From Grass to Glass: Taking a Jamaican Rum Tour

I’ve had the pleasure of taking all three Jamaican rum tours and I even took one of them more than once, so I’m qualified to pit them against each other, right? Rum is a quintessential Caribbean alcohol. Our history is unequivocally tied to it as for three hundred years, Caribbean society revolved around sugar plantations. It was on these plantations that millions of enslaved Africans forcibly brought to the Caribbean would convert sugarcane, a species of tall perennial grass from the genus Saccharrum, to sugar and rum. In this blog post, I’ll give an overview of the process, share the three main remaining distilleries then compare them so you may choose the best tour for yourself. Perhaps I’ll even convince you to take them all, you rumaholic.

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Maamee River, Saint Andrew

Maamee River is a place I heard of via word of mouth, and I finally took note of the turn off from the main a few weeks ago when I made a visit to Maryland in rural St. Andrew. The Blue Mountains is my favourite corner of Jamaica, but I still haven’t scratched the surface in exploring it even after five years of being more deliberate in discovering every nook and cranny of Jamaica. Having dedicated the next few years of my life to completing a residency, my compromise for long daytrips and weekend staycations will be exploring all the close and accessible parts of the Blue Mountains. Hence, I ended up at Maamee River after work one Saturday afternoon and here’s how it went.

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Maryland, Saint Andrew

It always amazes me how close the ‘country’ is to our beloved city of Kingston. As a city girl, I often quip that I must’ve been from the country in a past life because I look forward to escaping the hustle and bustle every chance I get. The verdant mist-covered hills, breathtaking valleys and meandering rivers and waterfalls of rural Jamaica are more my scene. Papine is a small bustling town which marks the gateway of the Blue Mountains, Jamaica’s largest and most important mountain range. This mountain range is world renowned for Blue Mountain coffee, a brand of coffee which is as unique to the Blue Mountains of Jamaica as champagne is to Champagne, France, and is grown on steep inhospitable slopes between 3,500 and 5,500 ft. above sea level. Its tallest peak is the Blue Mountain Peak in Portland which towers at 7,402ft (2,256m) above sea level. Hiking to Blue Mountain Peak is still my most favourite adventure to date, but requires at least two days’ commitment. When pressed for time, I make do with exploring the more accessible parts of this mountain range instead and one such community worth exploring is Maryland, a rural district four miles north of Papine.

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2021: Mid-Year Mark

The ability to reflect on the past and use it to plan for the future is one of the abilities which sets humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. I reflect at the close of every chapter of my life, be it relationships, leaving an old job, ending an academic year and certainly, at the mid point of every year. I’ve been sharing mid-year reviews since 2018 to summarize what I’ve been up to so far and where I’ve reached in my goals. Read on for a few life updates and what to expect from Adventures from Elle for the rest of 2021.

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Johnny Falls, Saint Mary

There’s this waterfall hidden in Palmetto Grove, St. Mary called Johnny Falls which I heard of years ago on Facebook. There were no directions on how to find it anywhere, so I added it to my list of Jamaican waterfalls to visit and moved on. Last year my interest in visiting Johnny Falls piqued again with Grove Swimmers, a fearless group of youngsters who perform admirable dives into the river which runs through their district, headed by 17-year-old Nathan Douglas. They have taken to Instagram and YouTube to showcase their talent, and have even been featured in national newspapers. Thus, I happily tagged along with a group of avid explorers and friends to cross this enigmatic and twenty-second Jamaican waterfall from my list with Nathan as my unofficial tour guide.

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St. Toolis River, Manchester

St. Toolis is a district in Porus on the border of Clarendon and Manchester, in which a gorgeous free watering hole can be found. The residents call it Blue Hole but this river is actually a tributary of the Milk River in Clarendon. Porus was founded by Baptist missionary James Phillippo and became the sixth free village in Jamaica for ex-slaves after emancipation. Porus was originally named Vale Lionel after then governor of Jamaica Sir Lionel Smith, but the name eventually changed to Porus because of the porous nature of the district’s soil.

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Alligator Pond River & Beach, Manchester

I originally hail from Kingston, but the parish of Manchester has been my home for the past two years. There’s a chance I may leave Manchester soon, but I’ll cherish the experiences and friendships I’ve built here forever. One of the things I lamented while reflecting on the end of my first year in Manchester is that I’d barely explored the parish, and I vowed to change that for my second year. One year later, I’m pleased to have explored almost all the places worth seeing in this cool mountainous parish– from Noisy River up north to Alligator Pond by the coast. I went to Little Ochi in January this year for the first time, and while the wait time was horrendous, I appreciated the experience a lot. However, who knew that another gem was so close by! I heard of the Alligator Pond River, also known as Sea Riv, just a few weeks ago and decided to check it out before my stint in Manchester expires. Read on to learn about Sea Riv, an estuary where the Alligator Pond River meets the Caribbean Sea.

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Poet Reef, Hanover

Poet Reef is a salubrious luxury three bedroom waterfront villa located on Jamaica’s north coast in Cousins Cove, Hanover. Constructed of hand-cut stone and furnished with locally made pieces, the villa looks like a home which could have been built in a previous era, but is equipped with modern conveniences which would give it away as a gem from our generation. Poet Reef overlooks an expansive cove and the view is nothing short of breathtaking. Consider Poet Reef for your next vacation on Jamaica’s north coast if you’re looking for a unique place to idle awhile. Let me take you on a short tour of this beautiful property.

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Chatting With More Creative Jamaican Medics

It’s a new month, so I’m starting June right with a new blog post. Last Christmas (#blogmas2020) I had the idea to feature five health care workers doing great things outside of their careers in medicine and nursing, simply because I always get asked how do I make time to blog consistently as a medical doctor. To be honest, it’s not easy but I believe people make time for what they love, and I love blogging, exploring Jamaica and trying new things. Today I’m back with seven medical doctors making time for their passion projects to inspire you all to ford your own streams. Read part one here.

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Lethe, Hanover

Lethe is a rural district tucked away in the hills of Hanover, Jamaica’s second smallest parish. This small community sits on the banks of the Great River, one of Jamaica’s major rivers, which forms the boundary between the St. James and Hanover parishes. Lethe is easily the third most popular place to raft in Jamaica after the Rio Grande and Martha Brae rivers in Portland and Trelawny respectively. Rafting on 30-feet long bamboo rafts along the Great River in Lethe under a historic bridge and the cool viridescent canopy of towering trees and bamboo is an unforgettable experience.

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