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CrazyFruits » African/Caribbean/UK/GeneralDiscussions » Exploring Maryland, St Andrew Jamaica A piece of history

Exploring Maryland, St Andrew Jamaica A piece of history

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Joan Williams, Contributor
When you mention Maryland, many people immediately think of the state in the United States by that name, but our Maryland is far more exotic. It has become a regular haunt of my riding group Fun and Thrills, although the steep hills can sometimes prove to be very challenging for some of us.
Our Maryland lies to the north of Kingston just below the cusp of the Blue and John Crow Mountain range. In the cold months, you are quickly reminded that you are indeed in the mountains, as the cool, crisp breeze and mist in the green, lush hills send a chilling reminder.
To get there, you go through Papine, head over the Hope River bridge then veer west at the Cooperage intersection. The road to get there is steep, narrow, full of potholes and winding, but 'flying' down the hill on the return journey is a thrill, nevertheless.
What I find particularly interesting about Maryland is that because it is relatively near to Kingston, you can find a combination of rural and urban culture there.
Before you get into Maryland itself, you also pass though bottom Maryland where they seem to have retained the vibrant African religious culture, as one Sunday, while riding though the area, we had to come to an abrupt stop as Pocomania or Revivalist adherents in their white dresses with brightly coloured headwraps were making a joyful noise and dancing in the middle of the road.
Marching with cross
On another occasion, as we were riding up to Maryland and had reached just above the Hope River Bridge, we encountered another group marching with a huge cross, and when we prevailed on them, they gathered us around and said prayers, asking God to protect us as we enjoyed our Sunday ride. I cannot recall ever riding through the area on a Sunday without hearing the pleasant and resounding peels of religious music coming from homes and churches, some precariously constructed on the surrounding hillsides.
Although I am not much of a sportsperson, I have always got the impression, too, that Maryland has a top football team, for hardly have I ever been there on a Sunday and not seen a vigorous match in progress.
Once you cross the large, old rusting iron bridge which again spans the Hope River further up, you know you are in the village of Maryland as you are met with a huge sign welcoming you to the district. There are attractive murals on the walls that tell you immediately who their heroes are, among whom are Barack Obama and Michael Jackson.
Our special meeting place is the community centre, which is also a library and games area, and also where we have a great Jamaican breakfast prepared for us on order. For this is where you find Coy, the most renowned chef in the area, who cooks up a storm on weekends and holidays when dances and other sessions are held. His salt fish fritters and gungo mash mash quickly became a favourite of mine, until I decided that it was not doing my weight any good!
Then it's off to the river to cool off.
This is the same Hope River which runs beside the community centre, but a few chains to the north there is an excellent swimming area with mini waterfalls, and this is where some of the younger residents packed bags of sand to make a safe swimming pool, especially for the kids, during the summer vacations. I was told that when the summer vacation comes around, young men take it upon themselves to act as lifeguards, to ensure that the young ones can enjoy themselves safely.
Maryland is a nice, picturesque, lush, friendly community and a wonderful place which us 'city slickers' can quickly dash off to in order to enjoy a taste of rural life as we revel in the great Jamaican outdoors.
Joan Williams, co-host of JUSTICE on POWER 106, describes herself as an unapologetic addict to the Jamaican outdoors. She explores the island at any given opportunity cycling, hiking, or swimming with Fun And Thrills Adventure Club or anyone else who will have her. In 1995, she launched the popular publication TourJamaica. This is readily available at local bookshops but in 2013 it was upgraded to an e-book now available at: http://www.amazon.com/Tour-Jamaica-Joan-Williams-ebook/dp/B00EJWCSHS/ref.Email her at gratestj@gmail.com.

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