Archive for December, 2013

Jamaica One Love

The air smelled as green as the mountains all around us. It smelled fresh and alive, like ferns, flowers, coconut, mango, banana, and was that a hint of a familiar herb I smelled? The air felt warm (ok hot), it felt inviting, refreshing, welcoming. The people felt the same as the air, just as warm, inviting, and welcoming with every greeting of ja mon and everything irie. The water was crystal blue and salty and exactly the elixir to winter in the city. It tasted like sweet jackfruit, jerk chicken with hot scotch bonnet peppers, crisp Red Stripe beer, and rum in every fashion imaginable. Everywhere we looked was beautiful, stunning, exciting – majestic mountains, thin winding roads, jungle, ocean, nature, small towns with colorful houses. There was the sound of steel drum bands, laughter, of course reggae, and the loudest crickets I have ever heard. The feeling was entirely of joy and love. Jamaica lived up to everything, One Love.

My sister and I had the most wonderful trip over thanksgiving, her first venture out of the US and we headed to a tropical island that exceeded my every hope and expectation. From the moment we flew into the island with high lush green mountains descending into thin ribbons of coastal road and then the ocean so close, palm trees gently bending in the tropical breeze it felt like a paradise.

We started our trip with 4 days by the ocean on the beach. We swam daily, we zip lined, we hiked up Dunn’s River Falls (my sister was so patient with me, that was a real hike), we kayaked, took a wind surfing lesson (so much harder than it looks and all respect to people who do this), we paddle boarded, we floated and just soaked up the beauty and the fun. We played pool (my sister may have inherited my mother’s pool sharkness), we had dinner at a beach restaurant where the floor was sand and you could hear the waves, we listened to music, my sister even got up and danced on stage, yes I said she DANCED ON STAGE (no I didn’t even initiate or encourage this)! That’s just what tropical places and a whole lot of fun can do to people.

Halfway through our trip we traveled into the “real Jamaica” as our driver and one of the favorite parts of our trip, our Rasta Deepak Chopra Chris told us. We drove through Fern Gully, up over the mountains, away from tourists and into the heart of Jamaica. We traveled through Spanish Town, and then Kingston seeing Trenchtown and the original home of Bob Marley. Our home for the next half of the trip was high in the Blue Hill Mountains above Kingston. Chris was our driver and guide both across the island and then the next day through Kingston and he earned his title because we was the most fantastic Jamaican character and filled with endless Rasta wisdom that he continued to share with us. His heart was as generous and welcoming as the country. We both loved his inspirational quotes and my sister even started to write them down, here are a few of our favorites:

Rasta Deepak Chopra Wisdom from Chris our guide and driver:

• Absorb the power of nature and let the nature rejuvenate you.
• Your strength should follow your wisdom but never overpower it.
• You are an empress, not a princess. You are angels and gifts.

We stayed at the most amazing place in the Blue Hill Mountains, once the home to Chris Blackwell the manager for Bob Marley, this was where Bob Marley came to recover after being shot in 1976. Set amid the most unbelievable nature each room has a balcony with a view. We had a fruit tree just in reach, there was mountains all around that dove and swung down into the city of Kingston far below. We sat every night and watched the sun set, we watched stars, and we watched lightning bugs. We relaxed into the slow island pace. We played checkers each night after dinner. We lived entirely in balance and immersed with nature and I tried really hard not to step on any frogs. We slept under a mosquito net and just watched the world move slowly.

We ventured into Kingston for one other day and visited the home of Bob Marley and the museum that now resides there. We sat under the mango tree in his yard where he used to play and write music and smoke his spliffs. We walked the streets in the day’s heat and humidity. We drove out to Port Royal that Chris said was once called the wickedest Port in the world. We drove up and down steep winding mountains with views of towns and their daily lives.

For me the best part of the trip was being with my sister and seeing her so happy. I watched her start to write her lists as she once did when she was younger on visits to New York. She started writing all of the new things she was trying – sugar cane, star fruit, ackee, jack fruit. To laugh so freely with her; to feel the relaxation one can only feel with family. For me it was the fist time I was with her and could think of my mother every day not sadly but in a way where I felt strangely like we were sharing this experience with her. Everywhere we went we talked about how much our mom would love this view, or that taste, how she would have enjoyed this island as much as we did. In both our hotels we had small balconies with 2 chairs and a table with an ashtray, in both places we could imagine our mother sitting there and smiling the largest warmest smile. I could imagine her not looking down on us but in some alternate universe sitting in a place just as peaceful, just as beautiful, just as warm, and her just as happy. I could imagine her there so easily and somehow I will always think of her rocking in one of the rocking chairs looking out over the mountains, fruit trees in easy reach, watching the view and just sending such love, ONE LOVE ever and always. It’s nice to imagine her in a place that my sister and I were so happy.

One Love Mon,

Ra & Camila

PS – if you are planning a trip to Jamaica and want Rasta Deepak Chopra’s number let me know I would be happy to share it.

PPS- for some great armchair travel and to imagine yourself in this gorgeous place watch the movie Marley, truly amazing!

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12 2013

The Giving List – 2013 Edition

I am just back from the most incredible and wonderful trip with my sister to Jamaica! More photos, stories, and adventures to follow shortly, but first things first and the annual giving list. This year I heard about an incredible idea that I wanted to be sure to share today (Tuesday December 3, 2013) as it is the second #Giving Tuesday. The idea for #Giving Tuesday is that “We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. This year help create #GivingTuesday. A new day for giving back..” quote taken from #GivingTuesday website.

Love,

Ramona

MARTIN DE PORRES HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY:

All-ways closest in my heart. I was raised in the shadow of these soup pots and surrounded by this community my entire life.

“Martin’s, as it is affectionately known, is a free restaurant, serving breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch on Sundays. Our mission is to serve in the spirit of compassion, understanding and love.”

Note: Quote taken from Martin de Porres Website. See link for more information. martindeporres.org

NEW HOPE CAMBODIA :

The light for this incredible place still shines so brightly in my memory and in my conscience every day. One of the most remarkable and inspiring places I have experienced.

Set in Mondul 3, Siem Reap, one of the poorest slum areas in Cambodia. A broken community of army families, karoke/sex workers and displaced men women and children.

New Hope Cambodia’s mission is to restore hope, dignity, and promise to these once proud and prosperous people.”

Note: Quote taken from New Hope Cambodia Website. See link for more information. http://www.newhopecambodia.com/

BUILD A SCHOOL IN BURMA :

Build A School In Burma is continuing to shine in my mind as the work expands and as I hope some day to make it there and participate with this group.

“Build A School in Burma’s mission is to build schools in underserved areas of Burma (Myanmar) to educate children and give them a chance for a better future. Build a School in Burma built [their] first school during 2011 in Nan Ouw village, Shan State and recently completed a second school in partnership with the Karen Women Action Group at Inn Ta Lu village.”

Note: Quote taken from Build A School In Burma Website. See link for more information. http://www.buildaschoolinburma.com

ACUMEN FUND:

I have been volunteering this past year with the local NYC chapter of  ny+acumen. After many of my travels I have struggled with the complications I have seen and have not been able to put them aside once home. I have wanted to do more and have seen how in so many places strict charity work was failing, Acumen Fund is a revolutionary idea that sees local problems being solved by local leaders and philanthropists. I have been introduced to so many other incredible organizations and people and have continued my global conversations through this opportunity and I am excited to continue working with them.

“Acumen: it’s the radical idea of creating hope in a cynical
world. Changing the way the world tackles poverty and
 building a world based on dignity.”

Note: Quote taken from Acumen Fund Website. See link for more information. http://acumen.org

ARS NOVA:

At times we can find no greater source of light than we see reflected to us in Art. Art compels, it transcends, it challenges, and elevates us. For artists there is no greater source of light, inspiration, or support than from Ars Nova. Ars Nova is dedicated to developing creative souls and is giving a home to some of the most extraordinary new generation of artists and their work.

“Ars Nova is committed to developing and producing theater, comedy and music artists in the early stages of their professional career.  Our unique development programs are designed to support outside-the-box thinking and encourage innovative, genre-bending work.  By providing a safe environment where risk-taking and collaboration are paramount, Ars Nova gives voice to a new generation of artists and audiences, pushing the boundaries of live entertainment by nurturing creative ideas into smart, surprising new work.”

Note: Quote taken from Ars Nova Website. See link for more information. arsnovanyc.com

CHIPS :

Taking the idea “think global act local” to heart I have also been volunteering this year in my own backyard and neighborhood working at the soup kitchen CHIPS.

“Founded in1971, CHiPS serves hot, nutritious meals to our guests in a caring and respectful environment. We also house homeless young mothers and their infants.”

Note: Quote taken from CHIPS Website. See link for more information. http://chipsonline.org

KANGU:

One of the organizations I was introduced to this year and the first thing I thought of was my mother and that I will from now on always donate here on mother’s day in her honor.

Kangu Mamas have access to safe birth services from trained professionals in clean, well-lit settings. These services, offered before, during and after delivery, have been proven to save women’s and babies lives.”

Note: Quote taken from Kangu Website. See link for more information. https://www.kangu.org/

 

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12 2013