Rose Hall, Great House, Jamaica
I’ve mentioned here before that I’m a great big ole chicken, so when I heard that we’d be visiting Rose Hall Great House in Jamaica, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I’m not real big on ghosts or haunted houses, so on my previous four visits to the island I’d managed to successfully avoid the place. There was simply no escaping it this time though. Not wanting to be the sissy of the group, I kept my mouth closed and my fingers crossed.
Placed high on a hill overlooking the Caribbean, the grounds of Rose Hall are stunning. The house is also beautiful but its presence marks a dark time in Jamaican history when slaves were treated as less than human and cruel plantation owners ruled with an iron fist, or more specifically bear traps. Keep that little piece of information in mind, because you know there are no bears in Jamaica, right?
Rose Hall was initially built by John Palmer and named for his wife Rosa, in the 1700s. When the couple passed away, it was handed down through the family. It eventually landed in the hands of John Rose Palmer and this is where the story gets creepy.
Annie is in the red dress. Fitting. Also, those eyes follow you everywhere you go in the room. Seriously. Creepy.
Annie had a rough go in life. Her parents moved to Haiti when she was a young girl and then died when she was only 10, orphaning her in a strange land. She was adopted by her Haitian nanny who also happened to be a Voodoo Priestess. Yup. That’s where I started to get all tingly. Annie was educated in all things voodoo and when she was still young (18) her Nanny died. She set her sights on Jamaica and went searching for a rich husband. This is when Annie became Mrs. Palmer.
After only being married a short time, Annie grew tired of her husband and killed him with arsenic. With her first husband gone, Annie ruled the plantation her way. Cruelly. She would catch slaves trying to escape with bear traps and throw them in the dungeon below the house to die. Children were required to carry water to the main house in a heavy wooden bucket and if they spilled one drop they would be beaten. Then, of course, there was the voodoo. Annie loved her voodoo. It was not long before she earned the title of the White Witch of Rose Hall. Interestingly, witch also rhymes with b....... never mind, I’m sure you were already thinking that.
Annie went on to kill two more husbands before she was killed herself by one of her slave lovers, Takoo. Of course, Annie is a tenacious creature and still haunts Rose Hall today. I am currently freaking myself out thinking about stories we heard on our tour. Seriously, I have looked over my shoulder no less than thirty times since the last paragraph. Spooky does not begin to describe this place. Thankfully our tour took us there during the day and not at night, because if it had been at night, there’s a good chance I would have hid in the tour bus. Not. Even. Kidding.
There is a cross on three sides of this casket, one side does not have it so that Annie can roam free. Don't think I wasn't thinking of adding a cross. Sheesh.
If you go to Jamaica, and you’re not a big old scaredy cat, then I highly recommend this. The estate is hauntingly beautiful. If you don’t believe the hype, then go and check out this incredibly restored property from the 1700s. You won’t regret it. Finally, if you’re freaking out a little right now at the thought of visiting this haunted place, take comfort; I made it out of there.
It is said that when people get home and develop their pictures they can see images of Annie in them. Look close, do you see her in the picture I took.....boo! Scared ya, didn't I?
The tagline for Jamaica’s marketing campaign is Once You Know, You Go. Catchy, yes? Also, absolutely, positively true. A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to be part of a family bloggers press tour organized by the Jamaican Tourist Board. It marked my fifth visit to Jamaica. You could say I already know, and that’s why I go....again and again.
Way back in the 1400s, Columbus described Jamaica as “the fairest island the eyes have beheld; mountains and the land seem to touch the sky...all full of valleys and plains.” Columbus may have been a little bit of a fibber on his “discoveries” but the man sure knew how to describe a land. Natural beauty abounds in Jamaica, from crystal blue waters and soft white sand, to lush green mountains and valleys. Flora, fauna and fun. There is no question that this is what calls to me on cold winter days in Canada, but there’s something else that keeps me going back.
If you go to Jamaica more than once, you don’t get the standard “Welcome Back” so many places give you, you get a very sincere “Welcome Home”. The people of Jamaica are so warm, funny and sweet, that when they say that to you, it’s not canned, it’s genuine. For me, that first “Welcome Home” when I hit the island, sets me immediately at ease. My children know to look for it now too.
When talking with Wayne, our tour guide, I told him the people of Jamaica was what drew me back. Apparently, I’m not alone. When the Jamaican Tourist Board hands out surveys to tourists, the people of Jamaica consistently rise to the top. I am not surprised at all by this information. There is a consistency amongst those in the service industry that does not change from resort to resort, cabbie to captain, horse leader to dive instructor. The Jamaican people are happy to see you and spend time with you. They are experts at making you feel welcome.
I have much more to share with you about hotels and things to do with your family when you visit, but I wanted you to know this; there are lots of places with sun and sand, but Jamaica is the real deal when it comes to hospitality.
To my Jamaican friends, I’m working on getting back home. Soon. Come back.
Did you get up and have breakfast this morning? Plan your meals for the week? Stop at the grocery store and mindlessly pick up some food? Fall into a turkey coma? Then consider yourself lucky.
900,000 Canadians regularly rely on Food Banks to get the nutrition they and their families need. Chew on that for a minute.
We're leading up to World Food Day on October 16th and I wanted to share this with all of you so that we don't fall into apathy along with that turkey coma. This is what you need to know:
World Food Day was established to “strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.” Many countries around the globe are dealing with hunger and profound challenges related to access to food. Here in Canada, we know that hundreds of thousands of Canadians struggle to get enough to eat.
Food Banks Canada is encouraging Canadians to make a small action to acknowledge World Food Day on October 16, 2011 in support of those here and around the world who are struggling with hunger and food insecurity. Make a difference by thinking about those in your own community today.
Ways you and your online community can make a difference leading up to October 16th:
Donate: Text HUNGER to 30333 to make a $5 donation to Food Banks Canada via your mobile device.
Facebook: Donate your status to Food Banks Canada with the messaging, “On World Food Day, I’m donating my status to @FoodBanksCanada. Join me and do the same”. www.Facebook.com/foodbankscanada
Twitter: Find out what others are saying around World Food Day and join the conversation to learn more @foodbankscanada
It takes all Canadians to make a difference. Do any or all of the above to help your neighbours."