Meet The Charles Town Maroons! 
An Authentic Jamaican Maroon Experience

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Yes, we did it! This trip to a Jamaican maroon community was overdue! But it finally happened on December 23!

And boy, it was an experience to long for! And certainly, one that we will never forget.

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I'll now attempt to share the experience with you below (from beginning to end), in videos, pictures and words - at least as my memory allows :-) Please enjoy... and share. 

See Also: Jamaican Maroon article

Kudos again to my friends, June and Afrika (mom and daughter) visiting from the US! They prompted the visit and so it was a pleasure taking them with my family over to Charlestown in Portland.

First stop...

Oracabessa! To get in some fuel - some cool Jelly coconut - right on the street side.

roadside jelly coconut
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_coconut_drink
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_aliana_gayle_enjoying_coconutMy daughter Aliana, 'souping in' her jelly coconut

We continued on the journey until we reached Buff Bay, then turned towards the cool community of Charles Town!





You Are Entering Charles Town!

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_welcome

and then the final direction...

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_asafu_yard

When we saw this, we knew we were 'home' :-)

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_asafu_yard_sign

We were immediately greeted by Acting Colonel Kim in the friendly maroon tone. She welcomed us in open arms and took care of the formalities.

Before long, I was busy adoring the 'yard' with all its imagery, medicinal plants, etc. I saw cerasee, leaf of life, ganja, fresh cut, semi contract and a host of other healing herbs.

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_captain_kim
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_asafu_yard_images
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_ganja_plant
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_herb_museum

Right after a chilling expose of the maroon history, captain brought us inside the museum, where we were schooled again.

This time she captured elements of the maroon life, which included an explanation of the derivation and meaning the word 'Maroon', the political structure, the timeline, the treaties, biography of former heroes, maroon names, etc.

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_political_structurePolitical structure of the maroons.
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_maroon_namesExamples of common maroon names in jamaica




Alert! We Have Visitors

But before anything else can transpired, the Abeng was blown!

VIDEO - Click Below To Listen To The Abeng

Why? Good question! I asked too!

It is to alert the rest of the community that there are visitors in the area - and according to captain, this time, we'll be having some 'fun'.





Jamaican Maroon Exhibits

She continued with the exhibits.

This section of the tour was both reflective and in some cases, a reliving of history for me as I was brought back to some of the 'simple' things that made me appreciate my own youth.

The sud iron, the 'gig' (also called 'top') and the calabash are a few examples. Here (below) are some of the pictures.

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_calabash_bagCalabash bags
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_mortar_and_pestleMortar and Pestle
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_boiler_pot
jamaican_gig_aka_topJamaican gig or 'top' (Jamaican boy child game)
jamaican_maroon_charlestown__old_three_foot_potOld 'Three Foot' Pot
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_sud_ironTraditional Jamaican Sud Iron

But these two items were perhaps the most telling for me...

  1. The Abeng 
  2. And the old time Jamaican 10 shilling note!
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_the_abengThe Maroon's Abeng
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_ten_shilling_money_frontJamaica's historic 10 Shilling - Front
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_ten_shilling_money_backJamaica's historic 10 Shilling - Back




And Then... THE MAROON DANCE

The dance started with some instructions from the captain and the instructor - of course, we had to be a part of the dance so God help me now! This is a skill I am still learning!

But the drums started! And everything just came together!

At first, it appears it was just an ordinary formality for visitors, but I noticed two things:

  1. All the children from the community rushed in, except 1 who apparently was not feeling well - but the minute she stepped in the dance, she was transformed, she is in the purplish blow, look for her in the video below

  2. It was quite captivating, at one point, it felt quite different - like we had the spirits there - no joke!
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_drummers
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_drumming_and_dancing




VIDEO - Click Play Below To Watch The Dance



Be sure to watch the continuation of the dance (Part 2) here








LUNCH TIME!

After the dance and a brief Q&A with the captain, we were invited to lunch in the Asafu Yard! This is where the annual conventions, displays and meetings are officially held. 

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_asafu_yard_stageCenter stage at Asafu Yard

The annual conventions, by the way, sees presenters, academics, researchers, associates and visitors all across the globe converging here.

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_annual_convention

Anyway, back to lunch!

We had an all vegetarian meal - Jamaican rice and peas, cooked in coconut milk, with a vegetarian stew of ackee, carrots, tomato, etc.

It was delicious!

Would have certainly had June's if she had told me earlier that she had enough :-)

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_vegetarian_stew_lunch_food
jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_maroon_lunch_in_calabashThis was mine!

Looks good nuh true? Yeah mon! And it tasted great too! 
By the way, did you noticed that the plate is a calabash?

And so was the drink cups too!
A refreshing blend of local Jamaican fruits.

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_lunch_in_asafu_yardYours truly, my wife, my daughter, Afrika and June (in that order) - having lunch in Asafu yard

A point of note for you though, maroons do eat meat, never mind the vegetarian meal today.

In fact, in order to survive, maroons had to hunt. According to the captain, the now 'Jamaican Jerk pork' is attributable in part to the  maroons!





I Want To Go To The River!

That was Ali's (my daughter) sentiments.

To be honest, after a short drizzle and overcast skies, I was going to pass this one, but her motivation was strong enough to convince my wife - and the rest of team go.

That river by the way, just across the property, towards the hill, is the Buff Bay River - very tranquil!

Of course Ali had a ball with Taj our guide. 

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_bull_bay_river_aliana_gayleTaj teaching Ali to swim in the river

Certainly a day well spent!

Thanks again to captain Kim, Taj, the drummers and dancers - including the children and everyone who helped to make our visit a memorable one. It was well worth it!

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_team_photo

For those looking for an experience like this... please feel free to contact the captain using the contact form below. They will be more than happy to accommodate you.

I Should Tell You...

  • Stop by the library and check out the books related to the life, legacy and texts related to maroon life.
  • Ask about the 3 hour Sambo hill mountain hike.
    I seriously plan to do that on my next visit.
  • A trip to the river alone would be well worth it! 
    They have a nice play area that can accommodate group activity ride beside it.
  • We wanted authentic Jamaican castor oil during the trip - and found Rebecca! Thanks to the direction of the maroons, right on the coast of Bull Bay. 

    She also has a line of authentic, homemade Jamaican coconut oil and roots drinks. I have a special feature coming for her, stay tuned!

Contact Information For Charles Town Maroon Tour

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.
 

jamaican_maroon_charlestown_office

Address: Charles Town, Portland (Buff Bay Area)
Phone: 876-365-6524
Opening Hours: Daily 9am - 5pm


Pages Related To Jamaican Maroon

Back To Top of Jamaican Maroon Tour

Return to Jamaican Culture from Jamaican Maroon
Return To My Island Jamaica Home from Jamaican Maroon

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A patriotic Jamaican who adores his culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' - since April 2007.  

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