Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I am happy to see that the Jamaican government is sending a high level team down to Barbados to conduct a criminal investigation into the finger rape of Ms. Myrie.

I suppose it had to come to that for as foreign minister Dr. Baugh said in parliament, Jamaicans have been complaining for years about the treatment they receive in other Caricom territories.

I think the problem with Caricom is that it is a "school tie" affair being vociferously promoted by graduates of the UWI who dominate the politics in the region, but who because of the red carpet treatment and sweet talk they get from their colleagues in other territories, forget that the UWI graduate population in the region is no more than 1% if that much.

In reality, how can Caricom work in a region where we know so little about each other? Listen every cricket season how many people refer to Guyana as a small island and while Jamaicans can tell you who Obama and Hilary Clinton are, most have't got a clue who Ralph Gonzalves or Stephenson King is. In fact the only relationship we have with the others who the British lumped as the " West Indies" is an almost useless cricket team!
Talk about a relic of colonialism!

I am prepared to bet that a cost benefit analysis on CARICOM would show that Jamaica has been taken to the cleaners and the private sector stymied instead of helped by our involvement in this organisation.

What the "school tie" activists are trying to do is to overthrow the decision of the Jamaican people which was registered in the referendum in 1961. When are Jamaican taxpayers going to say enough is enough?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Say Goodbye to Caricom

The latest incident involving a Jamaican woman and her treatment by Bajan authorities once again reinforces the fact that despite the so-called free movement agreement within CARICOM, Jamaicans are just not welcomed in the other territories.

How long are we going to abide the insults before we go our own way as a previous generation determined in 1961?

I am prepared to bet that if a cost benefit analysis was done regarding our years in CARICOM we would see that Jamaica got far less than it put in.

Let this be a lesson to us to stay away from the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lyming with the Henriquez

As my best friend Sunshine is half Costa Rican (her mother was from there) and she knows I love the country, when she, her daughter Cathy, son-in law Cardiff and younger children Amanda and Arianna were going for a family reunion, they invited me. So off we flew from Miami on Tuesday 15th March for one week of fun, eating and more fun. (Incidentally, while Kathy is fluent in Spanish the rest of us adults barely got by. However, it amazes me though that the children know no Spanish as they live and go to school in Florida and one would have thought Spanish would have been taught as at least a 2nd language, there.)

Sunshine has many nieces, nephews, cousins and even a grand-nephew there and they are the most hospitable people I have encountered in many years of travelling. To begin with her nephews Alexander and Harry took off the entire week from work so they could take us all over the place. From we arrived on Tuesday 15th March it has been go go go. On arrival at around 10 am (we gained two hours over Florida time due to day light savings time) we were met at the airport by Alexander and his wife Laura and appropiately they came in a minibus owned by Harry. He had been in the tourism business, hence his transport was tailor made for us.

From the airport we were transported directly to his sister Jackie's home and man was it georgeous.....about an acre of well kept lawn with pool, games room and entertainment centre. There we had a typical Costa Rican breakfast waiting for us. She lives in Ala Juela, the second largest city which is near the international airport. I had discovered from my second visit that they eat rice and peas with breakfast and just love it. Interestingly later meals are accompanied by plain rice and of course other starches, but apparently never rice and peas later in the day.

We stayed there until after 2 pm, just lyming and when we were taken to the hotel to check in, it was only to bathe and go back to dinner and to meet the rest the entire family, a very large family. The entire family is extremely warm, from very young children to the older folk...the theme was just tu casa es mi casa! I later discovered that Laura is a very accomplished artist as she paints and enhances her work with paper machet......really good stuff. Incidentally, she and her children speak English fluently, but her husband Alexander, doesn't. Anyway, she does not do art commercially as she says its time consuming but she has really nice stuff she has done for the home.

One Wednesday they allowed us to rest but by mid day, we had jumped on a local bus to go to Escazu in search of local food. We found a lovely place operated by an Iraqi but the food was Costa Rican and excellent and of course they had a full supply of natural, local juices. When we were at the bus stop to return to the hotel, up drove Alexander and we all piled into his vehicle. He and his family had been on the way to visit us at the hotel and to make plans for the rest of the week.

That evening he, Harry and their families took us to a restaurant way up in the mountains of Tarbaca called Alcides. The road was steep and winding but naturally it had a beautiful view all the way up. If I thought San Jose was cold, I really felt what cold was like up there. I was expecting snow anytime, but you know me, anything below 80% is freezing to me! Seriously though, it must have been about 60% up there. This place is a large grill house that specialises in various types of meats and of course I didn't look at anything but the pork. I was introduced to Chicariones, a type of grilled pork. It was super good and my only disappointment was that they didn't give us any pork skin at all. That's my one disappointment with the pork there! Coming down was a bit scary as it is really steep and winding but the view is breathtaking and sections of that roadway seems to be a popular "lovers lane".

Thursday was a full day which should have seen us heading straight out to the eastern section of the country near the Irazu volcano. However, Harry asked if we wanted to go downtown to get souvenirs and do a mini tour, so off we went. Downtown San Jose is filled with pigeons and men make a living selling packs of corn to feed them and don't the birds swamp you when you open those packs! Cardiff enjoyed himself throwing corn over his wife Kathy so the birds could descend and land all over her.

Next we headed out to go for a dip in the hot springs and then to visit the famous Cartago Bascilica which was built in 1912 at a sacred spot where it is said the virgin Mary appeared to a local girl in 1635. However, we first went up a scenic route to Sanchiri restaurant. The view of the hills and the valley below with the coffee fields and a winding river was absolutely breathtaking. In the valley below, there is an outstanding triangular shaped house built by "Little Joe" of Bonanza fame. Naturally, as we were at very high elevation it was extremely cold and misty and I had a soup called Olla de carne. This is a delicious beef soup but the meat, rice and food are served separately. It seems white rice served with soup is quite a tradition and I am going to add that to my cuisine when I return. I couldn't believe the amount of food I got with the soup though....cassava, plantain, corn, sweet potato , pumpkin plus a good portion of beef. (I have never seen any type of yam in CR.) When you see I can't finish a meal, you gotta know is jus nuff! Everywhere we went it was just nuff food so I suspect I will have to ride double time when I return.

After lunch, everyone was so full and cold and as it was getting late that we decided to bypass the hot springs and go straight to the Bascilicia. The is a huge, beautiful church a with very expensive and attractive painted glass windows all around. A service was in session as we entered but no one stopped us taking pictures and wandering around. Downstairs there are three pipes through which water constantly flows. They say no one can find the source of the water although many have tried but that exact spot is where the child saw the virgin Mary. They sell containers there and you can go and fill these up with the holy water. I bought one, can't harm I guess.

Below the church there are display sections laden with silver pendants of various body parts, vehicles etc. These you buy and hang up in the display cases and pray for a miracle to heal whichever body part is sick or even if you are going a on a bus trip, plane ride etc. Who knows, maybe it really works and because CR is highly Roman Catholic, most people seem to believe it will. As we had driven quite a distance from San Jose, it was almost night when we returned so they dropped us off till next day.

On Friday, Alexander and Laura came and took us to Monrovia. This is a quaint town in the centre of the country where there are lots of souvenir shops. Because competition is stiff, one is able to bargain and really get good prices. That night it was off to Alexander and Laura's home to a wonderful Italian dinner.

Saturday was a really full day as most of the members of the family came to take us to Poas volcano and La Paz Waterfall and Gardens. To get there we had to drive about 60 kms in very pleasant and fruitful country. The roads were excellent and when we started to ascend the hills, we could see the heavy mist resting on the volcano. That area is extremely fertile, the volcanic ash I guess and the landscape is covered by what seems to be hundreds of acres of greenhouses and well laid out plantations of strawberries, coffee, peaches as well as humongous flowering trees and wild flowers.. It seems too that most Costa Rican farmers make some kind of cheese and vendors sell this along the way. A vendor asked Cardiff for a souvenir of Jamaican money and when he was given a $50 bill, he gave us lots of strawberries and peaches. As we drove to the gardens, you could see numerous landslides and cracks in the road. Harry told us that this area had been the epicenter of a large earthquake some two years ago .

The signs of the destruction were evident everywhere and Harry told us that 16 persons had died and many homes destroyed. The gardens and waterfalls are breathtaking and everyone who visits Costa Rica should go there to get an introduction to the animals, snakes, butterflies, colourful birds, waterfalls and plants that make that country a virtual Garden of Eden. Be warned though, the walk is not for the faint hearted but there is a bus to take you back to the main area. An interesting aspect of the tour was a traditional house where a campesina was baking corn pudding on an old dover stove. It was absolutely delicious when eaten with the locally made cheese and I made a pig of myself. She also offered us dulce agua, their name for cane juice. The difference is it is mixed with milk and served warm. Really nice.

After the tour we had to cancel the visit to the volcano as it was so misty that we couldn't see anything. It was really a lovely but tiring day.

Sunday was the grand finale as we had to come back to reality on Monday. Alexander invited us to visit his farm in the country and most of the family and extended family came. Again we headed for the mountains, this time in the to Tortuguro where there is also a volcano. This is where Alexander and Harry's mother was from. On the way we saw hundreds of cyclists nattily donned in their attractive outfits. I felt like joining them. There was apparently a bikaton in the area. We made a stop at a cold, misty, rainy resort. I nearly froze to death until I got myself some delicious hot coffee. There they have attractive gardens, a fresh food market, cut and potted plants for sale and a sampling of the animals found in Costa Rica. The kids really enjoyed that stop .

When we arrived at the "farm" we discovered it was an attractive 3 bedroom log cabin with concrete floors and you had to walk over a little bridge to get to the house. Although the pastures were well kept and even had electrified fencing to keep the cows in, I saw no farm animals . So basically it seems to be a country home..... .lovely place. Harry and his older brother Hugo were the barbecue chefs and the fillet and pork were to die for. Cardiff, Ronald and Alex went hill climbing and when they returned they showed signs of having rolled in the mud.

After dinner they put on Latin music and everyone was feeling energetic. Ronald, Cynthie and Julie are absolutely superb dancers. Cardiff the clown gave a demonstration of dancehall dancing to the Latin music but eventually we found some Movado and a better demonstration by himself and Ariana was given.

After an absolutely wonderful day of real lyming I really felt sad to have to say goodbyes to some of the folk. For although I had only met them a week before, they really felt like close family. Their culture of mi casa es tu casa is very real.

On Monday Harry, Alexander and Laura came to take us to the airport but not before we stopped at Jackie's for lunch. I was introduced to arroz con pollo and it is really good. I think I have to learn to cook it.

I really regretted having to leave and if we had stayed where Jackie lives it would have been absolutely perfect for that is closer to the Atlantic side where it is much warmer than in San Jose and Santa Ana.

I look forward to lyming with the Henriquez and Browns again in the near future.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Returning to Costa Rica

On the 15th March 2011, I made my third trip to Costa Rica (CR) with my friend Sunshine, her daughter Cathy, son-in law Cardiff and younger children Ariana and Amanda.This time I saw the country as never before for the Henriques family (Henriquez in Spanish) transported us all over the place.

Things have gotten extremely expensive in CR since I was last there but of course in comparison to Jamaica they are still sales tax and can you believe the toll fee for 30 kms was only Ja$20! However my favourite tour had been to Arenal volcano where they have several hot springs. It had cost me US$25 for a day tour with meals the last time I was here, some six years ago, now its $120!!!! I am happy I went there when I could afford it for now I certainly can't. One of the reasons for the steep increase in the cost of living since my last visit is the fact that the the colon has devalued to 500 to US$1 whereas it was 220 to $1 then. Gas now costs US$1.20 per litre but that has not eased the traffic jams. In fact so bad is the traffic in San Jose that the municipality has established a system where only vehicles with certain licence numbers are allowed downtown during the morning and afternoon peak hours. San Jose has gotten so huge and congested I barely recognise anything. What impressed me a lot was the absence of potholes and I do note that many of the side roads are made from cement.

In CR, they have 7 active volcano and Doka, has the worlds largest crater.....9000 feet. I have been there in the past. Near our hotel which is between Santa Ana and the large town called Escazu. The Santa Ana area has become the corporate centre of CR with a huge IT and call Centre industry.

Our hotel (The Alta) is a lovely boutique property five storeys but only 22 rooms. Because of the quaint and tasteful architecture, you would never know it was more than two storeys tall. And I did notice that high rises are not that popular there which is good for there is nothing worse than a cconcrete jungle in my book! Although the hotel is only 15 years old, it is built in rustic Spanish colonial style and looks very original.

You can detect the wealthy areas as most of the residences there are in the colonial style and using deep red paints reinforces this. What I 0bserved too is that the houses are built very close to the streets (like old Spanish Town houses). I assume the bulk of the land is in the back and to enhance their privacy, they use colourful zinc and other metals and even green house material to block the view. This I only saw in San Jose though not in the smaller towns where the houses are just as close to the road.

San Jose seems to have developed quite a crime problem though for as we arrived at the airport a policeman was there giving out brochures with anti crime information for visitors to adopt and we were warned to stay away from the city after 10 pm . Interestingly, while we see a lot of security guards downtown, I rarely saw any police and even driving out into the countryside the lack of police activity was significant to someone like me who lives in Jamaica. However, everywhere you go, you notice that most houses in the better areas have electronic gates and some even have electrified fences to shock intruders.

The fruits here are just like in Jamaica but larger. You have to watch how you talk about guava there as that is some kind of bad word.... they call it guayabera. They consider March their summer as they say it is hot and dry at this time (I nearly froze to death as it hovered around 70 degrees most of the time) while during the real summer, July, August etc it gets very overcast and cold, so they call it winter! Well I am here to tell you that the only day that felt summer like to me was the Wednesday after we arrived and when we visited Jackie at her home near the airport. The Wednesday after we arrived, was the only time I was inspired to take off some clothes and jump in the pool and I am glad I did for every day after that I was adding clothes, not taking off. (Oh oh, we just had a power cut so now I really feel at home!)

I love how the streets in San Jose undulate sharply like in San Francisco so it is easy to get good exercise here as going around the block is like walking up Mountain Spring. I didn't see much walkers and joggers though but a lot of cyclists. Near the hotel there is reptile refuge where they care for sick snakes, monkeys etc and let them back into the wild when they get better. That I discovered from my first walk then later Ariana and I visited it. She went wild over the monkeys and has been nagging her mom for a real live one ever since.

Cardiff has been walking too. One morning he walked to Santa Ana with his 15 year old daughter Amanda and he said he noticed that the men kept tooting their horns as they passed. His daughter kept her head straight but Cardiff waved to the drivers. They must all have thought he was funny! Anyway there seems to be a real problem with the men going for underage girls and maybe even foreigners go to CR to get involved in pedophilia for in the airport there is a large notice warning that having sex with underage girls is illegal. Poor Amanda seems to have attracted more unwanted attention as she also saw a peeping Tom watching her at one location! Anyway talk about funny, we met a guy called Ricky in Santa Ana and he laughing told us his name was Ricky X Martin, the "x" meaning he was not gay like the famous singer!)

Anyway, back to my morning walk , after the first day Amanda decided that the had been too much for her , so Cardiff and I have kept up the pace and man he had me sweating, for whereas I used to reverse up the hills to allow me a respite to catch my breath, he had me walking up front ways and even jogging to a light post! He is a former air force man and I swear if he were in Jamaica walking with me I would soon Be jogging up to the Blue Mountains!

But back to things I found significant in CR. I also notice that they go for mixed neighbourhoods, residential and commercial all co-existing happily and it works very well for them . The landscape is absolutely breathtaking and everywhere there is a proliferation of pink poui and a variety of colourful boganvilla and many other flowering tees which I had never seen before but which really brightens up the place.

I like how they have placed sleeping policemen near schools as they do in Guadalooupè and Martinique. I don't know why those idiots in Jamaica do not adopt this for it would make life so much safer for the kids . It is something I have often spoken about on radio but I guess we will never think of such safety measures until some politician's child is killed near school by a speeding motorist.

There are some things in CR which I found very striking. For example, they have only one cell phone company, ICE, but no one complains about monopoly as the rate is kept very low I hear. The bus transportation system is also excellent and cheap. The other thing you can't miss is the fact that Costa Ricans are highly educated for as from back in the 40's the government abolished the army and ploughed the money into education. So education is free up to high school and if you maintain 90-100 percent averages, university is also free. However that does not leave out slower students for with grades under 85% they pay only US$20 every six months!

Costa Ricans have therefore attained middle to upper class status and very few do menial work. This is done by the Nicaraguans who come over to do farm labour, maid work etc. When you travel to the countryside you can't miss their accommodations as they are striking by comparison....barrios I suppose.

Something I found a bit strange was the fact that you do not need to have motor vehicle insurance to drive there and I did find the driving a bit scary....they really like to get close to you when they are passing! However, talking on the cell phone while driving is a big no no.

There was one aspect of life here that I found a bit disconcerting, to say the least. That is what happens after death! Apparently the relatives have to pay an annual fee to the municipality for the upkeep of the cemetery and if they fail to pay the fee for five years, the remains are dug up and removed to a mass burial site. A bit gruesome I found. Then there is well used term of endearment....negrita. Literally it means little negro or little nigger but it is used strictly for affection there. I wonder how the super sensitive Americans react when they hear it since they consider the so called "n word" and absolute no no?

CR is an absolutely beautiful country with its many mountains, manicured pastures and lush, verdant scenery. I would put it in the developed world category since while they did have a downturn in 2009 with the world recession, they seem to have recovered fully and construction is now booming, helped no doubt by the influx of North Americans who want to retire there.

I am told that today they are seeing growth between 2-5% and the towns really all look prosperous and metropolitan. Of course almost every American franchise is visible but the country has not lost its Spanish Soul. Not yet anyway, thank God.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lets cleanse and Move ON

While some persons scoff at the call for some sort of reconciliantion commission to air and heal the ills of the country caused by the virtual civil war in the 70's, Miss. Lightbourne's bottled up resentment once again demonstates how necessaary it is to do this so we can move on.

Friday, March 11, 2011

F&T ride to Pennants , Clarendon

Ash Wednesday was a memorable day for quite a few fun and thrillers. Poor Richard had a terrible fall on the train line in May Pen and hurt himself badly. Alrick says he also fell in Old Harbour and hurt himself. Naomi told me she blacked out on reaching May Pen and Charles and Michael had some sibling rivalry which led Charles to take a minibus home thus missing the lovely breakfast etc.

On the other hand, I had a wonderful day, not least of all because the stewed pork was so delicious that I did not bother to try anything else that Solay's mom had been so nice to prepare.

I found the ride to May Pen quite easy as it was all flat and when one of the champion riders, Kevin, passed me at Sandy Bay, I kept up with him for the rest of the way. Just about there Howie zipped past us and about five minutes later, Barry, and I never saw them again until we got to Pennants.

Of course, despite the fact that I contradicted Juju about the number of hills we would encounter from May Pen to Pennants, I was not about to ride any further than May Pen. Since my mother was from Chapelton and I have been there numerous times, I had been telling her there was only one major hill. The one I was thinkingly of was the one coming into Chaptelon proper. I don't know how I could have forgotten about the killer hill named Sourspop hill. Luckily I was driving!

I got to Pennants about 11 am after leaving home at 5.15am, and on arrival, headed straight for the kitchen.

The tired riders arrived one by one up to 12.30 pm. On the way to the river later, Michael and I stopped to see young Grab (Mother Williams' youngest brother) who lives at the bottom of the hill. I have not seen him for about 40 years and although he said he was 79 years old, he looked 50 despite having lost a leg to diabetes.

We drove down through his property to what is the warmest river I have ever swum in. It was not as scenic, deep or nice at the one at Cudjoe Hill, but I enjoyed it anyway. I thought it was the Rio Minho, but I understand it is a tributary named Thomas river.

Got back to town about 5.30 pm after another fine day of riding and camaraderie with my fellow riders from F&T, MTR.

The O.U.R

The Office of Utility Regulations (OUR) was set up in Jamaica to take over the functions of the Public Utilities Ombudsman among other things but my experience is, they are totally ineffective in this function.

Last year during water lock offs, my bills soared by 800% as obviously my water metre started to measure air not the water being supplied. When the lockoffs ceased, my bills went back to normal!

Naturally I refused to pay the inflated bills and ultimately turned the matter over to the OUR.

Despite assurances from the OUR that as long as they are investigating, the NWC cannot turn off the water, as I was hearing nothing from them despite frequent emails and I have to leave the island shortly, I wrote to the chairman of the OUR for I know it is normal for the NWC to use extortionary tactics ("pay up or we deprive you of life," remember they tell us regularly that water is life!) to try and force people to pay for what has not been delivered. Not a word from the OUR.

There was action from the NWC though, for a few weeks later, yesterday to be exact, two NWC employees in uniform arrived at my home to disconnect the supply. Granted a call to the OUR did have that action aborted, but what would have happened were I not at home?

The OUR is obviously a toothless tiger.

The Jamaican Civil War

I have no doubt that former Minister of Security K.D. Knight told the present Minister of Justice Dorothy Lightbourne in 1980 that "All labourite fid dead." I believe her not only because that profile fits the public persona that we know as K. D. Knight, but also during that period, members of the hierarchy of the People's National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party, were arming poor people to kill each other. That is why the 1980 elections are recorded more as being an informal civil war than an election.

During that period, some 800 mostly poor Jamaicans were killed by their own poor brothers who just happened to support another political party. It is also well accepted that the people who actually pulled the trigger were just not in the financial position to buy the sophisticated guns and weapons that were used to commit murder in the name of politics.

This is seething sore that remains in the underbelly of the Jamaican body politic, which, until it is dealt with some form of truth and reconciliation hearing to cleanse our souls, will never be healed in this poor unfortunate nation of ours.

Our problems as a nation and especially the issue of crime, do not lie with the poor but with the educated middle class which have forever been pulling the strings in the dark while great honour is heaped on their heads in the public arena.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are we ever in Trouble!

I notice that since it was revealed that Dr. Peter Phillips kept the information about the M.O.U's that he signed with US and Canadian agencies from his colleagues when he was Minister of Security in Jamaica, suggestions have been made left right and centre, that it is because he knew many of his cabinet colleagues were in cahoots with criminals so he could not trust them.

But wasn't Peter Phillips also in cahoots with criminals? For what do we really know about his relationship with the late Willie Haggart who was described by the police as an international criminal?

My first knowledge of Haggart came many years ago as I travelled south down Maxfield Avenue and saw an long line of expensive vehicles travelling together on the other side of the road. I stopped to ask a vendor there who I knew if it was the Queen since it is only when we have royal visitors that I had witnessed such an entourage. She laughed and told me it was Willie Haggart, a gangster who had stolen US$20 million worth of cocaine from Colombians in the USA. He had fled back to Jamaica and since he feared being killed by the Colombians, that was how he travelled so no one would know which vehicle he was in. She also told me that some of the persons driving the vehicles in the convoy were policemen! Yet years later when he was killed, Peter Phillips, then Minister of Security, Haggart's member of parliament and obviously his close friend, denied knowing that he was involved in criminal activities!

So this is who we must believe that he was the only minister in Jamaica that the Americans and Canadians found trustworthy enough to discuss sensitive crime intervention strategies with?

If that is so, then we are in much more trouble than most of us know.

Monday, March 7, 2011

F&T Wins Again.

Charles Simpson aka Charles the 1st, made an excellent choice. He had been insisting for almost a year now that we arrange and outing to Mountain River Cave, which is at Cudjoe Hill and which he had read about, but the powers that be had not been accommodating. Anyway, last Tuesday he finally got Charles 2nd, myself and Chuck to go with him to the location to make arrangements . So Sunday 5th March was the big day. And what a lovely day it was.

We of the A team, had decided to ride out early so we could get as much in before the sun started blazing, so departure from Charles 2nd's house was set for 5am. As usual they were late. I had ridden to Michelle's home at 5.15am so we could get to Dunrobin Avenue by 5.16am and meet the others. Chuck was there at the appointed time but the other members of the A team were missing until 5.30am.

It was a lovely ride on the flat Mandella highway and since Chris, the driver was in a fast driving mood, I decided to try and keep up with him to see how much I had improved. My original record was 9 km per hour but on Sunday, as I kept up with him, he said he was clocking 20 km per hour. Keep up the good work Joan!

We had a few stops here and there, the main one being by Jose Marti school where Pat brought out some goodies including a delicious piece of potato pudding which I enjoyed with much relish, happy in the thought that I would not put on an ounce, since the ride would consume it all.

All the way to the entrance of Dovecot, the road was flat and the ride easy. After that the gentle grades kept growing all the way to Guanabo Vale. On the way there, we were passed by David driving Howie's vehicle. He was on his way to get Grace who lives just above Dovecot. She joined the ride just outside of Kitson Town.

It was quite challenging up to Guanabo Vale but as it was a cool morning, no one complained. We stopped and hung around just by the Police station and just as we were ready to resume the ride, up rode Maurice RB. (RB means ride back for if were he alone, he would ride back to Kingston after all our fun jaunts!

We got to Cudjoe Hill just before 9am after most uof us conquered what had been aptly described as a "Bitch hill". The view of the St. Cathriene plains as you rode up the steep incline, was breathtaking. As steep as the hill appeared however, everyone but Fatman, Chuck and Charles the 2d, conquered it totally. Grace did get off to rest a little bit but got right on. Of course she had the benefit of "fresh legs"!

The B team arrived about half an hour later, then we were joined by those who drove down, Desiree, Chris Dalrimple, Lisa, Barry and Karen.

Just as we gathered, a fudge man passed by and I think the tired troopers bought out his entire stock. The breakfast that followed was absolutely wonderful. (I had a blow up with the guide, see Of yoga, Blackness and the Maroons) and the only reason why I did not write a formal complaint to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, was because she was instrumental in cooking that delicious meal!)

After breakfast we headed down a steep incline to the river. So treacherous was the pathway that the Jamaica Defence Force had installied iron railings to assist hikers.

Most of us went up to the cave...about a mile hike along a well fruited area, but the cave itself but it was not at all impressive. What was really wonderful and very impressive was the swimming area by the waterfall. I am now re-assessing my impression that Big Dunn in Portland,is the best river swimming area that I have ever experienced, but that another matter.

Getting to it was not for the fainthearted as we had to climb down large, treacherous rocks to get there and both Michael and Howie demonstrated that gentlemen still exist, as they stayed by the rocks to help the women down .

What was great about the swimming area was the moss in the river bed which was easy on the feet and the fact that it had both deep and shallow areas so one could dive off the rocks and the non-swimmers need not have worried. Theresa did create some excitement however by trying to drown herself, for after asking if a section was deep and told it was, she jumped in and when she couldn't stand up, started to yell in panic. She was pulled to safety by a young lady (I think it was Sparkes) who was sitting on the rock while Theresa continued to scream and carry on.

The water was also very buoyant which made floating easy, so I was able to just lie quietly and mediate away whatever residual anger had remained after cursing off the guide!

The waterfall had an area behind it where you could actually climb up and get behind the falls. After observing a local gentleman doing it, David succeeded in getting up there. The rocks surrounding the falls seem designed for rock climbing and Chuck tried his skills at it but did not succeed while a local lady did it without any difficulty.

Everybody seemed to have had a ball and when it was time to return, Chuck decided to follow dog which was supposed to know the way back and nearly ended up in LLudias

We did not walk back up the steep rocks as those who came down later had discovered that if you had walked a little further down, it was much easier.

When it was time to return, most of the riders decided to join Maurice RB since it was all downhill to St. Johns road. Since I am allergic to riding after eating, I travelled back with David and Grace.

Kudos to Charles the 1st and Charles the 2nd for a wonderful location and excellent coordination.

For more photos, see; more photos, see;

Of Yoga, Blackness and the Maroons

I suppose I should have long recognised that many of the values held by my generation are passé as far as the younger generation is concerned. I am really speaking here to the issues of mental slavery, black pride, self confidence...all the things Marcus Garvey and other great black philosophers of yore, thought important.

I suppose its the new age sense of “ couldn't care less that allows most young black people to see nothing strange about their cohorts who bleach their skins. Actually, I found it quite significant recently when an immediate silence prevailed after a few people who claimed to have a problem with the issue were shut up by Vybes Kartel. He did this by pointing out to them that people who straightened their hair to try to look white or bought wigs to disguise their roots, had no moral authority to criticise him! The silence that has prevailed since his rejoinder is deafening! Or poor Jamaica. Poor black people, we so hate ourselves, are so immersed in mental slavery and so confused to boot.

You know all this reflection came out of an incident yesterday when I actually lost my temper to the point where I can’t even recall what I said! To most people, losing ones temper is a matter of course. In fact, for many years it was for me too until I started yoga some 40 years ago. In fact, I am here to tell you that if I have lost my temper twice in the last 30 years, that is plenty.

But I totally lost it yesterday.

This was at Cudjoe Mountain in St. Catherine.

Cudjoe had been a brave maroon leader and while most history I have seen about him places him in Portland and occasionally other northern parishes such as Trelawny, St. Mary and St. Ann, there is an area located just above Point hill in St. Catherine which bears his name.

At Cudjoe Mountain, there is a small cave called the Mountain River Cave, which had been used by the Tainos and which has a few drawings verifying their activities there. According to local lore, Cudjoe later used that cave as a hideout as he escaped from the British, hence the district is called after him.

A few of the persons we met there claimed to be Maroons and when you consider that the Maroons of history took money from the British to hunt down, trap and return newly arrived slaves from Africa who dared to escape from bondage, I suppose this could explain why mental slavery and a disdain for black people is alive and well in Cudjoe Mountain.

Well I really don’t know how widespread it is, but amazingly the stark experience I had with was with an influential resident there, the employee of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust who organises tours to the cave.

That is what led to my burst of temper.

At first, I thought she was making a joke as we set out to cross the river and someone made a comment about the size and slipperiness of the boulders that we had to walk on to get to the other side. Her comment was 'When I take white people here they don’t complain". I found the comment a bit out of sorts, but ignored it for Jamaica's history was replete with that type of attitude by menial workers in the tourism industry, but with training it became just that....history.

However, as we hiked further up the treacherous, rocky hillside, someone else complained about the steepness of the path. Again I heard her outburst “When I bring white people here they don’t complain.” Although I found it a bit annoying, I still said nothing for I have really matured and are less prone to be emotive.

However when we got to the top and discovered that the highly promoted cave was very small and the markings on the top were fairly insignificant and someone commented on this only to be rejoined by her third 'When I take white people here they don’t complain" I totally lost it! I know I gave here a good cussing on top of my voice and walked off back down the hill to cool off in the river, but I really don’t recall what I actually said except I know I cursed her for rude, disrespectful and suffering from mental slavery. I might also have called her an asshole. I hope I did!

What amazed me however, is that no one else in the party who heard these comments seemed to have a problem with it. Or if they had a problem, they certainly kept it to themselves, hence my musings about the values of my generation being passé. After all, people my age were nurtured in the 60's when black pride and the defense of our race was the ultimate purpose in life so no one could insult our race in that way and get away with it for our motto was 'Say it loud, I am black and I am proud." And being black and proud meant embracing all aspects of our blackness with pride. But now, bleachings, wigs etc have made such sentiments obsolete.

Time for you to get some cake soap Joan and chill out, compliments of Vybes Kartel et al.