Monday, 24 September 2012

Portland, St. Thomas and the Reggae Boyz

So lately I have been having too much fun to blog.  That and intermittent internet. Okay, excuses, excuses. Here is some of what has been going on and lots of pictorial evidence.

Two weekends ago Captain Phil and I went down to Kingston and watched the Reggae Boyz, Jamaica's football (soccer, as we'd say at home) team beat the American team for the first time ever on home turf. It was the loudest experience of my life as many people there, including the guy three seats down, had tiny little horns that weren't quite vuvuzelas, but equally noisy.

I was wearing a purple t-shirt as I had no shirts in team colours.  Boy, did I stand out because the crowd was dressed to support!

The Americans scored a goal within the first 15 seconds of play, but Jamaica eventually won 2-1.

Audrey and Aziz - notice their jackets!

The win was a big deal for Jamaica.
The next day, Captain Phil and I got in our trusty rental car and began our tour of the east coast of Jamaica, the parishes of St. Thomas (south-east) and Portland (north-east).

----Warning: some viewers may find the number of tropical beach pictures that follow overwhelming.-----

Typical fishing boats.  No, I did not steal this picture from the Lonely Planet website; it really looks like this.

We followed the sidewalk around and down to "Golden Sands" beach.

The sidewalk went past this house - truely made from bits of the sea.  It reminded me of "Borrowed Black", a character in a Newfoundland story who borrows bits from the Labrador Sea to make his house.
Beach number 1, Golden Sands.  There was no swimming yet, only wading.  We were followed by three little girls who were just curious. Other than that, the beach was empty.

The journey continued, with a stop for coconut water from the side of the road.

The highlight of the trip was definitely going to the Morant Point Lighthouse, which is on the easternmost tip of land in Jamaica.  It was a bit tricky to get there, with lots of stopping to ask the locals if we were going the right way.
We had to drive through a sugar cane plantation to get there.  For the most part, we couldn't see over the cane to tell if we were going in the right direction.

I was a little bit afraid that we'd never get out of the field and they'd find us at harvest time, skeletons in the rental car.

Fortunately, there was the occasional helpful sign.

And we made it!

The lighthouse was shipped in huge round sections of iron all the way from the UK and assembled in place. The inside was wooden and VERY rickety!

We ate our fried chicken lunch on the rocks in the shade.
An interesting find while we were waiting for the lighthouse keeper to meet us for a tour.
We got to climb to the top - I was a bit skeptical about this, not being fond of heights or crumbling staircases.

The lighthouse is all automatic now, and run by solar energy. The keeper only comes out to do regular maintenance.

The view from the top was worth it.  Even if I couldn't really move and had to stay pressed against the wall.
We also went swimming at a beautiful deserted beach not too far from the lighthouse.  The sand was full of patterns from crabs and birds that had run over it.

We then drove up the east coast to Port Antonio, where we spent the night.

Port Antonio harbour

The view from our hotel room balcony.
The next day, taking full advantage of our rental car, we drove along the Rio Bueno River up into the highlands between the north side of the Blue Mountains and the John Crow Mountains.  The roads were very, Very, VERY bad.

I could have walked faster.  We should have rented a donkey instead of a car - it would have been more useful!

It was, however, very beautiful.  And I had lots of time to look, even if Captain Phil didn't, as he was trying to keep the car on the excuse for a road.

Where we were finally undone.  We decided this had been enough adventure and we turned around and stopped for a refreshing drink and chat with the locals.

The Rio Bueno River that we had been following.

The rest of the day was spent meandering back to Kingston, stopping at as many beaches as we possibly could.  We swam at Frenchman's Cove, saw the Blue Hole (where Brook Shields came into tropical bathing stardom), and put our toes in the sand at Winnefred Beach, Long Beach, and a couple that didn't have any names (or at least, no signs).

Winnefred Beach, a public beach just outside Port Antonio.  It had a local vibe, with music playing, young men kicking a ball around, old rastas offering crafts and other "relaxation" substances, woman in cook shops serving fried chicken and steamed fish, and young kids doing cartwheels and back flips on the beach.  I tried to capture the last one with the camera, but was always a few seconds too slow!

Long Beach, further down the east coast.  There was a significant undertow here, so not good for swimming, but the waves were beautiful to watch.

A pretty little cove along the way. 
It was an excellent weekend of exploration.  We returned to Kingston a bit sunburned, and with a very dusty (but not damaged) car.  I now understand why everyone says that the eastern part of Jamaica is so beautiful, but as an official Montegonian, I still say west is best!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Amazing pictures! And I realized as I read, if you just went to the most eastern point of Jamaica and I just went to the most western point of Ireland, that we were probably the closest we've been together in a long time! Looking forward to seeing you soon. Karen