Posted on March 10, 2017
When we shake our new iPad violently, Apple assumes we are angry and frustrated and sends a message asking us the nature of our problem. The reason we know this is because we have been traveling on the roads of Jamaica.
After many days of rest and relaxation and laundry at Port Antonio, we decided to rent a car with friends and head out—first to Kingston for some provisioning (never just “grocery shopping,” which is something you can do with a backpack and a couple of totes; this was something more substantial), then to see some of the inland sights.
As the crow flies, Kingston is 25 or so miles from Port Antonio. By car, it took us almost three hours. The roads are narrow and potholed; they switchbacks almost turn circles through the mountains. There is no shoulder once you leave the coast. They’re shared by fast trucks, pedestrians, bikes and tourists who forget which side of the road to use (ahem).
Our biggest motivation for heading to Kingston was to find fuel for our stove. We love our Origo stove, but it is tricky to find denatured alcohol in the Carribean. We knew this heading out, but we’ve blown through our massive back stock, and are down to the dregs. No joy in Kingston, either; there’s plenty of paint thinner of various shades, but it all seem to have really toxic stuff added to it. After a little internet research, we’ve decided to switch our focus to isopropyl alcohol and begin ransacking the pharmacies. In the meantime, we visited an actual big-box style grocery store.
I didn’t take any pictures, because I assume a photo of a shelf full of cheese would just not have the impact on our readers that it had on us. We haven’t seen such bounty since Florida, and restraint was more than a little difficult. Of course, the best plan is to eat what the locals eat. Buy what’s in season. Stick to the fresh foods and the basics. But, you guys—peanut butter filled pretzels!! It was amazing. Even apples were like a gift, it had been so long since we’ve seen them. We invested heavily in cheese, pasta and snacks, and returned home exhausted but rich in food.
Day two of car rental saw us sticking closer to home. No one wanted to brave the mountain roads again, and the haze was promising dismal views, anyway, so we headed east along the coast to the Blue Lagoon. If it had been a sunny day, I’m sure the different shades of blue would have been amazing; but for us, it just seemed like yet another charming Caribbean bay—one without a very good beach, and surrounded by locals who insisted on us hiring them to take us on a boat ride. We were not their audience. Sorry, guys!
Onward to Reach Falls. There are many waterfalls in Jamaica—they don’t lack for rain or elevation around here—and we’d heard differing reports about these ones, mostly that it cost a lot of money to enter the park and see the falls. One cruising friend recommended hiring a local guide to take you in the back way, so we did.
The waterfall hike with Kaisley made up for our disappointment with the Blue Lagoon. We took a path that started well below the official falls, either wading/swimming in the river or scrambling along the rocks and path beside, gradually making our way up to bigger and bigger pools and falls. Kaisley said that in the summer, the lower part of the river was very popular with Jamaicans, who came to escape the heat. We never made it up to the government-approved official falls area, but we could see it from downriver, and we all felt like we got the better deal with our scrappy trail.
So now, we are once again socked in with weather. (It’s a theme.) We’re paying $25 a night for a mooring ball here at the Errol Flynn, which is stressing us out a bit, as it looks like our total time here will approach two weeks; but when we think back to that miserable week and a half of wind and waves off Long Island, we’re pretty happy. The trades are howling; but we’ve comfortable, have access to everything, and are among friends.