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Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 22 October 2021 | 0 Comments

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22 October 2021
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The Caribbean region enjoys a long and illustrious history with the world's favourite secret agent. To celebrate 60 years of 007, we tour landmarks in a variety of locations inextricably linked with James Bond.   

If you have a passion for 007 and a lustforall things Caribbean, you will surely jump at the chance to combine the two. From Puerto Rico to Jamaica and the Bahamas, the Caribbean’s connections to suave sophisticated James Bond are - just like the Bond girls themselves - exotic and enticing. 

Ever since Ursula Andress emerged sensuouslyfrom the surf at Dunn’s River Falls in 1962’s Dr. No, there’s been a love affair between 007 movies and the Caribbean. Even the latest in the 25-film franchise, this year’s epic blockbusterNo Time to Die, is set partly in Jamaica. The pairing of a sleek British agent in a dashing, well cut suit with the palm-trimmed tropics was the brainchild of author Ian Fleming, the former intelligence officer who penned 14 James Bond books. Fleming adored the Caribbean and especially loved to spend time in his Jamaican home with its flora-filled gardens and stunning sea views. This affinity for the landscapes of the Caribbean islands not only enviably made its way into Fleming’s writing but also into film adaptations for over six decades. 


The Bahamas

Although Thunderball was filmed five decades ago, everyone in the Bahamas today can point out key landmarks that made onto the silver screen. But that’s not all. They will also have a cousin who appeared in a particular scene, or a friend who served crab cakes to the production crew, or an aunt who lived next door to house where the production office was located. And of course there are plenty of folk who can proudly recall meeting Sean Connery in person. 

With its glitz, glamour and mesmerising natural backdrop, the release of Thunderball in 1965 showcased the Bahamas to a wide-eyed global audience. Soon it was on the radar of every touristy travel map, changing sleepy Paradise Island, which lies about 500 yards north of Nassau, into a world-class resort destination thanks to millionaire Huntington Hartford, who is mentioned in the film’s end credits. He abolished the former name ‘Hog Island’, and created a dazzling vacation playground reached only by boat. Nowadays it is connected to Nassau by two elegantly arched one-way-bridges and is renowned across the globe for the Atlantis Hotelmega-resort complete with pools, marinas, open-air bars and a variety of incredible restaurants. 

It was in nearby sun-drenched tropical beaches, long before the Atlantis was even a dream,that Bond meets 1965 Domino for the first time. By crystal clear waters washing ashore on the spectacular north coast Bond pretends to have engine trouble on his boat. A picturesque little stone bridge that formerly spanned the mouth of the lagoon and is visible in Thunderball has been swallowed up by Paradise Island but the breakwater that stretches northward into the sea did survive the reconstruction - it is here that Bond emerges from the water after Domino has told him about Largo’s lair. 

Nassau is also the setting for Thunderball’smost famous scene involving a shark infested swimming pool. It is amemorable cinematic scene, with high-ranking Spectre operative, Emilio Largo, the owner of a Golden Grotto sharks at his HQ Palmyra. Largo used the hungry sharks as a method of execution for those who displeased him claiming that they were highly perceptive and knew "when it is time for them to be fed". Thankfully the shark species that the villain describes as "the most dangerous, the most savage" species of them all, are entirely fictional. 

Bond’s escape through the island's Junkanoo carnival, a vibrant annual parade of dancers, musicians, drummers and highly decorated floats that takes place on Boxing Day. James Bond gatecrashes the celebrations in Thunderball when he attempts to lose Fiona and Largo's henchmen, who are in pursuit, in the crowds. Bond is shot in the leg and trails blood, which leads Fiona to the Kiss Kiss Club where Bond is hiding. The tense sequence terminates with one of Bond's best lines in the film series: “Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She's just dead.” 

The origins of the festival lies in the late 16th and early 17th century, when plantation owners in Jamaica and the Bahamas gave their slave-workers three days off at Christmas. Festivities developed, and may have included the wearing of costumes and masks and stilt-walking. The Junkanoo eventually died out in Jamaica after the abolition of slavery, but continued in the Bahamas and is celebrated throughout the island with the streets of Nassau home to the biggest party. Parades, dancing and (goombay) music continue through the night and endsat first light. 

The 1983 unofficial remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery, was also set on the island as was the Fleming short story Quantum of Solace in 2006.When the Bond film crew and actors rolled into town, Daniel Craig claimed one of the finest rooms at the Atlantis, a stunning beachfront suite at the One&Only Ocean Club. In fact, the Atlantis makes several appearances in the film including the iconic moment Craig emerges from the Caribbean Sea in skin tight swim shorts. 

Jamaica

Jamaica is the Caribbean heartland of James Bond movies and capital Kingston enjoys a lengthy association with the franchise. On a quiet road not far from Spanish Town, Kings House is where the Jamaican Government has its home. This is where 007 asked the sergeant not to let his (dead) driver get away in Dr. No- and it’s a truly beautiful building that is open for public, for free, by appointment and a joy to walk around. Nearby, off Waterloo Road you’ll find the Liguanea district, the location of the Liguanea Club. This meeting place for the rich, was named in Fleming’s book ‘The ManWithTheGoldenGun’ and also doubled for the Queens Club in Dr. No. Look out for the spot where Strangways was killed and where the Three Blind Mice took aim at James Bond! 

In front on Kingston Harbour, in Palisadoes, a small strip of land is home to the road where 007 and his fake taxi driver are being chased right after his arrival in the Caribbean, in Dr. No. Outside of Palisadoes, at Norman Manley International Airport, a sign welcomes you to Jamaica. As the principal film location of the first James Bond film, it makes its debut as 007 arrives at Jamaica, phones to check on his taxi driver, and is under surveillance by Felix Leiter as he leaves ‘with the enemy’.

At the end of the Palisadoes’ Main Road you will find Morgan’s Harbour, a hotel and yacht club, used in Dr. No. As one of the most recognisable007 locations in Jamaica, enter the open-air restaurant and bar area to stand in the spot where Bond met Quarrel and ended up in a fight with Pussfeller. The place also featured in the novel ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, where Bond and his former assistant Mary Goodnight enjoy a diner. 

Of course, no visit to Jamaica with 007 in mind is complete without a visit to where the legend started. Ian Fleming started writing in the summer of 1952 at his estate Goldeneye, bashing out his first novel, Casino Royal, to distract himself from his forthcoming nuptials. With a silk cravat around his neck, cigarette holder in one hand and gin-and-bitters in the other, Fleming was the image of a 1960s sophisticate. But as he strolled barefoot on his private beach at GoldenEye, in Oracabessa Bay, he dreamed up one of the most lasting characters in global literature and cinema. His home was the inspiring setting for his pleasure and imagination. 

Fleming had the perfect background for his creation: educated at English public school, European language academies, and a junior reporting job at Reuters news agency. He spent World War II as a Naval Intelligence officer. During WWII, Commander Fleming ran intelligence operations that had him rubbing shoulders with England’s leaders, their American allies — and a roster of their many spies. One operation Commander Fleming oversaw was codenamed GoldenEye. Like many writers, Fleming had a thing about names. Once he found his refuge at Oracabessa (Golden Head), he named his new home GoldenEye — in tribute to that wartime intelligence operation 

GoldenEye was a true labour of love. Without the slightest experience but with the greatest self-confidence, Fleming designed the house himself. As a typically dogmatic Englishman, he decided there would be no windows — just customary Jamaican jalousie blinds to let in the air and sun. And of course, he was right: The breezes at GoldenEye are a delight, all hours of the day, all times of the year.

GoldenEye is now home to an exclusive boutique hotel - named Fleming Villa - which ranks among theCaribbean’s most enchanting retreats and captivates those in search of natural beauty and privacy. Sited on GoldenEye property yet on its own, separate parcel of land — with private beach, private pool and tropical gardens — Fleming Villa offers guests the best of both worlds: the seclusion of a villa vacation and the switched-on scene of a small, sophisticated resort that’s just a short walk away. The villa comes with a dedicated staff that includes a butler, housekeeper and cook. Guests need never leave — but are always welcome at the FieldSpa at GoldenEye, as well as the resort’s restaurants, bars and activities. 

Located 20 minutes east of Ocho Rios and less than a 10-minute drive from Ian Fleming International Airport, Fleming Villa sleeps up to 10 people. There are three bedrooms, each with tropical garden baths, in the main villa and two standalone guest cottages: Sweet Spot and Pool House.

Guests at Fleming Villa will undoubtedly gain an insight into why the charm and character of Jamaica was a recurring feature of Flemings novels over 60 years, not just in Dr No (though these scenes are perhaps the most iconic) but also in Live and Let Die, the novel The Man with the Golden Gun and the short stories Octopussy and For Your Eyes Only. Other less well know connections are that the famously fastidious Bond will also only drink Jamaica's famous Blue Mountain coffee, available 24/7 for guests. 

Coincidentally, in Dr No, the villainous temp tree Miss Taro’s house in the Blue Mountains is a scenic drive along the slopes of Long Mountain - worth it for a glimpse of the Carib Cement Works, which is unchanged since the early sixties. Sean Connery is briefly seen passing it on a  journey that is supposed to be interrupted permanently by a hearse full of No’s agents, but he manages to get the drop on them literally – and their hearse goes flying off the cliff, leading to one of Bond’s great quips. Asked by a construction worker, “how did it happen?” Bond replies, “I think they were on their way to a funeral.”

Puerto Rico

Bon favourite GoldenEye also had scenes set in Cuba but theseweren’t actually filmed there - they were shot in Puerto Rico at the Arecibo Observatory. The action scenes starring Pierce Brosnan as 007, centred on the 57-year-old telescope at the Observatory in a nail-biting sequence in which Bond famously scales the structure while grappling with Sean Bean's traitorous 006. The Arecibo Observatory, which was built in the summer of 1960, is a world class facility with a 305m (1000ft) diameter dish constructed in 1963 that provides valuable data for the scientific community. In the film, the large dish is discovered by Bond at Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) hidden in an artificial lake. It is Alec Trevelyan's satellite dish to control a second, secret GoldenEye satellite. The film GoldenEye was the first Bond film that used CGI (computer generated images) and in the  hand-to-hand fight between Bond and Trevelyan on the antenna, a green-screen was used in the background for digital enhancements.

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