving, since it wasn’t featured on HappyCow.net, so I told store owner, Marie Chen, about HappyCow, and she promised to get the store listed (it’s free, and I’m sure it will be good for business from other health-conscious tourists and nomads!)
Next stop was a raw food spot Marie told us about. It’s called “Mi Hungry.” Got some fresh tamarind juice and, since it was early in the day, I’ll have to return another time to sample the menu!
Mi Hungry is located in The Marketplace at 67 Constant Spring Road. There are also many other restaurants for carnivores as well! So, while Mi Hungry boasts “No water, no fire,” another nearby restaurant boasts “caressed in smoke, wrapped in fire” or words to that effect.
Next, was Earl’s Juice Garden on Haining Road in New Kingston. I was actually looking for Livity, which I’m told (and saw for myself) is closed down. Got some cucumber and callaloo juice! Good stuff for $300J or $3US. (The US-JA exchange rate is just under $100J for each $1US)
Next, was a trip down memory lane to visit where I grew up. It’s called Hughenden Housing Scheme. The roads in this neighborhood, built during the late 1950s, have an Olympic game theme.
There’s Relay Road, Bronze road, Silver, Gold Road, and I grew up here…
in this house on Marathon Drive….The roads looked much wider when I was younger!
Then, wrapped up the day with a view of Kingston from the hills in Cherry Gardens!
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In order to function most efficiently across several time zones and cultures, it is necessary to have a working knowledge and appreciation of a myriad of concepts, a plethora of facts and figures and a bevy of statistics and strategies in order to optimize one’s existence. Omitting just one of any of these minor details can have a dramatic and devastating and even catastrophic effect on one’s entire stay in a particular destination.
As you can imagine, there are issues with transitioning from different weather patterns and geography, verifying the compatibility of certain equipment with the local power supplies, learning new languages, securing accommodations, I mean the list is practically endless! It can be practically intimidating and overwhelming. It is not for the faint of heart.
So, from the very moment the plane landed at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, I referred to my extensive list of “must dos” and “must haves.” There are certain things that no travel book will tell you; certain things that no expat website will reveal. However, as a well-seasoned traveler and highly-experienced nomadpreneur, I, Walt Goodridge, feel obligated to share with you, in critical sequential order, the single most important logistical item I have prioritized on my vast and comprehensive list of mandatory new destination actions.
These items were important enough that even days before my travel buddy, Ron, and I made the arrangements to meet at the airport, I prepared him by explaining in no uncertain terms how vitally important this detail was to the success of my nomadpreneur excursion in Jamaica. He would arrive a day early in Kingston, and when he met me, his job was to meet me at the airport with a very short list of items he was to secure prior to my arrival. I even emailed him a reminder the day before our scheduled meeting to make sure things would proceed smoothly.
Therefore, while driving along Palisadoes Strip, I was insistent. We stopped not more than a mile after exiting the airport to take care of the first, and arguably most important item on the list. Forget this item, my fellow future travelers to Jamaica, and I cannot guarantee that the rest of your trip will proceed to your satisfaction.
It’s Sunday, April 21, 2013! The countdown date has arrived! So, what, you ask, is the significance of this date? Well, if you guessed “he’s on the move again,” you’d be correct! That’s right, I’m escaping from America once again! (You can check out the first two escapes here and here
First, however, let’s recap a few highlights from the past 18 months. New York has served its purpose and I’ve gotten to accomplish quite a few things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Thanks to Dan Shor and Eric Norcross, I filmed a Jamaican in Chinatown video;got introduced to Kindles and Nooks and converted most of my books to Kindle and Nook formats; wrote a few new books; (even a relationship guide; launched a few new websites. Created some software to launch FreeSummerConcerts nationwide. So, now it’s time to say goodbye.
And, within just the past two weeks, in preparation for my travels, I:
Bought my one-way ticket online ($197)
Upgraded my Macbook Pro with a 1 Terrabyte (1000 Gigabyte) hard drive ($97), so I don’t have to travel around with two heavy external hard drives. Installed it myself courtesy of Youtube videos.
Renewed my green card (a smooth, quick and painless proces; Well, painless except for the $450 fee–$385 application + $65 Biometrics)
Received a Canon S100 digital camera as a gift to chronicle the adventures! This should take better pics than the one I bought on Hainan during my last days in China
Went to Jackson Heights, Queens, for the requisite white kurta/punjabi/fatwa shirt….($25 each at Shukmoney Fashions 37-14 74th Street Tell them Walt sent you)
…and at 8:30am, I packed, walked to the JFK Airtrain and headed to Kennedy airport! ($5.00)
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! What exciting, mysterious, exotic location will the Jamaican in China find himself this time?
Well, hold on to your seats! It’s time to don my secret identity and transform into alter ego and become …
p.s. Returning to Jamaica for the first time since 1997, I chose to fly on Jamaica’s new privately-owned airline, Fly-Jamaica airlines! Only $197 for a one way ticket from JFK to Kingston! Had a chance to meet and chat for a bit with the CEO’s daughter (very nice!) and gave a few suggestions! Great service, quick flight! Great experience! Visit https://www.fly-jamaica.com
* For the record, as you see in the video, the much maligned and previously embarrassing Jamaican “applause-upon-landing” is now happily encouraged by the flight crew! Oh, well! It does add to the unique atmosphere of landing on Jamrock on the “national” airline! So, we’ll all have to get used to it!
An alternative travel narrative: Pursue Passion! Break Free! Cross boundaries! See the world!