More Flora and Fauna of Jamaica, as encountered by Wilhelmina, during November, 2012
Forward by Anne
Recently some friends of ours, Maria and Bobs went for a month’s holiday in Jamaica. Bobs was born there and lived there until he was nine years old, after which age he came to England to live. I asked them to take one of the Teds with them so that I could write her holiday story when they came back home. Wilhelmina, who had once lived with Maria and Bobs and so knew them well, went along and had a marvellous time.
This chapter from her holiday tale tells of some of the plants and animals which Wilhelmina met on her travels and how she found them familiar, but different too.
The giant Banyan tree.
Wilhelmina still has doubts about her meeting with Ross, the grey parrot. The first time that she stood on his perch, hebacked away from her until he could move no further, keeping his little eyes on her all the time!
Ross lives with Dorienne, Bobs’ cousin. Dorienne grows organic coffee on the Blue Mountain. She has been building up a trade, selling her Blue Mountain coffee, roasted and packed in her kitchen down the road from her plantation, around the World for over seven years.
Ross has lived with Dorienne and her Family for over forty years. When he was a young parrot something upset him so much that he developed the habit of pulling out his feathers. This cheerful little bird has been the scruffiest parrot in Jamaica for much of his life. No psychiatrist, pill or vet can cure his habit; but he seems happy, will wave to you, talks, and when disturbed, mutters, and goes on pulling out his feathers, maintaining his infamously scruffy looks!
Wilhelmina is a very small Ted, so plants and flowers in most places seem big to her. In Jamaica the plants she came across were gigantic by any temperate climate dweller’s experience! There was the croton that sells in British garden centres in six inch pots, growing outside in wild gardens, and taller than Wilhelmina’s friends, big hibiscus flowers, orchids, bougainvilleas also ginger lilies.
Battered by the recent hurricane, yet still towering to well over ten feet high, were huge grasses, spider plants. Such a small Nation; such enormous plants!
Fruits that dangled from the trees grew large. There were star fruits, like these above, which Wilhelmina enjoyed swinging in: also coconuts, mangoes, paw paws, sour sops, bread fruits, bananas, and green mandarins…..
…these cost one 100 Jamaican dollars…c. 70p !
Oranges are sweeter and juicier than any you buy in the supermarket here in the U.K.; as of course, all freshly picked oranges in their native countries will be. There are uglies, grapefruit and plantains like huge bananas too. Anyone living near enough to Brixton Market is familiar with the looks and tastes of these fruits, but I am assured that they are bigger, fresher and sweeter in Jamaica. J
Wilhelmina was pictured next to, or swinging in, sitting on or hiding amongst many gorgeous tropical flowers growing in Jamaican gardens, or escaped around the countryside. Here are some more of them, including the bottle brush plant, callistemon viminalis, “hot pink”.
There are some indigenous species of animals in Jamaica. Most of the ones Wilhelmina saw were in the old, dilapidated Zoo [awaiting a facelift after the latest hurricane] Wilhelmina met the Jamaican iguana. Here he is again, staring at her through the netting of his enclosure.
Wilhelmina also met the native, yellow boa constrictor, lying along his zoo branch.
Wilhelmina’s friends ate no end of lobsters and red snappers, caught in the seas around the coast, and doubtless fresher than most that many of us eat in Crystal Palace!
For vegetable lovers there are yams and sweet potatoes aplenty, to be bought fresh in little shops and markets around the island too.
Lastly, Wilhelmina learnt a little bit about some of the trees that grow in Jamaica. Apart from the fruit trees with their plums, and star fruits and so many others, there are hard wood trees used in furniture making, prized for their beauty and durability, like the lignum vitae.
Leaves of many of the smaller plants and flowers, are often used in herbal, medicinal remedies and bear names like “the leaf of life”, which sprouts new baby plants from all points around the edge of each leaf! Wilhelmina loved the trees and flowers.
Text by Anne, with help from Wilhelmina and photos from their friends, Maria and Bobs, for which I thank them very much J……29.11.2012