Canstruction 2013 Hits New York City

The 21th Annual Canstruction NYC Competition was held in New York City October 21 to November 8, 2013 boasted very creative art pieces made entirely from...

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Stunner Conquers Sigma 2013

In my last post I wrote about my intentions to run the annual Sigma Corporate Run this year and my hopes to even try to get

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Toscanini - Italian Dining Experience In Jamaica

When you think of Jamaica you think of jerk chicken, jerk pork, oxtail, rice and peas and the many colourful and delicious Jamaican meals guaranteed to tantalize the palate. Fine dining to delicious Italian...


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Friday, February 25, 2011

Guilty, Is Buju's Verdict...

Buju Banton. Photo:
It was late 2009 when news rang out that the well known Dancehall & Reggae Artiste Buju Banton was arrested on drug charges and was remanded to await trial. This certainly shocked all Jamaican's here and abroad, including myself. but could Buju have been found guilty of such an unheard of accusation?

After spending close to a year in a federal jail, Buju faced the courts on several drug related charges, yet to the relief of many Jamaicans the case was thrown out and rules a mistrial dude to a jury deadlock. However the US authorities were still out for blood and managed to keep Buju remanded and to even get another trail with even more charges! Once again Buju Banton's many fans held their breath as this second trial took its course. Would Buju be freed once again or would he be found guilty?

Buju Banton and Legal team. Photo: Jamaica Gleaner
On Tuesday February 22, 2011 the wort fears of Mark Anthony Myrie, better known as Buju Banton, his family, friends and fans as he was found guilty on three of his cocaine related charges. According to the Jamaica Gleaner, "Buju has been found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilogramsor more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, knowingly and intentionally possessing a firearm in furtherance of and during the course of a drug-trafficking crime, and aiding and abetting others in using a communication facility in the commission of a felony." A very serious verdict that could see the famous and Grammy winning artiste 15 years to life in prison!

Even though Buju's legal team has announced it will appeal the verdict, things look dismal for the famous artiste. It is only hoped that they may score some form of victory and/or that the judge is lenient in sentencing Buju. In any case, it seems he will be seeing some serious prison time for these charges. I won't comment on whether or not I think he is guilty, the jury has already decided that and their thoughts are what really counts. All I have to say is that getting involved in drugs in any way or form, even if it's empty boasts is not a good idea and has dire consequences. Definitely something to stay as far as you can from, something Buju should have done in my humble opinion, because "it's not a easy road" in "bondage".

Monday, February 14, 2011

Jamaica Pegasus Goes Tweetheart

Top Of The World, the Jamaica Pegasus third tweetup venue
On June 18 2010 the Jamaica Pegasus (@JamaicaPegasus), located in the heart of New Kingston Jamaica, did something no other company had ever done before when they held the first ever tweetup on Jamaican soil. Even though it was a new event and a new phenomenon in Jamaica it was a success. Following up on the success and buzz created by the first ever tweetup they did it again with a second tweeteup, held on September 3, 2010. Some say a sequel is never as good as the original but the Jamaica Pegasus certainly proved that wrong with a bigger and better tweetup with even more sponsors and a larger crown of enthusiastic guests. Earlier this year the Jamaica Pegasus announced that they would do it, yet again, yes another tweetup! But could they manage to have the success and demand of the the previous tweetup?

Guests at the tweetup L-R: @RyanMattis, Jo Mini Will, Geoffrey A. Bailey, Nikiel Nezzy, @Jamaipanese 
On January 23, 2010 the Jamaica Pegasus opened registration to their loyal twitter followers for the third tweetup, themed the Tweetheart Edition, scheduled for February 11, 2010. This announcement created a buzz of anticipation both for those who have only heard of the previous tweetups and those who experienced it and hungered for more! This hunger was so great that all slots were sold out with 14 minutes of the announcement. The demand was so great that the Jamaica Pegasus had to make room for over 70 more guests! That registration process even superseded the first as all 70 slots were sold out in just 2 minutes! So the Jamaica Pegasus certainly had the interest of it's twitter fans, but could it live up to their expectations?

Decadent chocolate fountain
The Jamaica Pegasus team took its team took its guests to The Top Of The World, their rooftop venue overlooking the city of Kingston & St. Andrew. The all white decour was on point, complemented by the open air feel of the rooftop structure, decorative lights, laser displays and the city lights that extended into the distance. A decadent chocolate fountain greeted guests by the door, smooth, warm creamy chocolate that would evoke the desires of any chocolate lover. An open bar also greeted guests, the perfect recipe to get people relaxed and in a more sociable mood [big grin].

Dancehall artiste Tifa
Alric & Boyd controlled the turn tables and kept the party rocking with their usual great juggling and even got a quite few dancing up a storm at the latter part of the tweetup. The Jamaica Pegasus also treated its tweetup guests with a performance from one of the hottest female Dancehall artist on the local charts Tifa. As usual the food was great, especially the pork and the shrimp pasta, and it was there in abundance allowing for seconds and even thirds!
A variety of tasty meals enticed the palates of guests
Alric of the due Alric & Boyd
The lovely Paula-Ann Porter Jones
Radio personality Paula-Ann Porter Jones was the MC for the evening. Even though she did a good job, I must admit I missed the craziness of the vivacious Elva. The sponsors came on board once again with prizes and giveaways including: a ticket for two from Air Jamaica to one of the their many destinations and 2 Blackberry Perl 3G smartphones from LIME. Other sponsors included Kingston Minicakes, Nuvo, NCB and Freestyle & Xklusive.

Winners of the LIME giveaway poses with LIME executives
A guest collecting her prize, a gift basket from NCB
A big part of the tweetup is the opportunity to put faces behind the tweeps you follow, meet other tweeters that you are not yet following, reunite with other tweeters that you have met and of course networking. I got to do all of that plus managed to take quite a few photos of the event! It was great seeing the familiar faces again as well as meeting tweeters that I follow, tweeters that follow me and a host of new tweeps. Of course as a photographer I could not go without carrying my partner in crime, my trusted camera! You can view the rest of the photos I took of the third Jamaica Pegasus tweetup on my here on my facebook page.

Me mingling with fellow tweeters @VisualEmbrace and CamJayFen
Guests dancing up a storm to the music of Alric & Boyd
Once again the Jamaica Pegasus proved that it could pull off a successful tweetup, showed that it can organize a great event, showed off yet another awesome venue the hotel has to offer, teased the palates with their culinary creations, and treated its twitter followers to a lovely night of fun and socializing.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Black Is Beautiful

A model from one of my recent shoots
Ever since I was small I have always heard that phrase, "Black is beautiful". Yet it seems for a large number of people with darker skin, especially here in Jamaica frown upon such a thought. Many, especially those in the lower socio-economic group admire the fairer skin and seem to me mesmerized by what seems to be the illusive power of the fairer skin. Yes, the relish the thoughts that by getting a lighter skin they will achieve more in life, wealth, prestige, acceptance and yes, most of all Beauty.

Photo of local Dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel before and after bleaching (
This infatuation with being fairer, or for a local term, being brown, has permeated our society in so many ways that it seems the lightning of ones skin has gained even more acceptance. Bleaching of the skin has become common place in my sections of our society and is now embraced with open arms. This is quite evident in the many songs that are promoting bleaching and especially a famous Dancehall artiste, Vybz Kartel, being the poster child for this bleaching culture! Despite his many public denials about his bleaching and his flimsy excuse of being lightened by the his use of cake soap, it is quite evident that he is bleaching... no, not just bleaching, he has now invented the category of extreme bleaching! Bleaching and the dangerous and ridiculous attempt to become "brown" has crossed gender and even age.

Another model from one of my previous shoots.
It is time that these people wake up and stop burying their faces in "cake soap" and realize that true beauty is not in the pale, zombie like appearance that bleaching gives! They need to realize that a clean, dark skin is a thing of beauty and nothing to be ashamed of. Beauty is not defined only by the lightness of ones skin, but by other factors both physical and within. Living in a country like Jamaica and being a photographer, I have come across many beautiful women who have lovely, rich, dark, clean, beautiful skin. And that is something I definitely admire. Beauty is not just skin deep for me, pun intended, it transcends colour to multiple factors including figure, facial features, how well a woman puts herself together and of course her personality. To me the colour of ones skin is not the definition of beauty, it's merely a variation of beauty, given by the Creator to be admired by all! White is beautiful, brown is beautiful, tan is beautiful and of course BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

To the Peak and Back!

A View from the Wildflower Lodge, obscured by fog

In all my over 20 years of living in the lovely island of Jamaica, I have never been to the peak, yes to the highest point in the island, Blue Mountain Peak. I have always gazed on the majestic mountains from a distance, even went to Hollywell, but never challenged the Mountain and place my feet upon its peak. With my life going by in a breeze I decided that this experience must not be a mere illusion in the short lifespan of this man. So I suggested this trip to the members of my flickr group, who after a diverse mix of resistance and enthusiasm my dream was realized when it was finally accepted and arrangements were made to head to the mountains. This was going to be a real experience of a lifetime!

The Group
I had been hearing warning words and many negative comments about how challenging it is to walk it to the peak which stood 7402 feet above sea level. However, I was never swayed by the horror stories I heard about the treacherous journey the the peak, no, I wanted to experience it for myself! but, did I bite off more than I could chew?

The view from the back of the Land Rover
The journey to the peak was scheduled for Saturday January 29, an over night trip as going to the peak would require more than just a quick one day journey. It was split in three parts: Stage 1 starting at the Scientific Research Counsel (SRC) in Mona where we all met up and departed on our journey to the rural community of Mavis bank. Stage 2 would be a trip up treacherous mountain roads via Land Rovers to our cabin the Wildflower Lodge. The final stage was the real challenge, yes the actual climb by foot to the peak.

The Mavis Bank police station
We departed from SRC at about 1:30pm and made our way up the Gordon Town route to the rural community of Mavis Bank where we made our first stop to await the arrival of our other mode of transportation, the Land Rovers. The wait for the Land Rovers was a bit longer than we expected and even had some of us worried that they would not arrive. Nevertheless, they, despite being a bit late, made it and we transfered our gears and clothes to these tough vehicles. One by one we all climbed into the backs of these well worn vehicles and started on our journey deeper into rural Jamaica.

One of the Land Rovers crossing the river bed
If I said we traveled on roads, then that would be a gross exaggeration, as what we traveled on was definitely not for your regular car or for the faint of heart! We traveled on paths that were covered with craters, narrow enough for only one vehicle, so steep that you would have to lean just to star erect, through hills and valleys and even a river bed! After that journey I have an even deeper respect for Land Rovers, no matter how old and beaten up they look! I was disappointed though that during my journey up the mountain in the Land Rovers my risky photography came to an end when the rain started to fall and forced us to put away our gear for their own safety.

Wildflower Lodge
About and hour later we arrived at Wildflower Lodge, soaked and shaken by our rough ride up to mountain road. This lodge was the epitome of rural living. it was a real rustic lodge with bunk beds made of wood and foam mattresses. It had wooden floors, wooden balconies and the only source of lighting were the genuine "Home Sweet Home" kerosene lamps! Our only source of external entertainment there was a transition radio that was plugged into what appears to be the only socket in the entire building and the the only source of electricity  too! But there was one thing that was strange, yes out of place! What could it be? Well, surprisingly both mobile networks Lime and Digicel had full bars and even more surprising EDGE data connection! So despite the fact that we were buried deep in very rural Jamaica, we still had the full use of our modern technology, our smartphones. We spent the night playing cards, taking a lot of photos and of course eating some real good country cooking and engaging in conversations spanning across diverse topics! Soon it was time to rest up a bit for the challenge that laid ahead.

Our sleeping quarters at Wildflower Lodge
The transmitter radio
It was approximately 1:00am I had to get up out of bed, despite failing at falling asleep, and get ready for the hike... the climb... the challenge of getting to the peak! We all geared up, bags of great and food on our backs, sweaters and hats on, and flashlights in our hands. We headed out into the dark, guided by the only light sources we had, our flashlights and the stars that stood out in the surprisingly crystal clear skies. As I gazed at the unfamiliar site of so many stars, I said to myself this is perfect, I will get photos of when I get to the peak... or would I... would I even make it to the peak?

The only source of lighting at the lodge
With each step I took up the steep mountain side in the dark of the night, the harder it became. We walked until I had to remove my sweater as I began to sweat even in the cold of the mountains. fatigue started to set in and the journey got harder as we got closer to what seem to be an elusive peak, a legend that we were chasing. The difficulty of the journey was now compounded by the fact that I foolishly wore Tims (Timberland Boots) instead of sneakers. With every step I took, my thighs hurt, my calves hurt, my bag got heavier and now my heels began to chafe in the heavy boots that burdened my feet. the silence of the night was disturbed by the footsteps, panting, gowning, complaining and bursts of encouragement from determined hikers, chasing what seemed to be a dream, fantasies of reaching the peak.

We climbed, we stopped for breathers, we fought against fatigue, we bore the agony and pain and we climbed some more in the cold of the mountain night. As we got closer to what now seemed to be a dwindling hope, the mountain offered no assistance as it conjured up thick mist if an effort to deter us. But when that didn't seem to work it got more vengeful and send down rain upon us! By now if we didn't reach so near to the peak we would have given up as we battled steep inclines, darkness, hunger, rough terrain, narrow paths, cold, thick mist and now rain. Finally as the morning dawned upon us and we were on our last breath, it was almost in sight! I pressed through with all my strength, so did my fellow hikers and we did it! We made it to the peak! Soaked, cold and in pain, but we did it we made it to the peak!

The excitement of making it to the peak was short lived as the extended pause in movement made us aware of the cold temperature at the peak, cold which was compounded by the wet clothes that cling to our bodies. I wasted no time in heading down back though, the cold was too much and the mist was too thick and the rain too much for me to even take out my camera for a few victory photos. If I thought the journey going up was rough then I was in for even more hard times. Going down the hill didn't require as much energy, but it certainly came with pangs of distress as I was rocked with pain! My thighs, legs, calves, knees, heels, toes, shoulders, back and even head hurt! Each step I took was like a stab, like a knife piercing every inch of my of my body, but then hunger and thirst started to set in, in full force. The journey down seemed endless, riddled with pain, cold, exhaustion, hunger and yet the rain continued all the way down... and so did my bitter cursing.

Food provided by Wildflower Lodge
I finally made it down to Wildflower lodge after being rescues a few miles away by one  of the Land Rovers It was such a relief to finally be off my feet, get out of the wet cold clothes and to finally get some food! I swore that even if I was getting a million dollars I would never venture up to the peak ever again! But now that the pain is gone, I would do it again... but with comfortable footwear, no camera gear and at least one month training before I tackle the peak again. One item on my bucket list down, I made it to Blue Mountain Peak!!!... And back...

For more photos please visit: JWI/LOP Flickr Trip to Blue Mountain 29-30 January 2011 and My Flickr Page.