The inaugural staging of the Love Not Likes Bloggers Excursion unfolded on June 9, 2019 and took us through the Junction hillside and on to the evergreen parish of Portland. The highly anticpated trip was attended by eighteen handpicked local vloggers, bloggers, influencers and photographers, in an effort to bond and collaborate with their fellow creatives, and create content for each other and the sponsors for the trip.
Love Not Likes is the brainchild of content creator, digital marketer and storyteller Kesi Gardner, as a means to develop a relationship between the bloggers and the brands and foster growth and awareness for all involved. Through the Love Not Like community, local and international brands can see the potential of local content creators, bloggers and influencers.
Swag bags were provided for each and every participant on the trip. The bags, branded with token phrases from Jamaica were generously provided by Those Creative People (www.tcptings.com), featuring snacks from National Bakery, rum cream from Worthy Park, large round beach blankets from Love Not Likes, body oil for moisturizing the skin from Herboo Botanicals (IG @herboobotanicals), cool trendy IPanema slippers from SunFactory Ja (IG @sunfactoryjamaica) , a custom branded Maars tumbler with each blogger’s personal handle affixed in their custom colour graciously provided by The Label Snob (IG @thelabelsnob) and a fan, custom designed(by @becreatv) for the trip and printed by Sharmac Graphics (IG @sharmacgraphics). CPJ Ltd and Worthy Park came through in the clutch to provide libations and refreshments for the journey. Digicel Jamaica did the amazing job of keeping the bloggers connected to the world by providing each person a month long data plan!
On the morning of June 9, 2019, we all gathered at the meeting site to board the coaster bus, provided as transportation for our trip, by another sponsor Harmony Tours. Brimming with excitement, with our zeal for adventure in tow, we left Manor Park Plaza and started our journey to Portland. Michael, our bus driver and Blue Lagoon tour coordinator, took us safely to Portland accommodating our various stops on our way to Blue Lagoon, keeping us entertained by music provided by bloggers.
If none of us felt the creative exhilaration flowing from Manor Park, we certainly felt it as we took our first unscheduled stop by Castleton Gardens. Branded Mugs in hand and Ipanema slippers on our feet, we took turns taking pictures in the middle of the somewhat busy road on the outskirts of the gardens, yelling “car!” every time we saw one approaching.
Pictures were taken and content was created and we quickly boarded the bus to keep on our schedule.
As we neared our first scheduled stop, we pulled over to grab some shots with the pristine views of Trident Castle that were sadly closed for the day. Another opportunity grasped by the group of creatives to garner as much content on this excursion.
BLUE LAGOON & Monkey Island
Five minutes after driving away from our quick stop by Trident, we pulled into Blue Lagoon. The aquamarine waters beckoned us to its shores as glints of sunshine danced on the water’s surface. We quickly changed as the boats that were chartered prepared for our boarding and further journey to Monkey Island. (Blue Lagoon, as I recall, has never had a changing room and it was always beneficial to either wear your suits under your clothes or change in the vehicle you came in). We boarded the boats and set out for a short five minute hop over to Monkey Island.
Monkey Island is one of several islands lurking off the coast of Jamaica. This one has a sliver of beach front, so occupancy levels are usually pretty low. The rest of the island is rock and assumed to have only wildlife occupying it.
For two years, Monkey Island had been on my vision board list of places to visit and finally it was coming through! Look at God! We splashed across the open waters to Monkey Island to continue our task of creating content, bonding and having copious amounts of fun. Shades of blue and lush greenery framed the pictures taken for sponsor and blogger alike and also provided a place for us to relax. The water was cool, the sun was bright and everything was sweet. Monkey Island, even though lacking in ample beach front, lived up to my expectations and with the help of my fellow bloggers and friends, Ornella and Ronnia, hosted some of the best photos I will take this summer!
We then headed back to the main land. On our way in, we got a tour of the lagoon and a brief glimpse at Kanopi House, a tropical escape featuring quaint and relaxing tree houses.
With the bus loaded, we headed on to our final stop in Portland, the famed Frenchman’s Cove.
We arrived and promptly headed in to the beach in hopes of accomplishing all that we had planned for the day. According to the property manager, large buses aren’t allowed to park on the inside of the property and cars aren’t allowed up to the beach, so we trekked all the way to the beach and was greeted by a pre planned setup for dining. Because the group was large, orders were submitted prior to the trip to avoid the lengthy wait, but that was an effort in futility. Like almost everywhere in Jamaica, you have to wait till white squall appear before them feel sorry and give you your food. Forty-five minutes later, or meals came out to hot and hungry bodies. Typically, the food was Jamaican such as fried fish and bammy, chicken and fries, jerk and barbecue chicken with rice and peas or festival and steamed and raw vegetables. The food was less than stunning (and I should know) but it did the job and we were on our way to maximize what was left of the available sunlight. Aerial shots using the drone, more product shots and group photos were quickly snapped.
(Extreme left and extreme right images below shot by Darlington Jones Imagery)
The group seemed to have enjoyed the river that flows into the sea and that is also were most of the stunning photos of the venue were taken. To get unto the swing (a Frenchman’s Cove token picture prop) proved a little too difficult for me and with the crab I spotted lurking somewhere in the water, I soon fled to safety, albeit, sans picture. By the way, that swing had been adjusted wayyyyy too high. I usually am able to easily get unto the swings and as far as I know, I haven’t shrunk… cho!
With the setting of the sun, the petered out masses returned to the bus, energies expelled. Once everyone was accounted for and nicely snug in their seats, we journeyed back to Kingston. It was such a fulfilling, inspiring and enriching day being around so many creatives.
Kudos to Kesi for curating and coordinating such an experience. And to all the photographers who put up with our “no, i don’t like how that one looks” or “one more please” or “let me try this side”, a huge “THANK YOU! And to the sponsors who catered to our trip, it was truly a pleasure modelling your products.