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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Kingston’s Emerging Cafe Culture

Coffee culture is the collection of traditions and behaviours surrounding the consumption of coffee, which includes the social acceptance of caffeine as a stimulant. Many people cannot start the morning without a brew, and as such, cafes give these coffee lovers their fix of lattes, espressos, cappuccinos and the like. However, cafes offer more than just coffee. They offer spaces for work, meetings, socialization and even meals, as most serve light meals and pastries alongside coffee and tea. European and North American culture strongly influences trends in the Caribbean so it was just a matter of time before their café culture trickled down to us. Most Jamaicans start their morning with a hot beverage as inherited from our British colonizers. Thus, it isn’t surprising that coffee culture has caught on in Jamaica. We have the right audience for it.

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Bob Marley Beach, Saint Andrew

When one thinks of going to the beach in Jamaica, St. Andrew is perhaps the last parish that comes to mind. Some go as far as to ask if this parish even has a beach to begin with, and I’m always happy to educate and say yes, SEVERAL! 🙂 All 14 of Jamaica’s parishes are washed by the Caribbean Sea so it’s a little weird that people assume St. Andrew doesn’t have any beaches just because it’s a largely urban parish and commercial centre. Three years ago I took a trip to the Carib and Wickie Wackie beaches which I wrote about here, and now I’m back with another lesser-known St. Andrew beach.

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Ten Things to Do at Devon House Besides Eat Ice-Cream

Devon House in St. Andrew, Jamaica makes the best ice-cream I’ve ever had in my life. International critics agree too, ranking the Devon House I-Scream parlour as serving one of the world’s top 10 best ice-creams. I recently relocated to a next corner of this beautiful island so Devon House is no longer as accessible for me, but I do crave a delicious ice-cream scoop set against the lovely antique theme of red brick and cobblestones ever so often. That being said, there’s so much more to Devon House than ice-cream and being home to Jamaica’s first coloured millionaire. Devon House has evolved into an exciting village with gourmet à la carte restaurants, a relaxing day spa, quaint souvenir shops, a first-rate bakery, clothing stores and interesting delicatessens which slip below the radar when we brand Devon House solely as a mansion and award-winning ice cream parlour. Thus, this week I decided to share 10 other ways to enjoy this beautiful property.

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Peter Tosh Museum, Saint Andrew

Peter Tosh is a platinum-selling Grammy award winning artiste and is one of the most talented reggae musicians to emerge from Jamaica. He got his claim to fame from the Wailers, a trio which also consisted of Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer. Peter Tosh was born in 1944 in Westmoreland, Jamaica’s most western parish and his life was brought to a brutal abrupt end in 1987 after a home break-in and robbery-turned-murder. Tosh had a rough start with an unstable family background, shuffled around from relative to relative based on circumstances but his musical talent emerged early despite the upheavals. Tosh is a self-taught guitarist and keyboardist who got his first real taste of music and performing when he moved to Trench Town as a teenager and met his fellow band-mates in the early 1960s. He taught them how to play, and they dabbled in ska and rocksteady before finding their calling in reggae, infusing their tunes with spiritual and political messages from their newfound conversion to the Rastafari faith.

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Jamaica Rum Festival 2020: Recap & Highlights

Time sure flies when you’re having rum, I mean, fun. 2019 was the inaugural staging of the Jamaica Rum Festival and social media would not let me live it down that I missed it! The pictures looked epic and even my friends and colleagues were speaking about it for days. Thus, I eagerly anticipated the second staging, knowing that the event would be here to stay given all the success it had in its first showcasing and I was not left disappointed. The Caribbean produces some of the world’s best rums and our history is intricately intertwined with the spirit. Rum production dates back from the 17th century on plantations where my enslaved African ancestors toiled to produce this lovely liquor from sugarcane and its by-product molasses, and rum became the region’s chief export product after muscovado sugar.

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19 Times My Parish (St. Andrew) Left Me Awestruck

I hail from Jamaica’s capital city of Kingston, born unda di clock as we say– a colloquial expression which means one was born not too far from this Victorian-style 33-foot tall clocktower built in 1913! This clock marks the very centre of the parish capital, a crossroad between four major streets in Half-Way-Tree which was once the location of a large cotton tree and how the town got its name.

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Holywell, Saint Andrew

Located in the tropical mist forests of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP), Holywell (pronounced Hollywell) is a cool escape from Kingston’s heat. This 330-acres “park within a park” is blessed by the fragrance of fresh mountain air and pine trees, and at 900m (3,000 ft.) above sea level, the cool temperature allows Holywell’s ecosystem to support a wide variety of ferns, flowers, and trees which are rarely seen in other parts of Jamaica. Many Jamaican birds call this forest home, including all 30 of Jamaica’s endemic birds!

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A Jamaican Made Christmas Expo, Saint Andrew

A Jamaican Made Christmas is a two-day exposition put on by the National Baking Company at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, just in time for shoppers looking to purchase Christmas gifts before the season gets into full swing. This is its fourth staging and for 2018, it welcomed 100 exhibitors, giving 100 local entrepreneurs invaluable exposure.

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