Trip Reports

Blown Away By Port Antonio

I’d been to Port Antonio before & was blown away by it’s beauty and on Wednesday I was on my way again to discover some more hidden gems…
I hit the road at 8.30am with my lovely guest Andi & our friend. The sun was shining & the drive through the banana plantation & along the coast road was so nice, it made you so feel fresh & alive…Irie FM playing some nice tunes on the radio as we drove.

At Buff Bay we stopped for breakfast. We saw a little place that looked nice & clean had a few tables outside as well. It was just before the big Anglican Church (built in the 1800’s). Across the road from the church is the court house, another old building. We had hit it on court day, so plenty of people about in their Sunday best.
As Andi stepped from the car, two old, old guys in suits wished her ‘good morning’ & asked how she liked Jamaica & had a little chat, just one of those nice moments that you can’t put into words…It was just Andi the woman to them, no hustle, just one of those step back in time moments that you get here in rural Jamaica.
We enjoyed a good priced local breakfast of grease free ackee & saltfish with fried dumplin’ and a nice mug of tea (gets my vote!). They also had egg sandwich, cake, drinks etc. Nice place to stop if you’re ever in Buff Bay.
Refreshed & with a full belly we got back in the car, cranked the radio & hit the road.

After the breakfast we needed a herbal supplement, this had just reached our friend in the backseat when I saw a policeman with his big gun in the middle of the road, at that very moment he indicated for me to pull over! None of us had time to do anything as it happened so fast & police were on both sides of the car.
Well, all we could do was play it polite & cool. I turned down the radio & the sour face sergeant with the big gun told me to switch off my engine.
A police woman stuck her head in the passenger side & asked for my papers, which I gave her. They then took my papers & disappeared inside the station (first time I’ve ever seen a road block out side a police station!).
The locals lined up across the road thought all this was very funny…
Now big-gun sarge was not a happy man, you could see he had a ‘nose’ for these things. He told our friend to get out the car… As the 6ft 4inch plus dread uncurled his massive frame from my little car you could feel the excitement rise in the watching crowd. With beer in hand he strolled round to the policeman, ‘leave the beer bottle in the car dread’ said sarge…the dread duly obliged.
Sarge delegated another officer to search the dread…’don’t let him search himself’ he shouted at the other police as the dread helped turn out his pockets, ‘search him good, make sure him clean!! The dread stayed cool…when the police asked him ‘am I going to find anything’ the dread answered ‘I hope not’!!
Andi, who could hear better than me, said she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
For some reason they didn’t search the car or Andi, maybe because they didn’t find anything in the body search, who knows, we were lucky …the woman then came back with my papers & said we could go…
As we started down the road we let out a sigh of relief & a laugh at the same time… but we had to know what happened to the smoke.
We turned & asked the dread…Our friend held up his half empty beer bottle, gave it a shake & laughed!! The soggy stick that could have ended up with us spending our day at Buff Bay lock up, floated happily on a sea of Red Stripe…

Excited & still laughing about our adventure we speed along to Boston Beach in Port Antonio to re-build! Along the way we pass through some pretty places with pretty houses, everywhere is awash with colour & sound…I love the old railway stations dotted along the coast line, now ramshackle houses but still a charm about them…next time I’ll stop & take pics.
At Boston Beach we sat & took in the view & relaxed. An old guy, whose name I forget came & introduced himself.

After Andi told him she was from the US he launched into what must be one of his hot topics…Bush & Sadam …Jamaicans have a great way of putting things into a way you can understand & this man was no exception…
‘Now the problem is that Bush only wants the big fish that weigh 120-150lb’ says our mentor…he don’t want the small fish, him tek the big fish & slice the sides off & keep the good fish for himself & then wrap the fish head & bone in plastic & dash it away.
Sadam now tek the fish head & bone & say “Yes this full of good meat’ now when Sadam, start cook for his pot & make sweet fish head soup, Bush smell it & say him want that now.
And that is the problem…them both a fight over fish head & bone like the lowest of dog!! Made sense to me…he also says he is a man of God & when Jesus come for him he will carry a 300lb fish dinner for Jesus…this man measures a lot by his fish!!

Off we go again to our first proper stop for the day…Andi wants to revisit Reach Falls.
I’d never been but had read about them in ‘Rasta Heart’. We travelled along an almost traffic deserted road passing typical rural settings along the way…but you won’t see this in any tourist area…after a while we decided to check that we were on the right road & pulled in at a lonely stall/house…as we looked around the house corner we saw a beautiful old dread looking back at us, smiling he came forward & shook our hand & introduced himself as Jah Priest. The old white haired Rasta must be at least 70yrs old & I wanted so much to take his picture but also didn’t want to ask & invade his space, next time maybe…His old friend came from inside their drop down house & we had a few words & they showed us some herbs that are used for medication here.
We said our good-byes & drove the 10 more minutes to the Falls.
The road actually ends at the falls; you arrive at a small car park with a couple of craft stalls & food shop. The owner greeted us & took our J$150 entry fee.

Well made steps with a hand rail lead down to these secluded falls…nothing like Dunn’s River…about half a dozen other visitors were there.
The falls speak for themselves…good idea to take water shoes so you can climb above or below the big cascade.

There is a cave behind the waterfall that you can go too, for a small tip, you can ask the lifeguard/guide to make sure you get a private visit if you & your honey so desire, we watched a couple disappear into the cave for a good 30 minutes!


After an hour or so it was time to make a move…we tore ourselves away from this magical spot & headed back to Boston Beach for some jerk chicken & festival…

After a good lunch & iced coconut water we set off for Nonsuch caves.
None of us had been here before but the road was good & so far we had had a wonderful day, we were all feeling Irie…

Nonsuch Caves & Antheny Gardens were easy to find, the entrance fee of US$6 includes a choice of drink that you get from the entrance hut. The very pleasant lady guide walked us through the beautiful woodland gardens to the entrance of the caves.

I though of my friend Glen in OZ, as she switched on the lights…
The caves take about 30 minutes or so to go through…they are full of stalagmites & stalactites.
The steps are well made & we wandered through while we listened to the history & facts of Nonsuch Caves…the lady put her torch on a rock top & it lit up…this was quartz rock…we entered one chamber & she played the ‘pipes of the organ’ formed by rock deposits. It was very interesting & really made you think of what is lying beneath the surface of Jamaica.


After the caves we strolled down to the pavilion…the view from the roof bar was amazing, you could see all of Port Antonio from Trident Castle to Folly & Navy Island.
This view is the only one that I ever saw come close to rivaling Noel Cowards view at Firefly. My camera just didn’t catch it at all.

A rain shower caught us as we walked back to the car but nothing could dampen our spirits, it had been such a good day, a blessed day…Andi & I both gave thanks.

Time to head home, we stopped off in Port Antonio town & again at Coronation Bakery to get some hot bread. It was almost 6pm by the time we headed out for Long Bay. In the distance the sun had slid behind the blue mountains & large heavy clouds now hugged their peaks.
The night heralds the switching on of the pepper lights at the road side bars & food huts…school kids still make their way home, people sit on their verandas in the cool evening breeze, dominoe’s lick & men talk under almond trees…we listen to the radio as we drive through the coastal villages towards Port Maria & home.

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