“I grow come see my grandfather and grandmother using ‘Home Sweet Home’ and from there I follow,” says Errol Grant as he shows off two of the lamps.
The 51-year-old farmer and mason, who is popularly called Bob, lives in the hills over Bluefields, Westmoreland in a house built over 120 years ago. It’s one of the few that were left standing after the community of Belvedere was battered by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Today they are a community of six houses says Grant, who is determined to remain in the area to keep it alive.
“I’m comfortable living here. I just love the place and the climate,” he shares proudly as he points to the breathtaking view of the sea from his verandah.
His house is truly rustic. A visit is not for those looking for a resort-like experience. It’s more of a look back at what Jamaica used to be, before electricity and indoor plumbing. Like many houses built years ago in rural areas, its wood-fire-fuelled kitchen and pit latrine are separate facilities from the main dwelling space.
Over the years the structure has piqued the interest of bird-watching tourists on hikes to Belvedere. Their treks often ended with curious peeks at Grant’s home. He eventually opened it up to give them a closer look, the start of what is now the Little Heaven House Tour.
He has rummaged through the stockpile of items passed down from his grandparents, placing them strategically throughout the property, taking visitors back to years gone by when everyday items included a clothing iron heated by coal, a pot for boiling sugar, and a three-legged cauldron. Today these are antiques that capture guests’ imagination as they walk through the house. Many end the tour with a drink at the bar on the ground floor and sometimes give the proud homeowner a tip.
“Giving me tip or not I still appreciate it, ’cause dem mek it look like the community is still alive, suh me feel good about that,” says an excited Grant.
His children worry about him living up in the hills with just the bare necessities, but he says the thought of leaving has never crossed his mind.
“Lot of people say, ‘Bob how you stay up there, why you don’t move?’ But, I not gonna do that,” he says.
He’s adamant that he will remain in the community, ready to show off his home to those who take the time to visit.
TEXT & PHOTOS: Kimberley Peddie