I recently had the joy of visiting my beloved homeland of Jamaica. I returned home to Saskatoon on November 30th after a short ten-day stay in Jamaica, city-hopping with my sister and our 76-year-old father. My last visit to the area was back in Feb of 2015, so I was eager to get back to my roots ;). We enjoyed each other’s company, the people, culture and food, and flora and

fauna which was to us, at times, familiar, strange, exciting and relaxed.

Our first 5 days were spent in the jungle lushness of Port Antonio at Great Huts Eco Resort. We soaked up the laid-back vibes and watched surfers ride waves into Boston Beach. We visited the world-famous Blue Lagoon and swam in the shimmering waters of Goat Island. We spent the following three days in the beautiful seaport hub of Ocho Rios at Kaz Kreol Beachfront Resort. Here we visited the amazing Blue Hole and Konoko Garden and Falls where I caught my first glimpse of one of Jamaica’s national symbols, the Streamertail, locally known as Doctor Bird, a beautiful hummingbird with shimmering iridescent feathers and long sophisticated tail feathers.

We enjoyed our last two nights in my hometown of Montego Bay. We stayed at the historic Richmond Hill Inn, with its amazing views of Montego Bay and area. I relished being back in this bustling city where I felt right at home making my way through the crowd. We spent our last full day on the 7-mile white sand beaches of Negril. We watched the sunset here. This memory is sweet for me, my sister and I in the Caribbean Sea, posing for pictures in the sunset 😊. Fun aside, Negril is beautiful! It’s located on the western tip of the island, so you can imagine that sunsets are magnificent there. 

This trip was all that I hoped it

 would be and more. I felt reconnected to my family and roots. Empowered by the resilience and tenacity of the Jamaican people. Validated in my “jungle style” approach to gardening, where I am inspired by textures, forms and bold colorful leaves punctuated with by flowers. These vistas reside deep in my heart.

I now understand why when winter sets in, or when I feel down about something or some situation, nature comes to the rescue. Whimsy, lush scenes and the secret gardens of my childhood come calling. I am drawn to be in nature or to be creative with nature. I believe that nature is inherent in all of us and is always there for us. Many distractions prevent most of us from answering the call or recognizing its value. In my workshops, I aim to help folks reconnect with this part of themselves, which in my opinion, is one of the best forms of self-care, especially in the winter months.

The most prized item I brought back from my trip is a dried pod from the Poinciana tree. I was ecstatic that it cleared customs. I brought it home to Saskatoon because not only does it remind me of my homeland, it also reminds me that we are all connected somehow as people or plants. This tropical tree with its giant pea pod is a cousin to our Caragana species here in Saskatchewan. They are both members of the Fabaceae (pea) family just as you and I are members of the human family. I am reminded to look for similarities instead of differences. I believe this brings us closer together as one.

One Love,

Sandra