Sheldon Levene: A Jamaican Content Curator To Watch

Sheldon Levene is a Jamaican photographer, app creator, motion and graphic designer who curates Jamaica’s history, natural beauty and experiences through digital media. I first found him on Instagram, my favourite social media platform, in 2018. At that time, his feed was already populated with dozens of photographs documenting Jamaica by air which invoked feelings of awe, nostalgia or a combination of both. His growth since then has been remarkable.

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Millbank Falls, Portland

By some stroke of luck, my favourite parish of Portland in the northeastern side of Jamaica remains lush, green and untouched by mass tourism. Portland is home to the Jamaican Blue and John Crow Mountains which has species not seen in other parts of the island, let alone the entire world. It houses the Windward Maroons, an indigenous group of Jamaicans who are direct descendants of runaway Africans and Amerindians. The Jamaican Maroons are a proud people and have called the rugged inhospitable mountains home for over three centuries. Their governance is largely independent of mainstream Jamaica, they live off of and respect the land, and have managed to preserve their rich heritage and traditions to this day. It’s in this region of Jamaica that Millbank and its majestic waterfalls are located: the Upper Rio Grande Valley which is Windward Maroon country. Here’s how that adventure went.

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Worthy Park Estate Rum Tour, Saint Catherine

Rum is an alcoholic beverage that is intimately intertwined with Caribbean history and culture. That history is cruel and downright abhorrent, where millions of West Africans were taken against their will to the Caribbean to work as slaves on sugar plantations, growing sugarcane from dawn till dusk, reaping, grinding and boiling sugarcane juice to make muscovado sugar and molasses, the latter of which was then fermented to make rum. Our ancestors likely never got to consume much of it, but now rum is the liquor of choice for their descendants and remains a quintessential part of the Caribbean spirit. There are at least three surviving Jamaican sugar estates and distilleries to this day, namely the Appleton, Worthy Park and Hampden Estates. I’ve taken the Appleton Estate Rum Tour twice and had a great time with each visit, therefore I feared another Jamaican rum tour would be repetitive. Well, thankfully that was not the case. In fact, I even preferred this experience. Here’s why.

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Treasure Beach, Saint Elizabeth

There is a little corner of Jamaica which is stuck in an era before the crime, high-end tourism and commercialization. That little corner is known as Treasure Beach. Treasure Beach is a small coastal town which prides itself on community tourism where foreigners co-exist with the locals in harmony. Mom-and-pop shops reign supreme and there are no large all-inclusive resorts. The accommodations are only small boutique hotels, Airbnbs and villas. Crime is almost non-existent in this side of Jamaica. Sounds utopian, doesn’t it? Well, it’s true.

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Decorate Your Home With PhotoWall Wall Prints

A home ought to tell a story of the people who live there, their passions and their history. A home should also inspire its occupants and fuel their creativity. Photowall is an international wall-art company headquartered in Sweden which does just that. Passionate about creating inspiring living spaces with their canvases, posters, framed prints and wallpapers, Photowall was founded in 2006  when brothers Niklas and Charlie Johansson realized that the selection of personalized wall art on the market was relatively limited. With their technical background and a strong interest in design, they decided to try something new by printing wallpaper digitally. Without any previous printing experience, the brothers bought their first digital printing press in 2006, and the rest is history.

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Mayfield Falls, Westmoreland

Mayfield Falls is a delightful series of 21 widely-spaced mini cascades along the Mayfield River, a tributary of the Cabarita River in rural Westmoreland, bordering on the parish of Hanover. In fact, most of the attraction lies in Hanover, but you know how Westmoreland is always stealing Hanover’s attractions, or we pass everywhere off as Negril for the travel brochures. Anyway, I knew about this waterfall long before I ever heard of Benta River Falls, but somehow ended up visiting there first– likely because it was more accessible. Both attractions are located on the same road, but are 20 minutes apart in terms of driving time give or take. I went to Mayfield Falls as a staff trip one month ago. One of my colleagues was recounting a previous staff trip to the falls which they held several years ago and I encouraged her to plan a second trip. The date ended up even clashing with work but.. errr, here’s how the trip went. 🙂

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Is Blogging Still Relevant in 2021?

I often get curious looks and quizzical expressions whenever it comes up in conversation that I run a local travel blog, but the braver of the lot will sometimes ask “Isn’t blogging dead?” or some variation of this question. People watch more than they read these days, and a common saying exists in Jamaica that if you want to hide something from a Jamaican, you should put it in writing. The vlogging world has picked up a lot of traction thanks to the YouTube platform, and it’s actually quite lucrative with many vloggers and YouTubers making six figure incomes and giving up traditional jobs, due to advertisements, sponsored posts and affiliate marketing. A popular YouTuber will easily garner 10,000 views within 24 hours of releasing a new video, while it may take months for a blog article to gain the same kind of response. Thus, the question is valid. Is blogging still relevant in 2021?

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2020 Year In Review

What a year! 2020 was not what we were expecting, and I still find it hard to wrap my mind around the one million deaths and counting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Thankfully, my relatives and friends all ended 2020 alive and healthy, and the few who were infected recovered nicely. For me, 2020 was a year filled with many disappointments and challenges, but it was also a year of immense personal growth and a modest amount of blog growth too. Today I take a look back on the year that was in terms of personal life, adventures, blog growth, milestones and 2020’s top posts.

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Little Ochie, Manchester

Jamaica is blessed with a tropical maritime climate, so we enjoy easy year-round access to freshly caught seafood. Several mom-and-pop stalls and restaurants will prepare this seafood to order, but a few stops have become cultural landmarks cemented in the homes and hearts of most Jamaican households and are even marketed to foreigners as must-see stops. Like most Kingstonians, my usual seafood stops are Port Royal, Hellshire or Port Henderson Road due to their closer proximity, but I’ve always heard of Little Ochie Seafood Restaurant in Alligator Pond, South Manchester. Why? Well, they are said to be one of the best and the oldest so Little Ochie has become somewhat of a household name. Thus, I was more than excited to turn what was originally intended to be a Treasure Beach stop into dining at this seafood stalwart and quintessential Jamaican restaurant.

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How I Pulled Off A Successful Blogmas

If you haven’t already figured it out, Blogmas is blog + Christmas fused to form one word which will hopefully get added to the Thesaurus one day. Blogmas is how bloggers celebrate the festive season, dedicating to be more consistent to our craft for the month of December. Posts may be festive-themed or not, daily or on alternate days, but basically there’s just a whole lot more content on our blogs than usual for Blogmas. Blogmas is meant to be enjoyable for both blogger and reader alike, however, the stress of having to create content on a rigid schedule and more frequently than many of us usually post can be stressful, and people often either give up halfway during the challenge or choose not to take it on despite daydreaming about how awesome it would be. Read on for three easy ways to pull off your own Blogmas next year successfully if you’re a content creator, and if you’re not? Well, this post may still be an interesting read for you to understand how I managed to put out relatively consistent content despite my busy work schedule.

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