What Frances Mayes did for Tuscany, Don Noel has done for Jamaica.
In 1966, he and his wife discovered, on the island’s South Coast, an unspoiled, out-of-the-way village where most residents make their living fishing on the Pedro Bank 50 miles off shore – “far sea,” as the fishermen call it.
They built a beachfront house, embellishing it over the years with a tennis court, a swimming pool and other improvements - and fending off roaming goats to establish lush plantings of tropical flowers and trees. They got to know their neighbors, and found ways to be helpful.
Near a Far Sea is the often-comic story of coping with a Third World bureaucracy and an unsophisticated labor force to make it all happen.
But it’s a story that focuses on the village neighbors – thumbnail character studies that illuminate the life of a Jamaican fishing village. The subtext includes commentaries on British colonialism and attitudes about race, and notes on tropical trees and fruits, flowers, farmers’ markets, birds, the Jamaican fishery, education and more.
It’s a book that will engage you by the colorful folk who populate it.