Jamaica – A Land Rich in Natural Treasures

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On the southern slopes of the Jamaican Blue Mountains reside several million tons of gypsum. Used primarily in cement production and building materials, gypsum is an extremely common mineral. Many homeowners will be familiar with gypsum, as it is used in drywall. Gypsum has many other uses, including lawn fertilizer, blackboard chalk, and as a coagulant for tofu. Since it is also used to create cement, some of Jamaica’s local gypsum no doubt finds its way into one of the many all inclusive resorts in Jamaica. Just like some of the other industries in Jamaica, gypsum mining is not very exciting, and certainly doesn’t get your pulse up like some of the premier clubs around the island. But it is also industry like this that creates the backbone for Jamaica, and helps create jobs for its inhabitants and encourages trade among other countries.

While agriculture is not as large in Jamaica as in some other countries, it does supply a good deal of jobs. Workers are needed for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. These crops include pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, corn, rice, yams, potatoes, and plantains. Sugar is the leading export crop, and a good deal of coffee and cocoa are also produced. Jamaican coffee, and in particular Blue Mountain coffee enjoys a premium price point and has status as one of the most expensive coffees in the world. The best part is you don’t need to take an all inclusive Jamaica vacation to try the coffee. You’ll pay a hefty price, but you can even order this mild roast over the internet and have it shipped around the world right to your door.

Of course, Jamaica was not always Jamaica. Christopher Columbus actually landed on the island in 1494 and claimed the land for Spain. He named the island Santiago. The inhabitants of the island at the time, the Arawak natives, were exterminated by the Spanish, and the island came under Spanish rule. This lasted until 1655, when British forces seized control of the island. Needing a source of labor for sugar and coffee cultivation, the British brought African slaves to Jamaica. Despite numerous slave rebellions and uprisings, this period lasted for nearly 150 years, until the abolition of slavery in 1834. For those that visit Jamaica for a Caribbean beach wedding, it’s hard to believe that at one time this beautiful country participated in the slave trade. Thankfully those days are long past, and all that remains are good times, good food, and good people.

Top Five Hot Spots in Jamaica

You land in Jamaica and you find yourself surrounded by blue skies and azure blue seas. Warm, welcoming and beautiful it is easy to slip into the easy camaraderie and laidback ambience of this exotic island. However, don’t let go of the explorer in you because this island has much to offer in terms of its sights, attractions, adventure sports and cultural activities. To help you plan your holiday, we have listed out the top five attractions and sights that you cannot miss at any cost:

o Kingston: The capital is also the commercial and cultural hub of Jamaica and has much to offer in terms of culture and entertainment. Visit the 120year old site of Devon House Heritage that hosts local events even today. Alternately delve into the past with a stroll through the coffee plantation along the south coast city of Mandeville that dates back to two centuries.

o Negril Beach: Undoubtedly this 7-mile long sugary white sand beach is one of the finest beaches and hot spots of Jamaica. Beach bars and open-air restaurants dot the fringes of this beautiful expanse. Here at this amazing location, you can while away the hours soaking up the sun or enjoying a cool sundowner.

o Dunn’s River Falls: This 600ft waterfall is an extremely popular and an eye-catching sight. Cold and clear white froth cascades and splashes over a series of stone steps and trickles down to join the Caribbean. The best way to get the most out of this magnificent sight is to take a tour around the waterfall accompanied by an experienced guide.

o Montego Bay: Besides Negril, Montego Bay is the next important resort in Jamaica. It boasts a number of lovely beaches that are perfect to enjoy exciting water sports or simply soak up the gorgeous sun Doctor’s Cave Beach is a popular bathing spot for most visitors and it is believed the waters here possess curative powers. Diving enthusiasts can enjoy discovering the varied marine life at the Windowmaker’s Cave within Montego Bay Marine Park.

o Ocho Rios: If you happen to be a Bob Marley or James Bond fan then a visit to this spellbinding resort is a must. Visit the Bob Marley Mausoleum and if you are lucky you may even cross paths with Marley’s family and friends near the city of St. Ann. Also don’t miss out on the Chukka Cove’s Zion Bus tour that passes through gorgeous scenery and rural villages. Fan of Ian Fleming’s popular James Bond series can visit Goldeneye, the estate on which Ian Fleming wrote his novels.

The two main resorts of Negril and Montego Bay are dotted with charming Jamaica villas that are ideal for enjoying a true Jamaican holiday. A perfect alternative to a hotel accommodation, the vacation villas in Jamaica provide you the comforts and services of a luxury resort with the privacy and space that only a home can provide.

Ways of Greeting People in Jamaica

In Jamaica as in other countries, saying hello and greeting people are very important. There are many different and varied ways of giving salutations in Jamaican Patois; the local dialect. The ways of giving salutations in Jamaican could be categorized as formal and informal. We will take a look at the most common ways of greeting people in Jamaica; both formally and informally.

The Formal Way of Greeting People

Standard English is the official language spoken in Jamaica and it is the language most often spoken in formal situations. You’ll often hear Standard English being spoken in job interviews, ceremonies, on local television shows and in such similar formal settings. Examples of formal greetings might include common expressions such as: “hello, how are you” which is often followed by “nice to meet you” or “it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Informal Ways of Greeting People

Jamaican Patois is generally an informal way of speaking. Patois is most frequently spoken at home, in the streets, sung in music, used in local plays, and in other such informal situations. It is interesting to note that Jamaican patois is increasingly gaining acceptance and as a result it is increasingly being spoken in (formal) social situations once people feel comfortable with each other. Below you will find some popular ways of greeting people informally, along with an example of the greeting being used in a sentence. Note that the greeting can either be used as is or as a part of a sentence.

whaa gwaan? – what’s going on? / How are you?

Example: Whaa gwaan sah, nuh si yuh sence di daydah day – How are you sir? I haven’t seen you since the other day.

Whe yuh ah deal wid? – what’s the deal with you?

Example: Whaapm yute, whe yuh ah deal wid? – Hello young man, what’s the deal with you?

Rispec – used as a greeting

Example: Yes sah, rispec – Yes sir. Respect.

ah yuh dat? – sometimes used as a greeting (said in such a way to suggest that it’s been such a long time that the speaker hasn’t seen the listener that now he isn’t certain if he recognizes him or her)

Example: Whaa! Ah yuh dat? – Wow! Is that you?

There are many varied ways of greeting people in Jamaica. This article looked at some of the ways to greet people both formally and informally. Examples of the informal greetings, being used in a sentence, were given.

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Talking to Jamaican Dancer and Choreographer, L’Antoinette Stines

In 1978, Jamaican dancer/choreographer, L’Antoinette Stines, founded Miami’s first, primarily black dance company, L’Acadco. Returning to Jamaica in 1982 she continued to grow with her company and together they have become dynamic ambassadors for Jamaican culture. L’Acadco’s mission is to present the rhythms of the Caribbean people on the world stage.

Next week, L’Acadco – A United Caribbean Dance Force has a diverse membership which includes dancers, drummers, stilt walkers, and fire blowers from across the Caribbean. week L’Acadco will be hosting PASSION:fruits, a celebration of timeless L’Acadco works. This show will be held at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, U.W.I Mona from Thursday April 30th 2009 to Saturday March 2nd 2009.

We talk to the company founder and artistic director L’Antoinette Stines…

YE: Why are you an artist/dancer and when did you first become one?

L’Antoinette: I regard myself as both having danced with many dance companies. I am a choreographer, creator of L’Antech the first Anglo Caribbean Modern Contemporary Technique and I sometimes perform with the company, so I guess I am an artist.

YE: How would you describe your work?

L’Antoinette: Innovative and eclectic, an exciting blend of Jamaica, Caribbean and Europe which is the reality of Caribbean culture.

YE: What type of dance do you do?

L’Antoinette: Jazz, classical ballet, traditional, contemporary and African dance.

YE: How did L’Acadco get started and what was your vision for the company?

L’Antoinette: L’Acadco had two beginnings. The first was in Miami, Florida. The vision was to bring together the tri-ethnic communities of Spanish, African-American and Caucasian. The second was in Jamaica with a totally different intention to present contemporary dance with a new voice, fresh and valid interpretations of the Jamaican landscape.

YE: What artists/dancers have influenced you and how?

L’Antoinette: The Cuban Contemporanea and Eduardo Rivero have had the most impact on my artistic identity today. Through their work I came to realize that we can perform contemporary dance remembering who we are as a people so that when the curtain opens there is no confusion that we are Jamaican.

YE: What other interests do you have outside of dance?

L’Antoinette: I am an avid reader as a PhD candidate at the University of the West Indies in Cultural Studies. My interest is doing intense research on the cultures of people especially the Caribbean.

YE: What inspires you to keep motivated when things get tough?

L’Antoinette: I am inspired by the Divine Energy of the Universe the “Godhead” as I strongly believe we are given our talents to reach people and to testify about being given that talent. Not using it is abusing it.

YE: How would people who know you describe you?

L’Antoinette: I am told that I should give up dance and become a comedian. Some would say I am intense, others would say I am fun loving and others might say she is a “Hitler” when it come to discipline and hard work.

YE: Who are some dance companies and or dancers that you admire?

L’Antoinette: I admire Phoenix dance company in Liverpool, Alvin Ailey Company, The Cuban Contemporanea, The Eduardo Rivero Caribbean Dance Company, Kariamu Welsh -Tradition.

I love many dancers it is difficult to name them. I always however admired and still believe that Jamaica’s divas are Patsy Rickets and Barry Moncrieffe.

YE: What have been your greatest challenges? Rewards?

L’Antoinette: My greatest challenge is my greatest reward and that is bringing up my children to be successful, functional citizens. My first son graduated from NYU with a Bachelors degree, did his four years in the U.S Army and received many accolades and will graduate from law school in December. My second son Aaron Vereen graduated from Noyam Institute in Ghana Africa as a master drummer, dancer and now performs with Roots Underground and teaches children and adults and is the musical director of L’Acadco and my daughter is now about to sit her CSC exams and is a Senior dancer in L’Acadco. They are my challenges and my successes.

YE: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

L’Antoinette: I intend to travel the world and teach about the rich culture of Jamaica as an ambassador. This is why I have pursued a PhD.

YE: How would you describe the state of the dance world in Jamaica?

L’Antoinette: Rich, vibrant. This is the dance capitol of the Caribbean in competition with New York. There are many dance companies, junior companies, kids who dance for JCDC festival competition. Dance, however needs to be funded by government.

YE: Tell us about the season this year…what can we expect?

L’Antoinette: L’Acadco has brought to the stage memories of the 25 years. Three of the dances HIGH, SATTA AND HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THERE? were staged 25 years ago. The others Divine Unity had it’s world premier in Canada to rave reviews. New choreography just for this celebration are Step by Step, Killing me Softly and Passion.

Exciting guest choreographers are Barbara Ramos-Caballero- Lead dancer for the Eduardo Rivero Company Santiago Cuba, Onaje Bell known for his interesting jazz and hip hop flavour, Arsenio Andrade from Havana, Cuba who is known as a principal dancer with the NDTC and Kysha Patterson, a young choreographer whose cutting edge choreography audiences find very exciting.

Our guest dancers are the real divas of dancehall, Mad Michell, Borisha, Pinky, Donagaona and more.

The Word ‘Stoosh’ As Used in Jamaican Patois

The word stoosh (also spelled ‘stush’) has several meanings in the Jamaican language. Sometimes the exact meaning of the word is difficult to pinpoint. To add to the confusion, there are also other variations of the word. One such variation is the word ‘stoshous.’ We will take a look at these words and some of their usages.

Stoosh

The word stoosh has several meanings, some of which are difficult to give a definitive meaning; the meaning depends on how the word is used. Some common meanings of the word ‘stoosh’ are: fancy, upper class, or stuck up. The word can be used to describe people, places or things. Here are a some examples of how the word could be used in Jamaican Patois.

Cuh pon dah stoosh ouse – look at that fancy house

dah gal deh galang stoosh – that girl from a particular economic status behaves as if she is from a higher economic status.

The sentence ‘dah gal deh galang stoosh’ could also have an alternative meaning. It could also mean: ‘that girl behaves stuck-up (conceited)’

Stoosh people naw guh wah guh deh – Upper class people will not want to go there.

The following example is an example ‘stoosh’ being used to describe someone but the exact meaning of the word is elusive unless you know the context in which it is being used.

Here are three examples the same word ‘stoosh’ being used and having slightly different meanings:

Shi gwaan stoosh stoosh – she behaves as if she is upper class

Shi gwaan stoosh stoosh – her behavior is finicky

Shi gwaan stoosh stoosh – she is highty tighty

Stoshous

The word stoshous is a variation of the word ‘stoosh’ and both words can have a similar meaning. The word ‘stoshous’ means fancy or upperclass. ‘Soshous’ can also be used to describe people, places or things. Here is an example of the word ‘stoshous’ as it could be used in Patois.

Di restahrawhnt wi did nyaam inna stoshous – the restaurant we ate in was fancy (upperclass).

Da yute deh chek seh eem stoshous fi deh roun ya – that young person thinks that he is too upperclass to be around here (in a place like this).

Ah pere stoshous si’hn eem wah buy – he only wants to buy fancy (expensive) things.

The words ‘stoosh’ and ‘stoshous’ are frequently used in Jamaica. They are used in a variety of ways and situations. Depending on how the words are used, they could have several meanings. This article gave the more common meanings of both words and provided some examples of how the words could be used.

Jamaican Holidays

Holidays in Jamaica include Christian holidays as well as Labor Day (May 23), Independence Day (6 August), Emancipation Day (1 August), and National Heroes Day (18 October). These holidays provide an opportunity for tourists to experience the true essence of Jamaica through its varied culture and active nightlife. Jamaica also observes public holidays, including Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Monday, Christmas Day (Dec 25), and Boxing Day (Dec 26).

Although, it feels like holiday time all year round in Jamaica, public holidays are great for embarking on a tour to the Caribbean. Many Internet sites and directories list the holidays and anniversaries that are celebrated in Jamaica. Some may also be found listed in the various travel guides and local newspapers and journals.

With its balmy weather, Jamaica is more of a year-round destination. Nevertheless, it has a distinct High Holiday season running roughly from mid-December through mid-April. Hotels charge their highest prices during this peak winter period, when visitors fleeing cold north winds crowd the island to enjoy the sun-basked beaches.

The off-season in Jamaica (approximately mid-April to mid-December) amounts to a summer sale. On the whole, hotel rates are cut at a startling twenty to sixty percent. Some package-tour charges are lowered by as much as twenty percent of the original, and individual tour airfares are reduced from five to ten percent. Additionally, airline seats and hotel room rates are favorable when bookings are done in bulk for family tours or for large travel groups.

The curse of Jamaican weather, also called the hurricane season, officially lasts from early June to late November. Satellite weather forecasts usually give ample warning so that safety measures can be taken. Although, the advantages of off-season travel outweigh the disadvantages, there are drawbacks to summer travel.

Jamaican hoteliers save their serious repairs and their major renovations until the off-season and hence, the services are often reduced during this time. Not all restaurants and bars in the resorts are fully operational. The number of staff personnel is also considerably sized down. Thus, although holiday time is a good occasion for starting a Jamaican vacation, all the other aspects should also be considered before taking up any tour package.

Things To Do And See In Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Ocho Rios is one of the most popular resort towns in Jamaica. Welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, it is a tourist destination that does not fail to please. Whether arriving by road, helicopter, or cruise ship, visitors will notice the natural beauty of the area as soon as it comes into sight.

There are relatively high hills forming a backdrop to the town which sits on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. The main and largest beach is the focal point of Ocho Rios and its beautiful crescent shape is punctuated by high-rise buildings on either end. Not far away heading into the interior, the land is covered in greenery with tall trees, gardens and an abundance of exotic blooms.

With this landscape there is clearly much to see, and entrepreneurs, responding to the demands of today’s tourists, have developed dozens of attractions, offering a great variety of things to do.

Anyone familiar with the Spanish language cannot help but think that if they visit Ocho Rios, they will find eight rivers there. But there are only a few rivers winding their way down the hills surrounding Ocho Rios. However, the famous Dunn’s River Falls and Beach more than makes up for the misnomer that is the lively resort town’s name. It is the most popular attraction in Jamaica with its clean, clear water cascading down a six hundred foot natural “staircase” forming many pools and falls on its way. Visitors have a whale of a time climbing the Falls from the beautiful beach, where Sean Connery watched Ursula emerge from the sea singing “Under the Mango Tree” in the classic James Bond thriller, “Dr. No”. Some take hours to get to the top as they frolic in the exhilarating ponds and get massaged under the falls on the way up. The whole site begs for photograph after photograph to be taken.

Dolphin Cove, located almost opposite to the entrance to Dunn’s River Falls is also very popular as the site offers a variety of programmes, from swimming with the dolphins to touch encounters, and experiences with sharks and sting rays as well as other tropical animals. There is a restaurant and beach with water sports on offer too.

On the White River, visitors enjoy the relaxing lazy ride downstream on a long bamboo raft guided by a captain with bamboo pole. Many people report that they never felt that chilled out by the end of this cruise. Further upstream, where there are rapids, there is kayaking and tubing.

Another natural beauty is the Fern Gully, which is a river bed converted into a main thoroughfare, but with trees and vegetation so dense on both sides that for two miles, the road is covered by a gorgeous canopy. There is a smattering of roadside stalls here with a few displaying very controversial erotic art that is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

There are several shopping centres, boasting duty free and gift shops, as well craft markets to cater to all the shopaholics who travel abroad in search of bargains and unusual items. Wood carvings and rasta jewellery are favourites. There is also a huge Jamaican art scene with galleries such as Harmony Hall displaying the works of famous artists like Judy Ann MacMillan, Graham Davis, Gene Pearson, and many others.

Of course Ocho Rios also offers vibrant nightlife with many bars and nightclubs, like Margaritaville at Island Village. Listening to a reggae band belting out the golden oldies on the beach is not to be missed. There are many and varied dining experiences from eating a Jamaican patty chased with a jelly coconut chopped by a roadside vendor, to the more elaborate jerk establishments like Scotchies, to the more traditional restaurants like Evita’s which overlooks the resort town, and the spectacular Ruins Restaurant, where Jamaican and Chinese cuisine are served in spray distance of a gorgeous waterfall.

Ocho Rios also provides the whole array of water sports, right off its beautiful beach where the cruise ships dock. Apart from swimming, visitors experiment with snorkeling, diving, parasailing, waterskiing, jet-skiing, windsurfing, and much more.

A visit to Ocho Rios can be an action-packed affair taking in its beauty, local culture, and both natural and man-made attractions. There is bound to be enough to suit every taste.

Jamaica Weather – Best and Worst Times to Go

Jamaica weather in certain months of the year makes the island a great place to visit, while other months make it a place to avoid.

This island has steady warm weather, lush vegetation and interesting people. Jamaica is the third most popular destination in the Caribbean and is located only 600 miles south of Miami, FL.

It is an especially popular resort destination and has major attractions including Dunn’s River Falls and the capital at Kingston.

Average Jamaica weather is slight warmer than most Caribbean destinations. Despite the lush vegetation, it receives slightly less rain as well.

Average Temperatures

The average monthly high temperature is nearly 89 degrees Fahrenheit and the average monthly low is 73 degrees, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

The average Jamaica temperatures peak between 90 and 91 degrees in June, July and August.

They moderate only slightly at about 87 degrees in December, January, February and March, making the island one of the warmer Caribbean destinations year-round.

Average Rainfall

Rainfall is 2.7 inches a month. The average number of rain days is 7.8 a month.

Rainfall is sparse from December through April. It increases in May to four inches total, drops in June and July and starts to pick up again in August, September and October.

That’s because the annual Caribbean hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 and reaches a high point of activity during the fall.

Islands such as Jamaica are rarely hit directly by a hurricane, but they often feel the effects and do see a spike in storm activity.

In the case of Jamaica, the worst month for rain historically is October.

Jamaica weather in October has the worst rainfall at seven total inches, followed by September and May. October also averages 14 rainy days during the month.

Best Times to Go

The island is most popular with visitors in July. It is least popular in September and October.

Anyone planning a Jamaica vacation should consider December through April, June and July as months when the weather is in their favor.

They should avoid September, November, May and especially October as the months with the highest rainfall and the highest number of rainy days.

The months with the worst weather also usually have the best prices for all-inclusive resorts.

Anyone willing to take on the risk of going to Jamaica during the fall months might consider travel insurance for extra protection.