Tag Archives: Jamaica

Breakfast at Smurfs Café in Treasure Beach

If you are in the vicinity of Treasure Beach you need to find your way to Smurfs Café & Sports Bar. A Treasure Beach institution, this unassuming ‘Café’ has a roomy shaded seating area at the back and the host Miss Dawn serves the BEST BREAKFAST EVER!

Continue reading Breakfast at Smurfs Café in Treasure Beach

How to Pack a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica

A Guide to Packing Barrels and Drums for Shipping

So you have decided to ship a barrel to Jamaica, but don’t know where to start with the packing? Buying up goods and packing your first barrel is like going through a rite of passage and not necessarily an enlightened one if not done right.

It takes time, patience and cunning packing skills to ensure you start on the right foot. Cutting corners could mean the end result puts you off from doing it again.  To end your barrel packing dilemmas and nightmares, I have put together my top tips and tricks on how to pack a barrel for shipping to Jamaica the easy breezy way….

More Information: Missed the brief on what to buy, Read What to Pack in a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica


 How to Pack a Barrel

Packing a barrel effectively can take some time, patience and experience. But once you get the hang of it you will be able to make the best use of space and keep the contents safe and secure in transit.

I would highly recommend tackling the packing when you have a couple of hours (at the very least) to spare and when you aren’t tired, hungry or generally in a bad mood. Packing a barrel can be tedious to say the least and it’s best to get into it when the timing is right. Instead of leaving it to the last minute, resulting in bags of breakfast cereal being popped and thrown around the room in frustration!


Getting Prepared:

  • Grab a drink and maybe a snack and leave it to hand, packing a barrel can be hungry and thirsty work – I recommend a nice cup of tea or coffee, or alcohol… it’s one of those tasks that demands it!
  • Move away of all items that you do NOT want to pack in the barrel, so they don’t get accidentally shipped to Jamaica (goodbye remote control!)
  • Wait until you have all (or most) of the items you want to ship, before attempting to pack your barrel
  • Have plenty of tape, newspaper, bubble wrap, containers, plastic bags, food bags and a black permanent marker to hand
  • Sort the items into type; dried foods, tinned foods, detergents / cleaning products, toiletries, clothing and fabric based items, delicate and breakable items and so on
  • Apply strong parcel (brown tape) or gaffer tape around all the covers and caps of items, especially if the bottles contain liquids / sauces
  • Double wrap items in plastic packaging, such as rice, couscous, dried beans, legumes, breakfast cereal – if the bag gets snagged and sends the whole contents plummeting to the bottom of the barrel
  • Wrap any glass jars, crockery, china and breakable containers in newspaper or bubble wrap; for extra security you can put the wrapped jars inside a plastic storage container to keep them contained and protected
  • See if there is any additional packaging that can be removed, such as, the boxes toothpaste tubes are packaged in, or breakfast cereal boxes
  • Remove ‘air’ from packaging; make a small hole in plastic packaging and squeeze the additional air out of the package, seal back the hole with packing or gaffer tape – such as bags of rice and pasta

Loading the Barrel:

  • If you are shipping two or more barrels, put the chemicals, detergents, toiletries and the tinned foods in one barrel, and put the other foodstuffs and delicate stuff in another barrel, to prevent transfer of scent and to protect food from accidental contamination
  • Pack your barrel in layers to prevent damage to the contents and the transfer of smell / taste; which is why it is important to sort the items into type
  • Put heavy and bulky items to the bottom of the barrel to make a strong foundation for the rest of the contents to sit on
  • Any chemicals, should be packed to the bottom of the barrel so that they cannot spill over the other items
  • Stack tins, in tall turrets, one on top of the other to conserve space
  • Pack small items, such as tubes of toothpaste and sachets of food, in empty plastic containers or plastic bags and push them into any gaps
  • You can restrict the transfer of scented items, such as soap and perfumes, by sealing them inside air-tight containers – do not pack them near to dried goods which have a habit of ‘sucking up’ the scent (soap flavoured rice and pasta does not taste good!)
  • Delicate food items, such as dried goods, snacks and breakfast cereals should be packed at the top of the barrel and double wrapped where they cannot be squashed or burst
  • Use soft items, such as, towels or clothes to form a barrier between the heavy items at the bottom of the barrel and the soft and food items near the top, this also helps prevent the spread of scent
  • Place any receipts for proof of the cost and age (non-food items) of the contents in an envelope and put it on the top of the contents in case you want to show it to customs officials at the wharf to prove the value of goods; new non-food items will attract more import taxes, so if you can prove that dish set or electrical item is used it will lessen the blow
  • This may seem ridiculous, but… don’t clean, shine and spruce up used household items – the wear and tear ensures it is obvious it is a used item (see above point) – this is probably not appropriate if sending items to others, but if it is for your own use just scour that old dutch pot to within an inch of its life when you get to Jamaica
  • Leave a few empty plastic bags at the top of the barrel in case you need to put anything in them that wont fit back in the barrel after customs have gone through it


How to Pack a Barrel in Layers


Making the Best use of Space in the Barrel

Before you put a single item in the barrel consider this. Your barrel will be squeezed and stacked among enough barrels to fill a 20ft or 40ft container. The containers will be stacked sky-high on a cargo ship, which will transport your heaving barrel across the ocean waves to Jamaica. Where it will be unpacked unceremoniously on a table in the wharf for clearing through Customs. After all of that it will be repacked and covered for the last leg of the journey, to your home in Jamaica… Quite an adventure for a humble barrel.

Five Things that went wrong

Whilst I do highly recommend using up all the available space and nooks and crannies in your barrel, don’t go overboard. I have noticed if I pack too zealously things go wrong. I have a few incidents that spring to mind…

  1. The time a can of soda was pierced with an unidentified sharp object, which left strange brown stains over everything below it – Result: I am more aware of what is nestled beside each other
  2. The time a pack of dried chickpeas popped, spilling to the bottom of the barrel – Result: I double / triple wrap flimsy packaging now in plastic carrier bags
  3. The time my brand new large plastic container cracked so badly at one end a piece fell off – Result: I don’t over stuff the inside and I leave a bit of breathing (or should I say heaving) room around the outside, to be extra cautious you can wrap soft and cushioning fabric items around it
  4. The time two champagne glasses had their stems broken – Result: I drank it out of sanitary cups… just joking! I now wrap every breakable item in bubble wrap
  5. The time my Mum secretly packed some Christmas goodies at the top of a barrel, but left scented items with chocolate coins – Result: I put anything porous or scented inside an airtight container to stop the transfer of smell, as the chocolate tasted of perfume


How to pack a barrel

In Conclusion – Highlights of my Packing Tips!

I find that by having everything you want to pack in the barrel in front of you, you tend to plan the packing more efficiently which lessens the chances of mishaps.

Heavy items and hazardous chemicals should always be put in the bottom of the barrel first and the caps and covers should be taped. It is not uncommon for the contents of bottles to be squeezed and compressed so much that they force their way around the cap spilling into the bottom of the barrel. Not good if it is bleach or shampoo. Top Tip! Tape the caps really securely with strong brown tape of gaffer tape, ensuring any items with a pump cannot be dispensed.

Soaps and clothes detergents have very strong scents which can penetrate through a plastic bag and soak into dried goods and even chocolate bars!  Make sure you separate these types of items and preferably put either the offending items, or the food stuffs into airtight containers to control the transfer of perfumed goods. Better still, use both if possible. I like to use mason jars and empty ice-cream tubs to stuff small items inside, as they come in handy for storing foodstuffs when I get to Jamaica. Top Tip! Put dried foods and scented products in reusable airtight containers.

If I am bringing any breakables or delicate items I buy a big plastic box with a cover, and pack the items inside after wrapping them individually in bubble wrap; this container can be used to store your supplies of dry goods afterwards to keep them away from insects and vermin. Make sure the container can pass through the mouth of the barrel! It will usually have to be stored on its end in the barrel, so pack the heavier items to one side of the box and place that end into the barrel first; I would also recommend taping the cover to the box, so that it cannot come open when being removed from the barrel. Top Tip! Many warehouse stores and Ikea sell large plastic storage boxes – don’t forget to tape the cover on!

Look for ‘hidden’ space lurking in the barrel, or create it. Any empty vessels can be stuffed with something, such as pots and pans; remove the handles where possible, then tape the handle and screw together before placing it inside if it will fit, along with some stuff that will fit inside (breakables or easily squashed foods are ideal as the temporary metal vessel it travels in is highly protective). Release excess air from items that will not spoil by doing so. Put something else in the ‘dead space’ in packaging, such as the top of a bulk pack of clothes washing detergent – I recommend using a bottle of fabric softener, or something that won’t be affected by the strong scent. Remove unnecessary extra packaging, if it will not be in detriment to the items arriving safely. Top Tip! Look carefully for extra space you can find or save to maximise the contents

If you are packing dishes or glassware which are sold in a cardboard box, I would recommend opening it and placing a sheet of bubble wrap between each item before replacing them back in the cardboard box. This may make it hard to fit everything into the box, so a good old piece of tape might be needed to secure a box bursting at the seams! Top Tip! Use Bubble wrap, or the very least newspaper to wrap breakable items and tape boxes at the seams!

Use soft items, such as towels, curtains and clothes to form a ‘barrier’ between the items in the bottom of the barrel and the delicate items at the top; it creates a great scent catcher too! Top Tip! You may prefer to place these types of items in a plastic bag to keep them clean.


Further Information About Shipping

We have plenty of guides about shipping a barrel or crate, or anything else for that matter. Check out our other posts to read the whole series on Shipping to Jamaica:

Sweet Jamaica Guides to Shipping

Want to know what a barrel is all about and where to get one? Read A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

Want to learn the best contents for packing in a Barrel? Read How to Pack a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica

Want to learn the process involved in shipping in the senders country? Read The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part One

Want to learn the process involved in collecting a shipment in Jamaica? Read The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part Two

Want some additional information on Shipping to Jamaica? Read Sending a Barrel or Crate to Jamaica


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Bless up, Jules

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A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

Have you ever noticed a big blue plastic barrel sitting incongruously by the roadside in Jamaica, or displayed in a shipping companies window overseas and wondered what it was used for?

Maybe you have thought about sending some items to loved ones in Jamaica and want to find out more about barrels and drums first?

This post will give you a Guide to Barrels and Drums, the shipping basics. So you know what barrels and drums are all about, prior to getting into the nitty-gritty of arranging shipping to Jamaica and traversing through customs.


Brief History of Shipping Barrels to Loved Ones in Jamaica

If you have ever visited Jamaica you may have noticed the amount of recycled drums and plastic shipping barrels that are harboured by residents across the island. These barrels and drums arrived in Jamaica aboard a cargo ship at one time or another. After being filled by a ‘pack a barrel’ genie overseas, who invariably knows all the tricks of stocking up on bargains and stuffing every piece of available space inside the barrel until it is ‘cork’ (full to the brim).

Shipping barrels back home ‘to yard’ is a long-standing Jamaican tradition, especially at Easter, Back to School and Christmas time. When a barrel full of love from overseas is carefully packed and sent over to loved ones, or dependents still living in Jamaica. These barrels are highly anticipated and the recipient is full of excitement when fishing into the depths to see what is packed inside. It is a way to keep in touch, reach out and support loved ones living in Jamaica, when they are apart.


Shipping a Barrel to Jamaica for an Extended Visit

The lure of shipping a barrel is one that might start to cross your mind when you are travelling to Jamaica for an extended stay, or when planning a trip to visit friends and family on the island. It’s the kind of thought that appears in your mind as a light-bulb moment, when the headache starts and the panic sets in over your luggage allowance and whether you can fit all the things you want to take with you in your suitcase.

I would highly recommend shipping a barrel to Jamaica, as it is a great way of contributing to the people you are staying with, or lowering your grocery bill if you are living independently over here for a while.

I will warn you know though, once you do succumb to shipping a barrel it is easy to get carried away, when you find the one intended barrel, becomes two, and two becomes three… I could go on, but I think you get the idea of what has happened to me before!

More information: Sending a Crate or Barrel to Jamaica

Where to Buy a Shipping Barrel

Barrels are usually sold by shipping companies and shipping agents, where they may offer free, or low-cost delivery in the local area. I have also seen barrels sold at international Money Transfer shops and e-commerce websites, such as eBay and Gumtree.  Shipping companies and international money transfer shops are popular in areas where there is a high population of migrant workers, such as London, Miami and Toronto and in areas where there is a shipping port or transport hub. It may be trickier to find barrels and drums in rural areas, but you can search online if in doubt, to locate the nearest supplier.

More Information: Looking for assistance with Shipping?  Recommended External Shipping Partners


What does a Shipping Barrel look like?

The most popular type of barrels used for shipping are made of plastic and are often recycled, after being used to transport raw materials of some kind in their earlier life. The plastic barrels aren’t always blue, but it is a very popular colour! Check the inside of the barrel for cleanliness and aroma, as some have an over-powering smell that may affect the taste of any food items you may wish to pack inside afterwards. If in doubt just leave the cover off for a day or two prior to packing, so that it can air out a bit.

Plastic Barrels are widely available in two sizes and are supplied with a plastic or metal cover, which has a separate ‘belt like’ levered locking fastener to secure the cover firmly in place. The barrels with the metal covers have the larger diameter, but the covers have a tendency to get bent at the edges making them harder to open and close after a time. Whereas the plastic covers are generally smaller in diameter, but they are sturdier are easier to fit creating an air tight seal on the barrel. Make sure you check the barrel opens and closes effectively before taking it home.

You can also buy metal drums or cardboard barrels, if you prefer. Just remember, whilst slightly cheaper, the cardboard barrels will be lighter, not as sturdy and will eventually be affected by the ingress of water. Conversely, the metal barrels will be heavier before you have put a single item inside and will be harder to manoeuvre around – but will be great for cutting in two when emptied to make a jerk pan when it reaches Jamaica!

Dimensions of a Shipping Barrel

  • The largest and most popular plastic barrel is about 36″ high and has a diameter of about 22-23″
  • The wider the mouth of the barrel, the easier it is to pack and unpack the contents
  • Large Barrels hold about 205 litres / 55 Gallons
  • Plastic barrels cost in the region of £32.00 in the UK, or $25.00 – $40.00 in the US
  • As far as I am aware there isn’t a weight limit to the contents (don’t go above 450 lbs!), as long as it can be moved by two men and the bottom does not fall out when it is moved!
  • You can ship almost anything in a barrel from food, household goods, clothes and toiletries to car parts, paddling pools and light tools (More information: The Art of Packing a Barrel – Part One)
  • Do NOT overly stress the barrel when packing it, as it will be stacked like for like in a 20 or 40ft container, and transported on a cargo ship which will be tossed around in the high seas potentially for weeks on end


Dimensions of a Shipping Barrel

Barrel Security

Once you have packed your barrel the shipping agent generally collects it from you and a small tamper proof seal is added to the lever.  The seal should not be removed until the person authorised to clear the barrel is present to witness the customs officials strip the barrel at the wharf to work out the tax payable in Jamaica.

There is no key for the seal as the sender may not be travelling to Jamaica to receive the barrel, so it just needs strong pliers to cut it off. If you are concerned ask the shippers to write the unique ID number on the security seal on your paperwork. Then the person that goes to collect the barrel at the wharf would have a record to check the barrels have not been tampered with.

Labelling your Barrel Correctly

Be sure to use a thick black permanent marker pen to write your name (or the receivers details) and address clearly on the barrel and the cover, so it is easily identifiable at the wharf. Do not forget to include the local post office in the address, (despite the barrel being delivered to the wharf) as this is the address they will use to contact the receiver if need be. The shipping agent will generally add their own label as well, but it is best not to rely on it.

In short, YOU are responsible as the sender to make sure the barrel is clearly marked and is easily identifiable at the wharf. Misspelt, incorrect and illegible names and addresses will not aid you in a speedy and stress free shipping process the other side.

Benefits of Shipping a Barrel to Jamaica

  • The large barrels hold about 205 litres / 55 Gallons (some hold more), with a mouth of up-to 23cm making it easy to load bulky, heavy or fragile items
  • You can send grocery items to cut down on weekly shopping bills in Jamaica, such as, detergent for clothes, washing up liquid, bleach and other cleaning materials. Tinned foodstuffs, rice, oil, foil, teabags, coffee, breakfast cereal, snacks and so on
  • You can pack some home comforts alongside gifts for friends and relatives, without compromising on your luggage allowance on the flight
  • Some items such as fixtures and fittings, housewares, soft furnishings and kitchen ware are very expensive or hard to get in Jamaica compared to the deals and choice you get overseas
  • You are able to send down specific and much needed items for loved ones and dependents in Jamaica when you are living overseas
  • The total cost of shipping a barrel, compared to the amount / weight of goods shipped is very economical when compared to sending by air mail, or a courier service

What Can you pack in a Barrel?

I would recommend packing your barrel with what you love, need and want for yourself or the recipient, alongside things that are hard to find or expensive in Jamaica. When choosing the contents be aware of the other costs involved, as the fees to be paid in Jamaica are related to the type and value of the contents.

You also need to sort your items and pack your barrel in a certain way to ensure that the contents reach the destination without spillage or breakages.

More information: The Art of Packing a Barrel – Part One

Do you have to pay Tax when Shipping a Barrel?

The short answer is YES! Regardless of the fact that you have bought all the contents and the barrel itself, and paid for shipping to Jamaica. Anything imported into Jamaica is liable for shipping costs, customs fees and taxes.

Barrels containing a mixture of food, (used) household and kitchen items, cleaning materials, toiletries, used clothes and other sundry items have the lowest tax bracket as they are considered to be items for personal use. When I asked the shipping agent in London how much customs tax I was likely to pay for one barrel containing these types of items they said it would be from $6,500 and would be payable at the wharf in Jamaica. Please Note, there are other fees to pay on top of the customs fee.

More information: The Art of Packing a Barrel – Part Two


What Happens to the Barrels after they are Emptied?

The plastic and metal barrels that once carried the goods, gifts and belongings of someone ‘dere a farrin’ to the hands of someone ‘back a yard’ are seen all over Jamaica in their retirement phase. Recycled drums and barrels are used as water storage containers, clothes storage facilities, containers for personal belongings, jerk bar-b-q’s (metal barrels only!), garbage bins and other types of storage vessels.

In Conclusion

A shipping barrel is an ideal way to transport goods to Jamaica from overseas locations. They are sturdy, water-resistant, secure and surprisingly roomy. The cost of a barrel is reasonable and the charges levied by shipping companies and shipping agents is very affordable compared with other methods of international delivery.



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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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Little Dunn’s River Ocho Rios – Beach in Saint Ann, Jamaica

The pull of a beautiful waterfall with crystal clear water cascading into the ocean is hard to resist. Little Dunn’s River in Ocho Rios, Saint Ann, is a secret (not so secret among locals) alternative to the tourist masses descending on it’s more famous sister, Dunn’s River Falls. When I had a free afternoon after a few days of heavy driving recently, I jumped at the chance to experience Little Dunn’s River for myself. The descent to view the falls is an adventure in itself and if you love the simple things in life a visit to Little Dunn’s River will be sure to please you too.

If you are in the vicinity of Ocho Rios and want to experience a waterfall and beach setting, without all the hands tied together climbing en-mass part, check out Little Dunn’s River Ocho Rios – Beach in Saint Ann, Jamaica. 

How to get to Little Dunn’s River

If you are driving from Ocho Rios, take the highway out-of-town towards Saint Ann’s Bay. As you leave the town you will drive past Reynolds Pier and the helicopter base on your right hand side, keep going. Look out for a lay by on the RIGHT hand side, where there is a couple of small single storey white buildings. Park on right hand side of the road ONLY, out of the soft shoulder and on the grass verge; do not park on the opposite side of the road in the soft shoulder.  If you get to Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Ridge you have gone too far, so go ahead and carefully turn round! You have arrived at Little Dunn’s River.

If you are driving from the direction of Saint Ann’s Bay and beyond, head along the highway towards Ocho Rios. Once you pass Dunn’s River  Falls on your right, Dolphin Cove on your left and Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Ridge on your right hand side… look out just around the next corner you will see the lay by. Park your vehicle! You have arrived at Little Dunn’s River.

Entrance to Little Dunn's River
Entranceway in Layby

Entrance Fee and Access to Little Dunn’s River

Little Dunn’s River is accessed from one of two inconspicuous gateways off the pathway in the verge. The first of which has a double door gateway, the second further along the trail has a single gateway. You will normally see a couple of guys ‘manning’ the single gate and they will probably ask for a donation to keep the beach clean; use your discretion. However, Little Dunn’s River and the beach is officially free to enter and you do not have to pay for parking.

It is quite hard to traverse the descent to the falls and ultimately the beach. Therefore, I would not recommend Little Dunn’s River beach and falls for the infirm or unfit! Once you enter through either of the gateways you go down some concrete steps to a platform area. You can either go the right where is the beach area is hidden behind a tree bowing down into the ocean, or go the left where there is a stepped descent to another platform area where the falls are visible. Either way ends up taking you to the ocean. There are not really any falls to climb per se, but you can climb down a small area into the ocean and sit under one of the lesser waterfalls for an invigorating massage!

Steps leading to Little Dunn's River
Stairway to Beach

You have arrived at Little Dunn’s River.

Little Dunn’s River is open to the public and it’s a little more relaxed than some of the ‘paid for’ beach experiences. Many of the beaches in Jamaica have been bought by investors and commercialised so that there is no access to the public. This is a shame as everyone loves going to the beach and having a cooling and refreshing dip in the ocean and many of the locals are priced out in this way.

The actual ‘beach’ at Little Dunn’s River is very small , a sandy slither with a couple of bent over trees to sit on. Don’t bother coming with the whole beach caboodle as there won’t be room to spread out on the sand! There is a wide, shallow and clear area of water directly where the river (falls) enter the ocean which is nice for a dip for non-swimmers and the young. There is a couple of lines with floats directing swimmers away from the rocky areas under foot. If you want to swim and go deeper you can go beyond the bowed over tree to a warm and sandy area of the seabed…. Lovely!

Little Dunn’s River is a chilling spot to marvel at the beauty of nature, enjoy a dip in the ocean and to have an invigorating sit down under the waterfalls. The beach is really small, hence the low score, but the falls are beautiful. The ocean is shallow and calm and there is plenty of space to splash around and swim out. The facilities are limited and the washrooms are right at the very top (although I never checked they were open). There are a few vendors selling drinks and snacks, one of which was perched right on top of the falls! The whole area was very clean and I noticed the beach vendors regularly sweep off the debris on the sand. I arrived around 3.00pm and there were plenty of people around, after about an hour the crowds thinned and we could get a chance to go under the falls. I spent a few hours here to relax and unwind and really enjoyed myself.

Little Dunn's River Waterfall
Little Dunn’s River Waterfall


Crystal Clear Waterfalls
Crystal Clear Waterfalls


Little Dunn's River Ocho Rios
Little Dunn’s River Ocho Rios


Small Sandy Beach
Small Sandy Beach


The trail
The trail


Waterfall at Little Dunn’s River

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Appleton Special Dream Weekend 2016 – Things to do in Jamaica this Summer!

The summer event season is in full force in Jamaica! The Appleton Special Dream Weekend is another of the big name international music festivals taking place in Jamaica this summer. In it’s 8th year, this hotly anticipated week-long event is held in Negril between July 28th and 1st August 2016. With a whopping 9 separate day and night events being held between 28th July and 1st August this promises to be classy and internationally attended music festival. Tickets are selling like hot patties, so act now if you are travelling to Jamaica and want to attend.  Appleton Special Dream Weekend 2016 – Things to do in Jamaica this Summer!


Appleton Special Dream Weekend 2016 Event Schedule

DREAM LIVE Concert @ Negril, Jamaica

Location: Cayenne Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Date and Time: Jul 28 @ 10:00 pm – Jul 29 @ 4:00 am

Admission: $3,000

Food and Drink: On Sale

The Appleton Special Dream Weekend 2016 kicks off with the Magnum Dream Live concert, held at Cayenne Beach in Negril, Jamaica. The first event is hosted by Miss Kitty and boasts performances from Bounty Killer, Popcaan, Spice, Ding Dong, Masicka, Bella Blair, with music by Coppershot and Chromatic.

Dream Live Concert
Dream Live Concert


Celebrity Playground (Red & White) @ Negril, Jamaica

Location: Wavz Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Date and Time: Jul 29 @ 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Admission: $6,000

Food and Drink: Inclusive

Dress Code: Red and White

The Hennessy Celebrity Playground event is a daytime affair starting at 2.00pm, giving you plenty of time to sleep off last nights hangover before you get out there again! The beach setting will be sure to perk you up anyway, as it is held on Wavz Beach in Negril, Jamaica. Featuring Chromatic, Jazzy T and Kurt Riley the all-inclusive party with the red and white dress code is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Celebrity Playground
Celebrity Playground


Twisted Spiritz (Glow) @ Negril, Jamaica

Location: Cayenne Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Date and Time: Jul 29 @ 10:00 pm – Jul 30 @ 4:00 am

Admission: $4,500

Food and Drink: Drink Inclusive

Such is the party spirit of Appleton Special Dream Weekend in Jamaica, that as one event ends, another starts! The Twisted Spritz Glow party is also held on Cayenne Beach in Negril, shortly after the daytime event. With Music by Coppershot, Illusion and DJ Tyrone from Canada this Skyy Vodka sponsored event, offers drinks inclusive of the entry price.

Twisted Spiritz Glow Party
Twisted SpiritzTwisted Spiritz Glow Party



Daydreams (All White) @ Negril, Jamaica

Location: Wonderland, Negril, Jamaica

Date and Time: Jul 30 @ 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Admission: $7,000

Food and Drink: Food and Drink Inclusive

Dress Code: All White

The second of the Appleton Special Dream Weekend beach parties is Daydreams White Sands. popular and sophisticated event, with its all white dress code and Moet and Chandon Champagne sponsorship this all-inclusive event will be jam packed with revellers. With music by Coppershot, Chromatic and Crazy Neil.

Daydreams All White
Daydreams All White



Yush (90s) @ Negril, Jamaica

Location: Cayenne Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Date and Time: Jul 30 @ 10:00 pm – Jul 31 @ 4:00 am

Admission: $5,000

Food and Drink: Drink Inclusive

Saturday evening’s entertainment at Appleton Special Dream Weekend is the Yush Event held on Cayenne Beach in Negril, Jamaica. This Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum sponsored event is sure to get the crowd jumping with a live performance from dancehall star Elephant Man and friends, with the evenings music being taken care of by Kurt Riley and Jazzy T.




Wet ‘N’ Wild (Water Party) @ Negril, Jamaica

Location: Cayenne Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Date and Time: Jul 31 @ 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Admission: $9,000

Food and Drink: Food and Drink Inclusive

Are you ready to get Xtreme Wet and Wild at the Sunday funday event at the Appleton Special Dream Weekend?! Take in one of Jamaica’s top waterpark attractions at this daytime, all-inclusive Appleton Special Sponsored event. This promises to be an action packed event water party held at Negril’s, Kool Runnings Adventure Park. There will be a live performance by Cardi B, with music by Chromatic, Code Lank, Coppershot and Redd Heat.

Xtreme Wet n Wild
Xtreme Wet n Wild



World Vibes (Hardcore Dancehall Juggling) @ Negril, Jamaica

Location: Wonderland, Negril, Jamaica

Date and Time: Jul 31 @ 10:00 pm – Aug 1 @ 4:00 am

Admission: $4,500

Food and Drink: Drink Inclusive

The World Vibes worldwide domination event is being held at Wonderland in Negril, Jamaica. This Sunday night event is hosted by Badda-Bling of D-Unit and features music by Foota Hype, Boom Boom, Redd Heat, dancehall favourite Tony Matterhorn and Rebel Tone, Canada’s World Clash Champion.  This Appleton Special Dream Weekend event is sponsored by Appleton Special and ticket price is inclusive of drinks.

World Vibes
World Vibes



Igloo (Cooler Party) @ Negril, Jamaica

Location: Cayenne Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Date and Time: Aug 1 @ 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Admission: $3,500

Food and Drink: On Sale. Or, bring your own igloo with food and drink inside!

The final beach party of Appleton Special Dream Weekend is the Igloo The Global Cooler Party. This beach party is a little different from the others as you are invited to bring your own igloo ( cool box) packed full of drinks and food for you and your friends. Come and celebrate Jamaica’s Emancipation Day at this event, with music by Coppershot, Ricky Platinum, Illusion and Selecta Shane.




Dream J’ouvert (Paint, Water & Powder Soca Party) @ Negril, Jamaica

Location: Cayenne Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Date and Time: Aug 1 @ 10:00 pm – Aug 2 @ 4:00 am

Admission: $4,500

Food and Drink: Drink Inclusive

The final event of the Appleton Special Dream Weekend is the Dream Jouvert powder, paint and water Soca event. This event held on Jamaican Emancipation Day, promises to be a spectacle of sight and sound with a carnival atmosphere with a coloured powder throwing frenzy as the show stopper! The VIP area is a powder free zone, otherwise expect to get covered in coloured powder at this lively event in Negril, Jamaica! With a live performance on stage by KES and music by Kamal Bankay and DJ Smoke with Appleton Special sponsored event is one to take part in.

Dream Jouvert
Dream Jouvert




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Bless up, Jules

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Reggae SumFest 2016 – Things to do in Jamaica this Summer!

If you are travelling to Jamaica next month don’t miss Reggae SumFest 2016, this week-long festival is being held in different locations around Montego Bay, from the 17th to 23rd July. The summer has officially arrived in Jamaica, with the school holidays starting and the weather heating up, so get ready for summer! Summertime in Jamaica is always full of events, shows and beach parties and one of the most famous ‘Reggae SumFest 2016’ is gearing up for 17th to 23rd July. The Reggae SumFest festival celebrates Jamaican music at its best, with concerts, beach parties, shows, events and even a street party parading through the ‘Hip Strip’ in town. Reggae SumFest has provided first class entertainment to locals and visitors to Jamaica for the last 20 years, so don’t make this year pass without taking part! Reggae SumFest 2016 – Things to do in Jamaica this Summer!



Reggae SumFest 2016 Official Calendar of Events and Locations

Beach Party | JULY 17 | Aquasol Theme Park; Walter Fletcher Beach Complex, Montego Bay

Blitz – All White Edition | JULY 19 | Pier One; Waterfront, Montego Bay

Sound Explosion | JULY 21 | Pier One; Waterfront, Montego Bay

Dancehall Night | JULY 22 | Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex; Freeport, Montego Bay

Reggae Night | JULY 23 | Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex; Freeport, Montego Bay


Reggae SumFest 2016 Artist Line Up and Entry Information

If you want to attend Reggae Sumfest 2016, you can attend any or all the events taking place over the week-long festival. Pre-sold tickets are available at the Official Reggae SumFest website and at select tickets outlets located around the island of Jamaica. Check out the official Reggae SumFest 2016 Website for full ticket information. Where you can also buy Weekend and VIP Passes. If you leave it to the last-minute it is possible to pay a little extra at the gate to attend these Reggae SumFest events; please note these tickets may be limited.

BEACH PARTY | Aquasol Theme Park | JUL 17

Presold J$1,800 / US$15

At Gate J$2,000 / US$17

Line Up: Bambino, Chromatic, ZJ Sparks, DJ Crazy Neil, Ikel Marvelus & Team Shella, Powered by SUPER STRONG
Hosts: Miss Kitty and Yanique Barrett

Gates Open: 4 pm



Presold J$2,300 / US$19

At Gate J$2,500 / US$21

Line Up: Kurt ‘The Party Animal’ Riley, DJ Kentucky, DJ Smoke

Gates Open: 8pm


Presold J$1,800 / US$15

At Gate J$2,000 / US$17

Line Up: Stone Love, Metro Media, Black Kat, Pieces, Firelinks, Tony Matterhorn, Powered by SUPER STRONG

Gates Open: 8pm


Presold J$3,200 / US$27

At Gate J$3,500 / US$29

VIP J$6,000 / US$49

Line Up: Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Popcaan, I-Octane, Agent Sasco, Dexta Daps, Romain Virgo, Nesbeth, Spice, Ding Dong, Ishawna, Chi Ching Ching, Tanto Blacks, Charly Black, Ryme Minista, Harry Toddler, Masicka, Vershon, Devin Di Dakta, Jahmiel, Don Andre, Teejay, Savage, Ricky Teetz, Dre Zee

Backing band: Ruff Kutt Krew, Warrior Love

MC’s: Ms. Kitty, GT Taylor, DJ Bones

Gates Open: 7 pm
Show Time: 9 pm

REGGAE NIGHT | Main Venue | JULY 23

Presold J$4,700 / US$39

At Gate J$5,000 / US$41

VIP J$7,500 / US$62

Line Up: Super Cat, Barrington Levy, Luciano, Sanchez, Tarrus Riley, Busy Signal, Christopher Martin, Nature, D-Medz, Nicky Silk, DannI

Backing band: Warrior Love

House Music: Ikel Marvelus & Team Shella

MC’s: Barry G, Elise Kelly, Paula-Anne Porter

Gates Open: 7 pm
Show Time: 9 pm



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Bless up, Jules

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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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Bless up, Jules

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Jamaican ‘Patwa Apparel’ Speaks Out!

Heneka is a bona-fide Jamaican success story, starting her business empire in 2007 with a clothing line where she cleverly fused her love for Jamaican Patois with fashion.  Aware of the constraints and hurdles faced in tough economic times, Heneka strived forward where many would have drawn back and has since diversified to credit literature, broadcasting and manufacturing to her portfolio. I admire Heneka’s strong business and personal ethics, as although Heneka is modest, her integrity and awareness of self and others is clear in the brilliant and inspirational way she explains her company philosophy.

Jamaica is famed for many things and it is tropical, colourful, vibrant and full of vibes just like it’s people and the dialect they speak. Although the official language of Jamaica is English, the local dialect spoken in Jamaica is known as patois or patwa, a multi-lingual mixing pot of several languages that draws references from all the different inhabitants of Jamaica since the Tainos. It may take a little getting used to for the uninitiated, but when you get into the flow you will find it is powerful, direct, literal, fun and very infectious!

I am pleased to have had the chance to learn about Heneka’s journey and share it with you in this interview….


1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

I’m Heneka Watkis-Porter, owner and operator of Patwa Apparel. My role has over the years been one of ‘head cook and bottle washer’ but I’m slowly moving away from that to concentrate more on strategy, operations and sales/marketing.

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

 We began on 7th August, 2007. I’ve always wanted to have my own business; I thought about the area of choice for sometime and then settled on a clothing line. But I have evolved more into a full-fledged entrepreneur, spreading my wings to more than just clothing. Now I have a sauce line aptly called 10 Fyah Side, 2 radio programmes – The Entrepreneurial You and Living on Purpose; a book entitled” 15 Hints To Entrepreneurial Success: Lessons From A Caribbean Woman

3. Tell me about your typical working day?

Oh where do I start… My day though is never typical. It usually start with devotions. Some days there are meetings, volunteer projects, training, planning, travelling, planning, writing proposals, working at the shop. Tuesday is the only day that has some sort of order which includes pre-recording one of my radio programmes, tea and muffin by Bookophillia (cell-phone goes in the off position), Toastmasters club, prayer meeting.

Patwa Apparel
Patwa Apparel

4. What is your company philosophy?

Patwa Apparel operates on 14 points of culture i.e. commitment, community, volunteerism, consistency, efficiency, empowerment, creativity, integrity, leadership, accountability, passion, quality, respect and abundance.

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

We are based at shop # 12 Devon House, 26 Hope Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica. Our products are manufactured in Jamaica.

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


7. Are you Jamaican?

Born and bred…

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


the strength of brand Jamaica and our culture; our passion; our creativity


crime; political tribalism; bureaucracy

Patwa Apparel
Patwa Apparel

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

Well the company is now going through an intense period of planning for re-branding, restructuring and development and growth. Part of the change will see us attracting a wider range of international customers. There will be changes to our website and social media interaction; design, etc.

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

I am working on so many projects right now and I love them all. I think if I have to give an answer, I’d say restructuring the company, building a team and generally implementing changes to grow the company.

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

My inspiration comes primarily from God. I also read books, watch videos and attend seminars to keep myself motivated. I also draw inspiration from life in general and the people within especially I travel.

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

We are located at shop # 12 Devon House, 26 Hope Road; our website outlines our locations (www.patwaapparel.com); our sauces are available at supermarkets in Kingston as well as the Patwa outlet in Devon House. My book is available online on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (15 Hints To Entrepreneurial Success).

Patwa Apparel
Patwa Apparel

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

Free time? J I’m always working, but I enjoy every moment of it. I try to find time for the beach, and go to the country every once in a while…I read sometimes too.

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

As the Prime Minister for the day I’d fire most of the Members of Parliament.

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

As someone who is in the business of monetizing from Patois, I’m indebted to the late Louise Bennett-Coverley for her work on the Jamaican language. She has enabled a wider acceptance of the way we speak of Jamaicans. Her contribution to Jamaica is simply priceless.

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?

It is important to belief in yourself and your God-given abilities. Find your purpose, know your why, write your vision down and work the plan. But most importantly, trust in God.

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

 If I could change jobs (and I can), I wouldn’t change anything. I absolutely love what I do and as such don’t view it as work.

Patwa Apparel
Patwa Apparel

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

I admire the work of the Lascelles Chin-led LASCO. Chin had a very humble beginning yet his impact globally is undeniable. He was determined to make it.

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

My company’s success has been attributed to my faith, my core values and the 15 Hints I speak about in my book. The main one is ‘finding my purpose’. Everything I do is purpose driven.

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

Our uniqueness, simple yet creative design set us apart from our competitors. This is backed by our customer service as is evidenced by comments in our guest book and on tripadvisor.com.

 Brand Jamaica is at the heart of everything we do.

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

We can help to build Jamaica by being job creators instead of everyone seeking jobs. Our socialization has messed up our psyche; we are taught to go to school and get a good education so that in turn we can get a good job. This is where most of our problems are as there aren’t enough jobs to cater to the needs of the mass.

22. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

I really want Jamaica to be the place of choice to live, do business and raise families. I dream of a Jamaica where neighbours look out for each other and the Government of the day is selfless.

Heneka Watkis-Porter
Heneka Watkis-Porter

Contact Details for Patwa Apparel

Patwa Apparel

Shop # 12 Devon House

26 Hope Road

Kingston 10

876-849-2571; 876-906-7461

Facebook – Patwa Apparel; 10 Fyah Side; The Entrepreneurial You

Twitter: @patwaapparel @10fyahside @TheEntrepYou

email: Heneka@patwaapparel.com

Website: www.patwaapparel.com


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Which is your favourite piece in the Patwa Apparel collection? What do you love to eat your 10 Fyah Side sauces with? Get in touch below we look forward to hearing from you.


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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Walk Good, Jules

Sweet Jamaica interview on ExpatBlog.com

I had an interesting email earlier this month from the lovely Erin, Content Editor for EasyExpat.com inviting me to be the next interviewee in their great series of expat interviews. My ‘Sweet Jamaica’ blog is listed on their sister website BlogExpat.com which features great blogs from Expats from all over the world sharing their experiences of moving overseas.

If you have wanderlust or are planning to emigrate to another country then an Expat Website can be a great place to start as it features impartial life experiences of persons already living overseas. EasyExpat is one such website that has informative Expat Guides,  Forums, Classifieds, Job Listings & More. If you have experiences or queries about living abroad, then get involved on the website as  it enables the community and information sharing to grow. The website can be found at: www.easyexpat.com

They also have a BlogExpat Directory: www.blogexpat.com which features Blogs by Expats and the Expat Interviews can be found at: www.interviews.blogexpat.com There is a section that features Expat Author Interviews who have written books, which can be found at: www.books.blogexpat.com

And last, but not least they also have an Expat Services Site & Guide: www.expat-quotes.com Where you can find companies and professional services for all the steps of your relocation abroad. They have specialised services and products to answer your needs for managing your expatriation. You can apply for information and free quotes online and make the best decisions for your move.

This is my Interview…


From London to Ocho Rios: Sweet Jamaica From London to Ocho Rios: Sweet Jamaica

Erin Erin  Date 23 January, 2014 11:18

Sweet Jamaica Hi readers and thank you for taking the time to read this interview. My name is Jules, I am originally from London, but now I live in the sunny and beautiful Caribbean. I have the pleasure of calling Ocho Rios, or Ochi (as we call it), Jamaica my home – the land of wood and water.

1. Why did you move abroad? From the age of 15 I knew I wouldn’t spend all my adult life in the UK, but I didn’t know where I would move to. I love London, but I think living in London can become a trap where you are always pushing for a ‘bigger and better’ everything, whilst quietly thinking ‘will I over work myself before I am able to reach retirement age?’ From the first time I visited Jamaica I fell in love with the freedom, possibility and opportunity on the island and knew I had to find a means someway, somehow, to call it home.

2. How do you make a living?  I do not currently work in Jamaica as there is some bureaucracy to getting a work visa and setting up a business, if you do not have any ancestor or marriage concessions. But, I am in the process of dealing with it and I have lots of exciting projects in the pipeline. I have run a construction business in the UK for the last ten years and I have my blog www.sweetjamaica.co.uk and an upcoming business ‘LonJam Trading’ which keep me busy for the time being and enable me to ‘pay the bills’ over here. I also help with the local community, farmers group and my adopted schools in rural St. Ann and am also in the early stages of setting up a charity over here too.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how? I am really close to my family and love to keep in touch. It is actually cheaper for me to call the UK than the other way around as there is a great international plan that Digicel offers to call UK landlines, so I tend to do the calling! I usually talk to my Mum every couple of days to catch up with the goings on in London and the business as she stays up late and the time difference doesn’t bother her. I speak to my sisters at least once a week and my friends a few times a month.

To be honest, I have tried Skype but the connection is terrible and it actually becomes an annoying experience instead of fun! I do fly back to London a few times a year as well though and this enables me to catch up and sort myself out before heading back to my beloved Jamaica.

4. What’s your favorite thing about being an expat in Jamaica?  Being able to experience and immerse myself in a different country and all that it has to offer. Plus, as I was raised, educated and have work / business experience in London, I have been exposed to alternative ways of doing things. This has enabled me to gain a skill set that puts me in a position to encourage and mentor people who haven’t had that opportunity, so that they may realise their full potential and entrepreneurial spirit too. Tackling environmental and recycling issues, sustainable living and alternate farming practices are also of great interest to me and in many ways they are in an embryonic stage in Jamaica, this also gives me maneuverability to get involved and help make a difference in a country that I love so much.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Jamaica?  Sometimes feeling like all eyes are on me as people are interested to ‘pree’ (look and study) me, so you can lose a sense of anonymity. Also some people will assume things about you from things they have heard about living overseas, and others will offer you ‘tourist’ or uptown prices. I would also like to clarify that people from ‘foreign’ (abroad/overseas) do not have an ATM machine in their navel that gives them money whenever they need it, like most people, we have to work hard to earn money to live! I do find that ‘busting a likkle patois’ tends to make most assumptions about me and the higher prices disappear though!

6. What do you miss most? Aside from thinking about my family and friends a lot and missing out on special occasions with them, I am really happy living in Jamaica so don’t miss much about London. I always wanted to move abroad and I just love Jamaica and all it has to offer. The food over here is delicious and there is so much to do, plus the gorgeous weather is always a massive bonus.

There are times when I do miss the shops in the UK, as good quality items are expensive in Jamaica and on the flip side I miss routing around the £1 shops for bargains!  I sometimes crave foods, such as salt and vinegar walkers, party rings, flour tortilla, or deli foods (cheese, hummus, sundried tomatoes, olives, and pesto) which you cannot buy here, or if you can they are at extortionate prices. Plus other things which I wouldn’t normally eat on a regular basis when back in London…. Such as this evening I made home-made pasta sauce and spaghetti (except after opening the packet I realised it wasn’t spaghetti, but macaroni that was as long as spaghetti – weird!)

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home? I had the advantage of coming here with Jamaican friends the first time I visited on holiday, so we left the shiny hotels behind and stayed with friends and relatives in their homes. Therefore, I immediately immersed myself in the local lifestyle, culture and community and as Jamaican’s are so friendly I always had someone to talk to.

I must admit on the first trip here the language barrier was sometimes frustrating and other times hilarious as we tried to decipher what each other were saying, especially when in the rural areas where they talk faster and their accents are stronger. But, again I took my time, I people watched, I listened keenly and I learnt the local dialect, so that I could converse with people from all walks of life and feel a part of everything. It is also recommended that you learn the ‘going rate’ for things in Jamaica and familiarise yourself with the currency, so you’re not fumbling around when spending.

Five years later when I decided to try living here I moved to a busier area where I didn’t know anyone, to really test myself and see how I coped on my own in Jamaica. This took me away from my comfort zone and the familiarity, but it forced me to go out there and meet people. Luckily for me I have made friends, some of which are my neighbours who live in the same complex as me, but it took a while, so be patient! If you are wanting to mingle in a less in your face way than going everywhere solo, I would recommend attending church, the gym / sporting activities, joining local community groups, or volunteering with local schools, charities, orphanages or environmental groups. You will be amongst like-minded individuals and will easily find kindred spirits to share your time with in Jamaica, so get creative and think ‘outside of the box’.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?  Jamaicans are very direct and have a custom of giving ‘pet names’ (nicknames) to each other, this is often very literal to the individual’s looks or personality traits and would probably be classed as being politically incorrect in the UK. So don’t be surprised if you hear someone being called Fish Head, Knock-Knee, One Foot Man, Blacks, Miss Chin, Indian, and Whitey and so on. However, far from being used as a derogatory insult, it is deemed to be a term of endearment and is not to be taken offensively! To give example, when in the UK a Jamaican meeting his cousins for the first time said ‘What’s up Fatta’ much to the disgust of the rather plump relative. When his mother scolded him afterwards, he retorted ‘What should I call her slimmer?!’, as he genuinely didn’t mean any disrespect and didn’t know why she was so upset!

Jamaican’s much to their credit are very inclusive of all people, and you will see all walks of life included and socialising together. They do not objectify or disassociate from anyone who is less fortunate than themselves, or who for example, has a disability, although many have homophobic tendencies. It is not uncommon to see the young and old mingling together and you will often see examples of this at night spots, or social gatherings where you will find them huddled together playing dominoes, or you will see a man in a wheelchair getting a wild dance from a fit, sexy woman!

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?  That Jamaica is still living in the dark ages and is full of Ganga smoking Rasta’s and / or criminals who want to sell you drugs or harm you! OK it is different to London in many ways, and there are problems here and poverty, but Jamaica is up-to-date with what is going on in the world and is full of mannerly, decent, hard-working, inventive, God fearing individuals. We have internet access, cable TV, the latest gadgets and technology, tools and new cars over here. Plus, all the usual things are on offer over here such as cinema, theatre, stage shows, night clubs, bars, good restaurants, attractions, horse racing, car/motorbike racing, cricket and other sports, museums, art gallery and installations, shopping malls, beaches, basically something to suit all tastes, budgets and age brackets.  There are excellent education facilities, universities and many highly educated and successful people, living in beautiful residences with all the trappings of a westernised culture. To assume that all Jamaicans are illiterate, violent, non-achievers would be a great disrespect and underestimation of all the hard working Jamaican’s over here.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life? I was quite surprised at the cost of living in Jamaica when I first came here. Food prices are comparable or higher than in London, for example I can buy 5 plantain in London for £1.00 or $150.00, but it costs $80.00 for 1 plantain in Jamaica! Water and electricity rates are high and I have to wonder how many of the poorer people and business owners here cope with this expenditure. Electrical items, cars and all imported goods (except cheap Chinese goods) are very expensive and much more so than London. But overall my living expenses are lower than in London and I live an enjoyable, but not excessive lifestyle. Like London you can live high class here, 5 star all the way if you want to go all out, but at the same time you can live more economically if that suits you too.

11. What advice would you give other expats?  First and foremost I would say that Jamaicans are very proud, they can be very direct when talking to you and aren’t shy to express themselves. Remember that we are all people and have the same bodily functions, so you are not better than anyone else – you will be setting yourself up to fail and may receive feelings of contempt if you portray yourself as better than others. Get out there and experience the people and the culture, for they will become your friends, colleagues, neighbours and fellow community members.  Speak to strangers politely and formerly, as it traditional to use the prefix ‘Miss’, ‘Aunty’ or ‘Mr’ and so on, especially when speaking to those who are older than you. Don’t get a false sense of security, or lock yourself up indoors because you are in another country. I would always advise that using common sense, not getting involved in matters that don’t concern you and not being too ‘out there’ as this will keep you out of most discrepancies. What we would class as ‘chit chat’ in the UK, some Jamaican’s would find as being nosey, so don’t get all up in people’s business or ask too many questions about their personal life.

From the first time I visited Jamaica on holiday in 2006, I made it my point of duty to check out the local EVERYTHING as I knew I wanted to live here! If you are planning to move to Jamaica, I would advise coming here first, live amongst the locals and see if you can manage it. It is important to check out different areas and find out about the local amenities, as at some point you will need food, household and personal items, utilities, a bank, post office and so on, so it makes sense to find out if all you need is on offer. Gated communities offer many people peace of mind, whilst living in more remote places suits others – talk to people who have a connection with the area, or other expats.

Expat websites and forums such as www.blogexpat.com and www.easyexpat.com/forums/ are a great impartial way to glean information about the neighbourhood and get the inside scoop on living there.

Oh, and make sure you buy or bring plenty of sealable containers to store food stuffs, as Jamaican insects and creatures are very wily and will find a way to taste your favourite foods and invest in stainless steel as everything else rusts really quickly!

12. When and why did you start your blog? I started my blog in 2012 as a way of sharing my experiences of living in Jamaica.

This is my interview which was originally featured on BlogExpat.com, the original can be found here…

If you enjoyed this interview and my blog then please take one minute to click here and vote for ‘Sweet Jamaica’ blog. Thanks, safe travels 🙂

Sweet Jamaica
Sweet Jamaica


Thinking of moving to Jamaica

‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary

Jamaica Land We Love

There is something about Jamaica that steals a little piece of your heart the first time you visit. If you are truly afflicted the feeling will seep into your very existence and nag at your sub-conscience to return again, such is the draw of this Caribbean island. With its beguiling qualities and beautiful looks this could well lead to a full-on love affair that will have you telling all who will listen of ‘your Jamaica’ (sounds like me!).  It is therefore  no surprise that Jamaica has inspired some of the most talented and creative people to flourish with its natural backdrop of uplifting people, lush greenery, fruitful lands, cool rivers, picture perfect beaches and rich history.

One such person is Michael Lynch, who was born and raised in the Midlands, England to Jamaican parents. Michael decided to move to Jamaica in 2000 after his parents passed away, where he got married to a local woman and lived there happily for the next 12 years.  This coming home struck a chord with Michael who had spent his formative years in the UK absorbing the media’s perception of Jamaica which wasn’t always the most complimentary, or honest. Inspired to tell others about what he had experienced he decided to produce an independent documentary about ‘his Jamaica’, with the aim of enlightening people to what Jamaica is really all about outside of the scaremongering and shiny hotels.

The documentary champions the everyday person in Jamaica through whistle stop tours over much of the island and interviews with  members of the local communities and settlers, such as the Maroons, Indians and Germans. Michael is able to skilfully unravel the meaning behind the Jamaican motto ‘Out of Many, One People’, which is a testament to the multi-cultural inhabitants of the island, who lives are peacefully intertwined. Hear about Jamaica in the words of its people and revel in some of the sights and sites that are covered in this documentary, so that you too can transported into the very heartbeat of Jamaica.

By watching this documentary Michael hopes to inspire creative, educated entrepeneurs to give Jamaica a chance and consider moving here. By encouraging this talent pool to Jamaica to set up businesses, they will bring their wealth of knowledge and employment opportunities to further the country as a whole. The sentiment is one I believe in too, and therefore I wholeheartedly support Michael and his teams endeavours with this informative and engaging documentary that helps to demystify Jamaica.

You can view the trailer below and when that whets your appetite for more, you can rent the 53 minute long documentary for  just US$2.99 through Jamaican Movies. This way you are paying the film maker directly and supporting their craft. Sweet Jamaica has not been endorsed for writing this post or supplying links, but we appreciate you supporting this independent British / Jamaican film maker.

Who is Behind ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary

Michael Lynch is creative by nature and has been a published artist since the mid eighties where he started his career working as a session musician and producer with London based Orbitone Records. This lead to work with US based Jamdung Media, where he worked on many music videos and short film projects. No stranger to film producing, Michael produced his first short film in Jamaica in 2002 with Jesoco Productions which was distributed throughout the island by ‘Novelty Traders’. Fast forward to 2010 where he teamed up with local Montego Bay photographer Lenworth Brown and in 2011 set out to film this documentary assisted also by a young talented presenter Taneisha Ingram. He returned to the UK in 2012 to edit the film which was released on 3rd November 2013 and is currently available for rent through selected online outlets.

  • Producer/Director – Michael Lynch
  • Director of photography – Lenworth Brown
  • Presenter/narrator – Taneisha Ingram

Media Coverage

Don’t just take it from us, Michael has been featured in some other media channels too…

Check out the official website for Computamax Productions here.

On 24th November 2013 Michael Lynch created column inches in The Gleaner, a national newspaper in Jamaica when staff reporter Sadeke Brooks produced a article based on an interview with Michael, which can be read here.

If you would like to hear more about Michael Lynch and his documentary, he has also been featured on a BBC Radio Derby Interview here with Devon Daley .

If you would like to rent a digital copy of Michael Lynch’s  ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary it costs US$2.99 from Jamaican Movies, click here.

Check out the Facebook page and click like here!

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]


Bob Marley and The Wailers Kaya Album Released

Kaya has been reworked as a Deluxe Edition, if you didn’t hear it the first time it was released, don’t miss it this time round…

Continue reading Bob Marley and The Wailers Kaya Album Released

James Bond Beach – Jamaica

If you are looking for a laid back attraction in Jamaica, or simply want to relax at an exclusive beach, then James Bond Beach in St Mary could well fit the bill…

Visiting James Bond Beach

James Bond Beach sounds suitably glamorous for an initial dip in the ocean and it provided us with an opportunity to get a drive out of Ochi, St. Ann and eastwards towards Oracabessa, St. Mary. The drive is a pleasant one along the highway which takes in ocean views along some parts of the road, whilst the farming enterprises of coconut and banana walks (plantations) that stretch as far as the eye can see make up the majority of the scenery on the journey. There are two gas stations along the highway near to Ochi, the first of which is a large PetCom gas (petrol) station just past Irie FM (on the by-pass in Ochi), that has a Pharmacy, supermarket, ATM and W.C.’s attached to it, the second one is a Texaco and is near to White River, just before the turn off for Exchange and has which has lesser facilities.

How to get to James Bond Beach – Oracabessa…

Driving along the highway leaving Ochi (Ocho Rios) the road is straight with no turn offs and it takes about 25 – 30 minutes to reach the beach, driving at the legal speed of course. There is a  large and hopeful road sign on the highway that depicts that James Bond Beach is 1km away, which is a vast underestimation as it was more like 5km when we checked it on the second visit.


[list style=”1″ underline=”1″]

  • After passing the PetCom gas (petrol) station in Ocho Rios, drive along the highway and about 15km you will pass Ian Fleming Airport.  It was previously known as Boscobel Aerodrome and had a somewhat controversial name change after the renovations that saw it re-open in January 2011; however the new name further sets the scene as we search for the elusive James Bond Beach…
  • Keep driving along the same highway towards Oracabessa and you will eventually come to a deep corner about 1.5km past the aerodrome, where you will cross a bridge, continue forward. The beach is hard to find as the sign that lets you know where to turn off of the highway has blown down
  • Look out for a Shell Gas Station on the right hand side of the road and shortly after the road will bend and you will see a marl (white gravel) side road on the LEFT HAND SIDE, with a large sign for James Bond Beach and a wooden shop (where a Rasta sells fruits on the corner) TURN HERE; if you come to Oracabessa Crossroads you have come too far
  • Once you find the side road you have to travel about another 1 – 1.5KM to reach the entrance to the beach, so be warned if you are walking! Travel up to the end of the side road until you pass Jah Willy’s and you will be forced to turn right passing the unassuming fisherman’s Beach which is much more low-key and has a little shop serving beach goers
  • At the end of the road you will see the entrance which has ‘James Bond Beach’ written across the top of the gates, you found it!


What is James Bond Beach All About?

James Bond Beach has an interesting story to tell… Owned by non other than Chris Blackwell, of Island Records and Island Outpost fame, who not only had a successful music and movie company, but who also has several high-end and exclusive resorts under his mantle such as:

[list style=”1″ underline=”1″]

  • GoldenEye; Ian Flemings former home
  • Jake’s; Treasure Beach
  • The Caves; Negril
  • Strawberry Hill; Blue Mountains


Chris Blackwell’s mother Blanche was born into a powerful family that made their money and livelihood in sugar and rum in Jamaica in the 20th Century. Blanche owned several thousand acres of land near Oracabessa and later sold some of it to both Ian Fleming and Noel Coward, who made homes there. She was considered to be the love of Ian Flemings later life and who he refered to as his Jamaican wife and muse, and who was said to be the inspiration for the James Bond character ‘Pussy Galore’. James Bond Beach also has the claim to fame of being the beach in which a young Ursula Andrews cavorted in the James Bond movie ‘Dr. No’.

Wash Rooms James Bond Beach
Wash Rooms James Bond Beach

What Is Offered at James Bond Beach?

You can drive your vehicle inside the complex and find somewhere to park; if there isn’t an attendant at the gate to take your entrance fee they will shortly appear before you can get out of the vehicle to take the money from you; we paid about $400 per person. James Bond Beach has a nice set up with a small but clean and sandy beach which boasts crystal clear waters, and has a few complimentary wooden loungers and a couple of picnic tables scattered about. As the sandy beach area is small the seating goes quickly and you may want to bring a beach mat or extra towel to lie or sit down on if it is busy.

If the beach isn’t your thing, or it is too busy for you, there is also a winding terrace that has been constructed over the rocks surrounding the beach and which offers up a larger area in which to sun yourself; although it could do with some repairs in places, as the sea seems to want to reclaim it. On both occasions we came there were only a few other groups present, which made it feel more secluded and quiet for a beach in Jamaica.

There is no gift shop or vendors on the beach, so once you pay for your entrance fee you will be limited to splashing the cash in the bar and restaurant…

Sunset Swimming James Bond Beach
Sunset Swimming James Bond Beach

Moonraker Bar and Restaurant

The large Moonraker Bar is prettily made from wood, is open on all sides and boasts a fabulous upstairs seating area that has scenic views across the ocean and the grassy area. The bar is well stocked and they had plenty of ice; a flask of Wray & Nephew costs about $700. There is also a restaurant with lots of fish (and chicken) dishes on offer, which cost around $1,000 – $2,000 per main dish dependant on what you ordered; but we didn’t eat there on either occasion we visited. A point to note is that the restaurant doesn’t look as though it opens when there a little or few people around.  A large grassy area that is surrounded by the clear blue sea on three sides affords you a change from the beach area and a stroll to look at the boats. The lawn and bar are packed full of people and really come alive and into their own when the venue plays home to the large stage shows and events that are held periodically.

The other amenities include large separate male and female changing facilities, offering a shower, communal changing areas with benches, wash basins and toilets; on both occasions we found them to be clean and with soap and tissues available. The beach normally closes at sundown, and I’m told it is busier at weekends when more of the locals and even Chris Blackwell and friends sometimes frequent it.

On the whole I would recommend James Bond Beach and feel it was worth the drive as it was clean, secluded, friendly, peaceful and with good vibes and amenities. The entry price wasn’t too expensive either and was indicative on what was on offer there. All round it was a nice experience…. I will definitely come again and will have to try the food next time though!

Jamaica 'One Love' James Bond Beach
Jamaica ‘One Love’ James Bond Beach



Get More From Sweet Jamaica – Join Us Here…

Want to get updates on the move then join our FaceBook Page and Twitter Feed so you don’t miss out!

Like our FaceBook Page to get the latest news, photo’s, music, events, competitions and offers from Sweet Jamaica https://www.facebook.com/sweetjamaica.co.uk

Join our twitter feed @sweetjamaicajul for up to date happenings, information and fun from Sweet Jamaica https://twitter.com/sweetjamaicajul

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

Keep the Conversation Going….

Have you visited this beach, share your experience? Where is your favourite beach in Jamaica? Join the Comments Below….


Post Updated January 2016

Eating Jamaican Spicy Pickle!

If chocolate tea (hot chocolate), real vanilla or spicy pickle are your thing, then you will love this Jamaican food manufacturer…


 Spice Girl Products

The second interview in my SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN! campaign lead me to another inspirational Jamaican woman who is  rocking the natural food manufacturing industry with her sensational pickles, natural vanilla and chocolate teas (hot chocolate). Sheryl Muir is the Managing Director and general superwoman of Spice Girl Products a truly authentic Jamaican enterprise that you will want to taste and savour again and again, as all the ingredients are grown right here in Jamaica…..

The Spice Girl Range of products on offer currently includes:

[list style=”1″ underline=”1″]

  • Spice Girl’s chocolate tea is made from a selection of seeds from the finest cocoa pods, the seeds are naturally sun-dried for about 7 days to remove the moisture and capture the chocolate flavour, after parching and roasting they are pounded in a mortar with a pestle and formed into Jamaica Spice Girl Chocolate balls. The fabulous kit has three (3) Chocolate balls, Vanilla Bean, Nutmeg and Cinnamon Leaves to create the perfect cup of chocolate tea (hot chocolate).
  • They also offer dried vanilla beans (pods) and a natural Vanilla Extract which has no sugar or preservatives, which is “aged” for at least six months before bottling to develop flavour.
  • Plus, a Vegetable Pickle that contains scotch bonnet peppers, carrots, onions, cucumber, pimento seeds and vinegar, which can be enjoyed with fish, sardines, pork or poultry for a vibrant and tasty condiment.


Did you know?

Vanilla beans are natural fruit from vining orchid vanilla Planifolia Andrews, the plant produces flowers after the first three years and annually thereafter. The flowering period last for about five (5) months of the year, each flower survives for only eight hours and must be hand pollinated within this time to make sure a bean which stays to the vine for about nine months to achieve maturity. Beans are thereafter naturally sun cured and conditioned to achieve the Worlds “Supreme Vanilla Bean From Jamaica”.

My Interview with Sheryl Muir of Spice Girl Products gave an insight of what manufacturing Jamaican food is all about…

Vanilla Extract Spice Girl Products
Vanilla Extract Spice Girl Products

Interview questions


1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

I am Sheryl Muir, my primary place of residence is Kingston Jamaica and I am the founder and Managing Director of Spice Girl Products.


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

Spice Girl Products was established as a sole trader operation in April 2010.The genesis of the company reflected a desire and response to my training and courses at the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) where I pursued studies in Business Administration, and Tourism & Hospitality.

3. Tell me about your typical working day?

My typical day starts at 5 a.m and revolves around my family and organizing my business. I am the mother of two girls ages eight and nine years old. After feeding, preparing and taking them for school I become immersed in any of the following activities depending on appointments or schedules. Visiting the country to arrange raw material supplies and check on happenings at the vanillary, actual manufacture of products, packaging, labelling, preparing orders, delivering products or instructing deliveries, meeting with clients, graphic artist, packaging suppliers or, checking on in store displays and sometimes facilitating in store sampling, promotion and banking and other financial issues. These activities must be completed by 3 p.m when it becomes time for collecting the girls, seeing to their extra curricular activities and feeding, supervising homework, spending some quality time and seeing them off to bed by 8pm. My administrative and computer time begins there after and I am usually in bed by 10:00p.m with some t.v. time until sleep takes over.

4. What is your company philosophy?

Quality product, Quality Service.

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

Spice Girl primary raw materials are produced at the Elan Farms in Hope Bay Portland, Woodside in St.Mary. Packaging, quality control and distribution is executed in Kingston.

Jamaican Vanilla Pods
Jamaican Vanilla Pods

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

Raw materials used in Spice Girl Products are locally produced.

7. Are you Jamaican?

I was born in St.Elizabeth, Jamaica.

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

My three likes about Jamaica are:

  1. Perceived potential of the country to provide a truly rewarding experience.
  2. The moderate climatic conditions of the country throughout the year.
  3. Potential friendly tourism destination.

My three dislikes are

  1. Visionless politicians who are clueless to what is required to facilitate business development.
  2. The high crime rate and praedial larceny.
  3. Unnecessary bureaucracy and lack of developmental opportunity to promote productive enterprise.


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

For 2013 we intend to launch our Vanilla flavoured teas and open the Spice Girl farm tours in conjunction with Elan Farms in Hope Bay Portland for sometime in July.

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

Natural Vanilla Extract from the “Supreme Beans” produced at Elan Farms. We hope to educate Jamaicans and international health conscious persons to go easy on the artificial vanilla and start using natural vanilla.

vanilla extract 114ml Spice Girl Products
vanilla extract 114ml Spice Girl Products

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

My inspiration is definitely my girls, they have been my support team through thick and thin.

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

Spice Girl Products can be found in the Mobay Airport, thirty-two supermarket outlets and online @ www.spicegirlproducts.com

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

Free time ….Visiting new and interesting adventures or attractions around the country.

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

The country has been in degradation for too long, for one day to be effective or meaningful, however, it is of primary importance for the Prime Minister to recognise the importance of National Empowerment of the masses not through marginal programs but through programs that are sustainable and encourage, production, consumption and export. The packaging and marketing of Jamaica as a tourism product is seen by us to be the only true solution to Jamaica’s’ economic and by extension crime and other problems….

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

I believe Norman Manley made a significant contribution with his vision for community development and Edward Seaga has made a good try for cultural awareness.

Jamaican Vegetable Spice Pickle
Jamaican Vegetable Spice Pickle

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?

Stay true to yourself, perseverance and dedication despite the obstacles and definitely learn to accept changes wherever necessary. Must gain knowledge in their respective field and surround themselves with positive people that will always encourage and support them.

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

I’ve asked myself this question many times…………but definitely being paid to travel to other countries and learn more about their culture, food, attractions and adventures (Professional Tourist).

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

Grace Foods…..They had a vision and a plan and they execute it as a family……They are an inspiration to many young entrepreneurs.

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

Quality products, good service and the support of loyal customers, well wishers and immediate family.

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

Our unique products. There are no other commercial vanillaries in the English-speaking Caribbean, United States, Canada or Europe.

Spice Girl Products logo
Spice Girl Products logo

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

As stated earlier massive Jamaica packaging and tourism promotion.To achieve this in a meaningful way we need to change the mindset of our people to move away from the hand out mentality. Unfortunately, our current crop of politicians on all sides of the aisle seem to lack the moral or entrepreneurial ability to lead such a charge. We must be contented with tiny steps until…….

22. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

To have a peaceful, welcoming and productive country where the masses are truly independent and empowered.

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

Your concept is very much in keeping with the principle of packaging Jamaica for consumption….We wholeheartedly ” Support Jamaica Buy Jamaica” Concept.

Thanks Sheryl it was a pleasure interviewing you…. anytime you need a food sampler ‘hail me up!’




Want to learn more, buy something or get in touch with Spice Girl Products you can do it here:

Website: www.spicegirlproducts.com 

Mailing Address: Woodside, Pear Tree Grove, St Mary, Jamaica.

Please contact us at any of the following email address:




Telephone: 1-876-484-9976

Spice Girl Products

“Spice for Life!”

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?


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


 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.


 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










Amusing Real Stories From Jamaica #1

Jamaica is an island where you will see things you have never seen before, these are a couple of my Jamaica firsts!

Toad on a Rope

My Mum had come to visit me in Jamaica and I decided to take her to visit some relatives in the countryside of St. Ann. We set out in a Toyota Hiace bus (van) on a clear and sunny day, and drove the usual route past Brown’s Town and Calderwood, deeper into the green and mountainous interior. On approaching a hill, I noticed 3 people at the top who were crossing the road, so I slowed down to let them pass comfortably. As we reached the brow of the hill I noticed one of them was leading something along into the road in front of me….

then I realised it was a massive toad with a piece of string tied around its neck! As we approached the group the one with the toad said

“drive pon it nah mon!”

basically urging me to drive over it and kill it. I quickly thought about the poor toad and it’s splattered guts all over the bus and having to clean it off and replied “Noooo, it’s too crawny!” to which they all fell about laughing. They duly led the toad out of the road and let me drive past, assumingly to wait for the next driver to come along!  *Many Jamaicans seem to be very scared of toads and believe they can be used by Obeah for casting spells on people.

Your Eye Nar Mek Good!

My vehicle was always giving me problems starting, as the battery wouldn’t charge properly. I begrudged paying $18,000 for a new one, as I was leaving the country in a few more weeks, which meant the bus would be parked up again resulting in the new battery dying in the same way. This meant I was always having to park on a hill (I kid you not!) hoping no-one would block me in, so I could roll the vehicle in order to give myself a ‘juk start’ when I was ready to leave! If this wasn’t possible I had to rely on a friend or a kind-hearted soul to push the vehicle to get the famous ‘juk start’, or if I was really lucky, I would find someone with jump leads to give me a ‘ol fashioned jump-start…. when I say jump leads they are normally just two pieces of strong wire which they simply hold onto the connectors on the batteries, sparks flying and all! (you have to love the tenacity and improvisation skills of Jamaican’s!)

One morning I was late and the vehicle wouldn’t start despite all the pleading in the world, which eventually turned into threatening through gritted teeth that I would sell it if it didn’t start…. needless to say, none of it worked. I needed a plan with a strong man. There is a large hardware store at the end of the road where I live, so I decided to wander up there to see if I could persuade some of the big strapping men that load the goods into the waiting trucks, to give me a ‘juk’ start.

As I walked up there feeling a bit nervous about asking for help, I noticed a boy of about 7 years old in among all the men in their overalls, leaning up against the fence watching me walk up the side road towards the entrance. As I got nearby he called out to me “Hey pretty lady!”, I smiled and walked over towards them thinking this will be easy now the ice had been broken. When I got to the fence and the little boy I said to him “Hi, whats up?” and he and the men all smiled broadly at me. Next thing, before I could ask for their help I noticed the little boys eyes all widened as he looked into my face and replied to me

“lady u pretty, but your eye nar mek good!”,

I had to laugh out loud with everyone else as I can only guess he wasn’t so used to seeing blue eyes and thought my light coloured eyes hadn’t been made correctly! When all the laughter had subsided and I was able to explain my plight nearly all the men flew over the fence to give me a ‘juk start’ much to the bemusement of the supervisor!

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:

  • 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.

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:


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.








Love Jamaica? Then you can help support the economy by purchasing Jamaican made goods and products…

This post is the result of an idea that has bubbled around in my head for sometime. How can I make a difference to Sweet, Sweet Jamaica, the land that I love? To travel here and enjoy all that the country has to offer, is one way of raising the Jamaican economy and profile, but I feel there has to be more to it than that. Jamaica is more than the sum of its tourist industry. What about the everyday Jamaicans that have probably never stayed in the big hotels they see springing up all over the island, how can we help to support them?

Employment Figures In Jamaica

The government statistics state that unemployment levels in Jamaica had risen to 14.3% in April 2012, up from 12.4% two years earlier. In order to curb unemployment levels and build the Jamaican economy we need to support home-grown manufacturers and producers of goods and products. This will increase demand and productivity levels, enabling the expansion of these companies, which will in turn increase demand for labour ~ and the employment of more Jamaicans. Simple Really.


“Jamaica needs to start at ‘grass roots’ level, meaning that we should practise what we preach.”

Be Proud Of Jamaican Made Goods

What puzzles me is that I have never met a nation that is so proud of their country as Jamaica and its people. Yet, there seems to be a strong desire among Jamaicans to have internationally branded products in their homes and workplaces, over and above locally produced Jamaican goods.

Additionally, it is all very well to publicise the desire to increase exports and decrease imports into the country,  whilst attempting to draw in overseas companies to set up businesses or invest in Jamaica. But, if you aren’t supporting your own, why would anyone else want to?

Lets Break it Down!

If every one of us living and working in Jamaica makes a conscious effort to buy Jamaican products, instead of the international imported brands it will make a difference to the country. How does this work? Simple…

If we all made it our responsibility to seek out and buy Jamaican manufactured goods it would raise the profile, manufacturing capabilities and employment figures of these companies. By being awarded bigger contracts these manufacturers are afforded the chance of investing money back into their companies, further increasing their production levels and creating new jobs for more Jamaicans.

To a certain degree any product is only as good as its marketing and branding strategies. The more people see and hear about a product being used by others, the more it heightens their belief and desirability levels for the product too, thus increasing sales. In other words it is the general public who buy into products and brands making them popular, because after all we all like to keep up with ‘the Joneses’ (with each other). If we as a collective whole make a stand and deem that Jamaican products are ‘trendy’ and desirable as displayed through our buying power, then they will be. Watch and See!

How We Can Make A Difference

People living and working in Jamaica and fans of Jamaica from overseas, can make a difference to  the economy by familiarising yourself with Jamaican born companies.  Start purchasing products that have been grown, manufactured, made or produced in Jamaica.

When buying grocery shopping, cosmetics / toiletries, or products for the home, look for Jamaican grown, made or manufactured products and companies, instead of international brands. Eat fresh locally produced foods that are in season, get back into eating ground provisions – good old ‘hard food’, instead of cooking imported rice or flour (dumplings and fritters) every day.

In the workplace, if you are in charge of purchasing goods, materials, and products seek out Jamaican producers, manufacturers and suppliers of the goods that your business needs.

There are many ways you can support Jamaican Manufacturers as they are highly skilled in many areas, such as:

  • Chemicals, Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals Products
  • Electrical, Electronics and Automotive Products
  • Foods and Agro Products
  • Furniture, Wooden and Bedding Products
  • Gold and Silversmith Products
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Minerals and Metals Products
  • Printing, Packaging and Paper Products
  • Textile and Sewn Products


Major Players In the Growth of Jamaica’s Economy

Apart the general public’s purchasing power there are other major players in Jamaica that can make a difference to the economy. That is the working public, at all levels of employment. Every business place in Jamaica has someone in charge of purchasing, whether that be the secretary that buys stationary and sends post, to the purchasers of raw foodstuffs and materials in manufacturing firms, to hotels and financial institutions that buy furniture, equipment and manufactured goods and products, and not forgetting the hardworking higgler or vendor that sells everyday products.
If you work in an ‘office environment’ it could be something as simple as offering genuine Jamaican bottled water, coffee, tea and snacks at meetings, purchasing stationary and furniture from Jamaican manufacturers, buying Jamaican paper products for the rest rooms and the printer and so on…
There is also a myriad of other Jamaican entrepreneurs who work in creative industries, such as, marketing and branding companies, website building companies, videography, cinematography, production, photography, printers and so on, give them your business…
If you work in a retail outlet, hotel or tourist site, buy, use and re-sell Jamaican made foodstuffs, furniture, stationary, uniforms, paper products, cleaning products, cosmetics and so on…
Use your imagination, set your children the task to look for Jamaican made products when shopping and buy them…

Major Jamaican Players That Can Make A Difference

As individuals we are more powerful when we come together to achieve something, but there are other mass purchasers of products and goods that have far bigger spending power than us. Who are they? Private and Public Companies. Let me introduce some of the major players who I feel should be more aware of their actions and ought to be taking the Jamaican economy seriously, by utilising Jamaican grown businesses when purchasing goods and products:

  1. Jamaican government bodies, including their  institutions, agencies, associations  and organisations, such as, courts, schools, hospitals, emergency services….
  2. Hotels and tourist industry businesses….
  3. Retail outlets, including supermarkets, department stores, boutiques and vendors….
  4. Financial and Insurance Companies….
  5. Overseas Companies with offices in Jamaica….
  6. Manufacturing and Processing Plants….

To Finish

In my quest to encourage everyone to  ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ and to raise the profile of Jamaica’s industries, manufacturers, farmers, companies, outstanding individuals, products and brands, I shall be writing profiles on Jamaican people and companies big and small in the hope of making my ‘likkle’ contribution to Jamaica.

Remember, buying locally not only ensures the livelihood of Jamaican companies, it also assists in the creation of new jobs which helps to kick-start other areas of the economy as well. Think About It – Make Your Contribution.

Or, as they would say in Jamaica ‘one, one coco full basket’, in other words every little bit helps – if we all make a small contribution to something, it will succeed and overflow in the end!

Sweet Jamaica ~ Jamaica’s Sweet!

Who Really Discovered Jamaica?


The history of Jamaica begins with an indigenous Indian tribe called the Taíno, here you can learn the facts about Jamaica and all about Christopher Columbus and the part he played…

Who Came First to Jamaica?

This might be a controversial topic, but I think it is about time that the history lessons given in schools depict what actually happened in history. What is the point of teaching children (and adults) the history of the world, that is in-fact no more than a fabrication of the truth? When educated about the history of Jamaica we are taught about Christopher Columbus a Spaniard who landed on Jamaica in 1494… Ask yourself, how can you ‘discover’ a country that had already been habituated since around 700 to 800 AD?

Let me introduce you to the real history of Jamaica.  A group of indigenous Indians who had incredible seafaring skills moved through the Caribbean chain of islands way before Senor Columbus was even born, some say as much as, 2000 – 2500 years earlier. Ethnohistorians have called these people Taínos, and believe they came into existence at the end of the first millennium, reaching maturity around 1200. The Arawaks, from the Amazon were thought to be the ancestors to the Taíno people, and are sometimes incorrectly called the first inhabitants of Jamaica.

Ultimately the original people, the real discoverers of Jamaica were Taínos. A male and female Taíno are depicted in  the Jamaican Coat of Arms, where they stand proudly on either side of the shield; as shown above.

The Taíno

The Taíno were short and slightly built, with coarse straight black hair and wide flattish noses and copper coloured skin and they flattened their foreheads as a sign of beauty. They lived a traditional life building conical-shaped thatched shelters in communal villages all over the island, which consisted of several family groups headed up by a Cacique (chief). The Cacique had a larger dwelling with a porch like veranda, which was called a ‘bohío’. There were reports by Morales Padron and archeologists that the Cacique were handsomely swathed in feathered head dresses, with palm leaves on their bellies, wearing large amounts of adornments including gold discs in their ears, necklaces with marble beads and gold plaques and sparkling gem stones set into jewellery worn on the forehead.

The Taíno lived in organised societies with the Cacique making decisions including making and enforcing laws, settling disputes, land distribution, organisation of labour, planting and sharing of crops and religious ceremonies. The society had two classes the Nitaínos, or noblemen, which consisted of their family members, artists and warriors and the Naboría, or working class who were the fisherman, hunters and farmers.

The women gathered food and were expert spinners of cloth, whilst the men hunted birds with stone or shark tooth tipped spears, caught fish and turtles and worked the fertile land of Jamaica growing yams, beans, corn (maize), sweet potato, spices, cassava, cotton and tobacco. Their main dish was pepperpot, a meat and vegetable stew. Most settlements were near the plains, rivers and the coastline as those were prime food gathering sources, in places such as White Marl, St Catherine, Seville, St Ann, Jacks Hill, St Andrew, and Botany Bay, St Ann. They lived a simple existence without a written language, use of the wheel or beasts of burden.

Taino beliefs

The Taino myths place the origin of humans, the sun and moon in caves. This belief lead the Taíno to view caves with great importance. There are many examples of the recording of stories and events through petroglyphs (rock carving) and pictographs (rock painting). Caves were also used by the Taino for burials and as shrines and sanctuaries where ‘images’ that played a significant role in their lives where placed.

The Taíno had lived in peaceful existence in Xaymaca (‘the land of wood and water’) as they called it, for 700 to 800 years before the Spaniards got there. They were expert crafts people, the carpenters made rough seats from wood and potters made cooking vessels from clay which they baked in the fire to harden. They baked cassava on clay griddles and ate lots of sea foods. They wore strings of beads and shells and were excellent at spinning and weaving the wild cotton that grew in Jamaica into clothing which they wore in strips at their waist and for making hammocks which they slept in. Their carpentry skills enabled them to build huge canoes from Silk Cotton Trees to fish and circumnavigate the high seas, which is said, even Christopher Columbus was impressed with.

Early Entertainment in Jamaica

The Taíno are said to have enjoyed a party too, making beer from cassava (after the poison had been extracted) and another alcohol from maize. They also smoked dried leaves and snorted a powdered drug through a meter long tube called a tabaco. Their Gods were represented by Zemes, which were idols of people or animals and were said to control sun, rain, hurricanes and wind; when celebrating their Zemes they induced vomiting. They also used harvested rubber and made a solid rubber ball and devised games which they played on courts.

The Taíno believed that when they died they went to Coyaba, a place of eternal rest and tranquility, that is free from hurricanes, drought and sickness with an abundance of feasting and dancing.

The Taíno contributed to certain words adopted into the English language , including  ‘hammock’, ‘hurricane’, ‘tobacco’, ‘barbeque’, ‘cassava’, ‘guava’ and ‘canoe’.

What Happened to the Taíno?

When the Spanish arrived they shot bows and arrows and set fierce dogs on the Taíno that had initially tried to defend their homeland, both of which they had never seen before. Frightened the Taínos  backed down and eventually reappeared with peace offerings, supplying the Spanish with food and gifts for the duration of their first brief stay. As the Spanish took hold over Jamaica during further visits, they made the Taíno their slaves putting them to hard labour, making them carry out difficult tasks and bringing new diseases that the Taíno hadn’t experienced before. After about fifty years of harsh treatment and they had finally killed off the majority of the original inhabitants, the indigenous Indians;  the Spanish then replaced the Taíno ‘workforce’ with slaves from Africa.

Taíno Archeological Sites in Jamaica

There were many Taíno sites all over Jamaica, although unfortunately most of these sites have been destroyed through the combination of farming practices, building sites and the extraction of minerals.  The Jamaican National Heritage Trust has several sites on its website that can be visited, including the White Marl Taino Midden and Museum, which is located on the Kingston to Spanish Town highway, next to the White Marl Primary School. In 2007 a large Taíno site was found in Westmoreland, now headed by the Bluefields Archaeology Project which has uncovered many interesting finds from the discovery of a ‘midden’ or rubbish / garbage dump.

There are many cave painting or Petroglyph Sites across Jamaica, including:

  1. Dryland, St. Mary
  2. Pantrepant, Trelawny
  3. Windsor, Trelawny
  4. Mountain River , St. Catherine
  5. Two Sister’s Cave, St. Catherine
  6. Kempshot, St. James
  7. Canoe Valley, Manchester
  8. Cuckold Point, Manchester
  9. Gut River, Manchester
  10. Duff House, Manchester
  11. Coventry, St. Ann
  12. Chesterfield St. Ann
  13. Walkerswood, St. Ann
  14. God’s Well, Clarendon
  15. Jackson Bay Cave, Clarendon
  16. Little Miller’s Bay, Clarendon
  17. Milk River, Clarendon
  18. Jackson Bay, Clarendon
  19. Negril, Westmoreland
  20. Red Bank, St. Elizabeth
  21. Reynold Bent, St. Elizabeth
  22. Warminster, St. Elizabeth

Taíno Day

On 5th May 2007 the first ‘Taíno Day’ was unveiled by the Jamaican National Heritage Trust (JNHT)  to celebrate the earliest inhabitants of Jamaica with hopes of educating citizens about their various contributions to society. Each year’s celebration has a different theme, whereby the JNHT hosts a public lecture at the Institute of Jamaica located in Kingston, including a public exhibition of Taino artifacts.  The group also asks schools across the nation to take time out to remember the Taíno people whose history is often pushed aside in other national celebrations.

Previously, the day had controversially been called ‘Encounter Day’ which was  facilitated to commemorate the meeting of two cultures, the Spanish and the Taíno. But it failed to observe the fact it wasn’t a mutual, peaceful meeting and sharing of two cultures. What really occurred was the start of barbaric practises that wiped out the majority of the full-blooded Taíno in comparatively a nano-second of their earlier existence on earth.

There are many books that cover the history of the Taíno of Jamaica in much more detail including The Earliest Inhabit-ants: The Dynamics of the Jamaica Taino, published by the University of the West Indies Press (2006). It promotes Jamaican Tainan archaeology and highlights the diverse research conducted on the island’s prehistoric sites and artefacts.

The Jamaican National Heritage Trust (JNHT) website has many other interesting facts about Jamaican history and places and sites to visit: http://jnht.com/index.php

Gated Luxury Communities in Jamaica

What could be more ideal than to have your luxury Jamaican home ready to move into and in a secure and well-kept gated community? Maybe all is not as it seems in some of these ‘man-made’ communities as I discovered after staying with a returning resident friend in their beautiful home. I was amazed to hear about the comings and goings, politics, back-handers and more, it was easily enough drama for a Jamaican Housewives T.V. show to be made all about it!

I will spill and give you the best high(low)lights, but I will keep the development name and location a secret to protect my lovely friend from any more unfortunate incidences. Please note that this article is indicative of one individual persons experience of living in a gated development in Jamaica as told to me over two visits to their home.  For the purposes of the article I shall call my friend *’Ashley’.

I will admit to sometimes browsing through the adverts for gated communities in Jamaica, scanning the prices and looking wistfully at the beautiful properties imagining living there. But after my short stay in a gated residence my views have changed somewhat and the rose-tinted spectacles have been somewhat removed!

What are Gated communities All About?

Many people who dream of having a second home, or return back to live full-time in Jamaica decide to buy on or off plan from one of the developers that are springing up all over the island. This is usually for the Peace of Mind of:

  • living in a secure gated community.
  • not having to manage a building project whilst being overseas.

The developers show images and plans for residents living in luxury homes, on perfect streets with beautiful surroundings and communal areas for swimming, eating and meeting up. But the reality of the development that I visited was very different as it s-l-o-w-l-y filled up, residents started to come and go and the excitement of the initial opening  and interaction of the community drifted away. Some houses were taken by international music artists, whilst other houses were eventually bought, but left unkempt and empty.

What to Exect When You Move Into Your Gated Community

If you visit the site before purchasing a property you should be shown the ‘pegs’ that lay out the parameters of the Plots, including your garden area – make a photographic and signed record of this using fixed objects, such as, a lamp-post or fire hydrant to help accurately depict the location. Just in case they have magically moved decreasing the exterior land size after you have put down a deposit or paid in full.

The exterior of the house is unfinished meaning extra money was required for:

  • The driveway was a plain concrete screed, wide enough for one vehicle, and which stopped about 18″ (1.5ft) short of the ‘porch/front verandah’. You were free to tile, pave (and so on), increase the size to a double car width (eliminating your front garden) and ‘join’ it seamlessly to the front of the property.
  • The house has no physical boundaries present. That is to say there are no fences or gateways to the houses, creating private areas. Boundaries must be put up at a designated height and style to keep a uniform look.
  • The garden only consists of a lawn. You must plant your own trees, plants and shrubs.
  • Wooden carports and balconies can be added to the properties to match the style of the others already present on the site.
  • Other verandah type structures are permitted but must have the same type roofing as the main buildings.
  • The ‘grounds’ of the gated community are not overly planted and residents were gaining permission from the Office to add plants and trees.
  • The ‘corner’ properties had grass verges that some residents ‘captured’ and planted up to create larger front garden areas.

Who Lives in Gated Communities?

Jamaica has a melting pot of residents buying into the properties on gated developments, but most are bought by professionals or wealthy globe trotters. ‘Ashley’ commented that when they first moved in, primarily returning residents from the UK or USA bought up the properties. After 3 years of living there the shift of residents has moved to mainly Chinese and Indian business owners and professionals, with a smattering of American and European people joining them. This made distinct micro communities within the development and these different cultures kept themselves to themselves dissipating the ‘we are one’ village feel and making some residents feel isolated and unwelcome.

There is a universal hierarchy to the development too, with snobbery, constant one-upmanship and reverence given to residents that are doctors, lawyers and respected business owners over residents that worked as tradespeople or care workers. Persons who were deemed to be single, or non-married where also held with somewhat contempt too by the others. This favouritism can run to the point of preferential treatment from the office staff and the snubbing and belittling of the unpopular or unwanted residents by those wanting to be ‘in with the in crowd’.

Unfair Play and Back-Handers

One of the things that most amazed me about the development and ‘Ashley’s’ experience was that there were so many incidents of theft.  Unbeknown to ‘Ashley’ the Sales Office staff did not hand over all the sets of keys for the property when they first moved in.  So, every time ‘Ashley’ left Jamaica the Sales Staff were letting themselves into the house and basically helping themselves to whatever they wanted which, included pots, pans, other assorted kitchen items, bedding and even the shower curtain; which was what eventually gave the game away as it was so obviously missing and drew suspicions.

A garden hose, various small trees, palms, flowers and other planting was physically dug out of the ground and stolen from the front garden after Ashley bought it and bedded it in. Other established plants and trees were hacked by neighbours who were later oblivious to it ever happening despite it being blindly obvious who had done it.

When tradespeople came to do work on the house they rifled through draws and helped themselves to household items and bits and pieces of tools and other materials they could make use of. Jewellery was stolen right from under their nose, when some post building cleaning was being carried out in the house.

Poor workmanship was carried out when making repairs or snagging and it took ages and a multitude of missed appointments before the tradespeople turned up, if at all. This was potentially because the tradespeople seemed to all be friends of the Office Staff and back-handers seemed to be prevalent in ensuring the work was handed out to their preferred suppliers; even if this meant severe delays caused by the (over) workload. There was even an incident of catching one of the Office Staff watching porn when they claimed to be too busy to leave the office and do something within the grounds of the development!

As the development offered the service of finding tenants for certain owners and investors, there were incidences of properties being let out by the Office Staff without the knowledge of the owners and without them getting payment for it.

Piles of rubbish, garden waste and pruned trees would turn up on the grass verge outside ‘Ashley’s’ house which other residents have dumped and the Office Staff would make to complaints about it, despite it being nothing to do with them.

One of the other residents damaged ‘Ashley’s’ property and when it was reported to the Police it was ‘paid off’ and the incident never had a proper statement taken in order for it to stand to trial.

There were thriving clubs to join when the development first opened and a lively bar and restaurant, unfortunately three years down the line these facilities have closed down or diminished and the micro-communities have their own events and gatherings.

Things to Remember…

Security is one of the main reasons for living on a gated development, but sometimes the devil is among those who are supposed to be looking out for you. Change the locks when you move in and save yourself the headache of unwanted and uninvited persons from entering your home.

If you are to be away from the property for extended periods of time be aware that the house will not be ‘aired’ and the heat generated in the property will be immense, these factors can create all types of unwanted problems. Insect infestations, especially ants are common as they have all the freedom and uninterrupted time to make your home theirs, eating away at wooden areas and destroying the beauty of it. Your furniture will also swell and shrink in the changing temperatures of the property, which can even cause a 10ft solid wood dining table to warp and fabrics to ‘burn’ in the sun.

Be careful who you trust to come into your home to carry out work, or to manage it for you. Keep valuables LOCKED AWAY. Notice the bag that the person carries with them, is it noticeably fuller when they leave?! Try to supervise or get a trusted friend or family member to supervise them.

If you want to get on with your fellow residents try not to be too overtly anything! Most people like people who just agree with the masses and don’t cause too much drama. If you want to live peacefully try and pick your arguments (very carefully!) and only make people aware of you when it is really necessary.

It can get lonely if you come to Jamaica on your own. Despite the beautiful views and freedom that comes with chilling out in your own oasis, it is nice to have someone to share it with. Try and encourage friends and family to visit, if you don’t have someone special in your life to share all that Jamaica has to offer. Or get out there and make some new friends…

To Finish…

I am not dismissing the value of living in a gated community as to some the experience can be fulfilling and enjoyable, giving them the home they always wanted in beautiful Jamaica without the headache of having to manage the building phase from overseas. You also get the benefit of 24 hour security, grounds maintenance, on-site facilities and the companionship of the other residents, all being well.

If you aren’t planning on being there all year round do you really care enough to worry about whether you are keeping up with the Jones’s? Obviously theft and criminal damage and two things that you do not want to come up against, especially in the so-called confines of a secure development, but you can help to limit the risks by being vigilant, changing locks, keeping them locked and keeping things behind closed (locked!) doors when not in use.

The drive of some people (including me) to live and be in Jamaica, even if it is for extended visits at a time, can be so powerful we would put up with almost anything just to be here. My advice to you if Jamaica really is your feel good place than just enjoy yourself and chill out a bit when you are here. Yes, there are loads of things to really get on your nerves and things are done differently and at a different pace, but don’t give up your dreams due to someone elses small mindedness. If you let things get on top of you and give up going back overseas feeling disheartened it will put a bad taste in your mouth about coming back. Look on the bright side, bad stuff happens no matter what side of the planet we are on, I just prefer to be depressed and disheartened wearing shorts, eating fried fish, rice and peas with a cool natural juice and a beautiful view!

Peace – I Love Jamaica!

Looking for a gated community in Jamaica


The Art of Packing a Barrel Part Two…

The Art of Packing a Barrel Part Two… If you want to ship to Jamaica, there are eight easy steps to clearing the articles at the wharf.

Jamaica Wharf Process

After much anticipation my barrels have arrived at Kingston Wharf and I cannot wait to see them again. I decided to get the barrels shipped to Kingston rather than Montego Bay and collect them myself, as not only was it cheaper, more critically it was faster, shaving off at least an extra 10 days waiting time for the ship to offload at Kingston and then make its way to Montego Bay for its last unloading.  As I was desperate to get my things as soon as possible and I was staying half way between the two ports I decided it made sense and was just as easy to go to Kingston as Mo’ Bay to retrieve my much wanted belongings that I had bid farewell to in London on 17th August 2012.

There are 8 (eight) easy steps to follow for clearing a barrel in Jamaica…

1 – Arrange Transportation to the Wharf – ensure the vehicle is large enough to hold the items you intend to pick up. Remember your I.D., TRN Card and shipping paperwork.

2 – Make your way to your Shipping Agent Office which will be located near to the appropriate Wharf, pay your Landing Fees and get your Bill of Lading. Make sure you know which Wharf to go to.

3 – Head to the Wharf, go to the Main Building hand in your paperwork and pay your handling charge.

4 – Go to the Manifest Building hand in your paperwork and wait for more paperwork and directions of which berth to attend to clear your goods.

5 – Once at the berth number, hand in your paperwork and wait for your name to be called. On entering the berth you will be asked to unpack your barrels for customs to look inside and value the contents.

6 – Proceed to the Customs Cashiers Desk where they will finalise the value of the items and give you a Customs Import Entry Form (C78X).

7 – Take the Customs Import Entry Form (C78X) to the Payments Office, pay the required fee and keep your receipt safe.

8 – Show the receipt to the Gate Pass Office and wait to receive a Gate Pass. Go back outside and find your driver, approach the gate and show the paperwork and the driver will also need to show their Driving Licence.  Approach the loading bay near to the berth, show your paperwork and load your items into your vehicle. Drive back to the main exit, show paperwork and finally leave the wahrf.

How to Clear a Barrel – Step One

The paperwork that I carried with me to Jamaica from Kingsley’s Shipping in the UK had an expected date of arrival printed on it as 24th September 2012, and it instructed you to telephone the office if you had not heard from them by that date. I was surprised to get a telephone call from Kingsley’s Shipping, Kingston Offices on the 21st September advising me that the barrels were ready for collection, before I had the chance to call them. The staff were very friendly and polite and gave me the address to come to in Kingston to collect the ‘Bill of Lading’ paperwork for clearing the barrels at the wharf.

I chartered a lovely, experienced driver Fenton and his mini bus for $9,000 (including Gas) through a recommendation from a friend, to drive me to Kingston Wharf and return with the 3 barrels. Fenton arrived as requested at 5.00am before ‘the Cock(erel) had taken off his draws’ as my good friend would have said and we set out in the early morning darkness for Kingston clutching my personal identification, TRN Card, the paperwork from Kingsley’s Shipping, my C15 form from the airport and receipts for the majority of the items I had shipped in the barrels, as proof of the cost I had paid for them in the UK.

We headed through Ocho Rios and travelled east towards St.Mary, which was a more scenic and traffic free route instead of the more familiar journey through Fern Gully and Flat Bridge. Swiftly driving along the deserted A3 Highway we quickly reached Ian Fleming International Airport (formerly Boscobel Aerodrome) and continued eastward towards to Orcabessa.

Turning off the Highway and heading through the interior of the country as the sun was coming up the beauty of Jamaica was revealed in the lush green canopies of trees and the numerous hills, gulleys and riversides we passed on the journey. Our route passed Stoney Hill on the outskirts of Kingston which had a lushly covered hillside which looked serene and magnificent against the dense forest trees that covered most of the other peaks.

Step Two

We reached Kingston and made our way to Kingsley’s Shipping Offices at Shop 13B, 14-16 First Street, Newport West, just before 8.00am where I found they were open and welcoming despite it being before the listed opening hours of 8.30am. The staff were very friendly and professional and unusually for Jamaica they worked quickly and efficiently in getting your paperwork ready for you. I handed over my paperwork from their UK offices, ID, TRN Card and my C15 Form and they gave me the ‘Bill of Lading’ which is an essential piece of paperwork to carry to the wharf. The office was clean and had a free iced water dispenser and chairs for you to rest in whilst they dealt with the paperwork. There was a $5,400.00 fee to pay Kingsley’s Shipping for landing fees for the 3 barrels. Within about 15 minutes I was handed a small piece of card with instructions of what to do next and was directed to the Wharf.

Step Three

Back in the mini-bus Fenton drove us round to the Wharf’s main gate and paid a fee to one of the unofficial car park attendants to park up outside the compound where vendors sold drinks and patties. Only 1 person (whose name is on the paperwork) was allowed to enter the compound in order to process the shipment. After showing my ‘Bill of Lading’ paperwork and ID to the friendly but officious guard I was directed to Kingsport Building which was clean and air-conditioned to the point of wanting to wear a sweater. Waiting in the line of people to reach one of the cashiers I noticed that I was the only white person in the building and was drawing some attention. I waited no more than 10 minutes before reaching the front desk and had a $2,060.00 bill to pay to the wharf for Handling Charges for the 3 barrels. I noticed the receipt had recorded that the ship had arrived at the wharf on the 18th September and that I would have been liable for paying Storage Fees had the barrels not been collected by the 29th September.

Step Four

After leaving the Kingsport Building you are directed to the Manifest Building which is a short walk away; anyone who has managed to accompany you thus far is instructed to wait on long wooden benches as you have to show your paperwork and receipt for the Wharf’s Handling Charges and are guided through a guarded carousel gateway. Before you reach the Manifest Building entrance you pass some public toilets on your right-hand side which are cavernous and a little foreboding to enter on your own, but they were clean.

Once in the building you join the commercial or personal shipping line to show your paperwork to the courteous Customs Officers where they check your paperwork against their records and tell you the Berth where your goods are being stored. There is a small shop in the Manifest Building right by the entrance that sells hot and cold drinks, bagged snacks, delicious patties, bun and cheese and so on, you may find the sustenance welcoming (or at the very least a cold drink) as you may have a long wait to clear your goods.

Shipping DocumentsTax Jamaica

 Step Five

Once out of the Manifest Building you show your paperwork and go through another guarded carousel gateway, where they direct you deeper into the belly of the wharf to the Berth Number that holds your goods (which is printed on the document). The woman guard here was especially friendly and was the first many at the wharf to ask if I could carry her back to London with me! Crossing the busy wharf road and turning right I was amazed at the size of the vehicles that were traversing the roadways and that were capable of carrying and driving with a huge container in its pincer like arms. The walkway on the other side is at a raised level from the roadway, which not only means persons can safely walk away from the formidable road traffic but it also makes it easier for loading of goods into vehicles.

Once you reach the Berth Number you hand your documents to the guard sitting behind a locked gate and wait on long wooden benches for your name to be called once the porters have located your barrels. This is where the goodies bought in the little shop in the Manifest Building come in handy…. By the time I reached this point it was coming up to 9.00am and there were only about 5 other people waiting before me.

A woman who was waiting was commenting that she was returning back the States tomorrow and had been in Jamaica for 6 weeks. She had sent 2 barrels and when she came to collect them only 1 could be found which contained clothes and gifts, the other one containing foodstuffs could not be found. After much confusion at the wharf she was instructed to go home and wait to be contacted when the other 1 was located. Needless to say the wharf called her two days before she was leaving the island to come and collect the other barrel as it had now been found, but she was annoyed that she had to buy foodstuffs whilst on the island despite spending the time and effort to ship them.

It took about 15 minutes for my name to be called where I was ushered through the gate and directed to a table where my 3 barrels were all lined up. I have to admit I was relieved to see all three barrels and was encouraged to see that they had managed to get all the way from London intact.  The friendly and charming Customs Officials called over a wisely (but strong and fit) porter and he unfastened the lock that Kingsley’s Shipping had put on back in London with a huge pair of pliers. The same porter ‘helped’ to unpack the barrels by taking out about half the items in two of the barrels and just the ‘top layer’ of the last barrel setting them out on the long stainless steel table.

The Customs Officers quickly looked over the items already laid out and asked me to continue to empty the barrels; once I had nearly emptied the first two barrels they came back over. I was asked to open a large plastic container that I had stored dishes and glasses in and had to pull out a large box containing a paddling pool for closer inspection. Generally anything in a box or carton was of interest to them and when they spied a saucepan handle (pot handle) they verbally noted that I had a pot set. They also asked about the bottle of Hennessey and Champagne that I had listed on the C15 form, but when I pulled out the bubble wrapped bottles they didn’t seem overly interested as I assured them there was only one of each. I showed them the receipt for the paddling pool and they noted the cost.

None of the barrels were completely emptied although they did look inside all 3 vessels. Unfortunately I had a few casualties as one cup handle broke off and the two champagne glasses I had sent had both broken despite packing them in bubble wrap, but at least they went together!

Step Six

Once the Customs officials were satisfied I was instructed to re-pack my barrels and a very good-looking strapping porter came over and helped me to re-pack them which ended up with me standing on top of the barrels in order to fit the lids back on, much to the pleasure of the staff! Once repacked you go to the Berth Office, hand in your paperwork to the Customs Cashiers with the Customs Officers notes scribbled on it and they look up the items on the internet to check the value of the goods. As my TRN number was not on the system I had to go upstairs to the Supervisors Office where I was again dealt with by friendly and efficient staff.

Back downstairs, it took about 20 minutes to be handed back my paperwork which held the magic number on it… the amount of tax payable to clear my barrels. I searched the document with bated breath and was super relieved to see that I only had to pay $6,014.45 for all 3 barrels which was much less than the advised $18,000 ($6,000 per barrel) I was told in the UK. Please be aware the C15 Form was effective in lowering the amount of tax payable; therefore if you ship and do not have the Form or ship to someone else, you may be liable for higher tax.

Step Seven

Take the Customs Import Entry Form (C78X) to the Payments Office which is at the end of the walkway near to where you cross the wharf road, make your payment and get a receipt for your Tax Payment. Keep this safe!

Step Eight

Take the Receipt to the Gate Pass Office which is back up near where the barrels are located and hand in your paperwork to get a Gate Pass, so your driver and vehicle can enter the wharf and load your goods. Walk back outside the way you came in through the Main Entrance showing your paperwork at all the guarded gateways and find your driver. You are now free to approach the main vehicle entrance to the wharf, where again your ever-growing amount of documents are checked along with the driving licence of the driver. Drive Slowly (there is a 5mph speed restriction) to the berth where the barrels were checked and park up near to the loading bays. Show your paperwork to the guards, who stamp it and instruct a porter to bring the barrels to your vehicle. The wisely porter came back and loaded the barrels into the mini-bus and as I anticipated asked if I had anything for him and I slipped him a note.

Once the barrels were loaded we approached the main entrance and the Customs officials checked how many items we had in the vehicle against the documents, checked the driving licence and then took away all the paperwork except the receipts. We were finally clear to leave the compound and head back home to unpack the barrels. By just after 10.00am we had left the wharf and eagerly stopped at a patty shop before driving back home. Once we got out of the hustle and bustle of Kingston we stopped and got a cold beer and one of the bars and vendors near to Stony Hill before reaching back home near Ochi (Ocho Rios) by lunch time.

What I Thought About Kingston Wharf and Shipping Barrels

Following numerous horror stories about collecting goods from the wharf I was filled with anticipation about how long it was going to take and what the experience was going to be like collecting the barrels myself. In reflection, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and it was nowhere near as tiresome as everyone had told me. When I mentioned this to friends they retorted that Christmas and Easter were a different matter…

Arriving at the wharf early was key to my success in this operation as it meant  I beat the queues, try it yourself and you will be glad you did. Everyone at the wharf was professional but polite, friendly and (mostly) happy and were intrigued by my presence there. Bring proof of purchase in the form of receipts to show to the customs officers so that they can value your goods correctly. The best tactic in these circumstances is to be friendly and co-operative and that also means being patient when necessary… if you get ignorant with the Customs Officers you may find they get ignorant with you!

I highly recommend Kingsley’s Shipping service from London to Kingston and would not hesitate to use their services again as they were not only super professional and friendly, they were also careful with my goods.

Looking for a shipping quotation to Jamaica

The Art of Shipping a Barrel… Part One

The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part One

Shipping a crate or a barrel is not as hard as you think if you follow some easy tips and advice and with the great service at the wharf it makes it all the more enjoyable…

This is a two-part post on The Art of Shipping to JamaicaPart One includes advice and tips on everything that happens prior to the barrel leaving the Senders address. Part Two covers what happens once the barrel has arrived in the destination port of entry and requires clearing and transportation to the receiver.

How to Ship a Barrel?

It is a fairly simple process to arrange shipping for a barrel to Jamaica, as demonstrated in these three easy steps!

  1. Find a reputable local shipping agent and buy a barrel; usually at around £32.00 / $20 – $40 US, for a 210 litre / 55 Gallon plastic barrel, most agents will deliver sometimes for a small fee
  2. Pack your barrel with care! Wrap lids with brown packing tape and separate food items away from toiletries, soap powder and cleaning materials, so they taste and smell as they should. Bubble wrap fragile items and use towels, bed sheets and other soft items as protection.
  3. Arrange for collection from your shipping agent and make sure they put a ‘tamper proof seal’ on your barrel. Pay for shipping to either Kingston wharf, Montego bay wharf, or opt for home delivery. Get your Bill of Lading and keep in a safe place – you will need to take it to the wharf with you to clear the barrel

Finding a Shipping Agent

If you are thinking about shipping a barrel to Jamaica first and foremost you are going to need to find a shipping agent and locate somewhere that stocks barrels and drums.

The obvious place to try is local shipping companies and shipping agents in your area, many of which can be found when searching for ‘shipping services’ online, or in directories such as the yellow pages. If you give most shipping agents a call they may be willing to drop off an empty barrel at little, or no charge.

Alternatively, try searching online for ‘barrels and drums’ , ‘barrel’ or ‘plastic shipping barrel’. I have seen barrels for sale on eBay and Gumtree and through independent sellers, where they have plenty of choice and availability.

The most popular size of barrel holds around 210 – 220 litres, or about 55 Gallons are sold for about £32.00, or US $25.00 – US $40.00.

More Information: Want to learn more about Barrels? – Read ‘What are Shipping Barrels and Drums?’

Packing your Barrel

To ensure you items arrive in one piece and tasting as expected, you should follow some packing ettiquette tips. Sort items by type, wrap and seal them to plastic bags and containers and do your best to keep different types of items apart. I would recommend packing items you love and need and look out for bargains and deals to lower the cost of filling the barrel.

Barrels containing a mixture of food, household / kitchen items, cleaning materials, toiletries, used clothing and other sundry items have the lowest tax bracket as they are considered to be items for personal use. These types of barrel contents attract Customs Fees starting from JA $6,500 per barrel and up.

More Information: A guide to Picking and Packing a Shipping Barrel


Security of Barrels when Shipping

You may of heard rumours that items go missing from barrels, or that it is not a secure way to transport your goods to Jamaica.  But I would beg to differ. In my experience of shipping to Jamaica since 2008, I have never had anything go missing from any of my consignments.

Barrel Security is paramount to both the customer and the shipping agent. It would ruin a shipping agents reputation if they repeatedly raided their customers barrels, or where negligent when clearing items on a customers behalf.

The wharf is also a profit making business, bad customer feedback means less customers and less profit, so they watch their staff and have massively upgraded the facilities and security measures in recent years.

To ensure the barrels are secured the shipping agents attach a small tamper proof metal tag to the barrel seal. This is secured to the barrel before they even leave the senders location and are loaded onto the truck for delivery to the wharf. If you really want to have peace of mind you can write down the serial number and check it has the same serial / ID number when it reaches the wharf in Jamaica, if you are clearing the barrels and drums in person.

If you opt for home delivery, the barrel will be opened by customs officials in the presence of your shipping agent, in order for the contents to be verified and valued for customs duty. Please be aware that Kingston Wharf has cameras working in this area to film what is going on and to prevent the possible stealing or removing of goods from the barrels by the people working there.

This is also a way of catching contraband that is being packed into the barrels. The video evidence will show the sealed barrel being opened for the first time since it left the senders overseas location, incriminating them squarely.


Labelling your Barrel Correctly

The only way of distinguishing your barrel from the millions of other barrels at the wharf is the label, or to be exact the writing on the barrel itself. So be sure to take the time to do it correctly.

It is best to use a thick black permanent marker pen and write your name (or the receivers name) and address clearly on the barrels, so they are easily identifiable at the wharf. Don’t be shy, write in big block letters so it can be read from a mile away (not literally!), make it easy for the warehouse workers to find your barrel in the mellee. If the cover is made of metal write on that too, the more labels the better. The shipping agent will generally add their own sticker backed label as well, but it is best not to rely on it in case in falls off.

The correct way of writing the receivers details on the barrel is:


Receivers Name (first and last name)

Local Post Office

Address of Receiver

Parish of Receiver

Jamaica, W.I.


How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Barrel?

The cost involved in shipping a barrel is made up of two parts. The first set of charges will be pre-paid in the country of origin and the rest will need to be paid by the receiver in the destination country. The sender will need to take into account the cost of filling the barrel (the contents), buying the barrel itself and the cost of shipping the barrel from the country of origin to the port of destination.

To give an example: It cost me £96.00 in total for 3 barrels, plus a further £120.00 to collect the barrels from London, UK and ship them to Kingston Wharf, Jamaica.

There are other fees and taxes to pay in the destination country, when clearing and collecting the barrel. The fees vary dependent on the shipping agent, Customs taxes and fees incurred and whether you opt for home delivery in Jamaica.

Want to learn about the process of clearing a barrel and the charges incurred? Keep reading Part Two.

More Information: The Art of Shipping a Barrel –  Part Two

This Post was originally posted on 23rd November 2012 – Updated January 2017.

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JPS the Electric Power Provider in Jamaica

Jamaica was one of the fore runners in the use of electricity around the world, today JPS have the sole responsibility for the supply, but for how long?…

Brief History of Electricity in Jamaica

With all the hype you hear about the electricity service today in Jamaica you could be forgiven for not knowing that Jamaica was one of the first countries in the world to have an electricity supply in 1892, a mere 13 years after American scientist Thomas Edison invented the electric lamp. The same year the Jamaica Electric Light Company provided the first electricity service on the island from a plant at Gold Street, Kingston transforming the lives and work practises of many Jamaicans.

The West India Electric Company had a bigger influence when they established an office in Kingston at 151 Orange Street and extended the electricity service to other areas by way of a powerful 3 machine hydroelectric plant on the Rio Cobre River at Bog Walk in 1897. The Plant had the capacity to deliver over 300 kilowatts of energy enabling the company to introduce electric tramcars to the public (buses later took over) which replaced the horse draw cabs that Jamaicans formerly used to get about. A tragic accident on 24th June 1904 left many local families distraught as 33 men drowned whilst cleaning out the silt that had collected in the 8ft wide pipe supplying water to the plant from the Rio Cobre River.

The West India Electric Company became more effective in serving the public after the integration of the Gold Street station with the Bog Walk Supply system in 1907. This occurred after a severe earthquake damaged areas of Kingston and they were able to lease the property and business of Jamaica Light & Power Company Ltd, (formerly the Jamaica Electric Light Company) consolidating the two plants power together.

JPS (Jamaica Public Service Company Limited) is Formed

Although many towns had their own electricity companies supplying the local area in the early years several buy-outs, consolidations and amalgamations produced the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited as we know it today. JPS was registered as a limited business in 1923 and was granted an all-island franchise in 1966. Now serving over 585,000 customers JPS remains the sole public supplier of electricity in Jamaica.

Although JPS was originally owned by foreign shareholders, between 1970 and 2001  the Government of Jamaica acquired controlling interest. This control ceased in 2001 when the Mirant Corporation, a US-based energy service provider, bought 80% of the company with the government left with just 19%,  the last 1% was controlled by minority shareholders.

This partnership survived until 2007 when Mirant sold its majority shares to Marubeni Caribbean Power Holdings (MCPH) Inc, a subsidiary of Marubeni Corporation of Japan.

In early 2009 Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) of the United Arab Emirates, joined Marubeni as co-owner of JPS. Majority shares were therefore jointly held by Marubeni TAQA Caribbean.

This partnership was short-lived as in the first quarter of 2011, TAQA withdrew from the partnership with Marubeni in the Caribbean to concentrate on other investments. By the second quarter of 2011, Korea East West Power (EWP) entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Marubeni Corporation for joint ownership of majority shares (80%) in the company. Today, Marubeni Caribbean and Korea East-West Power Company Ltd are the majority shareholders in the Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd.

Power Sources

JPS produces electricity by various methods across the island including, steam (oil-fired), gas turbines, combined cycle, diesel, hydropower and wind plants. They are encouraging the development of ‘green’ initiatives to cut the dependency on oil for producing power, including new wind turbine plants and hydro-power facilities (water).

How to Open a New Account with JPS

If you want to open a new account with JPS and you own the residence then you must either visit one of the island wide offices, or telephone them on (876) 225-5577 to make the first application. If a meter is already on your premises, the power supply will be connected within 5 working days of opening the contract. Interest is received annually on your deposits, which is applied to your electricity bill.

If you are moving or relocating then you must make sure that you apply for service 5 days prior to expected date of use to ensure power is available.

Newly Built Property 

Should you have a newly built residence it will need certification by the Government Electrical Inspector prior to being able to open an account, please remember to allow up to 15 business days for the certificate to be submitted to JPS.

Conditional Contract for Service

If you do not own the premises for which you need electricity service you can get a Conditional Contract for Service when you give JPS written permission from your landlord, or a letter of recommendation from a Justice of the Peace.

In order to open a new account for both types of service you will need to provide JPS with:

  • Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN)
  • Photo ID
  • Deposit of $1500 (included on first electricity bill for phone applicants only)

Reconnection of Service Due to Non Payment of Bills

If for any reason your service has been disconnected due to non-payment of bills you will be expected to settle your bill, pay an extra $1,500 + GCT reconnection fee and may also be asked to upgrade your deposit if it is less than the equivalent of 60 days previous usage. It is very important to make provisions to pay your bills if you are out of the country for any length of time as it can be expensive and inconvenient when things go wrong. The increase in deposit can be as follows:

  • 1st Incident – Deposit is upgraded by $1,500
  • Subsequent Incidents – Upgrade will represent the equivalent of 2 months’ usage

Terminating Your Electricity Contract  

If you wish to end your electricity contract with JPS you should contact them so they will come and take a meter reading and prepare a final bill; any deposit paid and interest due are applied to the final amount. Should there be a balance owing you will be required to settle the bill, however if JPS owe you money you will be expected to apply in writing at your nearest Customer Service Office to get a refund. 

In order to terminate your contract you will need to supply JPS with:

  • JPS account number
  • the ID you provided when you opened the account.
  • Remember, the electricity meter is the property of JPS, and must not be tampered with or removed.

Understanding the Bill

The bill that you will receive has many charges and GCT added which can considerably increase the actual amount due, so may want to prepare for a shock when it comes in! There is a Glossary on the back of the bill which explains what the various charges are for, although it doesn’t make the bill any easier to swallow…

My Bill Arrives

My last bill for a one bedroom apartment, which normally houses two people was for $6,952.37 for the month, but I ended up paying $7,008.00 when the GCT and service charge from Bill Express was added. My apartment has an electric oven (which I do not recommend as it eats electric) and a fridge / freezer, I use my laptop on a daily basis (work, Internet, listening to music and movies) but plug it out, including the modem when I am finished with it, I try not to use the fan and AC unless it is really necessary, I do not have a washing machine or drier, do not have masses of ironing (pressing of clothes) every week either and try to remember to turn off unnecessary lights around the house.

Payment Options

There are various ways of paying your JPS bill:

  • Visit JPS customer service offices across the island and pay in person
  • Telephoning JPS Customer Care Center on (876) 225-5577 and pay using Visa or MasterCard
  • Pay at the following authorized merchants:
  • Bill Express * No transaction fee required for payment of JPS bills ONLY in the JPS offices
  • Prime Trust Cambio – Half Way Tree
  • Paymaster * Transaction fee require.
  • First Caribbean Bank
  • Jamaica National Building Society

JPS Reputation

To be honest JPS have a pretty bad reputation in Jamaica with many people feeling displeased with the service, but as there aren’t any competitors Jamaicans are tied to the company whether their experience is good or bad. There are frequent power cuts whereby the lights generally flash on and off twice before it completely shuts down, for how long? No-body knows. You just wait and hope it isn’t too long and start lighting candles. The longest power cut I have experienced is 6 days after Hurricane Sandy and it wasn’t fun. At all.

The company has to tackle communities and businesses where there are losses as residents steal electricity by hooking wires up to the main supply cables that stretch across the country to ‘bridge’ the current by-passing the meter. Many people believe the high cost of bills is due to paying customers covering the cost on non-paying customers further increasing the resentment.

Some people have generators that ‘kick in’ when the mains power is interrupted for a certain length of time, restoring power and enabling them to get through the power cut without too many problems…. unless the generator is out of fuel of course! Another method of reducing electricity consumption that is gaining popularity, especially from returning residents that build in Jamaica, is the installation of solar panels.

A Schedule of Rates for 2012 can be found here, which explains costings for the coming year: http://www.myjpsco.com/_pdfs/2012_Rate_Schedules.pdf

The latest Schedule of Rates as of December 2014 can be found here: http://www.myjpsco.com/wp-content/uploads/2013_rate_schedule.pdf

Further information about JPS can be found at their website: http://www.myjpsco.com/

Thinking of moving to Jamaica

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?

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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


  • 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

Turtle River Park – Ocho Rios

Turtle River Park is worth a visit if you are in Ocho Rios, the beautiful landscaped park right in the middle of the town centre covers 3 hectares of land and offers a few surprises for visitors young and old.

Giving Jamaican’s and visitors a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town and sit and relax in peaceful tranquility, the park is free to members of the public and open every day of the week. The park was opened on 18 June 2004 by  Prime Minister P J Patterson (PM of the time) after the (UDC) Urban Development Corporation decided the old bus park was ideal for redevelopment.


Turtle River Park Facilities

[list style=”1″ underline=”1″]

  • Free Entrance to members of the public
  • Open all week
  • Clean Toilets
  • Snack Outlet
  • Childrens Swing Area
  • Seating areas / Picnic Tables
  • Landscaped Gardens
  • Ponds and water features
  • Parking – fee payable; free parking spots are available down the end of the road past the main entrance on Milford Road (do NOT park where you see yellow lines or  parking restrictions!)
  • Security – Wardens patrol park ensuring park rules are upheld


Are There Any Turtles? 

Due to the name of the park I was intrigued to find out if there were turtles lurking anywhere, so I made two visits to look for them as it was too dark to fully investigate the park the first evening. I did notice on the first visit that there was a  barrier set across a bridge which gave access to a central island, which contained a smaller pond in the centre… I would have to investigate further in the daylight to find out why the barrier was there and if there were turtles here somewhere.

The second time I walked through the park I made sure it was daylight hours so that I could get some pictures and investigate the ponds when it would be easier to spot turtles if there were any to be found.


Palm Lined Walkway

After walking in the large main entrance on Milford Road, there is a long walkway which gives a glimpse of the ponds at the end.

The walkway is lined with palm trees and small hedges to either side, halfway down the walkway a central water feature starts to bubble and flow down towards the ponds.

Manicured lawns to either side of the walkway carry numerous ‘keep off the grass’ signs, which  I can only assume to keep the lawns in their magnificent state of lushness!


What is available at the Park?

There are gazebos scattered around the park, where groups of people sit quietly or talk, sing and recite from the bible, lovers young and old share a tender word and touch and everyday people just sit and chill out. Palm trees, bushes and planting leads you along pathways cut through the beautiful lawns to other areas of the park.

There is a children’s play area which has a couple of playhouses on stilts and some swings, although when I visited only a few of the swings had seats, but the children there enjoyed themselves none the less.

The turtle theme carries on through the park and I saw these cute little turtles sitting in a row across the lawn, maybe to create a division from the children’s area behind it. I noticed a trampoline with an enclosure, but  couldn’t see anyone attending to it and I assumed it wasn’t free to use.

Along some of the pathways there is a turtle emblem stamped into the concrete to break up the blandness and continue with the turtle theme.

Scenic Ponds and Waterways

 The park boasts a large man-made pond which is beautifully designed and has large specimens of what look like coy carp fish swimming in the  shallows.  Large trees, palms, clipped bushes, flowers and rockstone are tastefully scattered around to create a natural looking atmospheric area, which doesn’t look overdone.

A small bridge carries you over the larger pond that creates a moat effect, as there is an island in the centre which also has a pond with smaller fish swimming amongst the lily pads. A pathway leads you around the pond to an even smaller pond that had a fence around it….. Mmmmm what was in there?


At Last I found the Turtles!

There is a small waterfall that cascaded into the last pond and a small grassed area with rocks near to the water’s edge for the turtles to sun themselves on, or have a break from the water. A second waterfall left the pond and flowed down into the central pond, although a grill across the waterfall prevented the turtles from escaping any further into the other ponds.

A tree at the back of the enclosure provided partial shade to the pond giving the turtles some respite from the scorching Jamaican sunshine.

There were at least 10 turtles in the pond and one in particular took an interest and came out of the pond to walk over to the fence to see what was going on. The others looked on in mild interest and scattered if they felt frightened when you moved too quickly. The shells of the turtles were covered with a green algae but it didn’t seem to bother them as they looked happy and healthy swimming or lolling about in their watery enclosure.

As the fish in the ponds looked like fresh water fish I can only assume these specimens must be a form of fresh water turtle. There were small fish bundled up on the bottom of the pond, but it didn’t seem to be the turtle food? I did wonder what they fed them on though as there was no sign of food anywhere.

I spent a while with the turtles but as the night came down the park wardens came over and put the barrier back over the small bridge and ushered people back over into the main areas of the park before it closed shortly afterwards. I was happy that I found the turtles and that the park’s namesakes really did reside in the park’s ‘river’.

On leaving the park we walked through the entrance on Main Street which has the wardens hut and public restrooms, which I found to be clean and tidy, but lacking tissue, soap and hand towels!

All together the park is a nice attraction and looks as though it is manicured on a daily basis, as it is so beautifully kept. I would recommend a visit to the park especially if you want some peace and quiet, or if you have young children who would enjoy the turtles and play area provided.

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.


Parking Rates: J$50 per hour and J$150 daily

Contact Information:     
Turtle River Park
Main Street
Ocho Rios, St. Ann
(876) 795 0078, 974 5015, 974 2612
Telefax (876) 974 2731

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