The Lost Beach van is loaded today… Dennis is driving, and we have two families, plus Courtney, Boy George, Sara, and Molly. We take the dirt road all the way back to Little London, scattering chickens and goats as we go. On our way to the hotel, the kids had noticed a man with hair that was taller then him standing by the road, and Dennis promises to look out for him on this trip, but he is nowhere to be seen. At Little London, we make a right (a left would go back to Negril) and head for the mountains.
The parking lot at Mayfield Falls is very small, and we seem to be the only visitors. A long set of steps lead from the lot down into the ravine, and at the top there is a table filled with fresh fruit. Dennis takes a banana for himself and we all start the hike down. At the bottom of the steps, a trail leads across a rope bridge. Dennis had asked for our camera before we got there, and held back to get a picture of us crossing. After a little more hiking through the forest, we come to a large clearing, a huge lawn of golf course quality grass. After the sand and dust of Hope Wharf, this green lushness comes as a surprise. Scattered around this lawn are little grass roof huts that look more like Tahiti than Jamaica. The largest of these tiki huts is actually a bar, and there are a few drivers hanging out there, the first evidence that we are not alone. Dennis deposits us at a smaller hut, where we gather around a table and meet our guide, Owen. He puts all of our valuables in a waterproof case which he will carry with him, and takes our lunch orders. All of us have water shoes except my son, but Owen gets him a rental pair. Courtney and George go barefoot, of course.
Mayfield Falls is not one big drop, but instead a series of small falls and rapids. Owen knows every inch of these falls and tells each of us exactly where to step as we climb. Courtney and George go bounding on ahead of the group as if they too know where the holes and boulders are hiding under the water. Each time I try to take a step without Owen’s assistance, I end up slipping into a hole or sliding off a rock. Owen keeps having to “go back and get Dad”, as he has now started to call me. There are spots along the way where you can sit in a natural whirlpool (Owen takes our picture there), slide down a waterslide, and swim through a small tunnel (the only family member to try that was my son). About halfway through our excursion, it starts raining hard. But we’re already soaking wet, so who cares? This is the first time since we arrived in Jamaica that I’ve been outdoors and felt cool, but Courtney and George are actually shivering! We reach a spot where you can jump or dive off of a cliff into the water. Courtney does a backflip, barely missing the rocks, and practically giving Owen a heart attack. Thanks to “Dad” we’re a little slow getting to the top of the falls, and another small group of tourists with a different guide catches up to us. At the top of the falls is a large boulder with a small cave where you can go underneath the falls and look out through a curtain of water. Owen is happy to put the kids on his back and take them under. At this point we run into a large boisterous group of Europeans. I don’t know if they’ve lingered here long enough for us to catch them, or if they are descending the falls rather than coming the way we did, but I do know this is the first “crowd” we’ve been in since leaving Negril, and it takes a little away from the serenity we’ve felt since we got here. They aren’t relinquishing this boulder for anyone, so we move on, and climb out of the valley to head back to the tiki village.
The walk back to lunch wasn’t easy. The rain had made the path into mud, and we were all tired from our climb up the falls. Owen seemed to know ways around the most slippery spots, and fortunately only one member of our party slipped and fell, and she wasn’t hurt, just a little embarrassed. For once, “Dad” managed to stay on his feet. Along the way, Owen pointed out a small fern-like plant to the children. When touched, this plant slowly moves away from your finger. The kids found many more of these along the way, and looking for them made the walk seem shorter for them.
When we arrived back at our starting point, George, Courtney, and the girls went to one tiki hut, and the rest of us went to another for lunch. Either this was the best lunch ever, or we were famished from our excursion; we all agreed that the food was excellent. My wife and kids had chicken, and I had a vegetable plate. A couple of Red Stripes tasted pretty good too.
I found Dennis at the tiki bar drinking an ice cold Ting (the only thing I’ve ever seen Dennis drink, by the way), and asked if we could stop in Sav-La-Mar on the way back to get a patty. I’d read about these before our trip and was determined to try Jamaican fast food before we left for home. No problem, man. None of us was in the mood to hike back up those steps, so Dennis said that Owen could show us how to get to a different entrance to the falls, and he would meet us there. Owen took a garden hose to all of us (lots of mud from the rainstorm) and off we went. This new path led us through forest and fields and we passed lots of sugarcane, a very pleasant walk for the tired tourists. As soon as we arrived at the gravel parking lot, Dennis arrived with the van.
Sav-La-Mar was a bustling town with no other tourists in sight. Marcy had told us that this is where she shops – no Hi-Lo for the good people of Hope Wharf, they like open air markets. Dennis pulled up in front of a bakery and my wife and I hopped out to look around. We soon motioned for Boy George to get out of the van to translate for us, which wasn’t really necessary at all, but it made us feel a little less out of place to have someone who speaks patois along with us. We got veggie and meat patties, a wedge of cheese, and some little coconut cakes. Cokes and bottled water for the kids, and I tried something called a Cherry Malt. The patties were hot and delicious, the cheese was heavenly, and the coconut cakes were very tasty. The Cherry Malt? I could live without another one.
This trip, which started as a healthy expedition to the falls was rapidly deteriorating into some kind of food frenzy. Molly and Courtney went across the street for ice cream, and Sara started begging Dennis to get her some “gas station soup”. Dennis pretended to be annoyed, but he really loves these girls, and sure enough, when we arrived back in Little London, he stopped at the Esso station. In the parking lot is a man with a huge vat of chicken soup. Not surprisingly, his name seems to be Soupy. So Sara got her gas station soup, and we headed down that long dirt road to home.
We arrived back at Lost Beach in the late afternoon and some of us drifted off to the pool or to our rooms to freshen up. Some of us stayed at the bar, and got to watch Sara pull a chicken foot out of her soup carton between bites. She didn’t seem to find that the slightest bit odd, but I gotta tell you it was a while before the kids would eat chicken soup again.
That night Al and my son decided to bet a frozen 3 Musketeers bar on the outcome of a baseball game, and that kept them occupied for the evening. Later my son asked me when I could find a bookie for him. Remind me to keep my son away from Al.
This was the last night for the other family staying there, so we stayed in the background that night and let them enjoy their last evening in peace. They played cards with Courtney and Steve (I think he was trying to teach everyone Euchre). I knew they hated to think of leaving, but they said their goodbyes to us that night, because Dennis would be taking them to MoBay early the next day. We hit the bed early that night, but not before my wife got to follow Egbert and his amazing stick around for awhile with our camera.
You say I never mentioned Egbert and his amazing stick before?
Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait for that story….
And wouldn’t you know it? I forgot to call my office again!