Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Jamaica 2015: Week 5

My sister-in-law (T) and I were up early as we were going back to Old Fort Bay for the day. It was an easy drive there and we were at Chandra’s cottage before 11am. We had hoped to spend some time at the beach after we’d gone through some ideas with Chandra but as soon as we got there it started raining. Boo! We didn’t see any point in sticking around and started driving back at about 2pm. When we were halfway home, it started pouring – and it carried on most of the way back to Kingston. It was raining so heavily, we could barely see a few feet in front of us.

We got back to Kingston at around 4pm and went straight over to my aunt and uncle’s place. My brother (S) had taken my nephew (Baby A) over for a swim so we stopped there and had some tea before heading home (it hadn’t rained at all in Kingston). Even though all I’d done that day was sit in the car for a few hours, I was exhausted by the time we had dinner (jerk chicken and jerk pork from Scotchie’s – yum!). I got into bed and S and T went to Dub Club with my cousin and one of his cousins – they’d just arrived early that morning.

I spent Monday at home – reading and doing a bit of work. S was home early from work so we went to PriceSmart for some groceries. I spent Tuesday at the office.

On Wednesday, T and I went to Devon House with Baby A. Entrance cost us US$6.50 each and included an ice cream at the end of the tour. Apparently Devon House Ice Cream is the fourth best ice cream in the world. It was just the three of us on the tour, which was quite nice.

Devon House was built in 1881 by Jamaica’s first black millionnaire George Stiebel. He had 99 properties – and would have probably had more but it was illegal to own 100 properties during the period). Devon House remained a residence until 1967 when it was bought by the National Trust and restored. It was declared a national monument in 1990.

We were taken through the Entrance Hall and into the Dining Room (with the original Chippendale dining table and chairs – and a print of a Velazquez painting on the wall). We then saw the Living Room which has a 17th-century Venetian mirror in it. The Games Room had a bagatelle table, backgammon set and a folding card table. We saw two bedrooms and their ensuite bathrooms, the Sewing Room and finally the Grand Ballroom. It was spectacular!

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The chandelier is the original one that George Stiebel bought for the room. The Wedgewood ceiling is also the original ceiling of the House. There was a Broadwood piano, said to be one of the earlier prototypes of the ‘piano-forte’. I asked if it was in working condition, but our tour guide said it wasn’t.

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Our tour guide explained that the kitchen and stables used to be where the restaurants and shops now are, in smaller buildings located around the Great House. The Grand Ballroom was the end of our tour so we went back downstairs and decided to get some ice cream. I tried the coconut flavour and T had the Rocky River. Considering we got one scoop each, it was a really big scoop! We had to eat it fast though – or it would have melted in no time. When we were finished we walked around the shops for a while and I picked up a couple of scented candles from Starfish Oils.

On Tuesday night we went over to my aunt and uncle’s for dinner. We had a few drinks as well but it wasn’t a late night.

On Wednesday, T, Baby A and I went to the Tea Tree Creperie on Lady Musgrave Road for lunch. We couldn’t decide what to have so we ordered two and shared them. We had the Brie and Pesto crepe with mushrooms and the Ham, Swiss and Asparagus crepe. They were both so good. For dessert we shared the Tiramisu crepe.

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On Wednesday night, T was out with a couple of friends so S and I had dinner with our cousin and his cousin at Market Place. We sat outside at East, the Japanese restaurant, because we also wanted to order some food from China Express. We were so full by the end of dinner! Not to mention hot – because there was no breeze whatsoever where we were sitting.

I was home on Thursday, reading mostly and doing some work. I’ve really managed to get through a lot of books while I’ve been in Jamaica – it’s been great.

On Friday afternoon, we went over to my aunt and uncle’s. T took Baby A for a swim while I read my book. We went home for a while and ended up having dinner there that evening before heading to a friend’s birthday party at Tracks and Records (Usain Bolt’s bar). I was hoping he’d be there, but sadly he wasn’t. I did see Sean Paul though – I met him briefly last year (at the same friend’s birthday party). Anyway. I ended up having way too much rum and coconut water.

I spent most of Saturday in bed. S went to Maiden Cay on his friend’s boat, T was in and out with Baby A, and I just chilled at home. It was a waste of a day, to be honest – but it’s not like I had anything else to do!

I love my life.

To read more about Jamaica, click here.

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Jamaica 2015: Week 4

On Sunday morning, we decided we’d go to Hellshire for lunch. I’d never been there and my parents keep raving about it, so I was keen to go. So my brother (S), sister-in-law (T), nephew (Baby A) and I left home at around 12.30. I was told it was about 45 minutes away. On the way, we stopped to pick up one of S’s friends – and off we went. When we were about 20 minutes away, T called Screechie’s (the restaurant) to order our food as it gets quite crowded on Sundays.

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Hellshire Beach consists of several different restaurant shacks on the beach – all serving fresh fish and seafood. We’d ordered four fried snappers (each one comes with ‘festival’ or fried bread), one fried bammy (cassava) and one steamed bammy with vegetables.

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Screechie’s wasn’t crowded but we still waited a while for our food. The beach was quite crowded but the breeze was lovely! The only thing that was annoying was that people kept trying to sell us things every few minutes – from toys to sunglasses…

The fish was excellent – and so was the ‘festival’! Then again, most fried things are good…

Before we left, T and I went to use the washroom – we had to walk around the back of the restaurant to an enclosed area. The door was held closed by a nail at the top of the door which could be twisted to open and close the door. Inside this space, it looked like a junkyard – there were a few people milling around, a couple of dogs, an old car engine, an old Pepsi machine which had been taken apart and a few other random bits and pieces. Fortunately the bathroom was clean. Well, it seemed clean – but it’s hard to tell when the tiles on the floor and the walls are dark brown!

The drive back didn’t take very long at all and we were home by 4pm.

I spent the whole of Monday at the office and got lots done.

On Tuesday T and I were invited out to lunch by a friend and her mum. They took us to East – a Japanese restaurant in Marketplace. We had some edamame, a couple of salads and the yellowtail with jalapenos to start with, and then shared a spicy Philadelphia roll and prawn tempura roll. For dessert we shared a coffee-flavoured dessert which was covered in whipped cream. I’m not sure what it was called, but it was delicious – and I’m not even a big fan of coffee desserts.

Some general observations while I’ve been here:

  • People walking in the street seem to be in no rush whatsoever to get where they’re going (if they even know where they’re going) – then again it’s pretty hot so perhaps they’re simply conserving energy
  • People (mostly men) ride bicycles that are way too small for them – but then I don’t think they really care as long as they can get from A to B
  • My hair seems to be getting more and more curly each day that I’m here – it’s out of control
  • Mosquitoes love me

I spent Wednesday at the office again – and in the evening, S, T and I popped over to my aunt and uncle’s for a while.

On Thursday morning, T and I went to a Zumba class at Chai Studios, not far from the house. And that evening S, T and I went to watch a CPL (Caribbean Premier League) cricket match at the National Stadium with some friends – it was my first cricket match. We had tickets for the ‘Party Stand’ (what used to be the ‘Mound’) – tickets were J$1500 (less than US$15) and included a ticket for a meal (options were burgers, chicken wings and jerk chicken) and drinks were free. Sponsored drinks, that is – so Appleton Rum, Stag beer and I’m not sure what else. The Jamaica Tawallahs played Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel. Jamaica batted first – so that part was fun and everyone was really into it. In the second half, people lost interest and we didn’t even stay to the end.

I spent all of Friday at home. I read some of my book, I did some work, I played with my nephew. We ordered some Chinese food that evening and had an early night.

On Saturday we went to the beach on a friend’s boat which is docked at the Yacht Club, close to the airport. Just before we got on to Norman Manley Highway, I noticed a sign that said ‘Crash hot spot’ but didn’t think anything else of it. Less than two minutes later, as we turned a bend, we came extremely close to a head-on collision with another car that was overtaking a third car. Fortunately S has quick reflexes and managed to swerve out of its way. And fortunately there was enough space for him to swerve into because it would have been a terrible accident. We made to the Yacht Club and found the boat.

It was our friend’s new boat and S and T hadn’t been out on it either. It’s called Jus2Bad (seriously, it is). The boat was big. When you walk in, there is a living area with an L-shaped sofa on one side and another seating area on the other side. Down a couple of steps is the kitchen area with a sink, fridge and microwave. Down a couple more steps are three bedrooms – the master bedroom with ensuite bathroom, a second bedroom with a double bed and ensuite bathroom, and a third small room with bunk beds. It can sleep six comfortably, but if you use the sofas in the living area as well, you could sleep about ten or twelve on the boat. There’s also an 11-foot whaler on the bow.

It took us about an hour to get there but ‘the beach’ turned out to be Maiden Cay – a mound of sand in the middle of the ocean. On weekends, boats drop their anchors while their passengers swim, drink, snorkel, barbecue and dance in the middle of the sea.

We were there till about 3.30pm, sailed back by 4.30 and were home by 5.30 or so. We had to get ready in a rush as we were going out for dinner and were supposed to be there at 7pm. We left home shortly after 7pm and got there at around 7.20pm.

Dinner was in one of S and T’s friend’s gardens. She’s a caterer by profession and every couple of months she hosts an evening called ‘Dining with Lex’ where she charges a fixed amount per head for food (drinks were extra). There were eight of us on our table, but there must have been about fifty people there for dinner.

Dining with Lex - menu

Dining with Lex – menu

I thought the food was really good and the presentation was innovative. What a creative way to get more clients! There was also karaoke for those who wanted to sing. We left after dinner at around 10.30pm as T and I had to be up early the next morning.

I love my life.

To read more about Jamaica, click here.

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