Homeless not helpless

Sometimes it’s easy to walk by because we know we can’t change someone’s whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize it that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place.”
Mike Yankoski

Netflix recently added the documentary Tent City, USA to its selection list and I happened to watch it.  Very interesting take on the homeless people living in this temporary community in Nashville, Tennessee. A major flood forced them out of Tent City and they had to scramble to find a new place to live.  Interesting that the group enforced rules of behavior to allow residents to stay in the community. It appeared that they had developed their own support system by looking out for each other and helping provide whatever they could to aid and assist their neighbors without judgement.  They all were cognizant of the fact that most were there due to poor decisions made in the past along with lack of employment, but remained hopeful to move forward toward a better life.

My only question is how any of them were able to purchase cigarettes and why would you smoke in front of the camera. It certainly didn’t help their cause. Other than that it was a very informative documentary showing the homeless as real people with skills, abilities and compassion for other human beings.

Homelessness is not unique to the United States:

spain2013blog-1030064  Madrid, Spain

spain2013blog-1030201Madrid, Spain

Chicago-1050681Chicago, Illinois

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAMontego Bay, Jamaica

Chicago-1050671

Living on the subway, Chicago, Illinois

Advertisements

The Pushcart ~ Sport & Commerce

What is a push cart? Pushcarts are those homemade carts that can be seen all across Jamaica. They are used as a moving restaurant (vendors who sell food etc), to transport items (mainly merchandise to the market, but some are used as moving trucks) or as a racing cart (similar to North America soap box) in push cart derbys held across the island. Push-carting began as a grassroots sport and has become a very popular event.

The Kaiser’s Sports Club is the venue for the finals of the annual Push Cart Derby in August. Many of the owners of these homemade carts compete for cash prizes and trophies. Some of these carts are very sophisticated and have been clocked at 60 miles per hour on a downhill homestretch.

The pushcart derby in Jamaica is credited for the inspiration to start a Jamaican Bobsleigh team. Two American businessmen who attended the Jamaican Push Cart Derby were so impressed by the skills of the participants that it inspired them to negotiate the formation of a Jamaican Bobsleigh team with the Jamaican government and the prospective participants.  ~ Jamaicans.com

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Employment Opportunities in Montego Bay

Jamaica2012-0857

Scene: My sister and I walking in Montego Bay toward downtown debating whether to explore the “sketchy” part of town.

(Enter Steve): “I recognize you. I work at El Greco. My name is Steve. What are your names? It is market day so come with me and I’ll show you! No one will bother you when you are with me.  You can take all the photographs you want!” He then proceeds to give a a tour of old downtown, Montego Bay.SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAI knew this ploy from a previous visit since they see the bright yellow wristband we need to get our complimentary breakfast and know where we are staying. (We figured out later to have it put on loosely so that we can slip it on and off.) I was O.K. with this situation since I REALLY wanted to take pictures downtown but was hesitant to attempt it with just the two of us.  Maybe not wise to trust a complete stranger but we were sucked in….
S-o-o-o-o here we go!SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA
Sam Sharpe Square in the heart of Montego Bay makes a good place to start a walking tour of the town. Sam Sharpe is a national hero of Jamaica (1801, Jamaica – 23 May 1832, Jamaica) and was the slave leader behind the Jamaican Baptist War slave rebellion. Sam Sharpe was later captured and held at the jail cell in the square now known as the cage; He was tried at the court house now known as the civic center and hanged in the square along with other participants.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Today five main monuments are a testament to that faithful day. These include the fountain (not running that day), the court house where he was tried, his statue placed at the spot where he was hanged and two holding areas known as the cage. The square, formerly called Charles Square, contains a collection of bronze statues sculpted by island born Kay Sullivan that show the Bible-thumping Sam Sharpe talking to four of his followers.SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAThe stone Cage is the other main feature of the square. The Cage was built in 1806 and originally used to hold captured runaway slaves and sailors, and those out after curfew. Since then it has been a town lock-up, latrine, a clinic and a tourist office. It now houses a small museum. ~ Don Philpott

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAThe St. James Parish Church was built between 1775 and 1782. It underwent substantial repair work in 1957 following damage from an earthquake.There are many points of interest in the church, including two monuments by noted 18th century sculptor, John Bacon. One of these is a monument to Rosa Palmer, the former owner of Rose Hall Great House. Was she the “White Witch?”

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAThe welcome wagon was ready to sell us string bracelets.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAOf course, we made a deal so he was a happy camper.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAAn elaborate stained glass window was installed in 1911. Adorning the walls are plaques and memorials to important figures in the history of Montego Bay. ~ Jamaica Travel and Culture.com

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA
Cemetery near the main square where 21 Jamaican soldiers from WW II are buried.

Tour continues to two elementary schools; an infant school for very young students and an upper elementary school. It was fun to see kids just being kids.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Friday is Market Day so we found the street busy with vendorsSAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Along the way we picked up a wing man, Dave, who claimed he “had our backs” and tagged along behind us. He also would pipe in with the history, information and would answer any questions. Oh, well, another one on the payroll.SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Time to wind down our 1 1/2 hour tour of downtown Montego Bay and get a photo of our guides/bodyguards. Our attempts at fist bumping.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

We pay our guides and part ways assuring them that we could walk back to the hotel unescorted. We had other offers for tours and taxi rides along the way with the opening line “I recogize you. I work at El Greco.” Been there, done that… The REAL test was continuing to wear the RIU Resort red wristband from Negril after returning to Montego Bay. All of a sudden we had so called “employees” of RIU offering tours and taxi rides. Hmmm… Do we have gullible written all over us? Don’t answer that!!!

It’s Photo Friday… travel cameras?

Jamaica is well known for its beautiful beaches with many tourists photographing beautiful sunsets along with frolicking in the surf and white sand pics. I observed a pair of teenage girls spending at least 3 hours posing and taking pictures with their phone of themselves in their little bikinis as though they were Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. On a morning walk along the shore I looked to the left and discovered that I had found a nude beach of primarily senior citizens. Hmmm… I decided that was NOT a photographic opportunity, but it certainly was an eye opening experience! Oh, to be so comfortable in your own skin.
I was trying out a used (but new to me) point and shoot camera, but was disappointed in the features not available (like RAW only in low ISO’s, focus was so-o-o-o frustratingly slow, settings were buried so deep into the menu and slow to access). We have been searching and analyzing on the internet and comparing models vs. price.
My question is: What is the best, yet small travel camera for photographers who like to manually control settings and have fast, spot focus? Any thoughts out there???

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Planning a trip to Jamaica? Let me introduce you to Solomon…

Meet Solomon Hutchinson, our tour guide/driver extraordinaire.  He was our “go to guy” for exploring locations in and around Montego Bay, Jamaica that were too far for walking.  His friendly, prompt and courteous service made our trip stress free and comfortable. He was able to provide rides for our group even though we weren’t sure of the numbers until the last minute.  He must have had some kind of magic hat to pull all this off!

My favorite quote from our Jamaican experience is from Solomon himself:

“I have no problems; only situations.”  ~ Solomon Hutchinson 

I try to remember this saying when I think I should be all stressed out about something.  You just deal with it.  End of story.

Solomon Hutchinson

Solomon Hutchinson

solomonhutchinson@hotmail.com  |  876-368-7820 |

For the most historic and cultural sightseeing and tours such as Mayfield Falls, Green Grotto Cave, Dunn River Falls, Black River Safari, Negril, 7 Miles Beach.  Wheelchair accessible.

Use only special taxis or vans operated by JUTA, the Jamaica Union of  Travellers Association (tel. 876/957-4620), or taxis operated by its  government-sanctioned counterpart, JCAL Tours (Jamaica Co-operative Automobile & Limousine Tours; tel. 876/957-4620). Do not get into a  “pirate taxi,” even if the driver promises to cut the going rate in half;  cheating tourists is disturbingly common. JUTA tariffs are controlled, and  you’ll recognize its vehicles by the union emblems and red license plates. A  list of official tariffs is posted at the airport — but it’s still important to  agree on the price before setting out, to avoid potential disagreements later.

Read more: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/montegobay/0314010002.html#ixzz2HUxZwdhq

It’s Photo Friday!! Photo Etiquette 101

Looking for tips to stay within photography etiquette guidelines when traveling.  I love exploring cultures with my camera, including my own rural environment, but don’t want to be offensive at the same time.  Often times I find that we are “same but different” in many aspects and appreciate the uniqueness of experiences.  I have found that purchasing or tipping generously will often provide plenty of photo opportunities, but my experience with a variety of cultures is limited.

I’m reaching out to others in the world that have travel photography experience to offer suggestions to best document the experiences but be within the realm of common courtesy.  Which cultures are particularly difficult or easygoing to document?

The White Witch of Rose Hall

Rose Hall mansion is located about 20 minutes from Montego Bay

Images by Joyce Meyer, Rose Hall information from Wikepedia.

Rose Hall is widely regarded to be a visually impressive house and the most famous of the Great Houses in Jamaica. It is a Georgian mansion with a stone base and a plastered upper story, high on the hillside, with a panorama view over the coast. Built in the 1770s, Rose Hall was restored in the 1960s to its former splendor, with mahogany floors, interior windows and doorways, paneling and wooden ceilings. It is decorated with silk wallpaper printed with palms and birds, ornamented with chandeliers and furnished with mostly European antiques.  Presently, Rose Hall is a museum for tourists who wish to see where Annie Palmer ate, slept and also areas of the house where she is said to haunt. Possible areas where the murders took place, e.g. in her bedroom where she suffocated one of her lovers with a pillow. Rose Hall is also known for holding seances to try and conjure her spirit and gain answers about the mysterious deaths of her husbands and fanciful legends of underground tunnels, bloodstains and hauntings that surround it.

Do you see any paranormal objects in any of these images?  Hmmm…

Below is an image of one of the ornate silk wallpaper patterns.

The story states that the White Witch was Annie Palmer, who was born in England to an English mother and Irish father. She spent most of her life, however, in Haiti. After her parents died of yellow fever she was adopted by her nanny who regularly practiced voodoo. This is where Annie learned witchcraft. She later moved to Jamaica, where she was married to John Palmer in 1820. As an adult, she reportedly stood 4’11”.

John was the owner of Rose Hall Plantation, east of Montego Bay. Annie’s husband (and two subsequent husbands as well) died suspiciously, and it is speculated that Annie herself brought about their demise. Annie became known as a mistress of voodoo, using it to terrorize the plantation, and taking male slaves into her bed at night and often murdering them.

Do you see any paranormal images in the mirror?

She is also supposed to have dispatched her lovers allegedly because she was bored of them. The legend has her being murdered in her bed during the slave uprisings of the 1830s by one of her slave lovers. The slave in particular was named Takoo, who also practiced voodoo and became one of Annie’s lovers based on their connection. Annie was killed by Takoo because she was in love with the husband of Takoo’s granddaughter. When Annie found she could not have him, she conjured a voodoo curse on Takoo’s granddaughter who died a week later. When Takoo found this out, he killed Annie. Takoo ran into the forest to hide after murdering Annie, but was quickly caught by an overseer (another of Annie’s lovers) and killed.

It was said that a family who owned the property after the Palmers had a housekeeper who was “pushed” by Annie off of Annie’s favorite balcony, subsequently breaking her neck and dying.

Our tour guide was very entertaining and added “spooky” elements to her presentation to keep us on edge.  She deserved the round of applause we gave her.  .

A quick group photo before we left Rose Hall.  I guess I didn’t get the “head tilt” memo…  No, wait!  That’s a genetic issue with female members of the Meyer family.