Solomon “Sala” Kerr and Sienna picked me up at JAHBs in Negril for the beautiful drive through Belmont and Bluefields on through Black River to Billy’s Bay where I decided to stay on the next leg of my 6-month odyssey. The refreshing coastal breezes were blowing about 20 miles per hour keeping us very comfortable in the 90-degree heat. Reaching the outskirts of Black River, we decided to take a side trip through Middle Quarters, Lacovia and on to Maggotty to visit my good friends, the Lees, at Apple Valley Park. To our surprise we found over 400 young Jamaican children age about 8 to 15 from Kingston and Mandeville enjoying a “Fun Day” at the park. It is a real treat seeing so many city youth having a great time in the country!
It was getting on in the afternoon so we said our goodbyes and headed back to Black River to catch the main road to Treasure Beach. Driving through Black River we suddenly found ourselves going the wrong way down a one-way street! The town, in an effort to alleviate some congestion and to stimulate some business, is now having cars drive through the market area on their way across the Black River iron bridge. Even though the roads were only One Way, they were still equally clogged in BOTH directions to and from town!
Around 7:00pm, we pulled into the sleepy little fishing town of Billy’s Bay and turned up the road to Irie Rest. A newly constructed 5-bedroom Guest House, Irie Rest had only been a dream of owner, Lennie Buchanon, when last we met about two years ago. Brian, a helper and Billy’s Bay resident who participated in the construction, was there to greet us. Having just completed construction the month before, the Guest House was empty upon my arrival but wouldn’t stay that way for long! We all got rooms and enjoyed the CDs I always travel with until saying goodnight.
Early the next morning Sala and Sienna had to return to Little London and I was starting to feel a little lonesome when Mona and Elizabeth from Norway came rolling in from Negril. Two young, “free-spirited” ladies who had been backpacking around Jamaica for over a week and, while in Port Antonio they met up with two of Irie Rest’s previous guests; Gaby and Holger from near Cologne, Germany who recommended they visit here. Mona fancied herself a pool player and Skip’s South Pole bar on the corner has a table. Tonight is the World Championship Game as she is tied 3-3 with Hamlin “Skip” Ebanks, the owner. We sat up last night on the large verandah with a local acoustic band playing original numbers interspersed with popular Reggae tunes from Jamaica’s past when who pulls up but Holger and Gaby! They just couldn’t stay away very long!
We got up this morning early and, after a breakfast of saltfish and ackee washed down with a cup of tea, headed for a private cove just down the beach for a round of bodysurfing. We had along some snorkeling gear so a short swim out to the reef just couldn’t be missed. We saw lots of reef fish and a local youth was able to spear a couple of turbot, which we had as brown stew fish that evening for dinner. Holger and Gaby had a car so they decided to spend the rest of the day swimming in the Black River along with two local guys. Gotta go shave and shower for the big Championship Game.
My money is on Mona!