Employment Opportunities in Montego Bay

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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!!!

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.