The scenery in Jamaica is breathtaking. This above picture was taken at Rick's Cafe in Negril, and this is entirely un-photoshopped other than sizing. The rainbow, the sky, the clouds and the people are as they were.... Rick' Cafe is a hotspot in Negril, known for their world famous sunset and for the cliff that is shown here. The cliff is about 35 feet high, and looks down below into the blue-green waters. Thrill seekers are dared to take dives off the platform into these waters, and are cheered on by the local divers. The view is absolutely spectacular as you can see, and is the best place to chill out and have a beer.
During my tour on the Nine-Mile Village Walk, I met James, who is one of the tour guides. He wasn't our tour guide, but he stuck around with us just the same. He is extremely jolly, and kept making cheesy equivalent of knock-knock jokes and then hysterically bursting into laughter at his own jokes. He was actually always laughing, and it was more rare to see him not laughing or telling jokes. However, there was a sadness to face when he was not laughing that I wanted to capture, and hopefully I did.
James also is a 'Rasta' and believes in the Rastafarian way of life. As you may know, Rastafarians, among many of the other rituals and traditions tend to smoke a lot of marijuana, because they believe it is sacrament that cleans the body and mind, heals the soul, exalts the consciousness, facilitates peacefulness, brings pleasure, and brings them closer to Jah.. However, many a people, as I was told by James, ends up delving into other types of drugs, and eventually succumb to addition. James, as he mentioned was one these people. He eventually pieced his life back together and is now a tour guide. He seemed melancholy about his past life, but seemed to be happy now, other than a few glimpses of sadness....
Paradise through a hole in the wall... at least thats what a lot of people would say when they see this. This is within the confines of the Bob Marley Museum in Bob Marley's hometown, Nine Mile. As you very well may know, Bob Marley and his music are revered in Jamaica, and his lifestyle is widely emulated. Bob Marley was a devoted Rastafarian - and you may also know that for Rastas, smoking cannabis, usually known as herb, weed, sinsemilla (Spanish for without seeds), or ganja (from the Sanskrit word Ganjika, used in ancient India), is a spiritual act, often accompanied by Bible study; they consider it a sacrament that cleans the body and mind, heals the soul, exalts the consciousness, facilitates peacefulness, brings pleasure, and brings them closer to Jah. So it should come as no surprise that within the confines of Nine Mile town limits, marijuana selling and smoking is completely legal. Although there aren't elaborate shops set up such in Amsterdam, there are 'Hole in the Wall' places all over the place, where you can get brownies, tea and regular joints to smoke. I would like to say that I fully exploited the situation, but I am allergic or get a bad reaction of sorts. Yes, I know. Sad.
I think you knew without me saying anything, that Bob Marley might be one of, if not 'the' most important figure in Jamaica. I got introduced to reggae at a young age, and the certain soul in Bob Marley's voice stuck with me. When I was in Jamaica, Bob Marley symbolism was everywhere. I decided to take a trip to his hometown, where he was born and stayed till about he was 10 years old, at which point he moved to Kingston. This small little town is very humble and down to earth and pay a lot of homage to the famous singer. There are various temples and shrines dedicated to him, including a tomb. But more than all of this, its not just Bob Marley they pay homage to, but his life. Here Bob Marley is not just a famous person, he is a way of life. People will use Bob's life stories intertwined with their own - they will talk about him like he was their brother, father or son. If you know Bob Marley's music, you know how much awareness he brought to social depravity and injustice through his music, and these areas of Jamaica that live it everday, cherish his efforts like no other. They feel that he is the one person that put Jamaica on the map. His rastafarian ways, and his lifestyle reverberates through Jamaica and especially his birth town everyday.
Aside from the pristine beaches, there is another side of Jamaica landscape that I noticed when I ventured out from the sheltered resort area. When you venture inland, there is a plethora of other scenery that is very different than the tourism posters of Jamaica. I happened to walk off the hotel property, and stumbled upon the edge of golf course which was not really part of it, but still was very well taken care of. Either way, anybody would be more than ecstatic to have it as their backyard.
On a different note, I wanted to mention something about photographic cliches. Photographic cliches are images that are created with motifs that are very common, such as sunrise/sunset beaches, mountaineous landscapes, rocks in water, autumn leaves, white fences - and lone trees. I've probably rattled off about 70% of the recent pictures you've seen on the web (and possibly on my blog). The truth is that in the current digital age, and the easy access to camera equipment/technology, its pretty hard to be original, especially for amateurs like myself. All this is a little depressing unless you're a creative genius, and so the philosophy has to change. So if you're not going to create the next original masterpiece, then I guess the thing to take note off is whether you're having fun, and whether you believe in what you created (or are creating) - IMHO, its all worthwhile as long as that requirement is met. Also, I strongly believe that once you are having fun and believe in what you're doing, you will end up creating that masterpiece at some point. Yes, the lone tree motif has been done many times before, but I'm fairly confident its not that rampant in landscapes of Jamaica (I hope). This is my thought process in the ever changing, saturated world of photography of today. What is your approach?
I've been busy since my trip to Bangladesh, and my next destination to highlight here is Jamaica. Jamaica is every bit as awesome as I heard it was, and extremely accomodating towards tourists. I tried not being a 'tourist' but my accent pretty much gave it away. Whats more wonderful than the white sand beaches and the scrumptious jerk chicken is the always smilling people that you see everywhere. Granted I 'was' a tourist and they were just catering to me, but still the famous reggae spirit, and jolly 'ya mon' phrases are seen and heard everywhere.