Letter of the Day | Does Hope Gardens still belong to Jamaicans?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Allow me to comment on Shawna Kay Williams' Letter of the Day in The Gleaner titled 'Highway robbery at Hellshire' (May 26, 2016). She was lamenting the cost of fish there. She has spared me much embarrassment as I had been saving for months to make a similar trip on Saturday. But I had planned to eat twice what she ate and have slightly less than half of the money she took.
This seems to be a growing problem in this country. Last year, I went to the Hope Zoo. I saw a former employee of mine and his wife sitting in the car park looking into space. It turns out that they had made a promise to their four children several months earlier that they would be treated to a visit to the zoo, followed by a meal at a popular fast food place further down Hope Road.
When they heard the price for entry to the zoo, they did a quick reckoning of their resources and decided to send the children in alone, while they figured out the nicest way to sell the idea that they go, instead, to another eatery in the Cross Roads area where the fare was just as 'Tastee'.
Hope Gardens was part of a larger estate owned by one Richard Hope. He was a commander in the British army and was rewarded for helping the British take control of Jamaica from the Spanish with a gift of land from Newcastle in the Blue Mountains all the way to the sea in the Rae Town area.
In 1881, the Jamaican Government bought 200 acres of this land, and Hope Gardens is a part of that acquisition. In 1953, a young Queen Elizabeth visited and gave her 'permission' for the name to be changed to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Now, government money is really our money. So Hope Gardens really belongs to the people of Jamaica - royal or otherwise.
What exists at the zoo today is a significant improvement on what was there before. A lot of what is there, however, is either in my backyard or at my favourite pet shop. There is no rhinoceros, no hippo, no cheetah, no elephant, and I could go on. Last month, I went to Hope Gardens and I was told I could not turn left. Last year, I was told I could not turn right. Does the property still belong to us? Or is there some new arrangement the authorities forgot to tell us about?
Shawna Kay Williams said, "We cannot market products and services at prices far above the earnings of the ordinary man or tenfold the charge we incur in obtaining or providing the commodity." Word is, there is no longer anything healthy, or legal, to do at Hellshire while the fish is being prepared.
I can empathise with Shawna Kay.