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
. 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!
UPDATE Sept 10, 2013: I’ve donated a new website to the school! Check it out at www.PEMBRUKALL.com! Even if you’re not a past student, you can donate to help Pembroke Hall Primary build a student auditorium:
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.
So. First. Things. First.
Keep watching this space.
An alternative travel narrative: Pursue Passion! Break Free! Cross boundaries! See the world!