Category Archives: Jamaica The Basics

All the basic information about spending time on the wonderful island of Jamaica.

Club MoBay VIP Airport Lounge Review

Sangster International Airport – Montego Bay, Jamaica

I have travelled through Sangster International Airport, or Montego Bay Airport as it is more widely known, more times than I can remember. In the process I have learnt some tips and tricks for making the experience that little bit more relaxed and enjoyable. However there is one thing about Montego Bay Airport that I have been missing out on as I wasn’t even aware I could take advantage of it…

Continue reading Club MoBay VIP Airport Lounge Review

Surviving Jamaica as a Solo Female Traveller – Guest Post

Introducing Zoe

I stumbled upon the Instagram feed of a young English woman who is a languages graduate, a volunteer, an English as a foreign language teacher, a Carnival lover, a Vegan AND a successful serial solo traveller, to name a few of her talents and interests! I admire the way she is forging her own path by travelling around the world experiencing different cultures, by working, volunteering and generally having a good time – mostly on her own.

This got me thinking about all the travelling I have done in my life and how after moving to Jamaica, I have kind of stopped ticking places off my bucket list (I really must get back to that…). It also brought home how much I love that feeling of ‘wonderment’ when you travel somewhere new and made me realise that I have become accustomed to the way of life in Jamaica with each passing year of living here.

I decided to reach out to the multi-faceted Zoe to ask her to write a guest post on Sweet Jamaica. As I thought it would be fun to share her take on the Jamaican experience. Plus I also asked Zoe to share some tips for visiting Jamaica as a solo female traveller and how to go about finding volunteering work in Jamaica. Zoe graciously agreed and I am excited to share her Guest Post with you!…

 

Surviving Jamaica as a Solo Female Traveller

I’m probably not the only girl who was told that planning to go travelling in Jamaica alone was a stupid idea. A lot of my friends and family seemed to think I was going to get kidnapped (or worse), when most of them had never actually been there, so they were probably just basing their opinions from some out-dated films, videos, rumours or news articles. Anyway, I’ve now travelled to Jamaica twice by myself, for a total of almost four months, and I’m still here to tell the tale! I think about Jamaica almost every day and would absolutely love to be able to go back again some time.

Every culture has some great aspects and some not-so-great aspects, and Jamaica is no exception, so there were definitely some times when I felt annoyed and some times when I felt scared, but overall it was an amazing and unforgettable experience. I thought I’d share a few things that I think could be helpful for anyone planning to travel to Jamaica, especially as a solo female traveller.

 

 

Volunteering in Jamaica

The first thing is volunteering. There are a few backpacker hostels that offer ‘work exchanges’, meaning you can volunteer at the hostel bar or reception part-time in exchange for a free bed and sometimes food. If you’re interested in this, check out websites such as Workaway or Worldpackers.

I volunteered for a few months in a hostel in Kingston, and it was really helpful for getting to know people because I ended up becoming friends with some of the staff and their families, so I had local people to hang out with who I knew I could trust. It also gave me an insight into parts of the island I hadn’t visited, because guests who’d travelled around the island would often share their stories with me.

As well as hostel volunteering, there are a few local charitable organisations in Jamaica that welcome volunteers. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find information about these online, but luckily I managed to find out about the Trench Town Reading Centre through a blog post.

I emailed them after having found their contact details on their website, and they told me they’re always open to volunteers, even if it’s only for a one-off visit, so I went along a few days later. If you’re in Kingston and you like children, I would definitely recommend that you contact them and arrange a time to volunteer. The kids are cute and friendly and it’s something worthwhile to do on your trip. Again, this could help you learn more ‘inside’ information about the area and it could lead to some new friendships.

 

 

Using Google Maps in Jamaica

Aside from volunteering, something I found incredibly helpful in Jamaica was Google Maps! Surprising, right? In Kingston, if you want to get from A to B but you’re not sure how the public transport works, if you ask Google Maps for directions, it tells you which bus to take and where to take it from. (This only applies for the official government buses, not the coaster buses).

There’s nothing wrong with asking people for directions and transport advice on the street, but personally I felt a bit better having some background knowledge even if I ended up asking people too.

I also used Google Maps for learning some road names before going to new areas, so I would know I have to pass X, Y and Z road on the left or right before reaching the restaurant/museum/bar I was looking for. This helped me to feel more confident as I was walking along by myself, and I could ask a stranger “X Road is just along here, right?” rather than seeming completely lost and asking “excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the museum?”.

 

 

Dealing with Sexual Advances as a Single Female Traveller

When you’re walking along by yourself, don’t be surprised if you’re bombarded with more compliments and nicknames than you’ve ever had before in your life! Guys on the street normally called me things like “whitey”, “pretty girl” and “sexy girl”, but sometimes it would just be something like “blue blouse” if I was wearing a blue top.

In my culture it’s not normal to speak to people like that, and it can be a bit surprising at first when you’re in Jamaica, but just remember they give nicknames to everyone and it’s completely normal.  I ended up having some very funny and interesting conversations with people who came to speak to me on the street, and sometimes it led to me eating at a nice restaurant I didn’t know about before, or hearing about a concert that I didn’t know was going to happen.

If you find that certain boys are too persistent, or you don’t have time to stop and talk, or you just don’t feel like having a conversation, don’t be afraid to tell them. I often just said “I’m going to be late for work so I can’t stop now” (which wasn’t even a lie really because I was often on my way to volunteer at the hostel). I know some girls who made up stories about their Jamaican boyfriend (who didn’t actually exist), and once they told the boys that their boyfriend was supposed to be meeting them in five minutes, that was often enough to end the conversation.

Weekend in Portland
Weekend in Portland

 

In Conclusion

Jamaica is a beautiful place and I feel lucky to have experienced it, but as a solo female traveller, always remember the general tips for travelling, including not carrying much money, carrying money in two separate places (e.g. pocket and bra), not telling absolutely everyone where you’re staying, not walking around alone after dark if you can avoid it and listening to your instincts.

All the travellers I met in Jamaica were having a great time, so don’t let the rumours stop you. Book that flight, pack your backpack and get out there! Take a coaster bus where music plays loud enough for a 1000 person venue, buy local fruits at the market, eat Jamaican food from a little wooden cook-shop with no name, learn some patois, swim under a waterfall, drink a Red Stripe, go to a live dancehall/reggae show, laugh and smile with Jamaican children, talk to an old Rasta man about the meaning of life, and so much more.

 

 

Walking in the Blue Mountains
Walking in the Blue Mountains

 

Contact Details and Links

If you would like to learn more about Zoe’s experiences of world travel you can check out her website Travel With Zoe and her social media channels.

I have also included the links for the Volunteering Websites that Zoe mentioned in the post.

 

Zoe’s Website Travel With Zoe

Zoe’s InstagramZoeReeve93

Zoe’s FacebookTravelWithZoe.org

Volunteering Websites

Workaway

WorldPackers

Trench Town Reading Centre 

 

Thinking of moving to Jamaica

 

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Top Tips for Visitors to Jamaica

Top Tips for Visitors to Jamaica

Every country has a different way of doing things and what some consider to be normal everyday behaviour is perceived as disrespectful or distasteful to someone from another country. When travelling it helps massively if you get at least a little introduction to the country you are visiting prior to your arrival, so you are aware of the culture, customs and traditions. It isn’t nice to be scorned for your bad or socially inept behaviour, so I always take time out to look and learn (or read a good article on it) before I talk and walk into trouble!

When in Jamaica, do as the Jamaicans do…

When in Jamaica DO…

  • Chill Out and Relax. You are working on Jamaican time from now on. When a Jamaican replies ‘soon come’ they do not mean it in the literal sense, it invariably means it will happen, when it happens. So be patient, it is usually work the wait, especially if it is for fooood!
  • When addressing a stranger it is always best to be formal, especially to those that are mature, or of child-bearing age. Using Sir, Mr, Miss or Mam when referring to someone is considered to be a polite way of conversing when you do not know them. It is also used alongside the more informal aunty and uncle and is good to use before the first name of anyone who is older or wiser, but more familiar to you (probably not advised in a formal environment though!)
  • The same goes if  you are being served by someone at a store or restaurant, it doesn’t hurt to be polite and cordially greet people
  • When addressing a Police Officer, I highly recommend flagrant use of Sir, Mam, or Officer when conversing with them. It shows them respect and that you do not consider them to be inferior to you, which often means they give you less hassle
  • Try Jamaican food. It is delicious and there are dishes to suit every type of palate, including amazing Ital Vegan and Vegetarian foods
  • Treat Jamaican people with respect, remember you are not better than them just because you have a foreign passport, or because you are visiting where they are working
  • Be sensitive to the plight of the working class Jamaicans and do not try to take advantage of them. Many of the people seen vending in public places are just trying to make a living for basic necessities and to make money to send their children to school
  • Be firm and direct as most Jamaicans are. You will probably only confuse, or get taken advantage of by beating around the bush
  • Trust your instincts. If you don’t have a good feeling about a situation – remove yourself from it. Better to seem abrupt or rude than to regret staying around longer to see how it pans out
  • Conserve energy as it is expensive and water because it is scarce. Do not leave the water, AC, TV and so on running for inordinate periods of time especially when you have left your room…
  • Consider the environment, don’t haul off bundles of coral and shells, remove wildlife or ‘dutty up Jamaica’ by leaving your garbage lying around
  • Expect the unexpected! You will find more churches per square mile in Jamaica than anywhere else in the world (except the Vatican City itself), but they have a thriving music scene where they love to dance provocatively and wear very scanty clothing. Jamaica is a country of extremes!
  • Support Jamaica and Buy Jamaican! There are many ways you can do this on your trip, such as purchasing products that are MADE in Jamaica, patronising locally owned accommodation, attractions, tours, stores and eateries and supporting the street and beach vendors

More Information: When in Jamaica be Conscientious 

More Information: Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican!

Top Tips For Travel To JAMAICA

 

When in Jamaica DON’T…

  • Forget that whilst it is nice to be important, it is more IMPORTANT to be NICE – smile!
  • Stereotype Jamaicans because of what the media portrays, or because of one rude person you come across
  • Take photographs of people, or other people’s property without their permission, as they may not always be happy about it. Use common sense and Respect The Privacy of Others. Many Jamaicans love to pose for a picture and will be more than happy to do so if asked, whilst some may ask for a small fee if in a tourist area.
  • Refer to Jamaicans as ‘natives’. It has too many racial connotations that could be considered as a derogatory slur. Calling a black person ‘coloured’ is also laughable and ironic, when you consider that a white person goes blue in the cold and red in the sun! Using the terminology ‘Jamaican’ is the most appropriate way of addressing the wonderful people of Jamaica
  • Get drunk and run around half naked, or put yourself in other types of risky circumstances. Drink is not your friend, when you get into a tricky or dangerous situation
  • Forget that controlled drugs are illegal in Jamaica. Weed, Ganga, marijuana, green, grass, hash, gum, or whatever else you want to call it has been decriminalised (as of February 2015), if you are found to have less than 2oz in your possession, so is now a ticketable offence rather than a prisonable offence. See Below for more information
  • Flaunt flashy jewellery, expensive mobile phones, i-pods and so on. If you feel the need to show off, do it in the hotel or back at home where they are more readily available
  • Rent a car and leave it parked on a beach or near a water course where the tide may rise and take it away
  • Leave your car keys or valuables with a random person because you want to go swimming, or some other task that will remove you from the eye sight of the items
  • Get a false sense of security because you are on holiday / vacation. If you wouldn’t walk around alone late at night, or visit the local shops in beach attire when at home then don’t do it when you are in Jamaica. Use your Common Sense, or ‘screw your loaf’ as my Dad would say!

More Information: Setting the record straight on the Ganga Law, by the Jamaican Observer.

 

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Bless up, Jules

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‘Anya Goes to Jamaica’ Book Review – Introducing Children to World Travel

‘Anya Goes to Jamaica’ Book Review and Interview – Introducing Children to World Travel

Whilst searching online for children’s books I was drawn to an illustrated image of a beautiful girl with a big pink bow in her hair, standing with her arms outstretched underneath a banner that read ‘Anya goes to Jamaica’. Intrigued I clicked through to the website and discovered that the little girl was the main character in an adventure book based on world travel.

The first book in the series is all about Anya’s trip to Jamaica, which is perfect timing for me as… I live in Jamaica!

Introducing ‘Anya the World Traveler’ Book Series

Thinking this was a great way of introducing my nieces and nephews to where I had moved to, I poured through the mesmerizing illustrations and content on the AWA book series website. I really connected with the book and wanted to share the launch of these interactive, magical and educational journey books with you, so that you are able to share them with the young readers in your life.

Being a blogger I had to get the ‘inside scoop’, so I got in touch with the author Nikko FungChung to ask her in her own words all about ‘Anya goes to Jamaica’ and how she is going about introducing young readers to world travel and different cultures.  After corresponding with Nikko I am even more in love with the books, the principles behind them and how she is taking on the publishing world with a brilliant, beautiful, bright, brown-skinned main character who is known as ‘Anya’, the World Traveler.

 

Why the Children in your life will love the ‘Anya World Traveler’ Book Series …

Introducing children to literature at a young age will enliven their minds to a world of possibilities, and Nikko FungChung captures the essence of childhood discovery in her books. Readers are taken on an adventure through the book discovering the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of each destination, subtly introducing children to different cultures and customs.

I feel that by reading the books, children will be more tolerant and learned about other parts of the world and people who may not necessarily look the same as they do. The main character ‘Anya’ is bright as a button and full of adventure and interacts with both boys and girls in the books, so she will be sure to appeal to both young male and female readers.

Children’s Literature Featuring a Black Main Character

I especially love that our international jet setter ‘Anya’ has brown skin and is of mixed heritage, as she will engage a whole generation of young readers who can identify with a main character that looks more like them. The majority of the children’s picture books feature main characters that are white, which can give a lot of young, aspirational readers a feeling that they are less important, or that what their life experience is secondary and doesn’t matter as much.

 

“I believe that every child no matter what colour their skin is,

deserves to be depicted in literature as the super hero, the achiever,

the adventurer, or anything else their imagination conjures up. “

 

On the flip side having a main character that isn’t white helps to redress the balance for white children too, they get to learn and understand about other ethnicities, becoming more rounded and hopefully becoming more enlightened world citizens too!

In Conclusion, this book is simply beautiful and is a perfect addition to any child’s bookshelf. It’s also ideal if you are planning a trip to Jamaica with young children, why not pack a copy in your hand luggage and read it on the flight to introduce your child to all the wonderful things they will get to experience on their trip to Jamaica!

 

Anya goes to Jamaica souvenir
Anya goes to Jamaica souvenir

Interview with Nikko FungChung Author of Anya’s World Adventures Book Series

Without further notice I would like to introduce you to Nikko FungChung, an amazing mother who was so frustrated at not finding good children’s literature, she started making her own!

Not only a fantastic business woman, Nikko is a social advocate who includes other entrepeneurs on her own personal journey, through collaborations forged and featured in the book series.

The interview includes behind the scenes stuff about Nikko and her family, an introduction to the book series, tips and advice for travelling to Jamaica with young children and an exclusive about which destination Anya will visit in the next book!…..

 

1. Please introduce yourself and your beautiful family….

My name is Nikko FungChung, I am the author and creator of Anya’s World Adventures Children’s Travel Book Series. I am a wife and a mother to three wonderful children; my 4-year-old daughter Anya, 10-year-old son Kenneth and my 5-year-old step-daughter Daijha. My husband Daymean was born and raised in Jamaica, this is where we met. My family is also of Caribbean descent, but my heart has always and will always belong to Jamaica.

This is why it made sense that Jamaica be the first stop in the Anya’s World Adventures Book Series.

 

2. When did you start Anya’s World Adventures and who are the creative forces behind it?

I started writing the stories in 2014, to date I’ve written about 46 countries. With very little knowledge of the publishing world, I spent a year researching different options for distribution, self-publishing, trying to sign with a big publishing house. I decided self-publishing was the route for me, but I needed time to figure out the funding because it is VERY expensive to create, publish and distribute your own book. It’s funny actually because I have a few other businesses that in essence seem more complex than this, but being a self-published author has been the most demanding venture of them all.

In 2016, an investment company, Demography is Not Destiny, took a chance on me and gave me the money I needed to get started. This was the same year that I found my illustrator, Fuuji Takashi, who has been a blessing from day one! She resides in the Philippines and we have never met in person, yet we are so in sync. Fuuji really understands my vision and brings it to life better than I could’ve ever imagined.

 

3. Tell us more about your Company Philosophy, what makes you tick?

Anya’s World Adventures is a complete and fully interactive learning experience for young readers. Each book in the series will introduce them to a new country and culture through the eyes of a child. When I’m writing it’s important to me that everything is factual and accurate while maintaining that story-book feel.

At the end of each book, Anya purchases a souvenir to keep as a reminder of the adventure. Readers can purchase these souvenirs and collect them as they read each book in the series. I’m really big on giving back and supporting other entrepreneurs, so I source these souvenirs from small business owners, craftsman and/or artisans in the subject country.

The learning and adventure continues on the website where readers can join the AWA Club. Membership is free! With the AWA Club, members can practice new languages, try new recipes, access printable activities and much more!

4. What inspired you to create children’s books and the supplementary content on the website?

I wanted to give my children a more accurate and less biased view of the world in comparison to what they are shown on television and movies. I also wanted to give them a way to connect with their roots so they can understand all the different cultures and ethnicities that make them who they are.

I went to the library to get some books for my son so that he could learn about other countries and I realised the only books on the shelves were all facts, no fun! These books certainly weren’t going to keep the interest of my 8-year-old, never mind anyone younger. While it is important to learn about the imports, exports and government structure of foreign lands, I think it’s even more important to learn about the people, culture and lifestyle.

Every book in the Anya’s World Adventures Series is filled with facts, presented in a way that children will understand, allowing them to retain the information while enjoying a fun adventure!

 

Bamboo Bobby and his Brother
The real life Bamboo Bobby and his Brother depicted in the book

 

5. What sort of readers does your book series appeal to and what do you hope they will gain from reading the series?

The language and content of the Anya’s World Adventures Book Series will appeal to children as young as 3 years old and as old 9 years old. It’s been a big hit so far with preschool all the way up to some fifth and sixth grade students. The reach of this book is very broad because the information is interesting and useful and the images capture the attention of early and proficient readers alike.

 

“I hope to make the world a little smaller with this book series.

When you learn about other countries, it broadens your horizons.

Living, learning, working or volunteering abroad all become options.

If we don’t allow our children to weigh out all the possible options,

we are doing them a great disservice and limiting their potential”

I also want the children who read my books to gain a better understanding of how similar we all are regardless of our race or cultural differences. It’s my belief that most of the world’s conflicts are caused by a lack of this type of understanding.

We get so consumed with our own existence and our personal way of life that it’s easy for us to turn a blind eye to something that is happening to a stranger across the globe and sometimes even in our country, because we don’t feel a connection with them.

Distance creates such a huge mental gap that instead of empathising, sympathising and offering assistance to others, we watch the news like it’s just a bad movie and continue with our day. I want to close that gap. I want our children to be a better, more caring generation and that begins with understanding and acceptance of other cultures and people.

 

6. How have you chosen the different destinations for the ‘Anya World Traveler Book Series?

When I first starting writing, I was focusing more on countries that I feel are most misrepresented in mainstream media. It was very important for me to provide a different and well-rounded view of these places.

In regards to release dates I want to do one country from each continent/region and then go back around the globe again and again. I don’t really see a finish line in sight because there is so much to learn and so much more to see and I am really enjoying the process. I think I’m most excited to complete the books about Africa and the Middle East.

7. Do you plan to travel to all the different places featured in the book series and will your children be accompanying you?

Yes, of course! I would love to visit most, if not all with my children – maybe one country a year because we still have to travel home to Jamaica yearly as well. If I can just introduce them to the idea of being citizens of the world and not being afraid to go to new places, then when they get older they can visit anywhere that I could not take them.

In the meantime, I do a lot of reading and research on each country before I write the book. People are also a big resource from me. I love to sit and listen to stories about their childhoods and upbringing so that I can make my stories more accurate and authentic.

Anya at the beach
Visiting the beach illustration from ‘Anya goes to Jamaica’

 

8. Please introduce the main character ‘Anya’ and some of her sidekicks who will be featured in the Anya’s World Adventures book series. How do you hope your readers will relate to them?

Anya is a world traveller! If you meet my daughter, that’s the first thing she will say to you and she has only been to Jamaica, lol (laugh out loud). In the book Anya has a magic globe that takes her on magical adventures all around the world.

The great thing about children is they have great imaginations, so I was able to focus more on Anya and her experience without having to add parents, passports and TSA (Transport Security Administration; they search luggage and passengers) agents into the mix.

In in each country she meets up with a friend – sometimes a boy, sometimes a girl who she will visit. This adds an element of relatability for children because they get to see how another child who looks a lot like them, lives and plays. The friend she visits also has a parent or guardian there which I use to introduce foods, dress, hobbies, crafts or trades and so on.

9. You recently travelled to Jamaica with your young family. What are your top tips for getting to an overseas destination with children in tow?

  • Take a practice trip to somewhere more local. This will get them used to the airport process and plane travel.
  • Pack lots of snacks! Remember that water and juices cannot be carried on, but you can pack as many cookies, fruits and crackers as you’d like. These make for great bargaining tools and distractions.
  • Check EVERYTHING! I tried to be frugal on our first trip to NY (New York) and only checked two bags. It is impossible to get from point A to point B with a toddler and rolling suitcases and your smaller carry-ons.
  • Make sure to pack two extra outfits for children in your carry-on just in case you need to change them or your bags are delayed.
  • If your child has the tendency to get lazy after a two second walk, bring an umbrella stroller (push chair).
  • For international travel, having another adult or even an older child is helpful especially when navigating security and immigration.
  • Explain the trip to them before you go: will there be connecting flights, show them on the calendar what day you will leave/return.
  • Vacation rentals are great because they feel like home, being able to do laundry and cook for yourself is such a luxury when on vacation.

 

Anya loved the beach in Jamaica
Anya loved the beach in Jamaica

 

10. Would you recommend Jamaica as a family friendly destination and why?

Jamaica is an absolute paradise and it has something for everyone! We were travelling “back home” so we spent a lot of time visiting family and hanging out around the house, but we did make a few stops at some tourist destinations. Turtle Rivers and Gardens in Ochi (Ocho Rios) is a must see for all ages! Doctor’s Cave Beach is a great day trip in Montego Bay.

 

11. Which part of the island did you stay in during your family vacation to Jamaica? Where else did you visit?

Portmore is home, but since this was the kids first trip to Jamaica we decided to use a vacation rental in Draxx Hall, St. Ann, right next to Ochi (Ocho Rios). The location was ideal because to our right we had all the tourist attractions and to the left some more homey necessities. We visited family all over – Portmore, Spanish Town, Kingston, New Kingston, Negril, Mobay (Montego Bay), St. Mary etc.

12. Share some of your family highlights of the trip with your children to Jamaica?

Spending time with family was really the best part. I fell in love with Doctors Cave Beach and Turtle Rivers and Gardens (big up our tour guide Odane, he is the best). We actually already booked our next trip to Jamaica for Spring 2017!

13. What were Anya’s and her siblings favourite thing about the trip to Jamaica and why?

I was surprised that they enjoyed the regular, every day stuff much more than the more ‘exciting’ outings. I think they would both live on the beach forever if they could. They didn’t want to leave, I think it was nice for them to see their family and have a better understanding of where they come from. We raise them in a very Jamaican home, but actually going to Jamaica allowed them to connect the dots.

 

Anya enjoying Mango in Jamaica
Anya enjoying Mango in Jamaica

 

14. How about the Jamaican food and culture, what new things did you and the children enjoy trying?

Our children our very well versed in Jamaican cuisine and culture so there were no surprises for them there.

However, both of them spent a lot more time outdoors (versus staring at a computer or tablet as they would in America) and they were so brave – holding birds, climbing waterfalls and chasing lizards, lol (laugh out loud).

 

Anya goes to Jamaica souvenir bracelet and anklet
Anya goes to Jamaica souvenir bracelet and anklet

15. There is the option of collecting souvenirs with the Anya’s World Adventure Book Series, tell us more about that?

This is one of my favorite things about the series. It’s an opportunity for me to make an economic contribution to the country I’m writing about and support and promote entrepreneurship. I research and connect with local craftsman and artisans and I purchase items from them to be sold on AWABookSeries.com

I also feature the business owner on the AWA Club pages and all of my social media platforms. For the Anya Goes to Jamaica book, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with Tena Harrison, owner of Pretty Little Things JA. She handmade about 400 anklets and bracelets for this project and I look forward to working with her again in the near future.

 

16. Where will Anya travel to in the next book and what can we look forward to?

I haven’t revealed this yet so I guess it will be an exclusive for you!

In the next book Anya will be going to India!

The book is due out in March 2017.

 

17. How often do you plan to publish a new adventure book for your readers to enjoy?

I plan to publish a new book in the series once every four months, God willing.

 

18. Where can the ‘Anya’s World Adventure’ book series be purchased and in what formats is it available?

Anya’s World Adventures has been distributed to all major online book retailers in both softcover and hardcover formats. Amazon is probably the most accessible internationally. Barnes & Noble also carries the books as well as a number of smaller bookstores. The books and souvenirs are available at AWABookSeries.com as well.

 

19. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

No, I feel like I may have said too much already! I tend to be pretty long-winded.

20. Please leave your thoughts on the ‘Support Jamaica! Buy Jamaican!’ campaign on the Sweet Jamaica website?

I think this is a great campaign and one that should be more widely supported. Jamaica is an amazingly diverse country with tons of resources and talents. I can’t wait to see what it becomes once it’s full potential is realised.

Bright Parrots in Jamaica

PLEASE NOTE: This post (and website) is written in (UK) English, however any references to the book title, and specifically the word ‘Traveller’ have been written using American English, as is the spelling in the ‘Anya goes to Jamaica’ book and the AWA website. Therefore, you will see the word spelt ‘Traveler’ in some places throughout this post. Rather than being a spelling mistake, it is more out of respect to the author who has written her book in American English.

Join the Anya World Adventure Club!

The fun doesn’t stop here, log on to the website and join the AWA Club! Where your child can get additional free content including downloads, you can share travel stories, watch videos, learn languages, listen to music, receive early access to book releases, discounts and VIP event invites.

Where to purchase Anya World Adventure Book Series Online

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Top 5 Apps For a Vacation – Travel Hacks for Jamaica

Top 5 Apps For a Vacation – Travel Hacks for Jamaica

When you are going on vacation it helps to have some Travel Hacks up your sleeve to make things run smoothly. I use my phone to get through a range of tasks on the go and  have some trusty Travel Apps that I cannot do without. I love to get the most out of my time in Jamaica and there is no better way than to download some apps designed for a Caribbean vacation. Prior to my vacation I ‘spring clean’ my phone to make sure I have enough storage space for new photographs, videos and… of course Travel Apps! These are my favourite Top 5 Apps For a Vacation – Travel Hacks for Jamaica, you won’t get the best of your Jamaican vacation without them….

 

Top 5 Apps For A Vacation

 

Top Travel App – Hack #1: Download your Airline Carrier App

If your airline carrier has a phone app it is a good idea to make space and download it. You can book flights and they usually provide the ability to store an e-ticket (electronic copy of your flight ticket) and boarding pass, the option to check in online and to verify flight details and times and so on. They are also useful in case of emergency as they will have contact numbers listed too. You can even keep track of your air miles if you are registered.

My Favourite:

Virgin Atlantic. It lets you log in, check Air Miles, check -in online, change your seat, check flight details and more. Love, Love, Love!

Download on Google Play Store: VIRGIN ATLANTIC

Download on Apple App Store: VIRGIN ATLANTIC

 

Virgin Atlantic App

 

Hack #2: Download a Currency Converter App

I always use local currency when I come on vacation to Jamaica, as I prefer to get immersed in everything Jamaican! I also mostly frequent places that trade in the Jamaican dollar, however US dollars are widely accepted in all the ‘tourist outlets’. If you would like to give Jamaican dollars a try, but are worried about getting muddled up when converting on the fly, download a currency converter app.

My Favourite:

XE Currency Converter. It is really easy to use and has bundles of currency information on offer. The UI (user interface) is smooth and you can set your top 5 currencies for immediate simultaneous conversion. You can also track the rate over time, which is helpful when trying to get the best rate for your hard earned vacation cash.

Download on Google Play Store: XE CURRENCY CONVERTER 

Download on Apple App Store: XE CURRENCY CONVERTER

 

xe currency converter
xe currency converter

Hack #3: Download the TripAdvisor App

TripAdvisor is the go-to website for independent travel reviews on your Jamaican vacation. Whether you are looking for accommodation, or something to do once you get here, they will cover all the bases for your trip. The TripAdvisor App will give you mobile access to the main site and has a great ‘Near Me’ feature if you are looking for somewhere to go in your local part of the island.

Get more from this Hack:

As a keen TripAdvisor contributor I have reviewed nearly 30 Jamaican businesses and attractions and have two commissioned travel guides for Saint James, Jamaica published on the TripAdvisor website.  

Check out my Travel Guide to ‘3 Days in Saint James Parish’ for ideas on how to spend your time in and around Montego Bay. 

If you are feeling adventurous, or you love the great outdoors, check out my Travel Guide  ‘Saint James Parish Outdoors’ .

Download on Google Play Store: TRIPADVISOR APP

Download on Apple App Store: TRIPADVISOR APP

 

TripAdvisor App
TripAdvisor App

 

Hack #4: Download a Phone Locator App

There is nothing worse than losing or misplacing your phone, but it can be especially upsetting when you are on vacation. In today’s digital age our phone serves many more functions than merely making calls and our whole life can be disrupted if it just left at home accidentally for a few hours, much less being lost on holiday! At the very least I would recommend putting a PIN or password lock on your phone to at least prevent unauthorised persons getting access to your personal information. If you want extra protection and are travelling with someone you trust you can enable GPS tracking Apps on each others phone to help find a misplaced handset. A lot of the apps also have remote setting so that it makes a noise, vibrates or the camera flashes to help you find the device when you say a password out loud; great if you are going on an adventure!

My Favourite:

I have an Android phone and my favourite app for App for Android: Where’s My Droid. I am unfamiliar with the best app for an iPhone, who can recommend their favourite?

Download on Google Play Store: Where’s My Droid App

Download on Apple App Store: Tell me your favourite App for iPhone….

 

Where's My Droid
Where’s My Droid

 

Hack #5: Download Digicel / Flow Phone Top Up App

If you are coming to Jamaica on vacation and are worried about running up a huge bill on your smart phone, there is a simple and cheap way around it. Use a local SIM card. I would highly recommend popping into your local Digicel or Flow Store on arrival and purchasing a SIM card. For a few hundred (Jamaican) dollars you can get a local Jamaican mobile / cell phone number and save a packet on charges. Digicel and Flow both have an online Top-Up App which I highly recommend. Download it for 24 hour easy top-ups charged to your home debit / credit card or PayPal account.

  • Ask about ‘International call plans’ to get minutes to call back home. USA, Canada and UK landlines are included (check website for full details). USA and Canada also get cell phone numbers included in the plan – the UK (unfortunately) does NOT
  • Put on a ‘Data Plan’ to tackle expensive rates on downloading emails, getting updates (on everything!), thumbing through social media accounts and so on
  • If everyone in your group gets a local SIM card you can call and text each other without incurring roaming charges when you are apart.

Hack Success Based On: If you are lucky enough to have an ‘unlocked phone’ you can replace your existing SIM card easily, if not you will have to get your phone unlocked before you leave.

Download on Google Play Store: FLOW TOP UP APP

Download on Apple App Store: FLOW TOP UP APP

Download on Google Play Store: DIGICEL TOP UP APP

Download on Apple App Store: DIGICEL TOP UP APP

 

Digicel App
Digicel App

 

MY FINAL TIP FOR ‘PHONE APP’ TRAVEL HACKS FOR JAMAICA…

There is nothing worse than reaching your destination to realise that the app you wanted to download is not available in that region, so be sure to download your favourite apps before you leave home!

Disclaimer: All Images copyright the respective App creators, Google Play Store, iPhone Store.

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30 Tips on How to Drive as a Foreigner in Jamaica!

30 Tips on How to Drive as a Foreigner in Jamaica!

If you are planning a trip to Jamaica then you may also be considering renting or borrowing a vehicle to ‘Do Road’ and get out and about. To say that I have had some ‘experiences’ when doing this is an understatement! Some of which have been part of the best fun I have had in Jamaica and others have had me at my wits end. I really love to ‘Do Road’ in Jamaica and drive out somewhere and I recommend you do too, to get the best out of your stay. I have put together 30 Tips on How to Drive as a Foreigner in Jamaica! to make your driving experience memorable for all the right reasons…

Renting a Vehicle in Jamaica

I have rented many different vehicles during my time in Jamaica with varying degrees of success and enjoyment. The majority of which have been from informal private renters. This normally works on a ‘referral’ basis, as in one of your friends introduces you to the person that rents the vehicle and you are both therefore ‘recommended’ to each other.  There have been instances when this goes smoothly and I have had an amazing brand new vehicle to go ‘Do Road’ in. On the reverse I have had instances on agreeing a rental price only for new ‘terms’ to be set half way through the rental, I have rented vehicles that break down, I have rented vehicles that have not had the correct paperwork causing problems during a police check, I have discovered that I rented a vehicle that was barely legal as the rental fee has paid for a cover note…

Most informal car rentals are at a rate of JA$5,000 a day, you may be lucky and get it for JA$4,000 or JA$4,500 a day. Most rentals are for a minimum of 3 days and the majority of the informal renters do not budge on this stipulation! The Insurance document does NOT have to have your name on it for it to be legal for you to drive. A (photo)copy of the vehicle documents is acceptable for showing to the police if asked.

 

Jamaica Hiace Bus
Watch out for Buses and Trucks

30 Tips on How to Drive as a Foreigner in Jamaica!

When Driving in Jamaica – Do…

  1. Drive on the LEFT hand side of the road. This is easy for people from the UK as it is same side as we drive on.
  2. Carry your vehicle documents with you when driving anywhere. Driving Licence, Insurance Certificate, Fitness (MOT) Certificate and Log Book, should be carried with you if the Police stop you – Don’t forget to take the documents out of the vehicle overnight in case it is stolen.
  3. If you rent a vehicle CHECK the documents BEFORE you drive off. It is not uncommon for documents to be out of date and you then have a problem if the police stop you.
  4. Check your vehicle before driving off. Ensure there is oil and water in the radiator and screen wash. Check the tyre’s are firm and you have a spare and the tools to change the tyre. Check the level of gas / petrol / diesel and be aware of where the nearest gas / petrol station is if running low. Check the location of the battery and if you need any tools to get access to it. Check the window wipers, lights and horn work – you will need them!
  5. Ask the person you rent / borrow the vehicle from what type of fuel the vehicle takes, which side the fuel tank is on and where the lever is  to open it. Your fuel will be pumped for you in Jamaica and will not have to leave your vehicle.
  6. Wear your seatbelt. Okay I know it’s hot and uncomfortable, but it could be the difference between life and death in an accident. Plus, you WILL get stopped by the Police if they see you and you could get a mandatory JA$500 fine.
  7. Observe the speed limits. Some roads in Jamaica have deep corners and multiple blind corners, drive with caution! The Police set up ‘speed traps’ and will pull you over if you are exceeding the limit and you could get a fine.
  8. Look out for road signs and do as they say! You will get a ticket if you park in a restricted area and could even be towed away.
  9. Be aware as people overtake at high-speed and drive incredibly close to your vehicle.
  10. Be aware of animals in or near the road, especially in the country areas. If you see a young animal in, or near the road, it is often best to let it run to its mother before proceeding as they are flighty and could run into your path.
  11. BLOW YOUR HORN! Jamaicans expect it if overtaking (on a minor road) or coming round a blind corner. If a vehicle has pulled up right in front of you, BLOW YOUR HORN to let them know you are passing them.
  12. Double check before over taking. The drivers coming in the opposite direction also have plans to use the middle of the road as a new lane.
  13. Visit a gas / petrol station if you are having problems with the vehicle as they not only pump the gas for you, they can also help with other basic problems and will wash the windscreen, they stock oils, fluids and so on.
  14. Lock your vehicle doors and boot (trunk) of the vehicle when leaving it unattended.
  15. Wave traffic past you when safe to do so on country roads. Route taxi’s (look for the distinctive red number plates), illegal taxi’s and local residents drive very fast on the country roads as they know EVERY twist, turn, corner, gully, pot-hole, cliff and tree they pass on the route. They have a tendency to drive right up behind your vehicle, so just let them pass. If you have the nerve and can drive reasonably close behind them they will guide your way through the maze of pot-holes as they know the road better than the back of their hand!
  16. Look out for pot holes… some can swallow your car, whilst others could give you flat tyre.
  17. Address Police Officer with respect and be compliant. I highly recommend flagrant use of Sir, Mam, or Officer when conversing with them. It shows them respect and that you do not consider them inferior to you, which often means they give you less hassle. Police ‘bribes’ or ‘extortion’ are much less frequent in Jamaica than when I first came here 10 years ago.  It does still happen though. Extend caution offering or accepting bribes. If you are a female driver do not be surprised if the officers hit on you and ask for your phone number!
  18. Drive defensively. Always expect the unexpected.

 

Tips for Driving in Jamaica
Tips for Driving in Jamaica

 

30 Tips on How to Drive as a Foreigner in Jamaica!

When Driving in Jamaica – Do Not…

  1. (19) Play ‘chicken’ with the oncoming traffic. Their nerve will invariably be better than yours!
  2.  (20) FORGET TO BLOW YOUR HORN! Jamaicans expect it if overtaking or coming round a blind corner. If a vehicle has pulled up right in front of you, BLOW YOUR HORN to let them know you are passing them. (I have written this in do’s and don’ts because it is very important!)
  3. (21) Drive wide around corners. There are huge trucks on the road and they do not always blow their horn to let you know they are approaching you do not want to meet them on the wrong side of the road. People riding on bicycles and motorbikes are also put at high risk through this practise and many are killed in this way.
  4. (22) Stop in a secluded place late at night. If you are lost try to find a well-lit place, such as a gas / petrol station before stopping.
  5. (23)Drive alone late at night (although I have done this without incident). Always try to travel with a passenger.
  6. (24) Set out late in the day if you have problems driving at night. The roads do not always have street lights or ‘cats eyes’ and the oncoming headlights can be blinding as everyone puts on their high beam.
  7. (25) Set out on a new journey without a map (again, I have done this many times without incident) if you are not confident. Have an idea of where you are going unless you are pretty easy-going and don’t have a destination per se. Most Jamaicans are very helpful if you are lost or having difficulties, but remember to address the person formally and calmly when you pull the vehicle to the side of the road. They will probably know how to reach at least the next town on the route, where you may have to repeat the process until you reach your destination. You will love the way some Jamaicans give directions!
  8. (26) Leave your vehicle engine running or the keys in the vehicle when unattended.
  9. (27) Leave valuables on show in the vehicle when unattended, discreetly lock them in the boot / trunk or glove box.
  10. (28) Pick up strangers or hitch-hikers.
  11. (29) Panic if an oncoming vehicle flashes you twice in quick succession. It is generally to warn you that there is a Police Check Point or Speed Trap up ahead and not necessarily because you have done something wrong.
  12. (30) Park too near to the sea, beach or river, changing tides can come and go before you return to your vehicle.

I hope you enjoy driving in Jamaica. Be safe and get out there and ‘do road’!

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Good Children’s Books for Travelling – My Review of Tunda on the Rock

Good Children’s Books for Travelling

Everyone likes a good book when they are going on holiday (vacation), so why should children be left out? The flights from the UK to Jamaica are especially long taking 9 – 10 hours depending on which way you are flying and even adults you can get a bit fidgety. A good book can help to while away the hours when confined to an airline cabin seat and will keep them entertained, educated and give you some quiet at the same time. Which is always a bonus! With restrictions on the amount of luggage you can take nowadays, I would recommend taking an electronic device as a form of entertainment as they take up little space and cover many bases. I discovered this fantastic children’s chapter book ‘Tunda on the Rock’ by Sabrina K. Marshall, a Jamaican author which can be downloaded on Amazon for Kindle. If you are looking for a Good Children’s Books for Travelling – My Review of Tunda on the Rock will give a child a light-hearted introduction to their stay in Jamaica.

Introduction to Tunda on the Rock

Tunda on the Rock is the first novel from a Jamaican born author Sabrina K. Marshall, who is a one woman powerhouse and an accomplished writer, among other things. Turning her hand to children’s literature, Tunda on the Rock is an exciting and amusing tale of an energetic puppies adventures around the island. Based in Jamaica, with beautifully described scenery and dogs that speak Jamaican patois (Jamaican Creole) anyone reading this book will be transported right into the land of wood and water. It would be perfect book to read the first chapter of the night before travelling to Jamaica, before continuing with the story on the flight and throughout the trip.

Sweet Jamaica Jules’ Review of Tunda on the Rock

I found Tunda on the Rock to be very captivating and engaging from the start and it didn’t take long to get into the story as the short chapters are jam-packed with quality content on every page. To be honest, I only planned to read a couple of chapters before going to bed, but I got so caught up in the story that I ended up reading the whole thing in one go! Each chapter introduces the reader to different elements of Jamaica which really brought the story to life in a realistic way. There were snippets of Jamaican history and descriptions of national treasures interspersed into the storyline, which give the story a thoroughly Jamaican feel. I laughed out loud in places and especially loved the life lessons hidden in the storyline, which are thought provoking without being patronising. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and feel that children of all ages would love to be introduced to this heartwarming Jamaican puppy ‘tail’.

International Children’s Books for Kindle

Whether you are travelling to Jamaica on holiday or not, this book is definitely one to add to the electronic children’s bookshelf! I am looking forward to sharing Tunda on the Rock with my nieces and nephews when I get back to the UK, as it will bring my new home in Jamaica a little closer to them and their imagination. This book is also ideal to add to your International Children’s Books for Kindle wish list, if you are looking for alternative reading titles for your child that have a Caribbean flavour.

Sabrina K. Marshall
Sabrina K. Marshall

The following information has been copied from the author’s page on Amazon.co.uk / .com. Image copyright Amazon.

Tunda on the Rock – Authors Biography

Tunda on The Rock is the first novel by ‘Jamerican’ author Sabrina K. Marshall. She was the creator, writer, and producer for the hit show, Kingston House, which premiered nationwide on Television Jamaica (TVJ) in February, 2012

When she’s not writing children’s books or teen dramas, she works with an advertising agency in New York City, holding over 10 years of experience developing ad campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. From Temple University, she has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Marketing, from the University of London she has a Master’s of Arts degree in TV and Film Production, and she’s currently studying French at New York University.
She loves to travel, play tennis, and spend time with her family.

Authors Introduction to Tunda on the Rock

While the rest of the Bailey pack is out of the yard taking care of important business, the youngest member, who they call Tunda, with their Jamaican accents, is ordered to stay home on guard duty where it’s safe. But the courageous, day dreaming, golden-brown puppy has plans of her own.

She makes it her mission to prove her worth by partaking in a risky night-time adventure on The Rock—the dogs’ name for the area surrounding the Bailey home, consisting of a golf course, cascading waterfalls, and white sandy beaches. Her adventure is filled with new friends—and enemy by association, Rex—along with a rude awakening to the hard, poverty-stricken life outside of the luxurious Bailey residence where she’s spent her entire puppyhood.

As Tunda’s adventure takes her farther from home, she learns that her pack is in grave danger, more so than she could’ve imagined. With the help of her new friend, Onyx, and the wise Mr. Rasta, Tunda makes every effort possible to save the dogs of The Rock. Will she make it back home? Will she save them?

Publishing Information about Tunda on the Rock

  • Age Level, 9+
  • Grade Level: 4 – 12
  • Length; 98 pages
  • Page Flip Enabled
  • Wordwise Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting Enabled
  • Published on Amazon for Kindle
  • by Sabrina K. Marshall (Author), Marcelo Ferreira (Illustrator), Yuki Osada (Illustrator)

Download Tunda on the Rock on Amazon UK or USA

If you would like to get your hands on this great children’s book Tunda on the Rock you can download it on Amazon UK or USA by clicking the appropriate widget below:

Want to pay in £ UK currency click the first link….

Want to pay in $ USA currency click the second link….

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Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

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Jamaica Recycles Rubber Tyres!

I was excited to read that an existing Jamaican company based in Discovery Bay, St Ann is going to spread its wings into the recycling of tyres. This is brilliant news for Jamaica as an epidemic of discarded tyres, which mainly end up languishing at the Riverton Landfill site in Kingston are overtaking our Land of Wood and Water! This huge pile of tyres has been disposed of ‘responsibly’  and is estimated to cover some 5 acres of land. But, tyres take decades to breakdown and it has often been the source of air clogging fires. By recycling the tyres it will free up Jamaica’s landfill space and hopefully end the illegal disposal of tyres into the rivers, gulleys, beaches and other areas of natural beauty which create greater environmental hazards. Therefore may I present another brilliant Jamaican company that deserves to be highlighted in the SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN! campaign for environmental goodness all round!

Who is behind the Tyre Recycling in Jamaica?

SKDP Haulage and Distribution Limited have set up Jamaica Rubber Products, or JRP to tackle tyre recycling in Jamaica. They not taken this initiative lightly as they have researched waste tyre disposal for two years and have come up with a solution that is viable in terms of the ‘way’ the tyres are recycled and it  is an innovative use of an otherwise unwanted commodity. JRP are now ready and in the process of  sourcing tyres, installing manufacturing equipment and they plan to start production in mid-July. They hope to of disposed of 40% to 60% of Jamaica’s waste tyres in the next 10 years.

How will the Tyres be Recycled?

The tyres will be separated from their rims in a process known as ‘de-beading’, then they are ground into a rubber powder, which is commonly known as ‘rubber crumb’. This can be made in an assortment of sizes and is planned for use in Jamaica, with the excess expected to be exported overseas.

The rubber crumb can be used in a number of applications, such as the repair of roadways. When the rubber crumb is added to an asphalt mix it not only means that less asphalt is needed, it also increases the elasticity of the road surface, making it more durable and  less brittle, which lengthens the lifespan of the road. Other benefits include that the road is made stronger, safer, is quieter to drive over, it can greater strains and lasts up to twice as long as asphalt without the rubber crumb added.

Copyright Bryan Cummings
Copyright Bryan Cummings

 

Why is the Recycling of Tyres a Good Idea?

Many old tyres are left lying around creating an eyesore and providing an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos when stagnant water collects inside, creating a risk of Malaria and Dengue Fever. The vast majority of the rest are burnt as a means of disposal. This method causes noxious (poisonous) gases to be leached into the air which can be a leading component in respiratory disease like Asthma and Cancer. As each tyre contains lead and about a gallon of oil the fire can burn uncontrollably and the fire is hard to put out. All these chemicals are bad for the air we breathe and the environment.

What is there not to love about this initiative?!

How can I Get my old Tyres Recycled in Jamaica?

If you have any old tyres or work in the automotive industry you can contact JRP on the details below:

S.K.D.P. Haulage & Distribution Ltd 

P.O. Box 160

Discovery Bay

St. Ann

Mr. Sherold Philbert

Managing Director

Tel:       (876) 973-9346/9345

Fax:      (876) 973-9346

Email:  phili@cwjamaica.com

 

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Come on Jamaica! Get involved in Recycling Today!

 

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 NOTICE: The images used in this post are copyright of Bryan Cummings and where originally featured in the Gleaner.

Green Age World taking over the Caribbean

There is a lot of ‘hype’ around at the moment about Going Green or Being Green, but what does it all mean?  Being considered ‘Green’ is a lifestyle choice, where you have to get involved to make a difference by making changes to the way you live your life. It is all very well to interject this latest buzz word into conversations to make us seem to be ‘in the know’, but to make a quantifiable difference to the environment it takes more effort than just shedding some hot air on the topic. Tackling environmental issues goes wider than just looking at what is happening in Jamaica alone, it is a Caribbean issue, it is a global issue and it is an issue that we should all take a keen interest in. Which is why I have sought out a shining star in the making to give us all a greater insight into what Being Green really means and how it affects us…

Jamaica is a part of the wider Caribbean, a collection of islands brimming with beauty and brains. Not content with becoming a forward thinker within her own demographics, Jamilia Parris is a Barbadian on a mission to educate, inform and transform our lives. With a plan to make a difference that was hatched on the floor in her mother’s house over half a decade ago, Jamilia has been steadfast in her dream to get the message across. Green Age World is a fresh, young and green brand that is actually part of a portfolio of companies that Jamilia is heading to get people and organisations involved in Green issues. Jamilia took some time out from her busy schedule to answer some questions and I hope that her words will inspire you to jump to the ‘Green side’ with conviction!

 

Interview questions

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

My name is Jamilia Parris. I am Founder and CEO of Green Age World and everything Green Age Caribbean (GAC).  Currently, I wear all the hats. I do get some help and advice from experienced and capable friends and colleagues though.

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

I feel more like this career path chose me, I just accepted it.

 

3. What can we expect from your portfolio of companies?

People can expect to see a young and cool brand that’s all about living green. Don’t expect another NGO site or some boring execution. Nope. We’re going to pop up on your streets, or in your markets, you can interact with us on your smartphones and tablets and come for a chill with us on our website. We’re going to be everywhere you are and we’re going to give you things to check out, things to do, make you feel good and make you smarter, and most importantly, inspire and motivate you to take it green. The people are it, and we believe that, I believe that and our Caribbean people know that. Green is a conscious lifestyle not a task to save the World.

Green Age World I
Green Age World I

4. Where is your Head Office based and how do you serve Jamaica and the wider Caribbean?

There is no head office and I don’t intend for there to be one really in the foreseeable future. The office is wherever I and my future employees are. Green Age World serves not only Jamaicans but all our Caribbean people. The company is a social enterprise, meaning that while we operate for profit, we do so for the people. The brand belongs to Caribbean people and it is EXTREMELY important for them to know and enjoy that. 🙂 Check out the About section on our Facebook page to see what I’m talking about. We are a “Virtual Enterprise”, this keeps costs down and saves on elements that will make us as green as we want to be.

 

5. How do you involve Jamaica(n’s) in your projects?

Remember I said the brand is for the people, it’s an entity our Caribbean people are a part of, truly, for they are and are the ones who will make Green Age Caribbean a reality. The company/brand is not just your normal entity who wants to accumulate patronage; Green Age Caribbean needs a lot more than that to become a reality. I have great things in store for our people in the future, and we’re all going to love it when they happen.

 

GAC: It needs small steps by its people, acceptance, determination, and a burning love for ALL our little worlds that make up this region we live in and so love. How we involve Jamaicans? The company wants its GAC citizens (Caribbean people) to actively play a role in deciding where and to whom the company distributes its social funds and support. As a social enterprise, social responsibility is actually a part of our cost structure, why the company is in business. Jamaicans say “out of many, one people”, well I 100% agree, we are all one people in the Caribbean so we will make this a Green Caribbean and show the rest of the World how forward thinking we can be.

 

Green Age World III
Green Age World III

 

6.  Where are you from, are you Jamaican?

I am from the Caribbean, that’s how I feel. I was born and raised in Barbados, but I am the dictionary definition of Caribbean.

 

7. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

Well our Caribbean and global launch is the biggest plan. There are basic things still to be done and after that will be our awesome website. In between all that there is much to be done to build awareness among Caribbean people.  There’s going to be a cool Green Age Caribbean (GAC) interactive e-magazine that I expect shall be well-received. A youth program is critical to the success of the company mission and we shall be working with NGO’s as much as possible to realize and develop that. Our future holds a big touring company event and even an innovative housing solution, YES, really.

8. What is your personal favourite project you are working on and why?

Besides Green Age World? 🙂

9. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model? 

I observe a lot and I also dream a lot. The latter’s the reason I’m working on this whole thing. I also have an unquenchable thirst for “the better”. Those 3 things combined inspire me and continue to do so. I have a vision for how thriving the people of the Caribbean can be and I just want to help to make that happen. Green Age World was conceptualized 6 years ago around 8pm on my mother’s living room floor and from then I knew it just HAD to be. How could it not? In no way did I have the skill-set then that I do now though, and I’m glad for the people I have supporting me and that I have the knowledge that I do to even attempt to execute my dream that is one for the people and our nations, not just myself.  I can’t say that I have a role model, I never really thought about it honestly. I have a standard for myself and certain expectations I live by and I guess these were informed by watching and interacting with other people as I grew up.

Besides family, lots of people have “touched” me and influenced and contributed to the person I am today. Those people on the streets that were strangers to me (and there have been many throughout my life) and whom said stuff like, “I’m going to see you in the papers someday doing something great” or “You are going to do something big with your life”, I never forget them. That something big and that greatness is my current project, this is my belief. Today I remember and I think they are incredible because they didn’t know me and they just clearly saw things in me I didn’t embrace nor know I had in me then. So among other things are they, those strangers and my people who help drive me every day to continue working on my initiative and seeing it through and I don’t even know their names.

10. Where can we get information about your company projects, in Jamaica and overseas?

We’re on Facebook so find us and talk to us there also people can follow us on Twitter to show their support. When we get it up and running there shall be interactive group boards on Pinterest for the brand so if you’re not there yet, get an account and follow us for now because we’ll be following back and pinning together soon. There will be newsletters; I’ll be actively trying and forging deals with Caribbean brands, all so that the company can help provide people with special offers on their favourite products and services to make green things more accessible and affordable to the masses. That’s important. I’m pushing an ideal but people in any situation need to be able to take it and run with it. That’s the key. I hope those green brands out there are listening.

Subscribers also get inside information on the company’s developments and there are exciting things to come. So, people really need to subscribe with us to access these benefits in the future. Right now there’s an email tab on our Facebook page which people can use to subscribe quickly with us. There’s an email requirement but I also have an option for people to give us their mobile information (to support future SMS/MMS communications) to stay in touch with each other-company and people.

11. How do you love to spend your free time? 

I’ll answer that according to my life now. I love reading. I read a perfectly fictional fantasy adventure book that takes me out of this world and into another for just a little bit. Sometimes I may just watch a movie. That’s the easiest escape I have nowadays. If I could carry the beach everywhere, well now, that would be it. I spend my entire time, whether free or not, GREEN.

Blue Mountains - Green Age World
Blue Mountains – Green Age World

12. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

Bob Marley. Basically, he put Jamaica on the global map, proving that a small island, one small good thing, can have a decade’s long, a lasting impact on the ENTIRE world.



14. If you could impart one piece of advice to inspire young people to start their own businesses or succeed in their chosen career, what would it be? 

Be resilient. Be determined. Be Creative. Also, don’t ever let ANYONE make you believe that you can’t do something or won’t get something regardless of who they are to you, parents and family included. Seriously. If I listened and followed all the negative things that were said to me or the things I heard, I would not have made some of my dreams and goals come true so far and I certainly would not have become a Founder of a social enterprise right now trying to do what it’s doing. This advice refers to positive things, of course. 🙂 Take the warnings. Appreciate the fact that this path (entrepreneurship) means sacrifice and risk and go for it. Somebody somewhere has your back. I sure do. Jamaicans have impacted the World in many ways including education, sports and certainly music and culture, there is absolutely nothing that could stop you if you’re truly determined to a higher level of life.

15. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

I wouldn’t change jobs, or career paths I should say. I’m better off being an entrepreneur. That said, I never dream of giving up on Green Age World and all its activities. It’s hard and overwhelming but the vision is big so I’m OK with that. However, if I didn’t have this drive and passion, I probably would have become a lawyer, an environmental lawyer.

16. What do you believe will contribute most to your company’s ongoing success? 

My company’s success will depend on a combination of things. One of the most critical things is that the brand needs to be embraced by Caribbean people in a true way. In this case the word ‘people’ refers to our free users and our prospective sponsors, advertisers, and donors.

17. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

The brand is one that the Caribbean people can literally belong to and that’s a great, powerful thing. It’s meaningful. It’s a sense of ownership in changing the World into a better place; we can be leaders in this race. Perhaps many about to read this may say I’m looking through rose-coloured glasses here; I don’t acknowledge my competitors or potential ones as truly that. Green Age World is an era, an attitude, a behavior, a lifestyle. Green Age Caribbean or a green Caribbean is an ideal and region we all now need to create one home or one step at a time. I’m trying to execute a great, necessary thing here, building something that’s owned by not me as I see it, but by the Caribbean people. I therefore consider my competitors as partners and potential partners anyway, and I hope they see me as such. We cannot be competitively green; we have to be collectively green.

 

18. How do you believe as a nation we can help to build the Caribbean?


You kind of just said it. Caribbean people need to unite, truly unite. People within our countries need also to unite and embrace each other. We all have our differences but we still need to live together. Traveling as much as I have has shown me that our waters are our blessing; it gives us the diversity and nuances of culture and norms from island to island. That’s what’s so fun and priceless about the region. Our waters though, to me, are also our limitation in some ways. Ever thought of what the Caribbean would be like if it were a single land mass like our continental neighbours, especially our northern neighbours? See the advantage yet? There would be more stable or, at least, stronger economies perhaps? There would probably or most certainly be a more mobile people in every sense of the word, greater self-reliance, one economy or fewer ones anyways, instead of several all trying to make it on their own at various stages of economic development or prosperity…? Those are but few of the innumerable positive possibilities if it were so. But it’s not. We need to come together. We need to ensure our people the ability to be able to do so. Our people need to be able to “hop around” with ease, there is much to be gained by movement but I shall not get into that now. To say the least and reiterate, we all need to unite, genuinely, and that starts mentally.

 

19. What are your aspirations for the future of the wider Caribbean?

A Green Caribbean of course. Basically, that’s a healthy, thriving people within green economies of resilient nations of the Caribbean. We have a paradise that people around the world dream of and spend thousands just to see and experience. We need to protect that and inspire them to protect their own nations when they go back home. We need to make our cultures, environment and creativity work for us in a big way. Caribbean people are creative, it’s in us, not something that’s learned, yet our creative industries lack so much infrastructure and support it is with great misfortune. And youth suffer because of this. We are forcing right brain thinkers to be academic when they should be creatively entrepreneurial. I believe our creative genius is a gold mine, just like our beautiful waters and lush nations and I wish the industry was stronger and taken more seriously. We can do we and survive from it. Beyond that, I’m a U.W.I. graduate and I’ve always believed in the idea that universities are pioneers of their societies. Pioneers. I want to see a Caribbean that is a direct effect of the University of the West Indies that it owns. Simple.

Green Age World II
Green Age World II

 

20. How can people get to contribute or get involved with Green Age World?

There is much work to be done if people wish to join me in executing this beauty of mine and theirs. I welcome it so they can contact me if interested. Again, the brand is and shall be very much a social one so people can choose to play a supportive role. We have an aim to be interactive, so, Caribbean people can stay in touch with us via the media and email mentioned earlier or, offer a donation or sponsorship if they wish to help with start-up and other operational costs. The brand is theirs and ours. I welcome any contribution and requests for involvement.

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Contact Details for Jamilia Parris at Green Age World

 

Jamilia Parris

CEO/Founder

Green Age World

Email:  contact@greenageworld.com

Our website is http://www.greenageworld.com

FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/greenageworld

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/greenageworld

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Conserving Energy in Jamaica with Avenir Energy Solutions

Jason Patterson is one of a new generation of young Jamaican’s shining a beacon of hope over Jamaica. Through his entrepreneurial spirit he has formed a forward thinking company ‘Avenir Energy Solutions’ which is helping to build a greener Jamaica. The company works at grass-roots level,  re-educating Jamaican’s on sustainable development practises and green issues and offers solutions to combat them.  Jason’s portfolio also covers auditing a building’s energy consumption and providing sustainable ways to cut it. Not content with this, philanthropic tendencies have also seen him providing pro-bono assistance to a Kingston Boys’ School among other projects.

Here we are pleased to share Jason’s story with our readers and hope to inspire others to become green and to take up the challenge of being a young entrepreneur in Jamaica…

Interview questions

 

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

My name is Jason Patterson, and I am the Founder and Managing Director of Avenir Energy Solutions.

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

Avenir Energy Solutions was founded in 2013 as a result of my interest in Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development to me is about creating long-term solutions for a number of problems such as poverty reduction, environmental issues etc.

3.What is your company philosophy?

  • We put our Customers first and strive to secure their loyalty through top quality products and service.
  • We value our Employees and seek to help them achieve their full potential.
  • We embrace Professionalism and seek Excellence in everything we do.
  • We do our best to help our Communities be better places in which to live, work and grow.

4. Tell me about your typical working day?

My typical day usually starts at 6:00am. I start by reading online articles related to my fields of interest – some of which I schedule for sharing throughout the day across our social media channels. Since we are constantly focused on providing our clients with the latest and most effective solutions, I spend a couple of hours reading product reviews and contacting potential suppliers. After this, I review my to-do-list (keeps me sane!) and I try to start by “eating the frog” – which translates to executing the hardest task on my to-do-list first.

I try to schedule all conference calls and/or meetings with clients and suppliers for early to mid-afternoon. Since we are currently in pre-launch phase, contact with my mentor and marketing personnel is also crucial as we are working to devise strategies and marketing material. Following this, my focus switches to completing any outstanding project proposals and reports for our clients.

My late evenings are usually reserved for friends and family.

5. Where is your Head Office based and do you manufacture / produce your products in Jamaica?

We currently operate from my home office in Mandeville, Manchester. As a result of the technical requirements associated with our current business model, all of our products are imported from the United States and Asia.

6. Are you Jamaican?

Yes.

7. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

Education plays a crucial role in increasing awareness of the benefits of Sustainable Development. Therefore, we are currently focused on developing material and campaigns to educate people of these benefits, as well as inform them of no-cost/low-cost strategies which can be easily implemented.

Avenir Infographic
Avenir Infographic

8. What is your personal favourite project you are working on and why?

We recently partnered with Dennergy Solutions and the Kimroy Bailey Foundation to design and implement a pro bono project for the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, Jamaica. The Alpha Boys’ School is a catholic owned institution which is committed to the development and care of exposed and underprivileged young men. The school has and continues to benefit thousands of young boys in Jamaica.

Funding to conduct a Level II Energy Audit has already been secured through the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ). We are currently developing a sustainable energy plan for Alpha that is to culminate with implemented technical, behavioural and social interventions that will no doubt see Alpha well on their way to energy sustainability.

This project has the potential to positively impact thousands of lives, and while it is still in the early stages of planning and development, the support from the public has been overwhelming. More updates to come…

9. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, is in my opinion the embodiment of real entrepreneurship – vision, creativity, innovation, passion and hard work. While he has amassed great wealth and has founded over 400 companies, he remains committed to his belief that business can be used as a force for good.

I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Sir Richard… Awesome!

Richard Branson and I
Richard Branson and I

10. Where can we buy your products in Jamaica and overseas?

Currently, our products/services are available in Jamaica to persons/organisations on a project basis. Our website is currently under construction and will soon be updated with a full overview of our offering.

11. If you could impart one piece of advice to inspire young Jamaicans to start their own businesses or succeed in their chosen career, what would it be?

Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.

12. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

I enjoy being an entrepreneur and running a company that helps others to achieve their sustainability goals.

13. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

 Having met Donna Duncan-Scott, the former Managing Director of Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB), and listening to her convey her passion for JMMB’s staff and clients, I would have to say that they are one of my favourite companies. JMMB possesses a strong corporate culture (unconditional love and mutual respect) and they embrace social responsibility through initiatives such as the Joan Duncan Foundation. Traits which I also want to convey through my businesses.

14. What do you believe contributes most to your company’s on-going success?

Constant communication with our clients and suppliers. This keeps us attune to our clients needs and the markets offerings. We have an open door policy where our current and potential clients are concerned – no query or concern is too small.

15. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

While a vast number of competitors exist within our industry, our small size allows us to be flexible and to focus on our clients and provide them with best in class products and service. We pride ourselves on educating our clients and providing the best solutions for their path to sustainable development, and we look forward to growing with them.

16. How do you believe as a nation we can help to build Jamaica?

 I believe that Jamaica possesses a strong potential for growth if our support for local industries and local production is increased. Campaigns such as your ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ and Neil Curtis’ ‘Farm Up Jamaica’ have the potential to make a significant contribution to our economy and reduce unemployment.

17. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

I wish to see Jamaica realise its true economic potential, and to see the lives of our citizens improve, especially the underprivileged. I hope to aid in this development through Avenir Energy Solutions, and all of my other business ventures that follow.

18. How can people start getting involved with Green Solutions?

‘Going green’ doesn’t have to be expensive, nor does it have to be an inconvenience. There are several low-cost strategies, such as switching to LED lighting, which can make a significant contribution to our journey towards sustainable development. We post no-cost/low-cost tips and tricks to reduce energy consumption on our social media channels on a daily basis.

19. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

I enjoy reading as well as spending time with friends and family. I have a small circle of close friends that enjoy a good lyme/flex and my family enjoys getting together to preparing large meals and hanging out.

Avenir Flyer
Avenir Flyer

Avenir Energy Solutions Contact Details

Direct: (876)-371-2065

Website: www.avenirenergysolutions.com

Email: info@avenirenergysolutions.com

Facebook: facebook.com/avenirenergysolutions

Twitter: twitter.com/avenirenergy

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Plant Sup’n with ‘Farm Up Jamaica’!

Farm Up Jamaica is the vision of Neil Curtis, an inspirational Jamaican living in New York. Like many Jamaicans living abroad, Neil keeps a keen eye on the goings-on back home. Frustrated by the continuing depreciation of the Jamaican Dollar,  high unemployment rates and the decline in home-grown produce, Neil hatched an ambitious plan to help heal Jamaica. The result is ‘Farm Up Jamaica’, a visionary project that is a  many faceted and utterly brilliant master plan to make a quantifiable difference in Jamaica.

What Makes Farm Up Jamaica Special?

Farm Up Jamaica gets its funding from donations, gifts in-kind and through volunteering work, much of which is through the Jamaican diaspora. The Non-Profit Organisation works with the Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture to find gaps in the market contributing to the excessive food importations into Jamaica. It uses this information to channel the donations to offer help, employment, education and empowerment to farmers who had all but given up. The revolutionary concept is breathing new life into Jamaican farming with Organic and Sustainable Farming practices. These Organic crops are then available to buy locally in Jamaica and will also enable greater exportation possibilities, helping to stabilise the gap between imports and exports. Plus, the implementation of Organic and Sustainable farming practices is better for us when we consume the pesticide free food and it’s also really good for the Environment too.  An all-round Win, Win situation!

Sweet Jamaica Interview with Farm Up Jamaica

I am pleased to announce that the CEO of Farm Up Jamaica, Neil Curtis, took some time out of his busy schedule to take part in Sweet Jamaica Jules’ ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA, BUY JAMAICAN!’ interview series. Neil shares his story and views about his organisation with us in this fascinating read!

 

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

Hello, my name is Neil Curtis and I am the founder and CEO of Farm Up Jamaica Limited.

 

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

Our organisation was founded in July 2013. The reason we chose this path was to create a trustworthy way for diaspora to give back that would have a direct and measurable effect on Jamaica.

3. Tell me about your typical working day?

 A work day in New York consists of:

  • Communicating by phone and email with farmers who want to participate in the program.
  • Diaspora meetings in person, by phone, email and Skype etc
  • Interaction with other organizations who want to partner or help the cause
  • Working with our fundraising co-ordinator to identify or improve ways to raise funds
  • Creating Memorandum of Understanding for organisations that we are partnering with
  • Researching new seeds and best practises for Organic Farming
  • Live television and radio interviews into U.S., U.K. and Canada
  • Consistent communication with our staff and board members

A work day in Jamaica consists of:

  • Visits to our current farmers to make sure they are functioning optimally
  • Meetings with prospective farmers and their families
  • Distribution of Organic seeds and fertilisers to our member farmers
  • Interacting with companies who want to partner or sponsor the cause
  • Meetings with government agencies for agricultural technical advice or administration
  • Negotiating with our vendors to ensure we are receiving the best possible pricing, discounts and incentives
  • Creating work forces in areas of interest and ensuring that it includes the best possible pricing, discounts and incentives
  • Creating work forces in areas of interest and ensuring that it includes local farmers, students, inner city youth and volunteers

 

Young and Old Farmers Getting Involved
Farmers Getting Involved

4. What is your company philosophy?

 Our company philosophy is to reduce the importation of foreign food by planting our own healthy organic food to save a nation in more ways than one.

5. Where is your Head Office based and do you manufacture / produce your products in Jamaica?

Our Head Office is based in New York. We don’t currently manufacture but all crops that are grown in Jamaica.

6. Do you use Jamaican raw materials in your products?

We use as much Jamaican raw material that is available and only go outside if necessary.

7. Are you Jamaican?

I am Jamaican, from St. Catherine.

8. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about Jamaica?

 Likes about Jamaica:

  1. Nature
  2. Music
  3. Food

Dislikes about Jamaica:

  1. 1. Resources taken for granted
  2. 2. Economy
  3. 3. Crime

9. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

Organic onion production to replace the 90 percent of onions being imported into Jamaica. Non-GMO organic corn production for local and export markets. Students growing organic food for a lunch program.

Plant Sup'n Jamaica!
Plant Sup’n Jamaica!

10. What is your personal favourite project you are working on and why?

My favourite project is the organic onion cultivation, because it is a serious Jamaican concern and will have a measurable impact on the importation of onions which is a basic staple in every kitchen.

11. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

A true love for Jamaica and wanting to see it recover has inspired me to start this organisation.

12. Where can we buy your products in Jamaica and overseas?

Our products will be available under the Farm Up Jamaica label in your local supermarkets in Jamaica. Overseas supermarkets will also have our products where other Jamaican food products are sold.

13. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

I spend my free time enjoying nature in Jamaica and visiting places that I’ve never been to.

14. If you could be Prime Minister of Jamaica for a day, what would you do?

If I were Prime Minister for a day I would write a policy to effectively address and reduce crime. This would help to motivate lots of returning residents and tourists and create more income for the Jamaican economy!

15. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

I believe that Marcus Garvey made the biggest contribution to Jamaica. He believed that anything is possible and proved it. Many Jamaicans wait to travel to other countries to evolve into greatness. I believe we need to evolve at home and make Jamaica a greater country!

16. If you could impart one piece of advice to inspire young Jamaicans to start their own businesses or succeed in their chosen career, what would it be?

 My advice to young Jamaican’s is to firstly learn money management skills and then start their own businesses and grow their companies to become internationally recognised.

17. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

If I could change jobs, I wouldn’t! I love what I do…

18. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

My favourite company is Grace. I love the way they have been able to show how a Jamaican company can diversify and grow to become an international brand!

19. What do you believe contributes most to your company’s on-going success?

What contributes to my organizations on-going success is being able to teach people that the glass is half full and not half empty. Bringing inspiration to farmers that thought their lives were over and converting them into patriotic food security soldiers keeps Farm Up Jamaica alive.

20. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

Our company offers a unique product which is organic Jamaican food. It’s what sets us apart.

21. How do you believe as a nation we can help to build Jamaica?

We can help build Jamaica by becoming a part of the solution. Agriculture only represents 6% of the Jamaican GDP. If the whole country would focus on increasing this number we can build a self-sufficient Jamaica. “Plant Sup’n”.

All Organic
All Organic

 22. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

My aspirations for Jamaica is to see the country live up to its popularity, by not only becoming a great place to visit, but a great place to do business.

23. How can people contribute or get involved with Farm Up Jamaica?

People can contribute funds, time, equipment, training, materials, etc.

Farmers can get involved by calling us at: (USA) 516-376-1626 or (JAMAICA) 876-592-5992.

Check out our website: WWW.FARMUPJAMAICA.ORG

We can also be reached by email at: INFO@FARMUPJAMAICA.ORG

Volunteers can email: VOLUNTEERS@FARMUPJAMAICA.ORG

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Earth Hour Jamaica 2014

What is Earth Hour?

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conceived the idea for a symbolic event showing a commitment to making positive action for the environment and Earth Hour was born. This campaign encourages governments, businesses and individuals to switch off any non-essential lights for one set hour. The event started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007, but has now spread to include 152 countries participating in the Event, which is being held today, the 29th March 2014.

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Nelson Mandela

 “Let us stand together to make of our world a sustainable source for our

future as humanity on this planet” 

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How is Jamaica Celebrating Earth Hour?

Jamaica is joining the events marking Earth Hour for the second year running and is celebrating the initiative with a free acoustic reggae concert in Kingston at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. The concert is being used as a medium to show Jamaica’s ongoing commitment to tackling climate change and raise public awareness of the issues. At 8.30pm participants at the concert will release 100 lanterns to officially mark Earth Hour, whilst other Jamaicans across the island are being asked to turn off any non-essential lights.

The concert is being organised by Jamaicansmusic.com, in partnership with Flow and includes acts Rootz Underground, Jesse Royal,  I-Wayne, Iba Mahr, Runkus and the Old Skl Band, Aisha Davis, Sezi, Stephanie, Sevana, Dann-I, SkyGrass, Nature, Jah Bouks, Charmaine, Ikaya, Ruth Royes, BLACKasCOLE, Dburnz, Machu Ezra, Eva Hype, D’Yani, Cali P. The concert will be hosted by Jah9, Bay-C of T.O.K, Stephen Newland of Rootz Underground and Keida.

Earth Hour Jamaica Concert
Earth Hour Jamaica Concert

What do the Organisers Hope to Achieve?

We hope that more companies locally will participate in the fight against climate change and spread the word about this movement. We will print and distribute 1,000 tickets which will allow FREE access to the event. A $500 fee will be charged at the gate for patrons without a ticket. Proceeds from the concert will go to Jamaica Environment Trust, a non-profit, non-governmental membership organization who operate Jamaica’s largest environmental education program, the Schools Environment Programme.

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Soundbites About Earth Hour

Thoughts from some of the people involved in Earth Hour.

 

Andy Ridley, CEO and Co- Founder, Earth Hour.

“People from all walks of life, from all nations around the world, are the lifeblood of the Earth Hour global community. They are true beacons of hope, demonstrating what happens when innovation and passion come together to address the biggest challenges of our time. They have proven time and time again that if you believe in something strongly enough, you can achieve amazing things. These stories aren’t unique, this is happening all over the world,”

Gail Abrahams, director of corporate communications for Columbus Communications Jamaica Limited, operators of the Flow brand.

 “Climate change is one of the most important issues affecting our planet. Our partnership for the Earth Hour concert enables us to demonstrate our commitment to action on climate change via initiatives to minimize our negative impact on the environment. As a technology company, we use this opportunity to highlight the importance of smart and responsible use of technology so that we are solving problems rather than creating more for the future.”

Alex Morrissey, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Jamaicansmusic.com

“We’re grateful to have Flow on board again for the second Earth Hour Concert. With Flow’s assistance, we will make progress on our efforts to transcend into a national movement through their reach to a wide cross-section of customers. It’s great to have corporate Jamaica demonstrating their firm commitment and recognition of the importance of efforts to save our planet. Our music has proven time and time again to be one of the most effective ways to convey important messages to Jamaicans. This Earth Hour Concert provides an opportunity to increase awareness of environmental issues in Jamaica. We are excited to join with these talented artistes and the organisers of Earth Hour for this incredible event and encourage as many persons as possible to attend.”

Some of these soundbites were originally from an article in the Jamaican Observer.

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Earth Hour Jamaica 2014
Earth Hour Jamaica 2014

Find out more about the concert at the Jamaicans Music Website Here…

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Grow What You Eat – Jamaica Part 3

Container Gardening in Tropical Climates

The idea for my Container Garden came after a combination of missing the pleasure of growing pesticide free foodstuffs and the desire to put some life into my dreary front veranda. As I live in a rented apartment I need to be aware of not changing anything, plus there is little outside space that I can claim so a Container Garden is ideal. Not only are they non-permanent, you can take all the containers, plants and soil with you when you move so it also saves money, time and effort too! It is easy to manage and keep an eye on a container garden and if something doesn’t work out they are inexpensive to replant with something else. As this is my first time container gardening in the tropical climate of Jamaica, it is going to be trial and error with what will work out. But I am encouraged by the results so far as seedlings start sprouting, this is a record of the growth as of 20th March 2014.

My Cucumber, Garden Peas and French (String) Bean Seedlings

The large planter that was sown on the 3rd of March has a selection of seedlings growing, all of which are coming along so well that I am wondering whether there will be enough room.  Although, I had planned to take out the Tomato and potentially the Cucumber when they had put on a few leaves, in order to give the beans and peas more room. The Tomato is growing at a much slower rate than the Peas and Beans and even the Cucumber is bigger, so the Tomato seedlings look too straggly to be moved at the moment. I am hoping that the Peas and Beans can be encouraged to grow up in vines, as they are ‘bush’ varieties and not supposed to get too big.

Making a Recycled Growing Frame

As there is a multitude of creeping vegetables in the large trough planter I have constructed a frame for the vines to grow along. I found three pieces of metal bar with pre-drilled holes along the length that  were unwanted, so I tethered them together in the corners and tied the whole contraption to the trough planter for sturdiness. Using the holes as eyelets I threaded a metal cord vertically across the bars until I had reached the top. I am not sure that it will be large enough to support all the Garden Peas and French (String) Beans in the trough, but I will extend it if need be.

Recycled Growing Frame
Recycled Growing Frame

My Beetroot Seedlings

The recycled 15 litre oil bottle that was planted up with Beetroot on the 11th March, has also seen growth and the seedlings are coming up in neat rows. I have sprinkled some egg-shell among the seedlings to help keep down the slugs and snails and I keep a keen eye on how much water they are getting. The container seems to be working well so far and is easy to slide around the tiny grass patch for the best spot to get rain, shade and sun.

Beetroot 20 MAR 2014
Beetroot 20 MAR 2014

My Lettuce Seedlings

Of the two types of lettuce that I planted up in recycled soda bottles the Oak Leaf seedlings are the biggest, although the Iceberg is making an appearance. There was a torrential rain storm which all but flooded out some of my collection of containers and I was wondering whether they would still germinate, luckily the lettuce wasn’t totally washed away!

My Okra Seedlings

I am really pleased that several of my Okra seeds have germinated in the 10″ pot. I have tried to grow Okra in the greenhouse at my allotment in the UK, but it was never successful. Although they would grow a few leaves and a tiny Okra would appear, the seedling would always die as it never gets enough heat and sunlight. I have high hopes for these seedlings in the tropical heat of Jamaica and hope I will get some proper growth off of them.

Okra 20 MAR 2014
Okra 20 MAR 2014

My Pepper Seedlings

Mmm, this is a bit awkward…. there aren’t any! They also got flooded out in the rain storm, along with the Tomato seeds in the small soda bottles and I am afraid they haven’t sprouted at all. I am disappointed that they haven’t grown, as I love growing peppers and especially hot peppers which bear quickly and ferociously and serve you with plenty of fresh pickings. But it is not to be. The egg boxes got totally waterlogged and then got really dry, it was hard to find a happy medium. The seeds had been taken from peppers that may have been refrigerated at sometime too and this is also not conducive to sprouting seeds.

My Tomato Seedling

My one little Tomato seedling that had hatched randomly in a flower pot has been doing well in its new home. The recycled soda bottle has much softer earth which is a combination of Organic potting soils and after a few days of stabilising its root system, it looks stronger and is standing upright. I am careful not to put it in too much direct sunlight and I make sure it gets just enough water to keep it happy. As I am aware of the damage a sudden rain-pour can cause to small seedlings, I keep it under the shelter of the roof overhang or nestled underneath a larger plant.

Tomato Seedling 20 MAR 2014
Tomato Seedling 20 MAR 2014

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Air Passenger Duty From London to Jamaica Reduced

Why Jamaica is a great Destination for Visitors

Jamaica has always been a great destination for a holiday, but now there are more reasons than ever to add it to your bucket list. There has been some good news this week with the changes that are going to be made to the APD, or Air Passenger Duty that is payable when travelling from, or through the UK, when visiting Jamaica. This reduction in tax is not only going to appeal to holiday makers, as it will also affect all the passengers who fly to Jamaica to visit friends and family.

What is APD (Air Passenger Duty)?

The United Kingdom has an excise duty (tax) called APD which is added to the cost of flights flying out of any UK airport and includes passengers who ‘stop over’ in the UK for longer than 24 hours for a connecting flight.  The duty is only applied to aircraft that have an authorised take-off weight of more than ten tonnes, or that are capable of carrying more than 20 passengers. As the levy is calculated in ‘Bands’ dependent on the distance flown, long haul flights have felt the brunt of the charges affecting the price of flights to Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. Although the APD tax was introduced partly as an environmental measure to curb carbon emissions, the charges were set at a flat rate and did not reflect the age or energy efficiency of the aircraft on long haul flights.

How Is APD (Air Passenger Duty) Calculated?

Jamaica currently falls into Band C, this Band includes flights that are between 4,001 and 6,000 miles from London to the capital city of the destination country. Since April 2013 this has meant that up to £300.00 of tax has been added to the cost of the flight. However for the first time in years the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced during his Budget presentation that the Caribbean region will be moved from Band C to Band B with effect from April 2015. The new Band B will be charged at the planned rate in 2015-16 of £71 for reduced rate passengers and £142 for standard rate passengers. The reduction is APD has been long-awaited as the steady increases have pushed Caribbean holidays out of many travellers budgets and especially affected the cost to frequent fliers visiting families and friends.

Why was APD Unfair to People Wanting to Travel to Jamaica?

As the APD was based on the distance from London to a country’s capital city, it made the charges unfair and gave favour to other long haul destinations over the wider Caribbean. For example, a 4,400-mile flight to Trinidad is taxed up to £332, but a trip to Hawaii, 7,000 miles away would cost up to £268 tax, because the US capital is closer to London!

How Did Jamaica Help Secure the Reduction in APD?

A CARICOM High-Level Committee was established to tackle the levy and comprised of select CARICOM High Commissioners, the Caribbean Council and representatives from the private sector. The Honourable Arnold J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade co-chaired by H.E. Mrs. Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, Jamaica’s High Commissioner in London, lead the delegation that culminated in a meeting with UK Members of Parliament to raise their concerns about the harmful effect of the high levy on the Jamaican economy. Additionally, a CARICOM Coordinating Committee of Caribbean nationals was set up in the UK to raise awareness of the campaign. Following the move by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, Minister Nicholson described the budget announcement as “a victory for the economic diplomacy of Jamaica and the entire Caribbean region”.

Take this Opportunity to Book Your Holiday or Flight to Jamaica for 2015!

 

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Keeping the ‘Green’ in Jamaica

When I was living in the UK, I had the pleasure of working my allotment for three years which included open land, raised beds and a small greenhouse. I won’t say it wasn’t without its trials and tribulations, but the experience was unforgettable. To be working the land, watching as Mother Nature did her thing producing food, with a little care and attention from me was so fulfilling. I ate and shared organically produced vegetables and fruit, and still had plenty to spare.

In the UK we are going full circle and there is a shift towards how we lived years ago when we practised the mantra of ‘Grow What we Eat and Eat What we Grow’. It’s now high fashion to recycle, pursue crafts, Make Do and Mend, keep chickens for eggs and tend vegetable patches, or allotments.  These are all in high demand even in London, where the produce is something to share and warmly boast over with friends. Ironically, I feel that this way of living is the way forward, although it is in fact the way back. Once declining methods, that have been practised for generations and only kept alive in small ‘cottage’ industries, are having their embers stoked to become flourishing with activity again. I believe that it would be beneficial to Jamaican’s, if this way of living was more understood and accepted in Jamaica too.

Grow What You Eat Jamaica

Spending time in Jamaica over the last 7 years I have noticed that very few people have their own vegetable patch, although a fruit tree or two is often present in the yard. This has always occurred to me as something that is strange, as there is so much space, fertile land and more importantly hungry bellies to fill. Even the smallest amount of space can produce a valuable source of organically grown food right on your doorstep, and if done in the right way, there is minimal financial outlay involved. The crops can be planted in containers or raised beds, so that they can harvested as needed and this food source will supplement the diet and the cooking pot.

I appreciate that there is a wealth of information in the UK that directly relates to the merits of recycling, being sustainable, using alternative farming practises and the health benefits associated with ‘going organic’, but that isn’t necessarily widely available in Jamaica. Which is probably why many of these industries are in a developmental stage at the moment and some people burn or throw away plastic and other trash and heavily use chemicals in the production of their crops. In a country where rubbish collection isn’t available island-wide and the marketing of fertilisers and chemicals for the production of food crops is a financial empire, it will take a lot of public awareness campaigns to change this long-held way of thinking in Jamaican lifestyles and farming.

With all these factors in mind I have long been telling friends in the country who farmed about the benefits of farming in a sustainable and organic way, without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Instead using water harvesting techniques, composting and crop rotation as a way to produce bumper crops, inhibit bugs and disease and even create energy. I feel it is the only feasible way forward in the future with the state of the Environment and we all should be pushing the idea to others if we have knowledge to share.

Often when I am researching I find that one discovery leads to another and I have found that there are many other concepts and techniques within these genres that are interesting and I feel they could play a part in the recovery of Jamaica. Sustainability, Recycling, Climate Change, Organic Farming and Environmental awareness is the theme and I will be going on a journey of discovery and invite you to come with me…

Jamaica’s Green Industries

First stop Jamaica! I am really pleased to find  a burgeoning ‘Green’ industry growing in Jamaica covering many genres. With this in mind in future posts I will be introducing some of the companies and people involved in these industries, alongside some of the creative ideas and concepts I have come across that could be used in Jamaica. Everything is with the aim of keeping Jamaica beautiful, whilst using its natural resources wisely, recycling, living and building sustainably and producing organic non-genetically modified (GM) food.

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Eat What You Grow – Jamaica Part 2

After sharing my Container Garden this week where I have planted things I love to eat, this post will introduce you to the rest of the edible plants and trees that I am growing on my veranda. As I mentioned before I long to have a piece of land that I can plant up with raised beds and fruit trees using Permaculture techniques. This will keep me well stocked up in organically grown produce. With this plan of having a Food Forest I planted up some fruit tree seeds, as well as some young suckers that I have been gifted from here and there. I figured that as they take years to reach maturity I could grow them in pots until I am ready to plant them out when I move.

Why not give it a try yourself? A container garden is easy to manage and is fun to look after as well as a readily available source of healthy food. Grow What You Eat, Eat What You Grow… It’s simple really!

My Avocado Pear Tree

I am especially proud of this Pear, or Avocado Pear sapling, as I have grown it from seed. After enjoying an especially tasty Pear I decided to try my luck and dropped the seed into the bottom of an old 2.5 litre bucket with some common dirt inside. A couple of rescued Almond suckers had recently been put in the bucket too and were trying to put on roots. After almost forgetting about the Pear seed, I noticed a thick dark brown shoot pushing through the dirt, with two tiny leaves. It got to be about 6″ high and the leaves were getting much larger in size and the shoot was as thick as my smallest finger.  Under the shade of the Almond suckers this little shoot grew really tall, really fast. It formed about 6 large leaves and the top had reached right under the tallest Almond sucker, and was so tall the leaves were permanently held downwards.

I decided to re-pot it and hoping for the best I carefully turned the bucket with the three saplings upside down, whilst supporting the stems. I prised the tough dirt apart with a little water and slowly released the roots of each sapling. A plastic 10″ pot was the Pear’s new home and after a day the beautiful large leaves were raised skywards and it continued to thrive putting on new leaves. I decided to pinch out the new leaves that were forming in the middle after it had settled down in the pot in the hope it would make it more bushy and control the height. I check the Pear every day and make sure there are no bugs lurking around that can eat it, as I don’t intend to use chemicals in the growth. I noticed some of the leaves were turning brown, but after researching online I discovered that this was most likely caused to the soil being too wet, so I have laid off the watering! I Love it!

Pear (Avocado) Planted Oct 2013
Pear (Avocado) Planted Oct 2013

My Stringy Mango

There are many types of Mango in Jamaica and everyone has their favourite variety. If I am honest my favourite Mango that I have tasted is the East Indian Mango, which is a large Mango with succulent sweet flesh and a tempting aroma. However, I have not been lucky enough to grow or acquire one yet, but I have three little Stringy Mango suckers. Stringy Mangoes are sometimes overlooked as their stringy flesh has a tendency to get stuck between the teeth when eating it. But, the flesh is still delicious and sweet and although they produce a small stringy fruit, you will still be prising the last of it from the seed and flossing afterwards.

These suckers took a few weeks to settle down as the roots were really small when I got them and they started off in common dirt in a recycled bucket. After about 2 months,  one of them still looks a bit poorly but the other two are now  putting on new leaves, I plan to plant them out in 10″ pots with some compost when I spurge again at the farm store.

Stringy Mango Suckers
Stringy Mango Suckers

My Baby Guinep Trees

To be honest I didn’t realise these were Guinep when I got them, as they were growing in sand on the beach. I just thought the leaves looked pretty and they would make a nice addition to my container garden. It has now been verified by a few Jamaican’s living nearby that they are indeed Guinep and I feel a little guilty for planting them up in soda bottles where they cannot properly spread their roots. They are doing much better now that I mixed in a little compost with the common dirt and they are putting on new leaves too. These are also on my wish list for bigger pots, although I have a feeling that the Tomato and Cucumber seedlings might get there first! Guinep is a delicious fruit, and forms like a Lychee, although the fruit is a beautiful orangey colour and tastes and looks much better. Yum!

Guinep Seedlings
Guinep Seedlings

Mint

I am not sure of the variety, but when seeped the leaves make an excellent Mint tea to clear the chest, cleanse the palate and settle the stomach. This little Mint cutting was made up of a small wisened root-stock with two woody wispy strands that were about 2  foot long. To make it more bushy I set about cutting back the strands to just above the lowest budding leaves, so that they formed two upright sticks for the new shoots to wrap around. This has made the whole plant form new stems and leaves that are fresh and not so woody. I am looking forward to it spreading so that I can harvest it, although again I think a bitter pot with better soil is on order.

Mint Bush
Mint Bush

Thyme

If there was ever a herb that was used in Jamaica, it would have to be Thyme. Used daily in nearly every recipe I can think of this herb is synonymous with Jamaican cuisine and is a must have in my kitchen too. As I didn’t want to wait for it to grow from seed, I just bought a large bundle of thyme in the market and made sure that it had a good root-stock attached to it. Bringing it home I planted it up straight away into a 10″ pot with some dead leaves in the bottom and potting compost on top, before liberally watering it. I will keep an eye on it for the next few days to check the soil is not too wet or dry to make sure the roots take sufficiently for it to prosper. Do not try and plant Thyme that has been in the fridge as this will impede the growth.

Thyme Grow from Cuttings
Thyme Grow from Cuttings

Tomato

I found this little Tomato seedling growing randomly in one of the flower pots. We have been known to put seeds in the tops of  the flower pots to see what hatches as I guess this was one of them! As it was growing right at the side of the pot in tough common dirt I decided to carefully prise it out and re-pot in a recycled soda bottle with some potting compost. It looks much better now, but it is early days and I had to rescue it the other night in a downpour as I didn’t want it to get flooded out or damaged by the heavy rainfall.

Re-Potted Tomato Seedling
Re-Potted Tomato Seedling

Basil

This recycled tin had holes punched around the bottom and was filled with potting soil before having Basil seeds scattered all over it. Two weeks later the little seedlings are growing and steadily filling the surface of the tin. There has been a few near mishaps with this Basil and I am pleased to see with some love and attention it is pulling through. Ants tried to take over the tin and I had to flood them (and nearly the Basil) out and a few times I have to run outside and move it under cover when there has been heavy rainfall in the evening. Basil is used in a lot of Italian cooking and I love eating it with cheese and crackers, pear (avocado) Tomato and a splash of Olive Oil, in salads, with pizza and cheese on toast, with pasta dishes. I am hoping to make some pesto sauce when I have a good stock and can find a local alternative to Pine Nuts. Delicious.

Basil grown from seeds
Basil grown from seeds

 

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What fruit trees are you growing, or what else are you planting in Containers? Can you give me any other ideas of what to plant, or other ways of using the produce?  Get in touch and share you experiences, we would love to hear from you!

‘Recycle Now Jamaica’

‘Recycle Now Jamaica’

I was so happy to find about the ‘Recycle Now Jamaica’ project that was launched on the 12th February 2014, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston. The team behind the recycling initiative aim to tackle the problem of the plastic bottles that are clogging up drains or being burnt in Jamaica. The organisation will be managed by a Board of Directors made up of the Government, through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) and private sector representatives. I really respect the fact that a lot of the big players in Jamaica are being responsible and are getting involved in this project, which will help to tackle the problem caused by how to manage their empty and discarded vessels. This group include, the Wisynco Group, Pepsi- Cola Jamaica, GraceKennedy Foods and Services, Jamaica Beverages, Lasco, Trade Winds Citrus, and Seprod.

The three year plan will see more than $300 million being invested in the project and is expected to create a minimum of 300 jobs for local Jamaicans. This investment means that for the next three years the Government is investing $50 million (per annum) and the private sector is investing $23.75 million (per annum) into the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle recycling project. This may seem a lot of money, but there is a growing demand for the sale of recycled PET bottles worldwide. What was once considered ‘waste’ and if often an eyesore across the island, can be utilised as a valuable commodity with economic benefits for Jamaica and help save the environment at the same time.

How Will the ‘Recycle Now Jamaica’ Project Work?

The Government investment will also extend to the construction of four satellite depots placed in strategic locations across the island which will facilitate the collection of the PET bottles.  A team of certified JEEP collectors will be paid on a weight basis (of the plastic bottles) to take the reclaimed PET waste to the depots.

These bottles will be transported to the Consolidation and Logistics Hub which will be paid for by the private investors involved in the project. The Hub will be include a baling line, storage facility for finished products as well as office space and will primarily be used to super compact and consolidate the recycled PET bottles.

What is the Aim of the ‘Recycle Now Jamaica’ Project?

The primary objective of Recycle Now Jamaica is to reclaim 35 per cent of PET bottles placed on the market over the first three years of operation. In the first year it is expected that 15% of the bottles will be processed, which will mean around 4 million bottles will be collected and processed between the four depots each day. To reach this aim there will be a national public awareness campaign to introduce Jamaicans to the idea of recycling and generate interest in the project. A special campaign intended for school children will be rolled out to get the message across the next generation, who will be benefitting from this responsible project in the future.

Why ‘Recycle Now Jamaica’?

Recycling is good for the environment. By taking care of the environment we can ensure that Jamaica remains beautiful and be-fitting of the moniker ‘The land of Wood and Water’ for generations to come. The development of the country and the increasing population creates greater demands on Jamaica’s natural resources and if not managed properly it will continue to damage the delicate eco-system.

By recycling waste that takes years to decompose in landfill, we can help to conserve energy, natural resources and raw materials in Jamaica. To simply throw valuable materials into the ground, or burn it in open heaps, is not only careless and wasteful it also helps to emit dangerous greenhouse gases, like Methane into the atmosphere. Plastic bottles block drains and gulley’s and cause flooding, are a threat to wildlife and cannot decompose at the bottom of the sea bed. It is significantly cheaper to process recycling then sending waste to landfill (the dump) and in most cases can generate an income as it is resold to be used in a secondary life.

Join in and do your bit. Because we All Love Jamaica.

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Grow What You Eat in Jamaica Part One

With every passing year in Jamaica I always plan to grow a few vegetables so that I can enjoy fresh pickings when I want them and be in control of how many chemicals have been used in their growth cycle. Plus, I am a huge fan of farming for myself, the whole ‘Grow What You Eat, Eat What You Grow’ Campaign really appeals to me. However, these plans have been pretty ‘fruitless’ (if you’ll excuse the pun) so far and I haven’t grown or harvested a thing. When I moved into a new apartment with a small veranda and tiny front lawn I decided to start with some flowers, including some ferns and palms which I grew in containers. When these started to catch in the collection of recycled soda bottles, tin cans and old paint buckets, I bought some plastic flower pots to use for the bigger plants. Coupled with a bag or two of compost and potting soil I went about potting-up some more plant cuttings that I got from here and there, before I knew it I had a handsome collection filling up the front of the veranda.

Introduction to Organic and Sustainable Farming

As I have aspirations of having a ‘permaculture’ garden and a ‘Food Forest’ when I have my own piece of land, I thought about fruits I like to eat too. So I tried my luck with a few fruit tree seeds, with the plan of planting them in the ground when I am living somewhere more permanent. Orange pips were planted in baked beans cans, Ackee seeds in a 2 litre soda bottle and a Pear (Avocado) seed was dropped in the bottom of a bucket housing 2 small Almond tree suckers. All these seeds were taken from fruits that I had eaten with no other preparations made in their planting except pushing them into the dirt and watering them frequently. I have been fortunate in that all of these seeds have caught and are growing very well, the Pear (Avocado) tree is particularly beautiful and is growing at a rate of knots. A couple of Stringy Mango, Guinep and Mint suckers completed the collection on the veranda. I plan to grow all my crops and trees without the use of chemical pesticides and enhancements, only using organic fertilisers.

When researching online I found some information stating that when a tree is not grown from a commercially produced seed, or grafted root stock, that the fruit the tree will later bear will sometimes be inferior in taste to the fruit that it has come from. However, I feel that in the natural environment seeds will germinate and grow from fallen fruit and if left will grow into leafy green food havens. Therefore, I can only hope that my trees will have excellent tasting fruits when the time comes for it to bear fruits and if not, it was a fun and valuable lesson watching them grow in the meantime.

With the excitement of my (literally) growing collection of plants and young fruit tree saplings, the thoughts of growing vegetables crossed my mind again. However the veranda space was limited and the dirt under the ‘lawn’ (a few scraps of grass here and there) was definitely not suitable for growing crops. I thought back to my allotment in London that had kept me (and many others) over flowing with fresh, organically grown crops the three years prior to me moving to Jamaica.  The pangs to grow things again, no matter how limited the space came back to me as one of my neighbours who was emigrating gifted me a large concrete trough shaped planter.

Introduction to Container Gardening

The gifted planter became the first container that I filled with potting soil, I planted neat rows of Garden Peas at one end, with Cucumber seeds in the middle, French / String beans at the other end, with a small section in the front that I placed a few Tomato seeds. I planned to see how everything got on before planting out the Tomato and perhaps the Cucumber, once it had grown to a size. The planter will eventually need to have a trellis fitted for the vines to grow up and I also plan to backfill it with more soil. The finished soil level will reach about an inch or two below the rim of the planter, giving the beans and peas more space to stretch their roots and grow. After one week of sowing the seeds they have successfully hatched and are growing beautifully.

Spurred on by this success, I collected together every container I could find, empty soda bottles large and small, plant pots, egg boxes and a large 15 litre container that was once filled with cooking oil. I placed them in water with a mild soap solution and rinsed out the bottles and caps, before allowing them to dry naturally. I then set about cutting the vessels to make containers in which to plant seeds in and added plenty of drainage holes bored into the bottom. After the vessels where cut to shape I filled the bottom with some dead leaves and then set about filling them up with the potting soil and planted the seeds in a controlled manner. Beetroot was planted in the 15 litre oil bottle, Okra in the 10” plant pot, two different types of Lettuce, one in each of the 2 litre soda bottles, Pepper in the egg boxes, and Tomato in the small soda bottles. The peppers will be a bit of a lucky dip, as I saved some seeds from both hot and sweet peppers and they got mixed up when drying out before planting out! After I planted the seeds I gave them a light watering and sprinkled dried crushed egg shells all over the soil. The egg shell not only is a natural way to deter slugs and snails it also breaks down into the soil and adds nutrients.

Recycling Plastic Soda Bottles

If you have plastic soda bottles you can recycle them to make self-watering pots. Cut off the top of the bottle just above the label to make a ‘cone’ shape. Make some holes, or cut ‘X’s’ around the side and the cap, to allow drainage of the soil. Turn the cone upside down and push it into the bottom of the bottle; if it is tight you can cut some extra 1” deep slashes from the edge of the rim to allow the cone some ‘give’ when being pushed into the bottle. Fill with potting soil and gently push in one or two seeds at the most in the smaller bottles.

A larger 1.5, 2 or 3 litre soda bottle can be recycled into a container garden in a different way. Lay the bottle on its side and carefully cut out a rectangle shape on the side of the bottle, do not cut away the bottle neck or bottle base area. Turn the bottle over and carefully make some drainage holes in the base. Fill with potting soil and gently push in some Lettuce, or Pak Choy seeds; when full grown the bottle will not hold more than one large Lettuce head, or two to three Pak Choy. Thinning’s can be eaten as they grow leaving the strongest one(s) to mature to a full head.

Think about what you are going to grow in the container before cutting it to shape, as some crops are better suited to deep containers whilst over work well in shallow wide containers. You will be surprised at what can grow in a limited space, so get inventive and recycle everything you can to use in your container garden.

Recycling other Containers

In most circumstance, you can safely recycle any vessel that has been used to hold food to grow crops. These containers will be made of some kind of ‘food grade’ plastic, metal or other material, which will not ‘leech’ into the soil and the crops grown within.

‘Grow What You Eat, Eat What You Grow’

Each week I will write up another post to update the growth (or not) of my seeds, hopefully by the time I write next week there will be some seedlings hatching. I will also explore other methods of container growing including some interesting vertical planting systems that I have seen online. I really hope that this venture into container farming will be productive for me. Not only in terms of providing a fresh and readily available food source, but also in terms of showing a few established and bemused local farmers what you can produced by integrating these unusual farming practices!

Oxford Dictionary (online) Definition

of three of my favourite words used in this Post:

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Recycle

Line breaks: re|cycle

verb

[with object]

1)      Convert (waste) into reusable material:

car hulks were recycled into new steel (as noun recycling)

a call for the recycling of all paper

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Permaculture

Line breaks: perma|cul¦ture

noun

[mass noun]

  • The      development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and      self-sufficient: his forest garden is one of Britain’s best models of      permaculture

Origin: 1970s: blend of permanent and agriculture.

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Organic

Line breaks: or|gan¦ic

noun

(usually organics)

1)      A food produced by organic farming

adjective

1)      Relating to or derived from living matter: organic soils

2)       (Of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals: organic farming, organic meat

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Walk Good, Jules

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Keep the Conversation Going….

What do you think about the Grow What You Eat,  Eat What You Grow Campaign? What are you growing? Join the Comments Below….

Sea Turtles Hatching on the Beach in Jamaica

Sometimes you have an amazing experience that makes you feel alright with the world and that money cannot buy. Jamaica gave me one of those truly feel good moments recently when I saw gorgeous Baby Sea Turtles hatching on the beach….

Mother Nature is amazing and I un-expectantly got a taster when I was at the beach recently on the North Coast of Jamaica (for the purposes of protecting the Mother Turtles secret, I will keep the name of the beach between the Sea Turtles and I!). After spending a few hours at the beach we were swimming when slight dew rain started falling and there was lightning flashes out to sea. We were considering coming out of the water, but the rain stopped so we decided to stay where we were. We noticed a crowd of people were forming into a circle on the beach, with everyone staring at the sand. After a couple of minutes of wondering what was going on, it became apparent that there were Sea Turtles hatching on the beach!

Many of the locals believed that the lightning had made them hatch and they were carefully picking up the turtles and putting them in the sea. I have to say they are one of the cutest things I have ever seen. They have the biggest doe eyes and squirm about with real intent to get into the deep-sea and away from predators on the land and in the shallows. I have to admit for a nano-second I really, really wanted to keep one and raise it, but I soon decided this would be cruel and purely for selfish reasons and would not be in the best interest of the little Sea Turtle.

Needless to say I quickly took a few photographs before I swam out really far into the sea with three Sea Turtles. I then said a little prayer for them and wished them a long and happy life! The first two ducked their heads under the water and swam about a metre (about 3.3 foot) before popping up their heads for a gulp of air, before doing the same again until they were so far away I could no longer see them. The last one stuck around for a while longer, whilst I trod water in the deep-sea it stopped for a while and just looked at me with its beautiful big eyes for about a minute or so, before swimming off itself. Again I watched at it swam out into the deep, smiling to myself at the magical experience Jamaica had given me.

Please do not touch, take or harm Sea Turtles if you see them. No Sea Turtles were harmed in the making of this post!

 

If you want more information on Sea Turtles or want to Support the Sea Turtle Conservation Project in Jamaica then contact JET – Jamaica Environmental Trust. http://www.jamentrust.org/conservation/jamaica-sea-turtle-project.html

The Jamaica Environment Trust is a non-profit, non-governmental membership organization operating in the island of Jamaica. We were formed in 1991 and our main focus is environmental education and advocacy.

 

Bugs… I found a cool Beetle in Jamaica

 

[text_justify]Not a fan of insects? This beetle I found in Jamaica caught my eye as it was such a cool bug, but what is it?[/text_justify]

 

May is ‘Bug Month’ in Jamaica

 

[text_justify]After finding all kinds of bugs in my apartment in a matter of hours, my Jamaican friend commented in a knowing way that May is ‘Bug Month’ in Jamaica… Great, I have lived through many things but can I manage a whole month of bugs, insects and beetles?

I have a confession to make, after watching the animated movie ‘A Bugs Life’ I will never be able to look at bugs in the same way again (as long as we aren’t talking about cockroaches or slugs). The film cleverly depicts bugs with big characters and personalities, so when I see them now I always think about their daily escapades in the big wide world and think twice about killing them.

With this in mind I was especially intrigued to see this strange looking bug in my apartment today and thought it looked pretty cool. I don’t recall ever seeing one before, but as far as bugs go it was quite beautiful on closer inspection!  My Jamaican friend couldn’t remember the name of it, but they did comment that it left a horrible scent if it walked on you, so although I wanted to rescue it back outdoors I didn’t want it to touch me. Grabbing a small punched tin tea light holder I scooped it up and took it outside, but the more I looked at it, the more I loved the ‘design’ of the bug.

 

 

The ‘unidentified’ bug was a fantastic shape and appeared to mimic a leaf, maybe as a means of camouflage. It was mottled green on its back, with bright lime and purple coloured lines around the edges of the tough wing case and the translucent wing tips were visible and neatly folded over one another underneath. The head had two curious looking ‘horns’ that looked like the ‘stem’ of a leaf… another camouflage technique?  When I looked at the photographs up close I realised that it looked as if it had four eyes, two of which were large and grey in colour and on the sides of the long face, with two smaller black eyes nearer to the back of the ‘face’.

If anyone knows the local name of the bug please let me know…[/text_justify]

 

When in Jamaica be Conscientious

Whilst we as temporary visitors or returning residents may worry about how far our hard-earned pound or dollar is going to last in Jamaica for the duration of our stay. There is a real situation out there for the poor and disadvantaged in Jamaica. Many Jamaicans have have never had the opportunity to leave Jamaica to earn a foreign ‘dollar’ and experience living in another country. This causes some Jamaican’s to have stereotypical views of foreigners as being wealthy and having easily affordable and replaceable stuff.

Yes, you will find people in Jamaica who prefer to shub out their hand rather than try and find work, the same as in any other country. The UK is certainly just as bad, if not worse for this trait with people taking advantage of the welfare system. But, look beyond this because The Fact Is: Life is hard for the average working class Jamaican.

At times you may have felt the victim of a Jamaican assuming that life is a bed of roses ‘dere a foreign’ (abroad), or got annoyed at a vendor trying to sell you their wares, or the beggar on the street stretching out their hand to you, but there is more to the situation than first appears…. Let me break down what I have gleaned about the living expenses versus wages earned in Jamaica debate and see if I can shift your opinion even slightly.

Jamaican Living Expenses

The Jamaican Government taxes most purchases 20% (General Consumption Tax), so that means every day grocery prices are sky-high and it is cheaper to buy plantain and bananas in London than it is in Jamaica and you can easily spend $5,000 a week or more (if you are frugal) on household shopping if you live outside of the country areas; this post: https://sweetjamaica.co.uk/food-shopping-is-expensive-in-jamaica/ has more information on this.

JPS

Additionally, JPS (Jamaica Public Service) the sole electricity supplier in Jamaica has some of the highest rates for electricity I have ever come across, having paid bills of up to $8,000 a month for a one bedroom apartment; again this has been broken down in a former post, which can be found here: https://sweetjamaica.co.uk/jps-provider-of-electric-power-in-jamaica/

Hi-Lo Receipt Jamaica
Hi-Lo Receipt Jamaica

 

Household Expenses in Jamaica

Where residents have piped water the N.W.C (National Water Commission) also charges steeply and you can expect to pay at least $2,000 a month for the supply.

Rent can be anywhere from $9,000 a month for a room to $50,000 and more for a one bedroom apartment in the popular busy areas that have more work opportunities.

If you have children, you need to supply uniforms, books and school bags and you will need to find around $80 a day for lunch and breaks per child for primary school age children, plus school fees, travelling expenses and lunch money for the high school age children.

All this is before you have paid for your own lunch and travelling expenses to even get to work, which may equate to up to $1,000 a day depending on how far away from your workplace that you live.

We haven’t started on expenditure for clothes, household items, healthcare, leisure, beauty products and so on. With these few examples of living expenses, can you start to identify with the problems some Jamaicans have with managing to live off of their income?

JPS Bill Jamaica
JPS Bill Jamaica

 

Be Conscientious….

To further put things into perspective I heard an advert on the radio for The National Housing Trust Jamaica, that was offering assistance to low-income workers to own their own home and it stated that hotel workers earning less than $10,000 a week could apply. That equates to about £68.02 for a long and hard weeks work at todays going rate, sometimes with little thanks from the guests or mega rich hoteliers.  I could have cried at the injustice and further understood why there is such a tipping culture in Jamaica.

To add insult to injury I saw a massive billboard for a very large and famous Jamaican hotel chain which was celebrating its anniversary. Most startling about the prominently placed billboard was that the hotel chain was boasting that it brought in the most foreign exchange into the country…. Umm, if that is the case, then why aren’t the hotel workers that enable you to earn those ridiculous profits earning more money then?

I then heard another article on Irie FM radio station, that stated that persons in Barbados earn around double what Jamaicans earn, and those from Trinidad earn around 4 times what Jamaicans earn for doing the same type of work. All of these countries are based in the same region and yet the similarities end there as the poverty gap widens due to anomalies in earning capacity and incomes.

If you look in The Gleaner (Jamaican national newspaper) there are vacancies advertised where the average low-income worker can expect to earn up to $1,000 a day for casual work, or for other jobs that are classed as ‘menial’ work, tradespeople can earn sometimes $2,000 – $3,000 per day, restaurant workers could earn maybe $7,000 a week…. Jamaica does not have a welfare or benefits system like we have in the UK or USA, where the Government is able to hand out hundreds of pounds to citizens.  Anyone can do the maths, this makes the living conditions and constraints hard for the everyday person in Jamaica.

Think about it when you complain about the attitude of some of the staff or those who look for a tip in Jamaica. If you were earning less than £100.00 for a 6 day week would you not feel over worked and under paid and perhaps you too would be looking for a way to boost your income in a way that prevented you from relying on criminal activities?

With all this to consider and with the unemployment figures rising in Jamaica, it is time for all of us to look at the hard-working and trying Jamaicans in a different light. Not everyone has had the means, education, opportunity, luck or otherwise to get an ‘office job’ or  a ‘9 to 5’ as we would call it in the UK, so please ‘mi a beg yuh du’ next time you come across a vendor, higgler, shop or hotel worker, gas pump attendant, farmer and so on, don’t just ignore them or treat them with contempt, support their endeavours where you can and do it with a smile! As they in their own small way are forging a path for themselves and their dependants to somehow, someway, ‘tek a ruff life easy’. If you are unable to support them, or don’t want to spend that day, a simple ‘No, thanks’ will do and they will leave you alone!

The National Housing Trust (NHT)

For those that don’t know, the National Housing Trust (NHT) was set up by the Government of Jamaica to lend money at low-interest rates to those contributors who either want to buy, build, repair, or improve their homes, or for those who wish to build or buy on lots. They also develop housing schemes across the island for sale to contributors and they give low-cost financing to private developers. They have become very successful in collecting billions of dollars in revenue and interest from the loans, so much so that they have been at the centre of a debate in parliament as whether to raid the piggy bank over the next few years to help alleviate the debt crisis in Jamaica.

In reality this means that all persons in Jamaica aged between 18 years old and retirement age, whom are in legal employment (whether employed or self-employed) are expected to pay 3% of their income (3% gross for employed persons and 3% net for self-employed persons) into the National Housing Trust Scheme. Should the person need a low-interest loan from the NHT they must have been paying this contribution for a least 52 weeks, before they can even apply to use the highly over subscribed loan service. If contributors do not wish to apply for a loan based on these contributions for a home, they have to wait 8 years before being able to apply for a refund of these contributions. There are other stipulations to these contributions which are described in-depth and more information on the organisation can be found on their website, at http://www.nht.gov.jm

Smell and Feel Irie!

If the smell of tropical fruits and the feel of cocoa and shea butter make your senses come alive then meet Irie Rock Yaad Spa…

Irie Rock Yaad Spa

Since my SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN! blog post, I interviewed a very inspirational Jamaican woman who I am very happy to support and who would defiantly be described as ‘the female boss’. Racquell Brown is the Managing Director, creative, marketing and business brains behind the brand that is ‘Irie Rock Yaad Spa’ a Jamaican beauty gem that you will want to discover….

Their flagship range of 6 lines with 10 different gorgeously scented body care products, has had a new line added which features a tea tree oil and witch hazel skin care range to further meets customers needs. Let me introduce to you the delight that is Racquell Brown and her fabulous Irie Rock Yaad Spa Range that you could be forgiven for wanting to slavour over yourself from head to foot!

Interview with Racquell Brown

 

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

Racquell Brown the owner, creative and marketing force of Irie Rock Yaad Spa.

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

 After leaving Jamaica and living in the UK in 2007, I found that I had dry and problematic skin and couldn’t find a suitable body care product in the shops. So I went to the pharmacy and natural food stores and started playing around with ingredients, taking cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil and mixing my own formulations, I gave some out to my friends and got a good reception. After returning to Jamaica it took 2 years to create the product ranges, 6 months later we had the first hotel customers, 6 months after that I was made redundant from my full-time job, but the next month we got one of our biggest customers.

Racquell Brown of Irie Rock Yaad Spa
Racquell Brown of Irie Rock Yaad Spa

 3. Tell me about your typical working day?

 Entrepeneurs and manufacturers of products have to work very hard as it’s not all glamorous. I have to take care of many things, from the business, creative, marketing and production side of things, such as checking the manufacturing side of the business and ensuring there is enough stock for suppliers, customers, direct customers and end users. In all the chaos and confusion you have to find a balance which is not always easy to find, seeing the madness going on around you and saying to yourself it will all work out. It’s important to have the confidence to know you can bring everything back together.

 4. What is your company philosophy?

 That each and every one of my customers big and small is pleased with service and products and truly happy.

 5. Where is your Head Office based and do you manufacture / produce your products in Jamaica?

 Everything is based in Jamaica, in Spaldings, Clarendon.

 6. Do you use Jamaican raw materials in your products?

Unfortunately as Jamaica does not produce many of our ingredients we have to use a combination of Jamaican and imported products, such as shea butter, which the majority of is imported. We do use Jamaican products where available, such as coffee and coconut oil. Most of the scents are imported in powdered form which is added to the ingredients.

 7. Are you Jamaican?

 Yes!

 8. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about Jamaica?

 Likes:

 1. The people, my customers put everything into perspective for me – our spirit is very optimistic as a people, we are very positive in the most part that things will be better tomorrow, Jamaican people think it will be better tomorrow.

 2. I have found that you cannot beat the beauty of the country whilst driving around the country visiting suppliers and customers, I find it very therapeutic and it lifts your spirits taking in the landscape.

 3. Jamaicans are open to the possibility of something new and different, we are very adaptive, in with new technology, we want to be the 1st movers and shakers when it comes to new things. For example, the response has been amazing to our new range of tea tree oil products. I have created a brand and want adventurous people to try it is see that is it equal or better than our international competitors.

 Dislikes:

 1. The People – we feel we are entitled to things coming to us and not necessarily wanting to work for it. We are wanting to be happy and rich, but don’t always work hard enough at it. We have a feeling of entitlement.

 2. The Government,  what they say and do does not match up, they are not doing enough to invest in small and micro businesses and building manufacturing.

 3. We don’t appreciate what we have in the richness of the culture of Jamaica, we should put ourselves on a pedestal.

 9. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

 Locally we are building Irie Rock brand increasing the volume of products with our tea tree and body care line. Hotels and pharmacies love the range as it is a fresh, tropical, natural, authentic Jamaican range.

 We hope to expand the brand to other countries and start exporting more. We would like to see Irie Rock sitting beside international brands and people choosing Irie Rock over them as the preferred choice.

Irie Rock Yaad Spa Product Group
Irie Rock Yaad Spa Product Group

 10. What is your personal favourite product that you make and why?

I use different products depending on my mood, such as the coffee body butter to energise me if I haven’t had my morning coffee, or if I want something sweet scenting I uses passion fruit, it just depends on mood. I personally sat down and created the range of flavours so I love all of them. I also use the new Facial line as its good for acne prone skin and normal skin as it contains problem solving tea tree oil.

 11. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

The Everyday person. When I see vendors with the odds stacked against them and they still go out there and work. Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson also are big success stories that are truly inspiring . But on a day-to-day basis it’s being with my friends that are living their normal life on a day-to-day basis, sharing a laugh and a drink, that is what really makes a real impact and is what is making a stamp on Jamaica. Creating a legacy not only for ourselves and children, but also to make other people’s life better.

 And finally me I inspire myself ;I depend on me and the grace of God to make things happen for me. You can only rely on you as an entrepeneur, you have to be able to get up out of bed when times are rough and when things aren’t as you want, you need to have the strength and drive to get up and do it.

I would also like to thank myself, as a little girl at school dreaming big, feeling and believing that you are capable of being more than what is presented and executing it. It is a learning curve knowing how you deal with it, nurturing that entrepeneur spirit and having the courage to think beyond what was being presented in front of you. There is a big world out there with so much possibility.

12. Where can we buy your products in Jamaica and overseas?

Most pharmacies, such as Fontana Pharmacy and gift shops and hotels island wide, especially in Kingston stock the range.

We also have a website www.irierock.com where we have lots of European customers and we ship all over the world.

 13. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

With friends, the more you work, you appreciate having lunch and drinks and having fun with friends, the truth of the matter is you inspire each other, we share problems and help one and another. Doing absolutely nothing with my friends, everything we do ends up being good, even if its nothing.

14. If you could be Prime Minister of Jamaica for a day, what would you do?

It’s a lot of responsibility, and a job I never wanted, people don’t appreciate how hard that job must be. I would give more support to micro, small and medium businesses, for us to be sufficient as a nation and increase our production capacity we need the government to help and encourage us by changing the policies that are created in parliament. The customs charges are too high and can be as much as three times the cost of raw materials, we are already contributing to GCT through our businesses, we are creating foreign exchange and we would like it to be nurtured to become a giant in manufacturing. Use strategies here to help our our local industries, Trinidad offers businesses more support.

15. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

Bob Marley, when I think of how uplifting a song of his may be, if your feeling depressed it lifts your mood and transforms your mind in a way that is phenomenal. He has for a very long time, without trying put Jamaica’s name on the international map. When you think of Jamaica you think of Bob Marley, when you think of Bob Marley you think of Jamaica. A brand such as Bob Marley that you can associate with a country, for the new generation it is Usain Bolt who is the new phenomenon. But for me personally he had the most influence on me when I live abroad, its amazing how people treat you differently just through making that connection.

16. If you could impart one piece of advice to inspire young Jamaicans to start their own businesses or succeed in their chosen career, what would it be?

Find something that you truly love.  It is sometimes the hardest thing to recognize, as sometimes we love something so much it becomes like a pastime or hobby, when we could make an honest living out of it and it doesn’t feel like work. Positive thinking is paramount. How you think is how you actually live your life, if you think it is possible, you will live positively and positive things will come, speaking it as to being it. Being negative is not an option, throughout all problems if you have a positive state of mind it gets me through, you have to think and belive that ok it will be better, because I will make sure it is better. Be positive.

17. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

 I am following my dreams of creating something from nothing. I came from a working class family, always dreaming of being a business owner, but didn’t know what to do. I wanted to create something that was bigger than me. I am trying to do that, but the dream is not complete, but I am happy in the direction it is heading. If it was another business, I would want to be able to create something.

18. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

National bakery. When another company takes a smaller company and nurtures them, being a mentor to smaller company. Their generosity of information and knowledge and giving someone else the spotlight, we are selfish by nature and want it all. But the fact that they have been able to do that in a big way, is very inspiring. I would like to mimic and copy them as my business grows, as it is essential to give back. Through our Passion Fruit Scent we give back as it is our charity line.  Each year we choose a charity and the give profits to them. We have chosen the ‘Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation this year. I am passionate about Jamaican Cancer Society and would choose it every year as it is dear to my heart, but in order to not be biased, I have a team of people that help choose. We are also looking at assisting communities at grass-roots levels, such as the charity ‘Marys Child’ which we are supporting next year.

Irie Rock Body and Skincare
Irie Rock Body and Skincare

19. What do you believe contributes most to your company’s ongoing success?

90% of business come from local hotels and referrals. We are not only selling products, we deal with our customers as we would want to be treated. When sitting with a customer we get to understand our customers wants and needs, we have helped to rearrange stores to increase sales. If you support them they will eventually support you. You will create a linkage, a bond and a solid relationship because you are investing in their dream and aspiration, so they will become the interested in your dream and aspiration too.

 20. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

Whether in Jamaica or our International customers we keep intimacy with them, by being professional with a personal touch. When you are finished dealing with a customer they thank you for it and we thank the customer, for saying thank you.

 21. How do you believe we as a nation can help to build Jamaica?

Start small. We can all do something in a small way. We manufacture Jamaican goods and hope that people support us.

22.What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

Get national security in order in terms of getting the crime rate down, getting outside investors trusting the Jamaican brand not because of Bob Marley or Usain Bolt, but because Jamaica is the ideal location. For us to truly embrace the things that will bring us to the next level. Nuturing micro and small business and bringing investors in Jamaica.

23. What are your thoughts on the ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ post on Sweet Jamaica’s blog?

I support it whole heartedly. In order for us a nation to move beyond where we are we need to start buying our own. As manufacturers we need to make sure we are equally comparative or better than our competitors. If we buy international products we should also be willing to buy our local products as well.

Thanks Racquell it was a pleasure interviewing you…. anytime you need a product tester ‘hail me up!’

_________________________________________________________________________________

Want to learn more, buy something or get in touch with Irie Rock® you can do it here:

Website: www.irierock.com
Email: info@irierock.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/irierockyaadspa

Irie ROCK …” The Love Of All Things Natural” ….Your Jamaican Treat

 Press Captions on Irie Rock 2012

 

http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20121110/news/news5.html

 

 

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120820/flair/flair5.html

 

 

http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20120427/news/news6.html

 

Jamaican Postal System

Due to the logistics of Jamaica many addresses do not include a door number, street or road name, merely a district and parish. This makes it virtually impossible for post workers to circumnavigate the island delivering post to every individual residential and business place in Jamaica on a daily basis as we are used to in the UK.

I have to admit that was all I did know about the Jamaican postal system from my travels here over the years. But it wasn’t until I was looking on the Internet for a way to send something to the UK from Jamaica that I came across Jamaica Post, the Postal Corporation of Jamaica and was amazed at the reasonable postal prices and the amount of services it offered.

So in my quest to encourage everyone to  ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ and raise awareness of Jamaica’s industries, companies, outstanding individuals and products, I present to you my first profile on Jamaica Post and ask,

“Instead of using that big foreign courier company, why not give Jamaica Post the business?”

Brief History of Jamaican Postal Service

Don’t get me wrong Jamaica does have a postal service, just not as we know it! Lets have a very brief condensed history lesson to get this straight….

 Way back in 1671, 31st October to be exact, Jamaica became the first British Colony to set up a Post Office in the then capital St. Jago De La Vega, or Spanish Town as it now known. The early settlers had complained that the mail delivery was too slow, so the Governor of Jamaica was instructed to open a Post Office to facilitate a more efficient service. Edward Dismore was eventually appointed as the first Postmaster General of Jamaica in 1754 and proceeded to widen the service by opening a series of Post Offices across the island, many of which remain today as Main Post Offices.

The main Post Office moved from Spanish Town to Kingston in 1776, and although it has moved sites several times it remains in the capital of Jamaica. In 1860 the biggest change occurred in the history of the Jamaican Post Office as it gained full managerial and operational power from the British and the first beautiful and distinctive Jamaican stamps were created and put into circulation. In the 1970’s a grand modernisation programme of the head office was instigated and since the 1980’s the main Post Office has boasted a modern facility with an automated central sorting office.

Mr Michael Gentles has been Postmaster General of Jamaica and the Chief Executive Officer of The Postal Corporation of Jamaica since 1st August 2006. He is much celebrated (and rightly so) as his many forward thinking advancements and modernisations to the Post Offices services and operations have in turn increased customer perception and satisfaction with the service. The Postal Corporation of Jamaica Ltd, has turned itself around and with Mr. Gentles at the reins it now offers more services and has improved dramatically, as you shall see for yourself.

 

Mr Michael Gentles Postmaster General of Jamaica
Mr Michael Gentles Postmaster General of Jamaica

Post Office Services

Jamaican Main Post Offices are open between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and offer a full range of postal services.

Whereas, the Postal Agencies only run on a part-time basis, offering a restricted range of postal services. The full range of services available include:

  • Sale of judicial and National Insurance Stamps (NIS)
  • Acceptance and delivery of letters and parcels
  • Sale of philatelic products
  • Sale & encashment of Postal Money Orders
  • Acceptance and delivery of Registered Mail
  • Express Mail (EMS)
  • Facilitating pre-paid postage
  • Provision of private letter boxes
  • Zip Mail
  • Advertising mail
  • Postal Order (Jamaican $)
  • Community Bulletin (Varies at each Postal Location)

For an up to date price list please check the Jamaica Post website rates. 

Agency Services

Now that PostCorp has made commercial agreements with other companies, the Post Office is able to offer a portfolio of added services enabling you to deal with many other personal administration tasks at the same time, including:

  • Bill payments
  • Document reproduction and facsimile services
  • Gaming products
  • Internet Kiosks
  • Water Coupon
  • Moneygram
  • Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation Smart Card
  • Cool Card
  • PATH
  • Newspaper sales
  • DHL
  • Automated Banking Machine (JN, BNS)
  • Jamaica National Small Business Loans (Varies at each Postal Location)

Collecting Mail in Jamaica

Unless you have a private mail box with your own key, or have an address that has a delivery service, you won’t know if anything has been delivered for you unless you go to the local Post Office and ask. Just tell them your name and address and they will look and see if anything has come for you. Don’t forget, if anyone plans to send something to you and asks for your address, make sure you tell them to include the name of the local post office on the address printed on the front of the article.

Sending Mail From Jamaica

If you want to send something either domestically (within Jamaica) or overseas, there are many services available from Jamaica Post some of which I have outlined:

Domestic Mail (First Class)

The First-Class Mail service can be used within Jamaica (from a Jamaican address to another Jamaican address) for sending letters, postcards, postal cards, greeting cards, personal notes, checks, and money orders. They provide other services for registered mail, restricted delivery, certificates of mailing and postal insurance; anything insured at first-class rate must only contain merchandise or material, not required to be sent as first-class mail. The Post Office aims to deliver First-class Mail within 2 days to local address and 3 days for other non-local (and some rural) addresses.

Registered Mail

If you are sending something of value (there is no limit to the value) within Jamaica it is best to use Registered Mail, as it provides limited indemnity in case of loss or damage.  This delivery type usually takes 2 – 3 business days. As this type of mail provides maximum security, it must be deposited as specified by the Postal Service. Additionally, this type of mail is forwarded and returned without any more charges. In you need to make a claim, compensation is given dependant on the value of the item at the time of sending; insurance is not available for articles of no value. When you send an article by Registered Mail you will receive:

  1. A receipt.
  2. A record of delivery, retained by the Postal Service for a specified period of time.
  3. When registered mail is undeliverable-as-addressed and cannot be forwarded, a notice of non-delivery is provided.

Zip Mail©

If you feel the First-Class domestic service isn’t fast enough for you, when sending correspondence, business documents, printed matter, and lightweight merchandise (e.g. product samples) then try the next day 24 hour turnaround service Zip Mail©.  As long as you get the mail to them before the cut off time and it is well labelled, they guarantee delivery by the next day, to addresses where they usually deliver mail, or to the local Post Office for collection. The largest size for Zip Mail© deliveries is 108 inches in length and girth combined, and the greatest weight is 20 lbs; your local post office will supply Zip Mail© stickers at no extra charge if you ask for them.

Sending Parcels Overseas from Jamaica

Jamaica Post also offers a worldwide parcel delivery service for packages up to 10 kilo. They have a smart rate calculator on their website where you can input the country of delivery and the weight and it will give you an estimate.

This link is for the Jamaica Post Parcel Rate Calculator. Where you can check out rates for other countries: http://www.jamaicapost.gov.jm/rates/parcelrates

 

Jamaica Post Express Mail
Jamaica Post Express Mail

Express Mail Service (EMS)

Jamaica Post also offers ‘Express Mail Service (EMS)’, a fast, cost-effective and secure international courier service. This service enables you to send packages from 1 once to 22 pounds in weight (dependant on the destination) and reaches destinations in 3-5 working days; flight schedules allowing.

Most of the Main and larger Post Offices across the Jamaica offer the service, where you can buy the distinctive orange and blue striped packages.

The closing times for EMS items can be obtained by calling 1-888-526-7676 or 922-9448.

The service is available to the following countries:

  • UNITED KINGDOM
    USA
  • CANADA
  • CARIBBEAN (ie. Antigua, Barbados, Grand Cayman, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia)

Track and Trace

Jamaica Post offers modern parcel tracking for EMS parcels to the UK, USA and Canada. There is a link on their website to track and trace the journey of your goods from Jamaica to its final destination.

All EMS items can be tracked and traced in-house. Internet tracking via the Jamaica Post website is available on our home page for the following countries:

  1. United Kingdom (Royal Mail)
  2. USA (USPS)
  3. Canada (Canada Post)

Customers can track their items via these websites by using the “TRACK & CONFIRM” feature, or by calling the Customer Service Unit at the Central Sorting Office in Kingston, Jamaica, at Tel: 876-922-9448 in order to ascertain the delivery status of their items. In order to assist you when you call, our pleasant, helpful Customer Service Representatives will need to know the tracking (“registration”) number, so please have this information on hand.

Guidelines
The mail item will be checked for compliance with international security regulations and therefore must not be sealed prior to being submitted at the customer service desk.

Express Mail does not transport cash, dangerous goods, hazardous materials or any articles restricted by the country of destination.

All shipments must include addressee’s complete address, postcode, if any, and phone number.
To avoid any inconvenience, all items being sent for repair or replacement should be declared to the postal clerk before being sent abroad.

All non-documents (dutiable items) must be accompanied by a Commercial Invoice. These items are liable to customs clearance on arrival at the country of destination. This may also affect the transit time of the item.

Items Prohibited from Sending Through The Post

Although Jamaica Post does its best to serve its customers, they do have a list of prohibited items that it will not deliver for you, which I have copied from their website. These include:

It is prohibited to send by post:

  1. Dangerous articles (including explosives), inflammable, noxious, filthy deleterious or otherwise harmful substances; sharp instruments, not properly protected; Matches.
  2. Any indecent or obscene print, painting, photograph, lithography engraving cinematographic film, book card, written communication or any indecent or obscene article.
  3. Any article having thereon on the cover there of any words, marks or designs of an indecent, obscene, seditious, scurrilous, threatening or grossly offensive character.
  4. Any article consisting of or containing opium, morphia, cocaine or other narcotics except those forwarded for medical or scientific purposes to countries which permit them to be sent.
  5. Any article containing medicine of any kind unless the formula or the content is printed clearly on the container in English or French. Medications intended for the external or internal treatments of venereal disease are not permitted even if they comply with this condition.
  6. Living animals except bees, silkworms and leeches packed in accordance with regulations
  7. Articles which from their nature or packing may expose postal officials or any other person to danger or may soil or damage other articles or postal equipment in the course of conveyance.
  8. Any article containing or bearing any fictitious postage stamp or counterfeit impression of a stamping machine; purporting to be prepaid with any postage stamp which has been previously used to prepay any other postal article or other revenue duty or tax; or having thereon or on the cover thereof any words or letters or marks (used without due authorisation) which signify, or imply or may reasonably lead the recipient thereof to believe that the postal article is sent on Government Service.
  9. Any article containing coin or gold bullion exceeding ten dollars in value except coins used or designed for ornamental purposes and declared as such.
  10. Any article prohibited by the postal, customs or other laws or regulations of the country or place the article is being posted to or which it is addressed or through which it must pass.
  11. Carbon soiled paper, liquid celluloid, oilskins and similarly oiled goods.
  12. Soil
  13. Perishable articles except when addressed to destinations within the island or when enclosed in a hermitically sealed tin.
  14. Liquid unless packed as provided within specified postal regulations.
  15. Articles composed wholly or partly thereof raw celluloid roll film and cinematography films unless packed as provided within specified postal regulations.
  16. Articles consisting of or containing two or more postal articles (of the same or different inscriptions) addressed to two different persons who are at different addresses.
  17. Articles infringing trademark or copyright laws.
  18. Articles having anything written, printed or otherwise impressed across the postage stamp thereon before posting.

Apart from the prohibitions mentioned above, many countries abroad for various reasons impose restrictions on the importation of certain articles. Prohibitions and restrictions for other countries may be found here:

http://www.upu.int/en/activities/customs/customs-list-of-prohibited-articles.html

Parcels containing articles known to be prohibited from importation into the country of destination are not forwarded but are returned to the senders; parcels declared to contain articles of which importation is permitted only under certain conditions will generally speaking be accepted and dispatched.

The onus of compliance with these conditions rests with the sender; and Jamaica Post and by extension the Post and Telecommunications Department accepts no responsibility for the return or seizure of any parcel through the failure of the sender or addressee to comply with the necessary formalities.

Montego Bay: 10 Harbour Circle (off Howard Cooke Blvd. between LOJ shopping Center and Pier 1)

To finish

I would like to once again urge everyone to use Jamaica Post, instead of one of the large international couriers. Why? Firstly, they give  great service, which is cost effective, safe and efficient. Secondly, in order to build Jamaica we need to use, publicise and generate customers to buy into all that is great in Jamaica, whether that be Jamaican companies, products, industries, individuals, brands or initiatives.

Jamaica Post has its ‘purpose’ written on their website which I believe sums it all up perfectly….

Our purpose is to provide every household and business in Jamaica with the ability to communicate and conduct business with each other and the world efficiently, effectively and economically.

 

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED ON 28th December 2017.

_____________________________________________________

SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!

 

 




Food Shopping is Expensive in Jamaica!

Food Shopping is Expensive in Jamaica!

If you are considering moving to Jamaica don’t be fooled into thinking that it is cheap to buy groceries and household items, because the cost of living and everyday items is somewhat shocking. As I walk around the stores I find myself checking the price of the items I am putting in my basket, as it is all too easy to get a fright at the till when the cashier informs you of your balance. I am sure the reason they don’t start packing the groceries until after you have opened your purse and handed over the money is in case you need to retrieve something and put it back!

Cheap Imported Foods

Don’t get me wrong the cost of food shopping in the UK, or specifically London where I come from, isn’t exactly cheap. But we have an influx of what is universally known by the British as ‘pound shops’, where everyday items can be picked up for, you guessed it, £1.00. European supermarkets also flood the local high streets with knock-down prices on a wider ranges of foodstuffs, helping the working classes to get by on lower incomes.

But this isn’t really the case in Jamaica, as the equivalent $100 shops do not exist. The smaller supermarkets edging in on the market share are mainly Chinese owned and they are highly unlikely to give you a dollar off the going rate, much less create a price war with their competitors. Most basic staple food items, such as sugar, flour, rice, bread, oil, meats, fish and vegetables seem to have a ‘going rate’ at any one time in Jamaica and you will be hard pushed to find a vendor that will go below this current market rate to make a fast sale.

Price fixing as such, is normal so you just buy what you can afford. Simple. But it occurs to me time and time again, how everyday Jamaican people are managing these expenses on their incomes?

There is an influx of imported goods into Jamaica, and believe it or not this also includes things like sugar, bananas, onions, and coconuts. Locally grown and raised produce is often more expensive than its imported counterparts and so the reliance on imported goods perpetuates.

Buying Household Goods in Jamaica

The choice, price and quality of household items found in Jamaica, is likely to very different to what you can find overseas. Whilst there are low-cost items found all over the island, they are often imported from China and are made of cheap flimsy materials which do not last. This makes them uneconomical to buy, as they have to be replaced so often (you buy cheap, you buy twice).

Good quality, modern looking soft furnishings, such as curtains, nets, cushions, blankets, bedding, towels, bath mats, shower curtains and rugs / mats are generally expensive in Jamaica, as the majority are imported.

Kitchen ware, such as cutlery, utensils and pots and pans are also expensive and the choice of brands can be somewhat limited.

Decorative items, such as pictures, ornaments, vases, wall hangings and picture frames are also limited and can be very expensive for the sort of attractive contemporary pieces we are used to seeing abroad.

You may prefer to bring these type of items from overseas and most items can be easily packed into a barrel.

Buying Local – Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican!

There are more and more entrepeneurs springing up all over Jamaica offering a plethora of items for your consuming pleasure! Whether it be furniture or interior design products, gourmet foods and drinks, or beauty and jewellery lines. Supporting these individuals and small businesses helps to build Jamaica and its people. If you want ideas of who, where, how and why you should get involved, read the ‘Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican!’ series of posts featuring some of the best and boldest companies that Jamaica has to offer.

 

Living Expenses of Visitors and Returning Residents to Jamaica

The cost of living expenditures, such as groceries and household items, needs to be factored into the budget when thinking about moving to Jamaica, or when retiring there. As visitors and returning residents we initially start by translating the prices back into our native currency and compare how it equates to living back there, but that isn’t realistic in the long-term.

If you do not work in Jamaica, or have an income stream feeding you from overseas, you may find it gets exhaustive stretching out your hand to pay for things, but getting nothing back in the other hand to replenish it.

If you are considering moving to Jamaica it is a good idea to ‘grow what you eat’ where possible, if you have any space available to do so. There is nothing better than popping outside your very own doorstep to pick and collect the fruits of your labour and it tastes so much better too; especially if grown organically.

Save Money on Groceries – Ship a Barrel to Jamaica!

If you don’t know what a shipping barrel is, it may be worthwhile reading Barrels and Drums – The Basics. As I recommend stocking up and shipping a barrel or two when you can.  Barrels and drums containing food items, cleaning materials, toiletries and household goods, help to cut down on what you have to pick up at the stores in Jamaica. You also have the benefit of having all your favourites to hand, plus items that are non-existent or expensive to buy in Jamaica.

More information: Shipping to Jamaica.

 

Looking for a shipping quotation to Jamaica

The Cost of Groceries in Jamaica

I initially published this post in November 2012 and I listed the cost of some items that I had bought in Hi-Lo Supermarket in Ocho Rios. Looking back at the 2012 prices I am amazed at how much some items have raised since! This is proof in point of why it is so important to consider your outgoings when moving to Jamaica, or visiting here for an extended period of time.

The 2012 receipt has a small selection of ‘non-essential’ items, such as, cigarettes, cakes and beer, but also has everyday items, such as, bread, toilet tissue and fresh seasoning for cooking included to give a wider indication of the price of popular items.

Today’s currency exchange rate can be found courtesy of www.xe.com I have itemised the receipt with the price shown in Jamaican Dollars, UK Sterling and USA Dollars to give an example of a small basket of items from a Jamaican supermarket as of 1st November 2012:

Hi-Lo Supermarket Receipt…

  • Giant Hard Dough Bread: $240.00 JA, or £1.64 UK, or $2.64 US Dollars.
  • 2 x tin Grace Vienna Sausages: $153.12 JA, or £1.05 UK, or $1.69 US Dollars.
  • 2 x Hi-Lo Flaked Tuna Fish: $157.10 JA, or £1.08 UK, or $1.74 US Dollars.
  • Red Stripe Beer (un-chilled): $99.89 JA, or £0.68 UK, or $1.10 US Dollars.
  • Dragon Stout (un-chilled): $118.87 JA, or £0.81 UK, or $1.31 US Dollars.
  • 2 x small chubby soda(un-chilled): $44.60 JA, or £0.31 UK, or $0.49US Dollars.
  • Betty tinned condensed Milk: $159.39 JA, or £0.81 UK, or $1.31 US Dollars.
  • Bulk Margarine: $80.16 JA, or £0.55 UK, or $0.88 US Dollars.
  • 2 x Chippies small Banana Chips: $84.50 JA, or £0.58 UK, or $0.93 US Dollars.
  • Local Onions loose: $84.05 JA, or £0.58 UK, or $0.58 US Dollars.
  • Honey Bun Pineapple Cake: $76.00 JA, or £0.52 UK, or $0.84 US Dollars.
  • Honey Bun Cheese Bread: $95.00 JA, or £0.65 UK, or $1.05 US Dollars.
  • Scott Bathroom Tissue Roll: $53.78 JA, or £0.37 UK, or $0.59 US Dollars.
  • Garlic Loose 1 Head: $16.80 JA, or £0.12 UK, or $0.19 US Dollars.
  • Plum Tomato Pre-packed: $73.56 JA, or £0.50 UK, or $0.81 US Dollars.
  • North Coast Times Newspaper: $43.00 JA, or £0.29 UK, or $0.47 US Dollars.
  • Dunhill lights 20 cigarettes: $621.50 JA, or £4.25 UK, or $6.86 US Dollars.
Sub Total: $2,221.32 JA, or £15.21 UK, or $24.52 US Dollars.
Tax: $294.84 JA, or £2.02 UK, or $3.25 US Dollars.
Total: $2,516.16 JA, or £17.23 UK, or $27.78 US Dollars.

This receipt is representative of just a small basket of items and cost just over $2,500 and does not include a single complete meal, the tax alone is nearly $300. I appreciate the alcohol and cigarettes bump up the price and cake is not an essential item, but these are the sort of things we treat ourselves to when popping to the local shop in London and wouldn’t think anything of buying them.

In Conclusion

It’s not nice to work hard for a ‘dream lifestyle’ somewhere hot and beautiful like Jamaica, if you spend your nest egg in the first couple of years of coming to live here. Unless, you have an endless supply of money and can afford to spend like there is no tomorrow – Start thinking like a Jamaican.

Remember that although it can feel like one endless vacation (as who is to complain) when living in Jamaica, it will soon turn into a nightmare if you do not take into consideration the everyday things such as, Food Shopping is Expensive in Jamaica!

More information: Want to learn more about all aspects of Shipping to Jamaica?

 Thinking of moving to Jamaica

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Bless up, Jules

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Hurricane Sandy Hits Sweet Jamaica

On Tuesday night we went to bed with the wind howling and the rain lashing down and woke in the morning to more of the same, but we had no power. With only the radio on our mobile phone to get information about the storm, we listened keenly to the news bulletins and heard that Tropical Storm Sandy had turned into a Category One Hurricane.

The opinion was that it was going to hit Jamaica’s South coast on Wednesday 24th October 2012, travelling through the country and leaving on the northern coast near to Ocho Rios. Schools and airports have been closed and many areas were on curfew until Thursday evening. Wondering what was happening and if it was likely that my roof would be torn off, I rang my sister in the UK and asked her to find out what was happening! Luckily she was able to look online and kept me posted long into the night about what was going on (God Bless You Emma!). Hurricane Sandy made landfall and hit Kingston in the evening at speeds of 80mph /  125kph and rushed over the eastern side of the country. My sister even let me know when the worst was over as Hurricane Sandy had left Jamaica and was picking up speed towards Cuba.

[text_left]JPS lose Power[/text_left]

It hasn’t been easy the last few days as like 70% of the country we have no power, so that means, no light, no phone, no internet, no cooking – as I have an electric oven and no fridge or freezer, so most of the fresh food you have stored spoils in front of your eyes….

By the time Wednesday night came I wanted something hot in my belly and came up with an ingenious way of making a cup of tea using a punched metal tea light holder as a stand, on which I placed an enamel mug filled with water. It took about 30 minutes for the water to be hot enough to draw tea, but I can tell once the condensed milk went in and I tasted that first mouthful, it tasted like the best cup of tea ever!

Incidently we finally got power back yesterday (29th October 2012).

Night time Hurricane Sandy Jamaica
Night time Hurricane Sandy Jamaica

[text_left]Major Towns on Lock Down as Police Impose Curfew[/text_left]

Most of the island affected by the Hurricane are on curfew as the police try to prevent looting of business places until power has been restored. We would have been dead for hunger if it wasn’t for the bread, crackers, tuna fish and Vienna sausages in the cupboard which barely lasted us until the curfew was temporarily lifted in the evening on 25th October 2012 and we could leave the house to seek hot food in the town, where the larger stores or those lucky enough to have a generator are trading. The town was eerily scanty with hardly anything open and only a few people milling about which was unusual for Ochi.

All the larger chain food stores were open and taking in a tidy trade as locals seeped into the early evening and darkness of the night looking for something hot to eat and somewhere where the light worked.

The large supermarkets took advantage of the trade as people came into town to stock up on dry goods and candles. The small and medium-sized businesses either get by with a few random lightbulbs to guide customers and an increase of staff to keep a check on thefts, or they simply take orders from the door and retrieve the required items themselves.

As night started to come down some people seemed fearful of walking home alone and waited in the fast food chains for relatives to meet them to accompany them home. We decided as we had a 15 minute walk we too should make our way back home and started to walk up the dark main road stepping over debris and trying to avoid large puddles in the darkness.

We heard that the curfew was to be extended as the main grid was down and the police presence on the road was easy to see as night came down. When we got back home we actually sat outside for quite a while as it was a clear bright night with lots of moonshine and it was definitely brighter than the candle light we depended on indoors.

[text_left]Heading to the Hills[/text_left]

By Friday we had enough of staying along the coast and decided to travel into the countryside of St.Ann to stay with friends for a few days. After walking into town we saw the fast food restaurants full up and long lines of people waiting to use the ATM machines at the 2 main banks, as the stand alone cash dispensers still weren’t working. The police were in force again and we noticed the numerous Guardsman trucks with their armed guards that seemed to be working overtime, as they frequently stop and jump out of their truck, diligently surveying the vicinity as they collect money from business places.

As we drove along the main road we noticed men working on the power lines that were on the ground near to Dunn’s River, but there was no sign of any of the street lights working.

We saw pockets of power along the road towards Runaway Bay, although it was mainly dark and lonely looking on the streets. As we turned off at Runaway Bay and into the interior of the country we didn’t see any street lights working and most of the houses were in darkness, it didn’t seem to slow down the bus though as it tore down the roads at the usual breakneck speed!

A few business places were open along the way and were reasonably full as residents came out to socialise and get out of the house for a while. Many people I spoke to in the countryside of St.Ann had commented that they had lost banana and plantain trees, yam canes had been blown down and other delicate crops had been damaged by Hurricane Sandy. I heard of one person whose roof had been torn off and house had suffered extensive damage in the storm and I offered them what help I could.

The hills of St.Ann were in darkness and just one house and one bar had power where I was staying, whereby everyone nearby would come and ask to charge their phone.

Hurricane Sandy Ocho Rios Jamaica
Hurricane Sandy Ocho Rios Jamaica

[text_left]Back to Town… Power Is Back…[/text_left]

After staying the weekend it was impossible to get a taxi down to the next big town on Sunday as many people weren’t working and I had to wait until early evening on Monday before I could leave out to head back for the coast. We had heard that power had been restored in Browns Town, Alexandria (Charlton) and St. Dacre and we saw a JPS (Jamaica Public Service Company – Jamaica’s sole power supplier) truck come up to Grants Mountain on Monday before we left, but still no power in the hills.

By the time we reached Ocho Rios in the early evening it looked as if power had been restored to the town centre and we headed out of town we were pleased to see that JPS had restored power in our residential area.

Unfortunately I had to throw away nearly all the fresh food as the power had been off for 6 days by the time I managed to get home. But at least I could cook, have cold drinks to enjoy and use the light, charge my BB and use the internet!

[text_left]God Bless Portland, St. Mary and St.Thomas[/text_left]

Although I had heard that most of the worst damage was felt in Portland, St. Mary and St.Thomas, it was only on looking on the internet today that I realised the full extent of the damage in Jamaica and felt so grateful for just losing power and a few fresh goods in the past week.

One man lost his life and I saw pictures where people lost their houses and were standing in the shell of their home looking at what could be saved. Many trees fell down and power lines were ripped from the ground leaving residents without power up to now.

[text_left]Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller Response[/text_left]

The  Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller announced on Tuesday that 71 houses have been found totally destroyed and 348 were severely damaged in eastern parishes raked by the hurricane; she is determined to fast track the building legislation to prevent houses being built in unsafe areas again. Heavy damage to livestock, peppers, coconuts, bananas, and the island’s Blue Mountain coffee, has also been felt with early estimates of the financial aftermath of the Hurricane coming in at least $16.5 million.

The Jamaican prime minister states has there have been pledges of support for storm recovery from Germany, Japan, France, Trinidad & Tobago and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Jamaica is also trying to forge a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund and went on to say:

“Even before the hurricane we faced serious economic challenges. This has been made worse by the passage of Hurricane Sandy,” Simpson Miller said.

 

My heart goes out to those affected by Hurricane Sandy and I hope that power is restored soon to the island to help bring back some semblance of normality and so that people may go back to work. May family, friends and neighbours come together to help one another at this time of need.

[text_left]Charity Efforts[/text_left]

YB Afraid Foundation – The first charity efforts in the Portland region was by Yohan Blake’s YB Afraid Foundation working alongside Food For the Poor whereby they distributed supplies to about 700 striken residents.

Digicel – I also have to say a big up to Digicel as they kept their promise and enabled those in Jamaica to keep in touch with friends and relatives both in Jamaica and a foreign throughout the whole week by keeping the phone system working. They have also been giving emergency supplies packages to about 3000 residents in the Manchioneal and Annotto Bay area after making an aerial assessment of the worst affected areas of the island. A representative stated:

“In times of natural disasters I think it is important that we move quickly to help the most vulnerable in our communities, and today thousands came out and collected relief packs in the Manchioneal and Annotto Bay area today. We toured sections of the most affected communities yesterday and decided that we were not going to wait to help. And so we partnered with ODPEM and the Salvation Army to swiftly undertake this relief effort today,”

he went on to say:

“the need is great out here. With no electricity in most areas in Portland and St. Mary, some persons haven’t gone back out to work as yet and so these rural communities are really in need. That is why Digicel decided to undertake this relief effort by not only providing charging stations in various areas but also basic food items to assist with day to day living.”shared Digicel Jamaica CEO Andy Thorburn.

Jamaica National Building Society – has slashed it remittance fees by 50% as part of their efforts to help in the national recovery programme after the passage of Hurricane Sandy. The offer extended to Jamaicans in the Diaspora remitting funds to local relatives and friends. The discount is aimed at facilitating the response to relatives and friends, particularly persons in the parishes of St Thomas, Portland and St Mary, who were significantly affected by Sandy.

Tropical Storm Sandy approaches Jamaica

Tropical Storm Sandy made contact with Jamaica, as the rain and wind lashed the island it soon turned into Hurricane Sandy, this is how it began…

Hurricane Warning issued for Jamaica

On Tuesday morning Jamaica was on Hurricane Warning as the country awaits the arrival of Tropical Storm Sandy, which is expected to hit the southern coast on Wednesday (see image above) morning. The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicts will reach hurricane category One (1) status, on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, with winds topping out at 80 mph (128 km).

The centre of the storm was about 260 miles (420 km) south-southwest of Kingston, the Jamaican capital, on Tuesday evening and reached top winds of 50 miles per hour (85 kph). The ‘eye’ of the storm is predicted to hit the capital before moving across the country up to the popular tourist resort of Ocho Rios dumping as much as 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) of rain across parts of Jamaica.

Where I am staying near to Ocho Rios the rain has fallen very heavily since this morning, except for short intermittent times where there is a lull and it falls lightly. On the other hand I have heard that apart from a small amount of rainfall this morning Montego Bay was dry for the rest of the day and into the early evening.

There hasn’t been a direct hit from the ‘eye’ of a hurricane since Hurricane Gilbert which caused considerable damage across the island in 1988 and many islanders are stocking up on food and re-enforcing roofing and other unstable areas of their homes and properties in preparation, as the acting Prime Minister Peter Phillips says that

“all Jamaicans should take the threat of this hurricane seriously”

The Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has cut short a 5 day visit to Canada to return to the island as authorities in Jamaica are jumping to prepare for the arrival of the hurricane.

Ministry of Education

Under recommendation from The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) the Ministry of Education has decided that schools should be closed on Wednesday and will be re-opened once it is deemed safe to do so. Many schools have been listed as disaster relief centres and have officals been advised to put away all important and expensive educational materials. The education ministry has instructed all schools to activate their emergency plans immediately.

Jamaican Airports on Lock Down

All flights from Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston have been cancelled from 10.00pm on Tuesday night when the last flight leaves Jamaica; this closure will be in effect until the storm passes.  Travellers have been advised to contact their travel operator for more details, the website has updated information: http://www.nmia.aero/news_events

Sangster International airport, Montego Bay has halted all flights from 8.00am on Wednesday, until the storm has passed over the island. Travellers have been advised to contact their travel operator for more details, or check out the website for more details: http://www.mbjairport.com

Tropical Sandy Graphic
Tropical Sandy Graphic

Curfew Orders in Place

Minister of National Security Peter Bunting has issued curfew orders for selected areas effective from 6 p.m. Tuesday; the curfew orders would stay in effect until Thursday  morning and would be enforced by members of the Police Force and Military. Only persons who work in the emergency services, those who deliver newspapers and late night workers will be allowed access in and out of the areas under curfew if they are in possession of proper identification. The curfew has been put in place in order to curtail the looting that has been known to be carried out during these types of circumstances.

The affected areas for the curfew are:

Area One 
. Montego Bay
. Lucea
. Savanna-la-Mar
. Falmouth
. Duncans
. Clarkes Town
. Wakesfield
. Albert Town
. Grange Hill
. Darliston
. White House
. Hopewell
. Sandy Bay
. Green Island

Area Two 
. Ocho Rios
. Port Antonio
. Port Maria
. St. Anns Bay
. Brown’s Town
. Annotto Bay
. Highgate
. Gayle
. Buff Bay
. Oracabessa

Area Three
. Mandeville
. May Pen
. Chapelton
. Lionel Town
. Frankfield
. Crofts Hill
. Christiana
. Spalding
. Porus
. Santa Cruz
. Black River
. Junction
. Balaclava
. New Market

Area Four
. Downtown Kingston
. New Kingston
. Half Way Tree
. Industrial Estate
. Winward Road
. Rockfort
. Rollington Town
. Vineyard Town
. Franklyn Town
. Mountain View
. Harbour View
. Port Royal
. Bull Bay
. Cross Roads
. Papine
. Liguanea
. Three Miles

Area Five
. Spanish Town
. Portmore
. Linstead
. Spanish Town
. Morant Bay
. Constant Spring
. Old Harbour
. Stony Hill
. Bog Walk
. Yallahs
. Seaforth
. Port Antonio
. Port Morant
. Bath
. Golden Grove
. Red Hills
. Barbican
. Golden Spring
. Lawrence Tavern

Evacuation Orders

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has issued mandatory evacuation orders for at-risk communities situated in low-lying areas of the country and those near to the coast or other areas that are prone to hits from hurricanes. Fisherman on the cays have been told to return to the mainland, although there are reports of about 100 fisherman that are stranded, as they do not have enough fuel for the return trip.

150 shelters have been identified across the country which people are being encouraged to move to for their own safety. Many people refuse to leave their homes as they are more concerned about looters coming in and stealing things whilst they are not at home.

Mandatory Evacuation Areas

Kingston and St Andrew

  • Hope River Valley to include Kintyre, Tavern
  • Bull Bay to include Taylor Lands, Weise Road, Cane River Pen and Caribbean Terrace

Clarendon

  • Alley and Portland Cottage

St Catherine

  • Nightingale Grove
  • Sections of Lauriston closer to the Rio Cobre, Thompson Pen, Dam Head, Fairview, St John’s Road, Frazer’s Content and Hellshire Fishing Beach.

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office web page for Jamaica, which gives updated and in-depth information about Jamaica can be found here: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/north-central-america/jamaica

  • There is a Hurricane Warning in place for Jamaica. Tropical Storm Sandy is likely to be at Hurricane strength as it passes over Jamaica on Wednesday 24 October. Tropical Storm force winds are expected to start affecting Jamaica on the evening of Tuesday 23 October. Visitors to Jamaica, or those intending to visit, should monitor media for updates and keep in touch with tour operators or travel service providers. You can find advice on preparing for a hurricane in Jamaica here: http://ukinjamaica.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/travel-advice/how-survive-hurricane
  • The hurricane season in Jamaica normally runs from June to November. You should monitor weather updates.

The website for the U.S. National Hurricane Center for the latest details and diagrams of the progress of the storm can be found at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at3+shtml/203623.shtml?3day#contents

Dengue Fever in Jamaica Continued….

Dengue Fever is still posing a risk to Jamaicans and visitors to the island as the recorded cases of the illness are continuing to rise, with 5 suspected deaths to date.

The rain that is pelting the country may provide new breeding grounds for the Aedes Aegyti mosquito which transmits the virus as new vessels and containers fill with water. Efforts to disperse areas already containing stagnant water are now also put at risk as people are encouraged to stay indoors due to the Tropical Storm Sandy which is threatening to lash the island from tomorrow.

To give an update on my friend who contracted Dengue Fever, they have finally recovered from Dengue Fever after 2 weeks, although they are a little slimmer! They feel fit and healthy again and do not complain of aching anywhere in the body, bones or head, their appetite has come back and their body is functioning normally again. Which is a big relief.

Nowadays I religiously burn destroyer coils and wear mosquito repellant on exposed skin everyday,  I also sleep under a mosquito net every night, just because the worst is over for my friend it does not immunise anyone from contracting the virus again…. And they say prevention is better than cure.

The latest news in Jamaica is that of 23rd October 2012

The Jamaican Information Service is recommending and reminding persons who are suffering from severe symptoms of Dengue Fever or Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) to visit the nearest health facility immediately. The whole article can be read here: http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/32062

The Health Minister The Hon. Dr Fenton Ferguson is dedicated to tackling the problem which is getting worse and comments:

He noted that so far some 450 communities have been fogged; over 3,500 premises visited and approximately 5,000 containers inspected. “All containers found to be breeding sites for the aedes aegyti mosquito, which transmits dengue, have been treated,” the Minister said.

He pointed out that the intensified programme is expected to last until December 2012, but will be continued beyond that date if the need arises.

 

The Minister confirmed an increase in dengue fever cases for this year, noting that as at September 29, there were a total of 1,215 suspected cases, of which 345 had been confirmed. This compared to 887 cases in 2011 and 3,202 in 2010, which had been regarded as an outbreak year.

 

There have also been five suspected deaths associated with the disease, with one confirmed case, via autopsy. The victim was a 15 year-old male of Kingston and St. Andrew, who also had the sickle cell disease.

 

Dr. Ferguson said all parishes have been affected to date, with Kingston and St. Andrew showing the highest incidence of the disease, with 599 or 50 per cent of the cases.

 

The breakdown of suspected cases in the other parishes include: 71 cases in St. Catherine; six in St. Thomas; 19 in Portland; 36 in St. Mary; 67 in St. Ann; 20 in Trelawny; 66 in St. James; 38 in Westmoreland; 24 in Hanover; 30 in St. Elizabeth; Manchester, 128; and Clarendon, 82. There are an additional 29 cases for which no parish has been designated.

 

Read the full article from the Jamaican Information service at: http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-106/32050

Dengue Fever in Jamaica!

Don’t get caught out Dengue Fever is a serious disease that can make you feel terrible for weeks, take precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos when travelling.

I have to admit that as I regularly travel I like to make sure my inoculations for diseases that are prevalent in the country I am travelling to are up-to-date, although I decided against anti-malaria drugs due to the side effects and likelihood of getting the disease whilst in Jamaica. I am also aware of the risks to health in Jamaica and even wrote a post about it, but although I do sleep under a mosquito net I don’t regularly spray myself with mosquito repellant, until now…

Dengue Fever is alive and well in Jamaica current as of October 2012, although the worst recorded epidemic was in 2010, there have been many cases recorded in the local press including 5 reported deaths. A close friend of mine was diagnosed with Dengue Fever last week and I can tell you it is painful and not at all pretty to watch someone with the virus trying to fight it off.

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How You Can Prevent the Spread of Dengue Fever:

  1. Spray yourself and your children with mosquito spray containing DEET, or wear clothing to cover the body.
  2. Cover windows and doors with a mesh to prevent mosquitos from entering your premises, as the mosquitos that carry the virus feed mainly in the daytime.
  3. Empty or pierce all containers and vessels that contain stagnant water to limit the breeding grounds for mosquitos.
  4. Sleep under a mosquito net.

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Dengue Fever Symptoms

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  • Headache in the front forehead area
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Hard to keep eyes open
  • No appetite
  • Back Ache
  • Whole body aches
  • Want to sleep
  • High fever
  • Feel the need to vomit
  • Stomach Ache, cannot pass bowels
  • Extreme cases: Nose Bleeds, or blood from other orifices GO TO HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY

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Treatment for Dengue Fever

[list style=”1″ underline=”1″]

  • Panadol, or Paracetamol based products ONLY
  • DO NOT TAKE IBUPROFEN based products as it can cause the patient to bleed
  • Keep cool with wet flannel / rag
  • Drink fluids
  • Bed rest with mosquito net cover

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Dengue Fever

 

Day One…

One evening my friend first complained of a headache in the front forehead area and pain behind the eyes, making the eyes feel weak and which even after taking pain killers would not subside. After lying down for about 45 minutes they were encouraged to drink some peppermint tea and eat something as it may ease the headache, but they had no appetite and barely ate a few mouthfuls of food before saying their whole body ached and they wanted to sleep. A few hours later they woke up and had the onset of a high fever, a terrible headache and felt like they wanted to vomit, which again painkillers would not ease.

Day Two…

In the morning as they seemed worse with a very high fever, headache, could barely open their eyes, feeling weak and aching all over, so they were taken to a medical centre and paid $2,500 to see a Doctor, which consisted of a visual check over, blood pressure test, taking of body temperature and a pin prick finger blood test. They were then advised it was possible that Dengue Fever was the reason for the illness and that the test to confirm would be an extra $3,700 which included a blood platelet count test. After waiting about 30 minutes it was confirmed that they had Dengue Fever and was advised as there was no ‘cure’ or anti-viral treatment and that the body generally fights it off within a week to 10 days, although it can take up to a month to feel better. I hurried to the pharmacy and additionally bought mosquito spray and destroyer (mosquito coils) as the only advice was to get a prescription for Panadol which could be taken 2 tablets 3 times a day, to get bed rest for 2 weeks and drink plenty of fluids, oh, and if they had blood coming out of their facial orifices to go to the hospital immediately…..

As soon as we got back we searched the Internet for information as the last piece of advice really scared us, where we found out there were 3 different types of Dengue Fever and you could tell it was getting worse if they started loosing blood from the nose, gums etc as it was the blood capillaries bursting. We also found out that it is spread by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito which feeds mainly in the daytime and is attracted to lay her eggs in stagnant water, which contains dead leaves and plant matter. So that meant if another mosquito bit them whilst they had Dengue Fever, which then bit anyone else it would be passed on and the 2nd person and they too would have Dengue Fever, or worse still if they were bitten by another mosquito which carried Dengue Fever they could develop a worser strain of the virus.

Shortly after they were put to rest under a mosquito net, kept cool by constantly replacing cold wet rags placed over the head, back of neck or chest and encouraged to drink water at least once an hour, even if it meant they had to be woken up to be made to drink. They drank a little fish tea (soup) and went back to bed. The second day was fretful as they kept waking up in pain, coughing and feeling like they wanted to vomit, burning hot like you could fry and egg on their skin and generally in a bad way with a stomach ache. After asking for some oats to drink (oats, water, vanilla essence and nutmeg) around midnight they laid down and almost immediately went to the bathroom to vomit, whereby they said it eased off the stomach ache a little. Afterwards they laid back down and slept restlessly.

Day Three…

This morning they looked a little better and after being bathed in cold water and given pain killers they rested again and felt well enough to eat a little rice and peas and fish and the fever seemed to ease. After going back to sleep again and waking up in pain with high fever, they were put in a bath of cold water to lie down for a while which again eased the fever. The pain in their back was really bad which we felt was caused by lying down for so long so we tried a back massage which relived it a little, but there was nothing we could do to stop the stomach ache including drinking milky drinks such as Lasco and Nutriment to try and get the bowels working.  Another fretful night followed with high fever and stomach and back pain which seemed to get worse.

Day Four….

After staying up late and looking on the Internet the worry set in as it mentioned that if the patient develops more symptoms such as stomach ache it could be due to a worser strain of Dengue Fever and they should be taken to the hospital. So we decided it was best to get a further check so they were bathed in cool water again and dosed in DEET Mosquito Spray. We packed a bag in case they had to stay overnight before making the 15 minute journey to St.Ann Bay Hospital. Although we arrived at about 9.30am the hospital was packed full of people, including many children with their parents. There seemed to be a high level of people with suspected Dengue Fever and we waited to see the staff at the Information desk first where they listened to your symptoms, took your temperature and blood pressure and gave you a document to take to registrations. After queuing again at registrations they gave you your medical records (if you had been to the hospital before) and you then had to take them back to Information desk where you put them at the bottom of the pile of records to wait for your name to be called. Whilst waiting they went to the toilet and at last they had a bowel movement!

We waited for about  1 1/2 hours before about 10 people’s name were called and we were all ushered into another seating area in a corridor to wait to be seen by the doctor. After another wait of about 1 1/2 hours they were seen by the doctor were a blood sample was taken and a rather large injection of penicillin was received in the batty cheek (bottom) which proceeded to give them a new source of pain in the way of a dead leg! We were told to expect a 3 hour wait for the blood test and they were given 2 glasses of electrode salts to drink to prevent dehydration and to replace natural bodily salts lost through sweating and fever.

We decided to wait outside and after waiting about 3 1/2 hours with no news we went inside to find out what was happening. It actually took nearly 6 hours to be seen by the doctor again to get the results….. it appeared that we had not heard when they called our friends name and if we had not persisted to get seen by the doctor again we would have probably been waiting all night! Needless to say we were told to go home and continue with the same care and return on Tuesday to have another blood test to check the platelet count.

The night followed with fever and back pain and a somewhat restless night, so the cold rags (flannels) were used to keep them cool.

Day Five and Six…

Although they feel a little better than before and the fever isn’t so high they still look sick and get tired easily, their appetite hasn’t increased much and they prefer to lie down rather than sit for long periods of time. They are having regular bowel movements and sometimes cough until they nearly vomit. Tomorrow we go back to the St.Ann Bay Hospital for the 2nd Blood Tests at the Lab…..

What is being done by the Government of Jamaica?

Associated Press has put out an article about Dengue Fever which was based on a conversation with Jamaica’s Health Minister Fenton Ferguson. The article claims that fumigation trucks have been dispatched to try and control the spread of the epidemic across the island and school children are being encouraged to disperse stagnant water in small vessels and containers. The story was took up by businessweek….

Jamaica is stepping up mosquito eradication across the island and urging school children to stamp out breeding grounds to combat an epidemic of dengue fever, the Caribbean country’s health minister said Thursday.

Health Minister Fenton Ferguson told reporters there have been five suspected deaths from the mosquito-borne virus in Jamaica so far this year. Only one has been confirmed with an autopsy.

There have been more than 1,200 suspected cases as of Sept. 29, compared to 887 during the same period last year. About half the cases have occurred in the southern capital of Kingston. However, this year’s cases are far less than in 2010, an outbreak year.

Officials have dispatched fumigation trucks to spray roughly 450 neighborhoods and teams are clearing storm drains that are clogged with debris. Thousands of premises have been inspected, Fenton said….

The full article can be read at: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-10-12/jamaica-steps-up-efforts-to-combat-dengue-fever

 

This information about Dengue Fever which is specific to Jamaica is from the NaTHNaC Website:

DENGUE FEVER

Dengue is a systemic viral disease.

Risk assessment
  • Epidemiology – Dengue is known or has the potential to occur in this country.
  • Exposure – Dengue is transmitted via the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes feed predominantly during daylight hours and are most abundant in urban or peri-urban settings. All travellers to dengue areas are at risk.
Risk management
  • Travellers should take mosquito bite avoidance measures. Aedes mosquitoes feed predominantly during daylight hours.
  • There is no vaccination or medication to prevent dengue.
  • A previous dengue illness with one of the four dengue virus serotypes does not confer immunity to other virus serotypes.
  • Infection with a second dengue serotype may be a risk factor for the development of dengue haemorrhagic fever.

The Full information about Health Risks is Jamaica can be found at https://www.nathnac.org/ds/c_pages/country_page_jm.htm

Yardies, Rent-a-Dreads and Marijuana in Jamaica

The first time I planned to travel to Jamaica in 2006 it amazed me how many people (from all different races and heritages) had a negative opinion about the country and were concerned for my welfare, but few had actually ever been there to give me first hand experiences. The misconceptions about Jamaica were rife, accusing and sometimes just amusing where the ‘non believers’ would give tales of Yardies, Rent-a-Dreads and Marijuana and not much else.

On the other hand my Jamaican born friends who now lived in the UK gave me a very different insight. It generally consisted of them initially telling me that they ‘grudged me’ as they weren’t going and went on to the fact that everything tasted sweeter, it was more beautiful and clean, the nightlife was better and often ‘out a door’, the roads and drivers were bad (and I mean the dictionary definition!) and if you had money to spend you could ‘fulljoy’ yourself in Jamaica. The story telling and reliving of memories would go on long into the night to relive and detail all that great, good and better about Jamaica.

Negative Attention

I have long thought that the media has a big part to play in helping to create the negative opinions of the general public in the U.K. and the wider world, as newsworthy stories about Jamaica often feature coverage of explosive events with a criminal content.  The fragrant use of the word ‘Yardie’ to depict gangsters and drug cartels portrays the country in a negative light making potential visitors question the safety of travelling and living there.

The travel industry also has its part to play, as it is widely considered that the large hotel groups in Jamaica recommend that guests should stay on the complex and promote and organise excursions to keep the money rolling into their pockets. Thus giving tourists and visitors to the island the impression that warfare is going on in Jamaica if you are not in the confines of high hotel walls and transportation system.

And the most amusing assumptions that I heard was that rasta’s were walking around everywhere either selling and smoking copious amounts of Marijuana on a daily basis, or offering themselves in the rent-a-dread fashion on the beach. Woyeee!

Putting all the negative opinions of others aside I thought to myself before leaving, what is there not to love about this island that has so much to offer? From the people, weather and the food, to the music, scenery and the beaches, my immediate thought was that Jamaica has it all and I couldn’t wait to get there.  As I planned to eventually live there, these differing opinions not only intrigued me, but also became a source for feeding my love of knowledge and new experiences. If I was going to travel there as a pre-cursor to living there, I was going to immerse myself in everything to make sure I could manage it. I wanted to see, hear, smell, taste, feel and experience what the real Jamaica was all about for myself.

Well, I found out…. and I want more!

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To answer readers search queries and questions about this post title…

What is and where can I find…?

Yardies:

[text_justify]A terminology born from the media where Jamaican criminals are referred to as Yardies. To avoid bad situations and unsavoury characters in Jamaica, my best advice is to use your common sense, keep your wits about you and do as you would in a unfamiliar area back home – take precaution. Leave the jewels at the hotel, or better still at home and do not get a false sense of security because you are off of your home turf enjoying a tropical holiday. Yes, there is crime in Jamaica, but it is mainly gang based violence in areas you won’t be going to and crime against tourists is few and far between. Don’t let it ruin your stay worrying about it, remember you can find criminals in your own garden back home, as unfortunately they are everywhere.

Rent-a-Dreads:

A man who usually hangs around the tourist nightspots and especially the beach, looking for foreign women to ‘liaise’ with. They will usually have dreadlocks, are full of charm, will hold your hand and will tell you anything they think you want to hear for the duration of your stay. The exchange is simple – A good time for the woman with (invariably) a young good-looking and shall we say ‘fit’ Jamaican stud. In return for ‘looking after’ the man by being expected to pay for drinks, meals, days out and sometimes expensive clothes, gifts and accommodation. These meetings sometimes last for many years with the tourists coming back to Jamaica for another vacation and meeting up with the man for another round of mutual indulgence. In case you are wondering men visiting the island are also catered for, although I haven’t seen any women with dreads offering their ‘wares’!

Marijuana:

Marijuana is illegal in Jamaica and you can be imprisoned, deported and banned, or at the very least fined for being found in the possession of drugs of any kind. It is frowned upon by many people, you cannot drive and walk around the island freely smoking it and the island is NOT overrun with weed smoking Rastas who turn a blind eye. However, if you do choose to buy it you will find it is widely available and if the seller doesn’t totally rip you off with tourist prices, it is incredibly cheap compared to the UK with a small bag being between $50 – $100 (Jamaican). Be mindful of undercover police and the fact that it may be stronger than what you are used to. Please remember Marijuana is illegal in Jamaica and I do not advocate it. Do not attempt to carry any off of the island with you, the ports and airports have stringent security and if caught, they are less likely to be sympathetic to your naïvety than some of the police.

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Wow your nails look pretty!

Before I travel to Jamaica I have to find time to get my finger and toe nails ready too…. a tropical climate needs a hot and colourful mani and pedi!

Feet

Lovely things feet, take you everywhere you want to go, and they will not only get a daily airing (that those from the UK can only dream about), they will also get a fair bit of wear and tear in the process. I tend to spoil myself with a pedicure before I leave the UK and get my toenails painted in bright colours as they will be on show on a daily basis in slippers (sandals / flip-flops to us in the UK). Dry cracked heels and manky looking toenails are so NOT a good look when your feet are on show so take note!

I buy the foot scrub blocks from the chemist (drug store / pharmacy) to give my feet a quick once over when I hit the shower to keep the rough skin at bay, and if I am totally honest to scrub the red dirt (many regions in Jamaica have red earth) stain off of my feet! Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your feet when out in the sun as they burn too and cover them in cream in the evening to stop them looking dry and pitiful.

When in Jamaica…

You can get your pedicure refreshed in many establishments or by local mobile technicians throughout Jamaica and in most larger inland towns, such as Browns Town in St. Ann’s, you can expect to pay about $600 this includes applying tips on your big toes; but you will find the price goes down to around $500 for the more rural areas. A bright nail pattern design which is often hand-painted or airbrushed and stencilled with outrageous creativity is included in the price. It is popular in Jamaica to wear long extensions on the big toe, but I am too scared that I will knock them and rip them off, so I stick to my natural toenails! I usually tip the technician up to $500 if they have done a good job and I am feeling flush.

Nails…

I tend to have nail extensions applied in London before I leave the country and as with my toenails, I have them painted in bright colours to fit the bright sunny mood of Jamaica. Many Jamaican women love to wear extra long nail extensions, which to those who are familiar with the process, are often worn at the longest length possible. Nail extension application is big business in Jamaica and the creativity of the nail technicians is outstanding. I have personally seen flowers and curled horn like adornments created out of the product used in the process of nail extensions. Equally the colours and design work carried out with the nail polish (nail varnish) is unrivalled by most of the London-based technicians I have come across and is often drawn freehand or airbrushed with stencils.

When in Jamaica…

You can sometimes expect to pay a different price for your nail extensions based on the length of the nails you prefer. In most of the larger inland towns, such as Browns Town in St. Ann’s you can expect to pay about $1,500 for even the longest nails; you will find the price goes down to around $1,000 to $1,200 for the more rural areas. I usually tip the technician up to $500 if they have done a good job.

Please be warned, my first experience of a Jamaican manicure was when I went to have my nail extensions replaced and I was alarmed (and in pain) when she literally started picking the old nails off with a credit card, instead of the usual soaking in acetone or filing that I was used to in London. You also may have to wait sometime for your turn, so make sure you make eye contact with the technician and let them know what you want when you arrive and take notice of how many other people are there before you. Be patient! It is worth it when you look down and admire your beautiful new nails. WOW!