Smiling Goodbyes

We had such a wonderful visit to Jamaica in January that none of us thinks it will be our last.

Sunday began with another wonderful breakfast at Natania’s, including a traditional Jamaican comfort food, Cornmeal Porridge prepared lovingly by “Auntie Vern” and her great staff. They gifted us with small bags of the spices — nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla — that made it so memorably sweet and tasty. (Sprinkle brown sugar on top. Use extra fine Cornmeal and stir often if you try cooking it at home.)

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We gathered for a group photo (graciously taken by Veronica), a wonderful souvenir. Pictured from left: Nicole, Wendy, Lisa, Marsha (kneeling), Mark, Johanna, Wayne (kneeling), Cathy, Angelee, Sam, and Anna. (Or was that Anna’s sister, Maxine?)

After all the hugs, we packed into Red Emma for the drive to MoBay airport. We stopped along the road to visit wood carver artisan Neville Blacks in Maxfield, Westmoreland, and each of us bought souvenirs. Though we had seen many wood carvers’ work throughout the week, Neville’s was my favorite — large and small pieces, unique designs, great colors. Make sure you visit his roadside shop.

Sam delivered us to the airport at the perfect time, waved his goodbyes, and left us for duty-free shopping before we boarded our Southwest flight for home. Sam’s sister sent us home with ackee, sorrel, and cashews (which slowed a few of us through customs at BWI), but in all the journey home was smooth.

Sorry for posting this so late, nearly a month since we returned from Jamaica. But we are still basking in the glow. Tonight we are gathering at Johanna’s home for a Jamaican dinner and reminiscing.
Find us at Baltimore Clayworks for more info — we love talking about the trip. We may do it again … who knows? Email Marsha if you’d want to join in.

Beautiful Natania’s Guesthouse

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We loved our stay at Natania’s Guesthouse (www.nataniasguesthouse.com) on the South Coast of Jamaica. The site is breathtaking, the staff all warm and welcoming, the food superb. We enjoyed relaxing by the beach and pool, gathering for breakfast and dinner on the main porch, playing dominoes and ping pong on the poolhouse deck, and lounging wherever we wanted to — balconies, gardens, patios galore.

 

Lovers’ Leap & Jake’s Treasure Beach

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Saturday was the last full day of our visit to Jamaica, and we headed east along the South Coast, first to the national landmark called Lovers’ Leap, then to Treasure Beach, a really great little resort town.

At Lovers’ Leap a guide toured us around the beautifully-landscaped site, told us the legendary tragic tale of slavery and love, as well as the histories of the working lighthouse (reminded me of Harbour Town, Hilton Head) and the famed statue. Best of all was the view.


Then we visited Jake’s in Treasure Beach, which hosts an annual triathlon organized by my friend Jim Curl. Said Dougie at the pool bar and Saudia at reception, “Any friend of Jim’s is a friend of ours.” We loved having lunch overlooking the pool and beach, and discovering pots and planters by Sam and Isaiah. Got to go back someday. Maybe Jim wants a race hand?

We stopped in Brumpton to visit Sam’s family, then returned for some beach, pool, and sunset time at Natania’s. More photos to come.

Sunset in Negril

Everyone knows that this is something you must do in Jamaica — see the sun setting over the island’s westernmost waters near Negril. On Friday afternoon we enjoyed a visit to Alfred’s on the beach, but a rain shower interrupted our plans to dine at the famed Rick’s Cafe. So we strolled along the beach in Negril and watched the amazing sunset.

Later we returned to Natania’s with groceries and snacked on “bun and cheese” (a sweet fruit bread with an unremarkable “cheese” — none of us Yanks found it tasty), and played dominoes by the pool.

See our Negril sunset video here.

 

Videos at Pinto’s

Here are some video clips of demos by David Pinto to the Baltimore Clayworks’ group on our visit to his studio in Good Hope, near Falmouth, Jamaica. See our earlier posts for more photos of his work and info about our visit.

Handbuilt cup — video (5 minutes)

Wheel demo video — 1 of 2 (2 minutes)

Wheel demo video — 2 of 2 (40 seconds)

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Jamaican Breakfast

This morning Natania’s wonderful staff prepared traditional, tasty, and lovely breakfast foods that we enjoyed on the patio overlooking the garden and beach. Ackee, breadfruit, nesberry, pears (avocados), plantains, banana – which we bought from a stand on the road back from MoBay yesterday – plus bammy, fresh OJ, and water flavored with cucumber. Soooooooo good!
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Pinto Pottery Day

On January 9th we visited David Pinto who toured us through his wondrous studio at Good Hope, not far from Falmouth. You will want to check out more about David at his website: http://jamaicaclay.com David came to Baltimore Clayworks several years ago, and met with Deb and Sam and others when he was envisioning the program and studio he has in Jamaica today


His studio assistant Ian is shown above near sticker that reads, “Fire pots, not guns.”

David demonstrated both hand building and wheel throwing, and generously shared his thoughts about his work. Check out our slideshow (next post) for more photos of his work and studio.

Lounge and Learn

Today we lounged by the beach and the pool, sometimes commenting on news that our Baltimore families were dealing with snow and cold. Sorry.😆  At least we are thinking of you.

But the day’s highlight was our visit to Isaiah aka The Flower Pot Man, the man who brought Sam Wallace into the world of clay.He is a great smiling man, who toured us around his studio aside his wife Artjen, then demo’d his Jamaican Coil “Dance Around The Pot” method.

He showed us how he processed and dried the clay, how he built 6 huge pots at a time, and how he fires his wood kiln. We recognized a few designs and decorations that are familiar in Sam’s own work. The pupil will return to see the mentor next week, and will show him the overlap rim technique.

“With clay you never stop learning,” Isaiah told us. “Every day you get a new idea.”