Hello my dear readers,
I received a lot of letters on my last TN. Some readers asked why I did not write for so long. I did not write to you because you did not write to me. When I do not receive letters for some time I start to think that nobody needs my travel notes, so why go through the trouble of writing and sending them. But even one good letter put me back in writing mode.
Soon after I sent you my last TN I found an interesting offer from www.travelzoo.com. Airfare for round trip from Washington to Jamaica, $9 each way. I cannot resist such temptation and flew to Montrego Bay, Jamaica.
I was told by many people that the island of Jamaica is full of contrasts: extreme poverty of local people and extreme excessivness of many luxury resorts, covering most of the Jamaican shores. And I was told that it is not a good place for independent travelers.
Tour book told me also about high crime rate, lots of hustlers and so on. And it is true. In Montego bay, you cannot walk the street uninterrupted. You are all the time approached by people in different degrees of aggressiveness. Jamaica is a breeding ground of black nationalism. Jamaican Marcus Garvey founded the United Negro Improvement Association in 1914. Many elements of black culture like Rastafarian-ism and dread locks were invented in Jamaica. It is interesting that black nationalists and white supremacists have the same goal: to repatriate blacks to Africa.
Black people who were slaves of white people, now have to serve them again at these all inclusive resorts. But they found a way to get even with their oppressors! They forced them to swim in their urine! Resorts probably have adequate sewer filtering systems, but these shanty towns where locals live obviously do not. And all sewer water goes directly to the ocean. Predominant wind from NE- passat, sent this thick layer of diluted sewer water along the North shore where most resorts are located. No tour book tells about this gross fact! After I figured it out I took an all day bus ride to the NE corner of Jamaica to the city of Port Antonio. From the road I have seen many all inclusive resorts occupying almost entire North Shore of Jamaica. A thick layer of yellowish water flows in front of them.
Port Antonio is located on the North Eastern corner of Jamaica, where fresh ocean water for the first time touches Jamaican soil. Water is blue and perfectly clean here. People are wonderful. The same people as in Montego bay are helpful and welcoming. Nobody begs for money.
I stayed in an old colonial house with an interesting design. The hotel owner, a charming old black lady Miss Brown was a little bit ceremonial and in the same time funny. Cost $15. The hotel's name is "Brown's Cache Villa", 19 Fort George St, Port Antonio (listed in LP).
Best place in Jamaica. Ms Brown's house was good, but it was in the middle of town. I wanted to find a place close to the ocean, where I could snorkel alone and hunt for fish. Wild camping is not a good idea on Jamaica, especially for a solo traveler. So I started to look for a hotel, which will fit to these requirements and I found it! But let me first tell you about a remarkable part of the Jamaica shore which is located NE of Port Antonio.
This small stretch of shore is spotted with picturesque coves and small bays surrounded by virgin tropical forest. This place was discovered by famous Hollywood actor Errol Flynn in 1946. He wrote that it is more beautiful than any woman he ever saw. From that time it has become a mecca for the rich and famous.
Six movies were filmed at small 3 mi stretch of shore.
The shore is dotted with occasional palaces and castles. But there are none of these all inclusive resorts. The place reminds me of the Southern shore of Crimea. There are a few small hotels here, again there are no giants like Marriott. One night in hotel Blue Lagoon Villas near the Blue Lagoon cost $10,000 - breakfast included. Even if you will stay in such expensive hotels you will not be alone with nature. They have beaches nearby, but these beaches are covered with bars and restaurants and with friendly but annoying locals.
But I found the hotel of my dreams. It is a small hotel, actually an Italian lady rents some rooms from her house, $24 single $46 double Name is "Draper San Guest House". (listed in LP) It is located in the middle of this picturesque stretch of shore, which I described before. It is 4 minutes from a little 10 meter long sandy beach. I have never seen anybody there. You can swim from that beach to a bay which is free from any development and full of corals and fish. In the same time it is in walking distance from the famous Blue lagoon and other attractions and castles. The only problem, the water in this bay is cold on the surface and warm below because of many spring flowing into this bay. But it was not too cold for me. I am used to cold water.
From Port Antonio I took a bus to Kingston and spent 2 days in Kingston and Port Royal. Port Royal was the capitol of Buccaneers (pirates) ruled by captain Henry Morgan. During earthquake of 1692, 9/10 of the city went under water and very little is left from the former glory. Anyhow in order to pay homage to popular Russian song writers who loved to write "pirates" songs, I visited Port Royal. Kingston and port Royal are known as very dangerous, crime ridden places. Even locals try to avoid them. As always on a bike it was OK, but I would not risk walking there.
1. Langustino which I shot.
2. Large land crab.
4. Afro-Italian boy.
5. Rastafarian poster.
6. Ms Brown's home.
7. Italian's home.
Dec 27 2005