After another refreshing night's rest, where we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore, we awoke early in the morning to another beautiful day on the island. After breakfast, we spent an hour and a half swimming in the pool and basking in the sun. We could have spent all day doing that...
...But, of course, we still had things that we wanted to see on the island...
Our plan for the day was to take a drive along the southern coast of the island to see the famous Lover's Leap, the site of the Jamaican legend of two young slaves who jumped from the cliffs to their death, over fear that they would be separated. Later, we would drive to Alligator Pond to eat at world-famous Little Ochie's for lunch.
Getting to Lover's Leap presented us with a challenge; although we were able to find the town of Southfield, we struggled to find the turn-off to Lover's Leap. It was not signed, and the directions in the book were not clear. After circling the roads several times, we eventually found a dirt road that took us out to Lover's Leap...or, at least what we hoped was Lover's Leap.
Although the sign on the gate indicated that that was Lover's Leap Park, we weren't sure at first that we had arrived at the right place. There was no guard at the gate to collect our entry fee, and the parking lot was nearly empty. Outside, a lone caretaker was working on the landscaping, and inside the restaurant, there was a woman at the bar who paid no attention to us. She appeared to be setting up for an event - a wedding, from the looks of it.
We left the restaurant and walked around to the back of the building, to the patio. There, we had a glimpse of the famous cliffs that looked out on the Caribbean Sea. We also saw the lighthouse, which indicated to us that we were indeed in the right place.
When we realized that the place was probably closed for a private event, we decided to leave. It was getting close to lunch time, and we still had a long drive to Alligator Pond through the Don Figueroa Mountains.
From Lover's Leap, it took us over an hour to drive to Alligator Pond. The road, though paved, was very narrow. It wound through the mountains in a series of Z's and W's, like something from a C.W. McCall song. There were blind corners at every turn, so we had to drive cautiously to keep from crashing into oncoming traffic.
Finding Alligator Pond and Little Ochie's was much easier than finding Lover's Leap; after all, there were signs for Little Ochie's all the way back in Black River! It is world-famous for its food and its atmosphere; and it is a local favorite. During the weekend, Jamaicans flock to Little Ochie's to eat and to spend a day on the beach.
Little Ochie's was very similar to Cloggy's, but on a much larger scale. The menu, which was written on slates hung up on the walls, was much larger than Cloggy's, and there were many more folks working there. We were greeted by a small, old man who spoke in thick Creole; he helped us place our order and select our seafood. I selected a beautiful red snapper, while Mary had shrimp. John, on the other hand, ordered conch - pronounced "conk" by the locals. Once our order was placed, the man took our selections to the kitchen to start preparing them. He indicated that we should wait for our meal outside.
John ordered a round of drinks for us, and we took them outside to find a table. We selected a table that was made out of an old wooden fishing boat; and there, we sat down and waited for our food.
Although we waited nearly forty-five minutes for our food, we really didn't mind. We were enjoying the relaxing atmosphere at Little Ochie's. The food was also worth the wait; it was absolutely delicious! We ate until we were stuffed to the gills.
During lunch, we discussed what to do with the rest of the day; we still had several hours of daylight ahead of us but no plans. John suggested that we drive to Kingston to visit Port Royal, which, of course, was once a British fort. Mary wanted to see Port Royal as well, since that is where Pirates of the Caribbean took place. (I think she just wanted to see Captain Jack Sparrow!) As for me, I didn't have a preference, though I did express my concern that it might take us a long time to get to Kingston and back again; we still had all day, but we didn't have THAT much time.
Naturally, I was outvoted two to one, so we were off to Kingston.
The drive to Kingston was indeed long, but it was scenic. From Alligator Pond, we made our way up to A2 (at Gutters) and began to head east, towards Kingston. En route, we passed through a number of large cities, such as Mandeville, and small towns, such as May Pen.
In Spanish Town, we intersected with Highway A1, which became a four-lane divided expressway. It was the nicest road we would see during our entire visit to the island: no potholes, no blind corners, and no pedestrians. However, nice roads come with a price; the expressway was a toll road, and there were two fare booths along the way. One was 190 J (Jamaican dollars - approximately $2.87, at 66 J to the American dollar); the other was about 60 J.
We rolled into Kingston around 2:30 in the afternoon and found ourselves in a busy, crowded metropolis. At first, we found ourselves in an industrial section of the city; this area of Kingston was very dirty, and traffic was backed up for miles. So far, I wasn't impressed.
Then, we made our way to the city center, where the four major highways (A1, A2, A3, and A4 all intersect). This section of the city was bustling with activity; locals were crowded in the streets buying and selling goods: fruit, fish, vegetables...you name it. It was so crowded that it was hard to get through.
We managed to cut through the crowd and made our way to Queen Street, which became Highway A4. A4 would take us all the way to Port Royal.
We left the bustling city of Kingston and drove out onto the peninsula that surrounded Kingston Harbor. Along the way, we passed by the entrance to the Norman Manley International Airport - Kingston's airport, which is located on the peninsula, outside of the city.
I happened to glance at the GPS at that moment, to make sure that were still going in the right direction, when I saw a familiar type of code appear on the tracks screen. "Hey look!" I said to John. "There's a geocache nearby!"
John pulled over, next to the steel artwork that marks the entrance to the airport, and we stepped out of the car. According to the GPS, the geocache could be found near the artwork, so we set about looking for it. After about ten minutes of searching, though, we walked away empty-handed. Without knowing the details of the cache, it was difficult for us to know whether or not it was still there; and if it was, we would have to find it another time...
We continued on towards Port Royal, and ended up at Fort Charles, and the end of the road. We parked the car nearby and got out to see what it was all about; and that was when we discovered the sign: "No pictures, please." Well!
There was, however, a guided tour that we could take of Fort Charles. It sounded interesting, so we paid our entry fee and met up with the tour guide, just inside the gates of the fort. She was just getting started with another group - a trio from Canada.
During the tour, we learned about Fort Charles and the colonization of Jamaica by the British. Fort Charles (originally known as Fort Cromwell) was established in 1655 as a British port. It was devastated in 1692 by a major earthquake that killed 2,000 people. In later years, the fort was washed out by the sea on three sides, which left behind silt that caused the fort to become landlocked. It was abandoned as a fort in 1905.
Today, the fort is nothing more than a few old walls, a couple of buildings, and some cannons. One of the buildings is called the Giddy House: a small building that was knocked off-kilter by the quake of 1692. The guide allowed us to walk inside of it; and it was like walking drunk!
We also had a chance to see the old gun turrets, which are now underground, having been covered by silt when the fort was submerged. The guns are still there, but the cannons are gone.
The tour lasted only a half an hour; but that was long enough, because it was hot, and we were tired and thirsty. We purchased some sodas from the tour guide then walked back to our car to start our long journey back to Treasure Beach.
And what a long journey it would be!
As we left Kingston, we decided to take a different route through town, one that took us through the downtown area. Traffic here was a little better than before, but it was still congested; after all, it was rush hour, and this was the big city. By five o'clock, we were finally out of Kingston and back onto the expressway, on our way back to Treasure Beach.
Unfortunately, there was no way that we were going to make it back to Treasure Beach before dark. Along the way, before the sun set, we stopped at a "fast food" place along the side of the highway, in May Pen, for dinner.
Driving in Jamaica after dark was quite the experience: one that we had tried to avoid until now. It's one thing to deal with the pedestrians, bicyclists, potholes, and taxi-drivers in the daylight hours; under the cover of darkness, these aspects make travel much more difficult. In addition to that, we were all very tired from driving all day; and when you're that tired, it's hard to focus.
To top it all off, though, it is very hard to see along the highway; there are no street lights, and signs are hard to read, even in the daylight. We worried that we were going to miss our turnoff at Lacovia...that is, until we realized that we had the GPS turned on the whole time. That meant that we would be able to follow our tracks right back to the hotel!
And that is precisely what we did. Using our GPS, we found the turnoff with no problem; and we made our way back to the hotel along the winding, twisting mountain roads without getting lost.
By the time we arrived at the Treasure Beach Hotel, it was 8:30 p.m. Mary was sound asleep in the backseat of the car, and we were all exhausted from the long trip. We retreated to our hotel room, where we all soon fell asleep...
Return to Jamaica!
Return to Naked in the Woods.
|This site maintained by John and Heather Verley, © 2001-2010.|