Startups, Visit Jamaica

One/One Cacao: Airbnb promoting downtown Kingston chocolate tour

Airbnb users from across the world are now able to get a real taste of Jamaica, thanks to Nick Davis of gourmet local chocolate company One/One Cacao, one of a handful of Jamaican ‘experiences’ that the online accommodation marketplace is now promoting, globally.

An unlikely Willy Wonka, Nick has been a friend of mine from when were both journalists, and he’s still the BBC’s Caribbean Correspondent. But sitting on my sofa he’s doesn’t have a clue how many tourists Airbnb will be sending his way to “Create custom bars with a chocolatier”. Given that Airbnb has 150 million users, it could be a few.

“Slightly bricking it,” he shrugs.

Showing tourists the real Jamaica

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Visit Jamaica

Paint Jamaica’s new push to brighten up downtown Kingston

paint jamaica kingston

Kingston has a tourist problem. Well, the problem is that the city doesn’t actually have any tourists, thanks to the violence afflicting its inner city communities and a lack of promotion. Yet one of these communities is gradually attracting hundreds of curious visitors based upon the work by a group of artists who got together to help transform the visual environment and brighten the lives of residents.
 
Fleet Street, and particularly its large abandoned warehouse, is where Paint Jamaica’s has concentrated since launching in 2014. Holy Family Primary School must be the best-painted building in the country, while the Life Yard vegetarian restaurant is also on the street.

Now the collective, led by self-described French traveler Marianna Farag, is rolling out a new push to continue beautifying the community, a few pots of paint at a time (thanks Berger Paints). Monthly a new mural will be released and all of us can jump in a car, drive downtown and take a look. Marianna:
 
We’re going to stick to Fleet Street because that is the heart & soul of the project and where the community has so gratefully opened their walls to us. We started something magical on that street and we want to start working outwards from it and be real creative with the space. For the first month of May we are working with an incredible set of artists: the one & only Taj Francis and the phenomenal Mark Samuels and Samantha Hay who will work on a collaboration together. Continue reading

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Visit Jamaica

‘Artists of Jamaica’…lots & lots of them

artists of jamaica patasha alek mclean

Patasha ‘Alek’ McLean at work, one of the artists featured on artistsofjamaica.com.

Someone said to me the other day that there isn’t much of an art scene in Jamaica, which sounds crazy; or is it just that the work is hard to find? Either way, Artists of Jamaica by Paint Jamaica’s Marianna Farag invites artists, like the above, to submit their work to be displayed within a growing online directory so hopefully, y’know, people don’t think PNP or JLP sprayed on walls is the only thing on offer.

View the work or submit your own: artistsofjamaica.com

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Food & Travel, Visit Jamaica

One/One Cacao and how Jamaican chocolate can be the world’s best

One/One Cacao chocolate bar

One/One Cacao chocolate bar (Photos: One/One Cacao)

Being a chocolate maker who can’t eat your average chocolate sounds pretty strange. Except, that describes my friend One/One Cacao’s Nick Davis – maker of some of the strongest, most beautiful chocolate you’ll ever experience.

And all because one day after a mystery illness a doctor told Nick that he couldn’t eat food with preservatives anymore, which meant amongst other things, he was off his favourite Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Which later led him to think … ‘why not make my own?’ with the result being honestly the best I’ve ever eaten.

However, the sadder back story is not Nick’s sweet tooth being pulled out his head; but rather that while Jamaica grows some of the world’s finest cacao, the domestic industry is relatively stagnant, leaving international chocolatiers to pick off the island’s finest raw ingredients to make their finished product taste better. Continue reading

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Culture, Visit Jamaica

Eyedealist’s death-to-life view of Kingston Streets

matthew mccarthy paint jamaica fleet street

The artist with one of his works on Fleet Street, downtown Kingston. Photo: Ross Sheil

Situated inside Parade Gardens, this empty warehouse has been a place of killing and rapes; and colourful as it is today, police must still hold a peacekeeping presence on a nearby corner. It’s spaces like it that Matthew McCarthy AKA Eyedealist is fascinated with transforming and seeing the impact. An abandoned lot in Cross Roads home to his biggest mural is now under development, on its way to becoming a shopping plaza. Not that he’s taking credit, just a smile at the thought of how his working might have changed how people view their surroundings and possibilities in life. Continue reading

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