On our first trip to Jamaica as a family - my first trip altogether - I asked the concierge at our hotel for a recommendation for an excursion outside the resort that our young sons (ages 4&6) would enjoy.
Whereever we travel with our sons, we always try to ensure that their experience is not one of being waited on pool side. I was also struck by the natural beauty of Jamaica itself, as well as the warm friendly nature of its people.
Anyway the concierge recommended Ras Natango's art gallery and gardens high up in the hills overlooking Montego Bay. I was keen as the resort had many of his paintings on display, but there was some reticence from our oldest.
That quickly slipped away during a tour of the garden with Ayale, Ras Natango's son. The gardens sit on steep hill side and are planted with an abundance of local plants. There birds flying about. The walk ended with a lesson by Ras Natango's charming wife Tamika on how to paint using flower petals. How cool is that? Tamika is a former school teacher and with very little coaxing soon had our sons fervently engaged in this art project, the results which they proudly showed off to thier class in New York.
The art project gave me some time to take in the stunning views (sip a cold Red Stripe) and have a chat with the staff and Ras Natango, who is deeply knowledgable about Jamaica. We talked about everything, from the topography of the land, to the economics of the Island.
Ras Natango abandoned a career in accounting to pursue his passion for painting, which quite accidentally turned into a family business in Eco-tourism, as a result of his second passion in gardening. Incidentally, a large part of the modest entrance fee and other revenue goes back into the community around the gallery. How great is that?
If you want a real slice of Jamaica, this family excursion is not to be missed. We'll be back for sure. Oh did I tell you that
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