About

The Petchary is the Jamaican name for the Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicennis) – a summer visitor to the island.  Its name echoes its strident cry.  Sometimes called the Storm Bird, it will sing all night, and chase away John Crows.  “That ceaseless shriek”…These are the cries of the Petchary, who currently resides in Kingston, Jamaica.

For more about me, please look me up on LinkedIn (Emma Lewis) which tells you all you need to know (and probably too much). The basic information is that I am a writer, social media activist (find me on Twitter @Petchary) and NGO supporter/board member. I am London-born, an Oxford graduate with a Jamaican husband and a World-Citizen son.

147 thoughts on “About

  1. Welcome Emma to the world of blogging!!! 🙂
    I must comment on your “image of the day”… In the midst of what may be turmoil or a sense of unease, the picture in my mind symbolizes hope of what can be… That patch of darkness to the north is somehow hidden by possibilities coloured with shades of blue and shades of white.
    The galaxy? The earth? The ocean? Simply possibilities:-)
    LL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Rob! I am also enjoying your blog and my husband and I were awestruck by your photography. Please continue reading and leaving comments…I will be writing about the Gulf of Mexico nightmare again tomorrow, I think! Let’s keep in touch! Emma (the Petchary)

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  2. There is a picture of Ding Zilin on your website that I am interested in. Can you please tell me who took the photograph. Who should I contact to léearn more about the photograph ?

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    1. Hi, I was doing some research on Chinese dissidents and found this photo on a “Boston Globe” website remembering Tiananmen Square 20 years later. The caption to the photo is: “Ding Zilin, mother of 17-year-old pro-democracy demonstrator Jiang Jielian who was killed during the 1989 army crackdown on Tiananmen protesters, weeps as she talks about the event in her Beijing flat during an interview on April 7, 2009. Twenty years on, Ding’s pain is still as raw as it was when her son was shot through the heart in the army crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters in China, an event that she says broke her.” (PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images) However, I found it on a different website and did not know there was copyright on it… It’s PETER PARKS OF AFP (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE). I hope this helps.

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  3. Hi Petchary,
    I live in New Zealand and i am doing an essay at the moment on use of colours in geographic information systems .. just a little about my essay .. now, the colours that we use on maps are mostly influenced by the western culture symbolising their values and how and why they associate certain colours with information displayed on the maps (brown for land, green for vegetation, blue for sea, red for warm, blue for cool etc) .. i want to show from my essay that when we are working with different cultures of people and doing research on their aspects of life and values then we should use colours that are significant to these cultures and not our western dominant colours .. i am not trying to undermine the western culture here but trying to priviledge the cultures that have sound values and systems like the western culture .. just because the foundations of Geog info systems is western .. it does not mean that we cannot incorporate other cultural values systems into gis .. i am focussing on the indigenous cultures because there is a lot of research being done on them and most so called experts or researchers like me are outsiders (not from that group) .. just the thought of the topic is challenging .. but i want to do this …
    would you have some information on this ? would u be able to help me out with anything on this?
    let me know …
    thanks in advance
    seema

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    1. Hi Seema: Thanks for getting in touch from the other side of the world, and for subscribing to my blog. It always gives me a thrill to get a new subscriber! Wow, that’s quite a topic, I am still tossing it around in my head. I wonder if other colors are used here in Jamaica – but we are very aware of color – we paint our offices and houses green, purple, bright orange! I know very little about GIS systems but I do know a firm called Mona Geoinformatics Institute, based on our University of the West Indies campus, who work with GIS all day long… You can find them at http://www.monagis.com/. In fact, we have our own GIS company, JamNav. You can find out more at their website and the head is Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee. I am sure they would be able to help! Good luck with your research, and I hope this will be of some assistance. Meanwhile do continue reading my blog and making comments if you wish – I love comments! Thanks, Emma

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    2. Hi Seema from ecomantra echos,

      Perhaps you could look into the area of comparative cartography, comparative language and cultural studies, traditional ecological knowledge, and also anthropological, neuro-scientific, biocultural investigations into the cultural coding and classification of colours, patterns and eco-geographical elements.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind! Not sure I deserve it but… I accepted and blogged myself as you have probably seen. I was so happy to nominate some more great blogs too, including several Jamaican ones that deserve recognition!

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    1. Yes, I have just realized it’s awards season. Thank you so much for nominating me! I really appreciate it so much. I will definitely check out the link, and act accordingly… Warmest wishes, P.

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    1. Thanks so much! I really appreciate your support SO much!! And you keep blogging away too.. I love your open, honest commentary. When are you going to do some more walks round Kingston?

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  4. WELL DONE! Emma, and I thought I was your only viewer from Sweden, but clearly the data shows (2012 WordPress Report – 778 views) that there are others here. Even I don’t look twice a day every day! Come on Ja-Sweden lovers reveal yourselves to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha!! Thank you so much, John! No, isn’t it amazing. I was stunned to see that I have had views from such far-flung places as the Congo, even! No, all those Swedish views can’t be just you, devoted reader though you are!! 😉 Hopefully they will emerge from the shadows and identify themselves! Warmest wishes to you and your family for 2013!

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  5. Hello Petchary !! Thank you for your visit on my blog 🙂 I wish you the best for this new year !

    You like the “lait concentré sucré” lol me too…. I think you should like a special chocolate we are cooking in Martinique, “chocolat de première communion”, it’s a wonderfull chocolate for special occasion (like wedding) 🙂

    http://recettesdantan.over-blog.com/article-chocolat-premiere-communion-46816940.html

    La Tchipie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! And all the best to you… Do you live in Martinique? I have always wanted to visit the French Caribbean. My French is not very good (it used to be better). I am going to look at the recipe. It sounds wonderful!

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  6. Stumbled on to your blog while looking for some information on Mustard Seed Communities in Kingston. Our university is bringing some students down to help out there in March after our school pulled the plug on our trip to El Salvador because of increased risk of violence. Our students are looking for information on what the needs are in Jamacia. Anyplace you can suggest I go?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If you want to know what the needs are here, I would suggest you contact Father Gregory Ramkissoon directly at Mustard Seed. They are a very worthy organization who do fantastic work but probably have their specific needs. You should also get advice on bringing in goods though, as there are a lot of issues regarding the red tape. Mustard Seed would be able to provide or you could bring things in via Food for the Poor, who are Miami-based, for example. Good luck and enjoy your trip to Jamaica!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am the coordinator for the Delta Upsilon trips and would love to talk to you more about what we are doing in your country. I am in Jamaica right now with another group of men and we are working more on our project at Gordon’s Early Childhood by Sav la Mar. Thanks for the mention in the blog. Very cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Kaye! Lovely to hear from you. I would love to talk to you. Don’t want to post my number online but you can reach me at petchary@gmail.com. You’re so welcome! I was browsing and that lovely photo caught my eye. I think in the blog said they were doing a kind of rotation. I live in Kingston but would love to write something about the work you are all doing. Look forward to hearing from you!

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  8. Hi,

    Healthline recently partnered with the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation (TRBF) to launch “You’ve Got This” – a video campaign that encourages HIV patients to give hope and advice to the recently diagnosed. For every video created, Healthline will donate $10 to the TRBF towards finding a cure. Initial participants include Jack Mackenroth, Olympian Ji Wallace, Paul Lekakis, Josh Robbins, and Kevin Maloney.

    We would love if you could help us spread the word about the campaign by sharing with your friends, followers and/or posting to your website or blog. For more information, please visit: http://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/youve-got-this and https://www.facebook.com/TheNewFaceofHIV

    Thank you in advance for your support and please let me know if you have any questions.

    Warm Regards,

    Tracy

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love your blog. It is everything I would hope my blog could be, if I were ever to start one. Your listing of the Jamaicans killed every week really resonates with me. I once had the idea of starting a “Right to Life” website, which would track all Jamaicans killed, in whatever circumstances. It would have photos and some details to highlight their humanity, and follow up on the aftermath – investigations, and (where appropriate) arrests, prosecution, conviction & sentencing. After all, our govt has obligations to protect the right to life by both “negatively” and “positively” – not only should it *refrain* from killing us illegally, but it also should properly investigate and prosecute murders. It is failing on both counts. BTW, I saw in one post you called “YOU” “Youth Opportunities Limited”. In fact, it is “Youth Opportunities UNlimited”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Narda, thank you so very much. I am not quite sure why I started keeping this record. I suppose it dawned on me that Jamaican men, women and children were losing their lives in this way – a continuous flow almost, just in the background. Without anyone taking much notice, unless it is something that the media choose to dwell on because it is “uptown,” or a well-known person, or there is something sensational about it. I think the idea of a “Right to Life” website is brilliant… I try to find photos but there are very few in the local media. They are just names and numbers. Yes, I believe the primary responsibility of any government is to protect our lives and keep us safe. The lack of proper investigation and prosecution of murders is of course one of the factors in our high murder rate. OH! Thanks for the correction! No one else spotted my error about YOU. (Brain has not been functioning too well, due to the flu!) Thanks again for your kind comments…

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  10. Looking at your picture of Cross Roads, I’ll note that I’m one person who’s often taking pictures of life going on in Kingston, and anywhere, as I see it. Haven’t figured out how to share those other than to keep posting on FB. Just getting into Flickr, so that may be better.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m just getting to Flickr and saw your page. I like its easy feel. You can link tp Fb but it’s all or nothing it seems. Try me as Jamenglish

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  11. Hey Petchary, really great blog! I was looking for some Jamaican bloggers, to hear more about the place I lived and my daughter’s birth place. Nice nice! Any other Jamaican, or Caribbean bloggers, please contact me too!

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    1. There are several other Jamaican/Caribbean bloggers, although NOT ALL publish very regularly. Some of them are regular commenters on my blog, actually! It depends what you are interested in, but I follow: dancehallgeographies.wordpress.com ; tomlininjamaica.wordpress.com ; cucumberjuice.wordpress.com ; marogkingdom.blogspot.com ; redforgender.wordpress.com ; groundationgrenada.com ; jamaicajournal.wordpress.com (which is updated DAILY!) ; jamaicapoliticaleconomy.wordpress.com (also updated regularly) ; kentgammon.wordpress.com ; mooretalkja.wordpress.com ; nationalgalleryofjamaica.wordpress.com ; newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com ; repeatingislands.com (regular posts) ; wordsfrompetre.webs.com ; thinkjamaica.wordpress.com ; keimiller.wordpress.com ; yjbeat.wordpress.com. You might also like http://www.susumba.com which is a great arts website. Hope this helps!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Tricia! I am glad you enjoy it. I do quite a bit of research and try to keep it current and accurate… I appreciate your encouragement very much!

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  12. Hello there, thank-you for stopping by my blog. Hope you will visit again. Lovely that you hail from Jamaica, great place! Hope you’re well… 🙂

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    1. Thanks for visiting my blog, too! Yes, I am not Jamaican but my husband is. We have lived here for 26 years and our son grew up here. 🙂 I will definitely visit again. Thank you for your comment. I’m well… apart from the fact that we desperately need rain. Terrible drought here!

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  13. Hi Mrs. Lewis, you have a really great blog. I’m working on a project about Logistics Hubs and your articles on the Goat Islands were quite extensive and pleasant to read. I was wondering if there was anyway to get in direct contact with you? It would be in relation to a science journal my business is working on. My email is: r-g-veda@hotmail.com. If this is too personal, you can delete this comment but I’d really like to get in contact with you to talk further.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Rochelle: Thank you so much for your kind comments. It’s nice to hear from you. I will drop you an email so that you can tell me more about your project. All the best and please keep reading… Emma

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  14. Your comments on the principal training are unfortunate seeing that they feature so many inaccuracies. Perhaps you should contact the Ministry of Education for the actual facts.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Dwayne… My commentary is always around 90% based on media reports, and in this case this is where all my information came from, inaccuracies and all. Perhaps you could enlighten me on the “actual facts”? Thanks very much and Happy New Year to you!

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    1. Oh, that’s a lovely idea! I hope I can persuade you to stay for longer than one month but I am grateful for your visit! I will certainly visit you in return. Have a great year of blogging too! 🙂

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      1. I’m not going to leave you after this month ends, silly goose 🙂 this means I will be following indefinitely, unless you stop posting things or I do a giant reader-purge.

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  15. Hi Emma – This is Caroline from Kathmandu, soon to be Jamaican resident…. I checked your profile on Linkedin and discovered that we had something significant in common. Can I write to you via email? Can you share your email address or way to contact you offline? Thanks.

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    1. Hi Caroline! (That’s my middle name…) 🙂 I don’t really want to share my email address in this medium but could you send me a message via LinkedIn – they have an email service? I follow your blog and really loved your video of Kathmandu’s crazy traffic! (Kingston is perhaps slightly better!) Let me know if that way of communicating would work. Or you could send me a message on Facebook perhaps (Emma Caroline Lewis)? Look forward to hearing from you. Emma

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  16. From a fellow Jamaican to another; I love the bit about the bird 🙂 My first book is all about Jamaica and my 18 crazy years there, until I moved to another crazy place, London, UK. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, and thanks for visiting! I would love to read your book and wonder where I can find it… It’s been 27 crazy years here so far for us – and we came from that crazy old city, London UK, my birthplace! 🙂 Please do continue visiting these pages… Best wishes, Emma

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      1. You’re welcome 🙂 I’m working on leaving London, as this toxic place is terrible for my health. My books are available online, but the third one hasn’t come out yet. The first one about my life in Jamaica is called ‘A Chronicle of Karma,’ which has been out for almost a year now. You may just google it and it will show up. Thank you and wishing you well 🙂

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      2. Yes, I looked up the air quality in the part of London where our son lives and it was awful! Will you be moving to the country? I will definitely look up your book – a fascinating title! All the best and keep in touch!

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  17. Hi Emma.
    Thank you for another of your outstanding blog entries. You have brought attention to some very important issues.
    I would like to comment on the recent fatal accident involving the 2 UWI students. In addition to the loss of life by murders in Jamaica, it appears that there is also a very high death rate from car accidents, and most of them are the result of speeding and failure of motorists to obey the speed limits.
    In Suriname, they use the “Drempel”, or as we know them, the “Sleeping Policeman” to control speeds on highway and country roads. They are engineered and designed to force people to observe the speed limits, whether it is 50 or 60 mph on a highway, or 15 mph in a small town or village. The advantage is that they don’t require constant police supervision and they work 24/7 at no cost. The only cost would be to a driver who exceeds the recommended speed while crossing one of these bumps and damages their vehicle.
    I think this would be a significant contribution to Jamaican road safety and should be considered. Definitely a low-cost, low-maintenance and effective speed control technique, that is worth the small investment in saving lives.

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    1. Dear Errol: You know, this is such a simple way to slow people down, isn’t it and as you say requires no monitoring or maintenance! I have often wondered why we have so few “sleeping policemen,” – only in parking lots and a few urban residential areas. Yet there are some stretches of main roads all across the island that are notorious “hot spots” for crashes. Perhaps these could be put strategically along highways (with warning signs) and definitely in built up areas. I will ask my friends at the National Road Safety Council about this! thank you for your kind comments, Errol and keep reading! Emma

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  18. Emma, Errol, ‘traffic calming’ is nigh on impossible and not necessarily desirable where high and fast traffic flows are the norm or the design feature. So, you’ll see them in residential areas, where traffic use has changed and residential safety is better preserved by getting vehicles to move more slowly. Hence, on highways, for example, ‘sleeping policemen’ won’t be a desired option because they go against the basic nature of that type of road. In places like Jamaica, you get unintended conflicts between, say, people and vehicles, because old habits die hard (highway runs between communities, and people still try to cross that new road as if it did not exist, or with little notion of dangers posed to themselves and other users).

    ‘Hotspots’ for accidents don’t lend themselves to one one solution. For instance, most of our notorious stretches are problems because of driver errors and most of our fatalities come from unprotected passengers/driver/riders and careless pedestrians. Education is vital, but slow. One piece of research that’s essential is into why the evidence on safety measures hasn’t convinced road users to follow them.

    If someone were to do a time lapse videos of a few accident hotspots they’d be quite telling about how the various actors contribute.

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    1. Well, I wonder how it works in Suriname then, because my reader says they do use sleeping policemen on highways! I don’t agree with you on “driver errors.” Most of our problems come from speeding, and that is why we need things to slow drivers down!

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      1. By their nature, highways/freeways are meant to be fast-flowing and free running. I’d love to see the design used in Suriname: it’s intrinsically dangerous.

        Our speed and accident problems aren’t on highways, primarily. Anyway, love to hear what NRSC say to you.

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      2. It’s worth noting that, while ‘calming’ may be tried with physical barriers in some places, others don’t do this but change the perceived risks of speeding. This is common in the UK and U.S., by using speed cameras that trigger automatically and then send out heavy fines automatically with images of moment of infraction. People know the problem areas, which may be many and sequenced, and drive more slowly and with greater care. Those who don’t, usually pay the fines and bleat, or accumulate points that affect insurance, driving licenses or both. The UK even got cute by having dummy cameras on motorways, which got the desired results 😊

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  19. The ‘sleeping policemen’ are designed to accommodate different speeds. For example, there are some that you can cross at say, 30 or 50 mph, but if you go any faster the jolt and bump will be severe, and you feel that your vehicle may be damaged if you go any faster. They are engineered to encourage compliance with the specific speed limit, and there are warning signs when you are approaching one, so you slow down. Seems to be quite effective and is definitely worth consideration by the NRSC.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Emma – Trying to connect with you. Very oddly, all our inbox communication on FB has disappeared and our emails have disappeared from my gmail account. I’ve tried a couple of times with new FB messages but haven’t heard back. Sorry if its just because you are busy, but I’m suspicious they may be some kind of glitch. We have now arrived in Kingston with my son who’s a student filmmaker in London, and here’s only here for another ten days. He’s interested in coming back to Jamaica this fall and making a short environmental documentary, so I thought you would be a good person for him to meet. Perhaps you know an activist who could benefit from having their story told? Anyway, I thought I’d try this avenue of communication again. Kind regards, Caroline (from Kathmandu)

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    1. Hello Caroline: How strange that our Facebook connection has gone! I am still on Facebook certainly and check it daily… I just looked around and cannot see any messages from you! I will check my emails in a little while…Oh dear. I confess I am not on FB that much these days (mostly on Twitter @petchary) so may have simply missed your messages but…? Anyway, never mind. I would love to meet your son and have a chat. Yes, I do know some environmentalists – and there are many stories to tell, indeed. Please let’s keep in touch. I am pretty much free and flexible whenever your son would like to meet. All the best and I am so sorry about this… Emma

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  21. I’m glad this worked and no problem. I suspected is was an FB glitch and perhaps “earthquake brain” that lost the emails from you in gmail. (A real phenomenon I fear!) I’ll send you a twitter message with my email address and then we can continue the conversation by email. Look forward to meeting you!

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    1. Oh goodness… “Earthquake brain” must be similar to “hurricane brain” (I recall being completely lost mentally after Hurricane Gilbert many years ago…) Please drop me a direct message on Twitter and we will soon be in touch again! I look forward to meeting you too! Best, Emma

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  22. Hello!

    My name is McKenzie Powell and I am a journalist at Ohio University in the United States. I am currently working on an article regarding the LGBTQ community within Jamaica (I would like to focus largely on the trans* community) and, after seeing some of your work, I would be very interested in hearing your views on the matter!

    If you would be willing to talk and possibly set up an interview, or if you have any contacts that you would recommend for me to reach out to, please email me at kp930011@ohio.com.

    Thank you for your time,

    McKenzie Powell

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    1. Hi, McKenzie: It’s great to hear from you, and I am interested to hear of your research and article. A new support group for the trans community in Jamaica, called TransWave, has just formed and I could put you in touch with them. I will drop you an email. All the best, Emma

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Hi Sir/Mam,

    At the outset, I would like to extend warm greetings to you and take the opportunity to put forward the objective of this communication.

    I am writing on behalf of Oxford University Press (OUP) and this is with reference to one of our upcoming publications, ‘CCSLC Social Studies’, details of which have been shared at the end of this mail.

    In this regard, I would like to state that, the said publication is in need of using the photo (photo attached) from your article ‘Jammin’, Digitally: The Mentor’, published on (https://petchary.wordpress.com/tag/educentres/) website for reference purpose.

    As stated above, please find below the details of the book under discussion:

    Publication details: Oxford University Press ‘’
    Author Names: Alexandra Tomescu
    ISBN Number:
    Content: Educational

    Before we close this mail, I would once again like to request you to grant OUP the access to this photo.

    We look forward your kind permission in this regard. Thanks in advance!

    Thanks and Regards,
    Vikrant Singh
    Photo Researcher
    OKS Group

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    1. Dear Mr. Singh: Thanks for your message. All three photographs in this article were taken by me, but I am not sure which one you are referring to. Will the photograph be published in the book? You can credit it to me (Emma Lewis). Meanwhile, please clarify the photo – thank you! Kind regards, Emma

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  24. Hi Emma. I’ve nominated you for a Bloggers Recognition award, the info is at

    https://myjamaicanvignettes.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/bloggers-recognition-award/

    Completely voluntary, you may have a virtual shelf full of these already. If you choose to recognize the award, here are the rules to the nomination…

    To accept your award you must:
    (1) write a post to show your Award
    (2) Acknowledge the Blogger that nominated you
    (3) Give a brief story about how you get started blogging
    (4) Give two pieces of Advice for new bloggers
    (5) Nominate the deserving 15 bloggers

    Thanks for connecting.
    Happy blogging!
    Chantel

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  25. Hello Emma! My name is Sarah, and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in Content Gap. I ate lunch today across from Neville at Café Blue. We had a lovely conversation and he mentioned that you are a fellow blogger. I thought I would link up and let you know that I share your passion for the environment, writing, and traveling.

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      1. He did tell me you worked at the embassy, and that you know a lot about traveling around Jamaica. I’d love to ask you some questions. My email is s_cash37@yahoo.com. And I wasn’t in Content the day of the tree planting because I was at a Peace Corps conference- but I helped prepare for it. Can’t wait to read your post 🙂

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  26. What a useful resource you’ve created here! I’m looking into a spur-of-the-moment trip for a few days, and your informative posts on the Portland Bight area have helped me get some ideas. (Trying to decide between that area and Cockpit Country for five nights of relative remoteness and wildlife, as I won’t be going to the beach or enjoying the parties.)

    Thanks!

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    1. Thank you… And I would strongly suggest you make contact with people who can really show you that “wild” side of Jamaica (and I don’t mean the parties!) If you need some contacts, just give me a call and I can put you in touch with some nice people, who can guide you. Ingrid Parchment in Portland Bight is lovely, and there are people who do really good small eco-tours of Cockpit Country (although I don’t know about places to stay but there are one or two on the outskirts, so to speak).

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