My best friend back in university days was Dawn Mendez who was Jamaican and anytime I think of Jamaica, I think of my once-upon-a-time BFF!
I never thought I’d ever go to Jamaica but here we are.
Our stop at Falmouth, Jamaica was short but sweet! It is the Caribbean’s Georgian-style gem, once a major port in the 18th and 19th centuries which grew extremely wealthy from the sugar industry. Ships laden with sugar and rum would leave for Britain on a daily basis just as others would arrive with slaves.
While some other cruisers opted for beach trips during this second stop on our Western Caribbean cruise, we chose a 2-hour walking tour of historic Falmouth led by three Jamaican women dressed in colonial-style safari dresses.
It was interesting to hear about the history of Falmouth. It was an age of prosperity and sophistication, marked by the splendid Georgian-style "Great Houses" still perfectly intact today. It was an economy entirely dependent on the slave trade, an age of inhumanity if you like, which came to an end with the Emancipation on 1840. Our guide told us interesting tales about the owners of each of the "great houses" we passed.
This charming Georgian-cut stone structure featuring Gothic arches and a particularly stylised portico was the first Masonic temple on the island. It was built in 1798 for the Athol Union Masonic Lodge of the British Constitution it was sold to the Baptist missionary because of debts incurred.
This property was in immaculate condition but many others were in dire need of repair. Some had been put up for sale and whoever buys them will have to restore them to their old glory as buildings in Falmouth cannot be destroyed and rebuilt.
As we continued our walked we saw many buildings that told us that time really stood still in this still colonial town. Can you believe they still don’t have traffic lights anywhere? Our guide said "it may still be too early" for Falmouth. I couldn’t believe she actually said that!
Many of the same quaint houses still line the streets of Falmouth in the same condition it was when it was first erected. Some had been well-maintained and others were falling apart.
Along the way our guide pointed out a few local trees which served as local staples. One was the breadfruit which was eaten daily by most Jamaicans. Many of the homes had at least a breadfruit or “Bresheh”, as it is called here, tree in their garden or backyard. Locals climb the tree to pick fruits which are ready to be eaten. You’re not supposed to drop the fruits because the bruised parts are not supposed to be eaten. I gather the fruits are peeled and roasted or fried.
Another fruit was the ackee which to me, looked a little like the fruit of the cashew. Initially the locals did not eat the fruits because they were told it was poisonous. Later it was found that the fruits contained a poisonous gas which was released when the fruit cracked open at some point. Once a fruit cracked it could be picked and cooked. Even after they crack, the fruits never fall from the tree, they just continue to rot. Ackee cooked with salt fish is a favourite local dish.
I was a little surprised that no one had thought of setting up a kiosk selling cooked breadfruit or ackee for us tourists to sample.
It became very hot during the second hour of our walk and it was quite a pleasure to rest towards the end of our tour at the house of Miss Anne, an American who married a local and settled down in Falmouth.
I loved Miss Anne’s house, so quaint and "ladylike" just like Miss Anne herself. We sat in her garden, took photos and chatted with. She gave us a tour of her house and told us stories about her and her husband.
After saying goodbye to Miss Anne, it was time to head back to the cruise terminal. We passed the courthouse and stopped at souvenir shops opposite it looking for…our magnets of course!
Our guides brought us right to the terminal gate before ending their day. We checked out a large craft market outside the terminal gates and found the magnets we were looking for.
So that was Jamaica. Two down one to go on this leg of the cruise. It had been such a warm day we really looked forward to our day cruising at sea the next day.
Next stop the day after tomorrow: Cozumel, Mexico.
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