Star Date:  March 2012


Hello Dear Family & Friends!


"Irie Bless!"

(Rasta/Patois Greeting- Bless you)



"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.
None but ourselves can free our minds."  
(Bob Marley (1945 - 1981)

For centuries people from all walks of life have sought refuge on the tiny island of Jamaica.  The peaceful Taino tribe greeted Christopher Columbus when he set foot on the island in 1494.  Thinking he was next to India he named the islands the West Indies.  Without asking, the Spanish came for a visit and decided to stay for good.  The Taino called the island 'Xaymaca' in their local Arawak language, meaning 'land of wood and water'.  Because of its perfect climate for settlement and central location, the British took the island from Spain in 1655.

Unable to retake the island the Spanish released their slaves on the island in a hope to set them against the British rulers.  These freed slaves, known as Maroons, did the opposite, and retreated into the rugged mountainous terrain, only occasionally raiding plantations.  Resisting all attempts at colonization the Maroons' adaptability to Jamaica's  impenetrable interior offered them refuge from slavery and their renegade communities prospered.

A proclamation gave any British citizen who settled here free land.  (The private beach we swam at everyday was a settlement from the crown by the Great Grandfather and all descendents are land rich to this day).  Jamaica flourished.  This attracted privateers and famous pirates such as Henry Morgan and John Davis, whose favorite pastime was attacking Spanish ships sailing to their colonies.  The town of Port Royal near Kingston became rich and had one of the bawdiest reputations in the Caribbean; full of pirates, prostitutes and criminals.  As with Sodom, this pit of wickedness met with a terrible fate.  A massive earthquake swallowed most of the city and built on sandy soil the ruins were dragged out to sea by the ensuing tsunami.  Those who didn't perish in the disaster succumbed to disease.  A few buildings remained, half eaten by the earth.  A good portion of the town still sits in tact under the water.

Many looked at this event as Divine intervention.  Reading this reminded me of one of the main slavery ports I visited near Nantes, France where all the main buildings of the slave traders sank in the sand and had to be abandoned.  What goes round comes round.  

The destruction of Port Royal brought an end to Jamaica's lenient policy towards piracy.  When the capitol relocated to Spanish Town then current day Kingston, the succeeding governors brought an end of several infamous pirates in the 18th century.  Calico Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Anne Bonny and Mary Read were all captured and executed.

With the death of piracy Jamaica turned to sugarcane production.  Plantations prospered with the lush tropical soil.  Ironically the need for labor saw a dramatic increase in slave trade from West Africa.  A cruel slave system produced many uprisings and runaway slaves sought help from the Maroons who instigated  rebellions and two Maroon wars.  During one successful slave uprising they were tricked into laying down their arms and 400 slaves were hanged and the remaining cruelly whipped.  A wave of revulsion raced all the way back to England.   

"Stolen from Africa,
brought to America,
Fighting on arrival,
fighting for survival."

(Bob Marley Song lyric "Buffalo Soldier")

With slavery ending world wide, an unsuccessful 'starvation wage' apprenticeship system was launched and full emancipation was enacted in 1838.  This saw the decline of sugar production but as more diversity was sought, laborers were imported from China and India.  Many of these were treated one step above slaves but had the chance, as they have worldwide, to work themselves out of their indentured jobs.  Although slavery had been abolished the majority were still subjugated to wealthy land owners and received little or no education.  Many chose to fend for themselves. Social reforms, improved education, and the rising of new social classes led to independence from the British crown in 1962.  Since then Jamaica has grown politically and commercially into one of the leading island nations in the Caribbean.  Tourism is a main source of revenue as millions enjoy relaxing on a white sand beach gazing out over turquoise waters, modern day refugees from their indentured jobs back home.

Winding our way through the Blue Mountains we immediately noticed a difference between the small coastal fishing village of Port Marie and the bustling capitol city of Kingston on the opposite coast.  Back in the mountains there are still a few Maroon village strongholds where life is slow and reminiscent of eras from the past.  People still live off the land and the colorful fruit, vegetable and coconut stands along the narrow winding road are a cornucopia of plenty.

As we travel we see many problems.  Try as we may it would take a pretty big pack of band aides to cover all the wounds affecting humanity.  We figured out long ago that helping with education is the key to change.  Without resources this is a daunting task.  Sitting in each classroom are the future leaders of the country but they need to have the opportunity and the resources to learn, become critical thinkers and problem solve societies woes. E-text is a key to these changes.

Joseph is like living with a walking encyclopedia.  Learning has been a joy in his life and he hopes to share what he has learned with those he meets while traveling.  Joseph made a presentation to the University of Technology, the University of the West  Indies and other colleges and National Libraries about the importance of e-text in our fast changing world.  The joy of learning is a great gift in one's life, seeking out knowledge instead of waiting to be entertained by television, videos or the internet. 

We stayed near Emancipation Park in Kingston and were taken for a look around the city by David, the professional and efficient head of the University library, who helped make our 3 days in Kingston very interesting.  Two statues were nearby, one the haunting figures of 2 slaves and one the life size statue of Bob Marley, who sang of freedom for the Rastas worldwide.  We visited Kingston's main square and of course Bob Marley's old wooden 2 storey house, where they 'shared the shelter of his single bed'.  Bob Marley (1945-1981), Jamaican born guitarist, singer and songwriter is known worldwide, a true legend in the world of music.  As we travel we hear his mellow music played in every country.  Bob converted from Christianity (80% in Jamaica) to Rastafarianism (20%) and his music has elements of spiritualism and mysticism.  At times his songs are encouraging Rastas to rise up for personal freedom through revolution but mostly he embraces the Rasta carefree attitude towards life and love for all brothers and sistas.

During the mid 70's Bob cultivated a rebel image as turmoil reigned.  The Jamaican government was siding with Castro and documented activity of the CIA turned Jamaica upside down.  He survived an assassination attempt at his home in 1976.  Bob's music called for seeking peace between brothers.  At a famous concert towards this cause, Bob Marley and the leaders of the 2 opposing political parties joined hands, calling for reconciliation.  A giant poster outside his home in Kingston reminds people of how the violence subsided afterwards.  Jamaica decided against a Castro alliance and moved on politically.

On tour worldwide, Bob's popularity soared and to this day his tunes are still played; hope for the downtrodden in urban slums.  Bob was a pioneer of the reggae movement. Reggae, born in the 1960's, is a combination of Jamaican Afro folk music of the 'ragged man', ska,  rock steady (mellower ska), calypso, jazz and rhythm & blues. 

"Well, reggae music is a music created by Rasta people, and it carry earth force, people is a rhythm of working people, movement, a music of the masses, see?"
(Bob Marley)

Bob Marley never forgot his roots.  He loved soccer as much as his music.  Whenever he had a moment he would kick the ball around.  He hurt his toe during a pick-up game and it never healed.  Sore for months he refused to have it checked until it became gangrenous, and cancer was discovered.   Sadly this music legend, at only 36 years of age, died within the year, leaving behind 7 sons, several daughters, and his wife Rita.  You can still visit his birthplace at remote 'Nine Mile' above Ocho Rios, where his gold records are displayed and Bob's body lies buried with his favorite Les Paul guitar, his football (soccer ball), the bible and some marijuana, in a small Ethiopian style church atop 'Mt Zion'.  Rumors claim that his body has already been returned to the promised land in Africa.   

A highlight of our Kingston visit was arriving by chance (there are no coincidences) one hour before the loud, erotic, pulsating annual Carnival Parade winding through the streets, only 2  blocks from our hotel.  Spurred on by shots of rum, pulsating calypso and soca music, these rowdy revelers, dressed in skimpy bikinis, sequins and feather head-dresses were unstoppable.   

Jamaica has attracted the rich and famous to its shores for years.  Errol Flynn the charismatic actor and playboy was blown into Port Antonio on his yacht, disabled by a hurricane in 1946.  He exclaimed, "Port Antonio is more beautiful than any woman I have ever seen."  At stunning Blue Lagoon nearby, Brooke Shields made her cinema debut.  This land of rugged rainforests, gushing waterfalls and secluded white sand coves is the epitome of paradise.  Further down the northern coast we visited playwright Noel Coward's hilltop retreat: Firefly, where he entertained Hollywood's greats like Marlena Dietrich.  Here he learned to paint in oil color from Winston Churchill.  This spectacular getaway was built by the infamous pirate Sir Henry Morgan, a prime lookout on the glistening bay below.

Further along one passes the Ian Flemming Airport and the James Bond Beach.  007 was created in these tropics under the shade of swaying palms, while Ian sipped his favorite drink, the famous Blue Mountain coffee (rivaling Hawaii's Kona coffee).  At Mystic Mountain, near Ochy, someone up for a bit of expensive adventure can take the chairlift up, and either take a zip line or bobsled down, like in the zany Jamaican movie "Cool Running".  Jamaicans are also extremely proud of their medal winning Olympic athletes in the last 2 decades. Everything grinds to a halt when sporting events are on the television. 

The north coast to infamous, now upscale, Montego Bay has been named 'the garden center of Jamaica' and is a lush green paradise punctuated by vibrant waterfalls flowing over limestone rocks or rushing rivers.  Ocho  Rios, meaning 8 rivers is a small town that springs into life as cruise ships now make this a favorite port of call.  We spent many hours hanging with the locals at the colorful people's market chatting with Amanda over our daily coconut or buying succulent oranges from 'Linkin, Blinkin and Nod' the three jovial Rastas, or Faye whose smile overpowered her feeble vegetables.  While sitting under Amanda's tarp we were 'limin', drinking fresh jelly coco and watching the hustle and bustle of the market; action central to any town worldwide.  Music bubbled in the people's veins.  One of the favorite tunes would blare from a small CD shop and EVERYONE would start moving, singing and or dancing.  The whole market came alive in unison, reflecting the uninhibited joy of these often poor folk.  They loved that we shared in the revelry, bought large quantities of fruits and vegetables and by the end of 3 months we were all on a first name basis, with small stand owners watching out for specialty items for us such as the melt in your mouth grapefruit or rare off season 'pears' or avocados.

We were often the only 'white' people in the whole market, seeing 4-5 'pinks' in 3 months, and they were just taking photos.  We try to give the locals a positive experience with a white tourist.  Bridging the cultures is an important responsibility of travelers. 

We went back up into the hills several times, enjoying the tiny villages and crossroads.  Trees are alive with bright birds such as streamer tail hummingbirds or loud woodpeckers squawking like parrots.  Though most animals have long ago been devoured there is still an array of lizards like the chameleons who change colors rapidly and puff up their throats like a bright orange balloon at any threat.  Life is completely different away from the tourist strips and it is a shame that unsubstantiated  fear perpetuated by the 'all inclusive' resort owners, stops visitors from experiencing the true Jamaica at it's best.  Ganja wafts through the air as Rastas and local alike chill in the shade of little shacks, smoke 'spiffs', eating spice rubbed then smoked jerk chicken or seafood, drink cheap white rum and play dominoes while they can still see the markings.  It is possible to visit these friendly bergs where smiles, cultural pride, bright arts, unique crafts and pumping music tell the story of a proud, resilient people.

And so it goes.........................................Next month more 'limin' in Jamaica.  Until then it's time to join in Bob's emancipation movement now from mental slavery.   "None but ourselves can free our minds."   Your whole life will change.  We are glad you stopped by.   Thanks for keeping in touch and sharing our website with those around you!    Take care!  Keep smiling!



Love, Light & Laughter, 
xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph





Travel notes:

$1.00US = 85 Jamaican dollars

Remember U.S. citizens need to have a valid U.S. passport to re-enter the U.S. from the Caribbean.

Immigration and customs can take a long time as lines of foreigners arrive late afternoon.  Try to avoid busy times on inter island flights and have all your cards filled out before stepping up to the desk.  Flights fill up fast and even pre-booking doesn't guarantee a seat.  Check-in early to avoid a delay of often 1-2 days until the next flight flies inter-island.

It is possible to travel by route taxis (usually white Toyota station wagons marked on the side) from town to town for a reasonable rate.  Large vans or buses go longer distances.  Patience and time are the key.  Near larger towns they run constantly.  Just make sure there are other people on board for the best price.  If you 'charter' a route taxi always settle the price before you
settle in or expect problems at the end of the journey.

ATM's in most larger tourist centers.

Ocho Rios:
Spend a day with our friend Ras Bobo.  He is a genuine Rasta with a heart full of love and respect and a car that works.  Contact him for a day tour to learn the inside real Rasta life/ beliefs/medicinal herbs/ food in Jamaica.  Everyone in Jamaica needs to make a living.  Ras Bobo is honest and once you negotiate a price for his time he is responsible and will show you a good time and a genuine once in a lifetime experience..  Contact him at:
or phone # (876) 897-1568

Passage to India - 3rd floor Soni Plaza - left side between clock tower and the Burger King. (heading towards M-bay.)
Tasty authentic North Indian food - crispy naan ($2) mixed vegetable curry ($10) (dishes a bit expensive but worth the splurge).  Sit in the ambiance of a rooftop garden  resembling Rajasthan.
Rawat and his wife run it, with a cook from India (the key to a good Indian restaurant)
795-3182.  Lunch take away specials 450$j

Silver Seas Hotel:  16 James Ave. Phone # (876) 974-2755, free WiFi in the lobby.  Where we landed the first 4 nights, with special on the internet (Expedia) (regularly $49/night - 7th night free).  One of the old original hotels from the 40's.  The friendly staff and large waterfront balconies make up for the old but clean structures.

Ocean Sands Hotel:  A View with a Room!  Just down from the clock tower on James Ave - at the first corner this oceanfront hotel is one of the best kept secrets in Ocho Rios.  Friendly accommodating owner Dennis and son are hoping to convert some of the basic units into condominiums.  What sells this property are the oceanfront balconies just waiting for you to chill out and gaze over the turquoise water.  Add the pool, small sand beach, good snorkeling, waterfront sitting/cooking area, and helpful Kissie, Joy and Ian and it is a combination for a quite unbelievable budget place in Ochos.  Just call Dennis phone# (876) 974-2605, or cell 873-2215 during low season and negotiate for a long term place to hang out ($600-$800 month).  Walk to the market, eat Rasta food, and spend your time 'limin' on the beach.  Prove the Lonely Planet wrong - you can enjoy Jamaica on a budget!

Roses Guesthouse and Restaurant:
About 2 miles out of town towards Pt Marie, across the highway and on the up side from the road down to Jamaica Inn.  Marion and Kerlene are very helpful and can make your stay in the good sized kitchenette (Honeymoon) unit very enjoyable.  The highway is noisy at times but the grounds, balcony and helpful people make up for it.  Free WiFi in the restaurant, where meat lovers will feast on ample portions for only 350$j.  The best part is access to a beautiful, private sand beach next to the 5 star Jamaica Inn for staying longer.  Call Marion at 402-1602 for a month long reduced rate.  Shorter stays better in town at the above mentioned hotels.

Galena/Pt Marie:
Blue Harbor  Leroy 725-0289.  The oceanfront hangout of Noel Coward and friends.  Old but full of character, right on the water.  Bargain for a deal for longer stays of a week or more.  email:,

You can't leave Jamaica without branching out and sharing authentic Rasta food with some of the good soul Rastas.  Say "Hi" to our friends at these recommended rastaurants below:

Reggae Pot Rastaurant: 86 Main St, Across from the Hibiscus Hotel.   Phone # 422-4696, 296 3591  Right side towards Pt Marie just up from the Ocho Rios Market in a little plaza.  Bom Don and Deamo - brothers cook up some excellent authentic Rasta food daily M-Sat.  Friendly Paulette and family serve you with a smile as you hang out with local good soldier Rastas.  Only 300-350$J for a overflowing plate of stew, chunks, ackee, vegetables, beans and yams.  Yum.  The atmosphere and genuine kindness shines through.  After an early dinner walk through the Hibiscus Hotel, down the steps to watch a stunning sunset from the wooden dock below.

The Lion House: email:, website:,  phone # (876) 917 0356 or (876) 485 0330,   A magical surprise awaits you up in the hills behind Ocho Rios.  Lizzie, Mahlon, and staff will welcome you warmly into their newly built restaurant, with gorgeous views overlooking the lush Jamaican hills below.  Tasty, reasonable, healthy Rasta food that will give you an experience not to be missed.  A full bar, art gallery, WiFi, and local organic produce are a bonus.  Lunch 9-5 or dinner by reservation (mains 400-500$J).  Spirited Lizzie can also arrange walks, cultural encounters or eco-experiences on near by organic farms.  Take the route taxi up the hill from near the clock tower (KC Super) up to Breadnut Hill/Colgate.  120$j p.p.

Calabash Ital Rastaurants: Hang out with the local Rastas while enjoying good authentic food in an ire shack in the back of Ocho Rios Market.  We were the only 'white' travelers we ever ran into. (400$J large plate) Another cafe is upstairs at 7 James Avenue (down James Ave from the clock tower on your right).  Phone # (876) 570-5565.  The friendly talented cook, Junior, (570-5565) at the James St location makes the walk up the stairs worth the effort.  Modern surroundings for a little more (440$J)  Try a refreshing tub of "Soy Scream"when available.

A simple Rasta Rastaurant is along the shops at Fisherman's Beach.  An interesting free beach with fishing boats (pirogues).

Juicy Patties:  Jamaica's version of fast foods.  For around $1 get a pastry stuffed with tofu mince, vegetables or spinach (calaloo).  A quick option if on the run.

Dunn's River Falls:  The most visited tourist crazy falls in Jamaica.  Near Ocho Rios.  $20pp.  Better to make a deal with a taxi driver for 1/2 day to see a few sights and have him get you into another part of the falls for free.

Ruins Restaurant:
1km from Ocho on the left.  Can't recommend the buffet made for tour groups at lunch but the setting with its own waterfalls is worth going.
























The turquoise water of the Caribbean.


Music bubbles in the veins of Jamaicans, whether reggae, ska,
or calypso.  It is common to have everyone in the market start
dancing when a favorite tune starts up at the local CD vendor.


Vibrant tropical flowers everywhere.


Water rushes over limestone rocks creating stunning
cascades island wide.


Beautiful ladies with beautiful, genuine smiles.


This creative entrepreneur built his own fruit wagon out
 of a shopping cart.


Fresh vegetables galore in the people's market.


Add some spice to your life!  These tiny, colorful peppers are
extremely hot.


Beans of all colors.


Our favorite Rasta vendors, 'Linkin, Blinkin, and Nod'.
They sold the sweetest oranges in Jamaica at a fair price.


Lush forests filled with ginger and other bright flowers.


Chameleons change colors rapidly and puff up their throats
 like a bright orange balloon at any threat.


One Love!


Joseph had a lively discussion with this wise old Rasta.


Many buildings are painted brightly or decorated with murals.


The frenzy of Carnival in Kingston.


These policemen immediately volunteered to work on
crowd control for next year's parade too!


A Jamaican Beauty.


Fiery, often emotional people, there are very few
 inhibitions in Jamaica.


Posters outside of Bob Marley's home in Kingston. 
This was a man who enjoyed his music, soccer and life.


Loved by fans worldwide, Bob Marley never forgot his roots
and gave a voice to the downtrodden.


A life size statue of home boy, Bob, in Kingston.


One of the many unique wood carvings we saw
displayed around Jamaica.


Emancipation!  Slavery was a dark chapter
in Jamaica's and the world's history.


Runaway slaves, or Maroons lived for centuries hidden away in
the impenetrable mountainous interior of the island.


Sunset over Ocho Rios.




Back to Homepage