There is no long, lingering twilight in the Caribbean. As is always the case in the tropics, night drops her cloak of darkness quickly once the sun has painted the sky with her wishes of “sweet dreams”. Our oceanside patio in Port Antonio almost seemed like the movie set for a Hitchcock film. A thunderstorm over distant Ocho Rios was illuminating ragged edges of black clouds over a restless ocean, lending a surreal atmosphere. Claps of thunder reverberated ominously, and over the clatter of wind-driven palms leaves, resident peacocks occasionally let loose bone-chilling screeches. This was not quite what I had expected for my first evening in Port Antonio, yet I was enthralled and already in love with this wild and tempestuous side of Jamaica.
Earlier in the day, the two and one half hour drive from Kingston Airport through the Blue Mountains had been astoundingly beautiful. Entranced, I thrust my head out of the open car window like a dog on a Sunday drive. Somehow I quite expected to see Tyrannosaurus Rex lumbering through the lush valleys, long, leathery necks rising up above vast canopies of Tamarind, Mahogany and Acacia trees. My eyes, as they searched the pure blue sky above, would not have been surprised to see the immense, flapping wings of a Pterodactyl circling for prey. As we reached Port Antonio, probably one of the best kept secrets of Jamaica, it seemed as though Mother Nature herself had thrown caution to the wind, sowing the seeds of a Garden of Eden right here on earth.
Receiving almost three times as much rain as other areas of Jamaica and blessed with rich soil and a benevolent sun, Port Antonio seemed to be exploding with blooms and blossoms, leaves and nuts, fruits and mosses and vines and flowers. Every tree seemed to weep with a luxurious bounty, an offering to the soul. As we settled cozily into our small villa on the edge of the ocean, the drama of the coming storm only served to heighten the primordial atmosphere.
June is considered the rainy season in the Caribbean, so we were prepared when the first plump drops of rain began. They seemed reluctant at first, but picked up enthusiasm as clouds moved in like stealth fighters on the horizon. Even the two-toned, discordant chorus of the feisty tree frogs, the sound that epitomizes a Caribbean vacation, seemed to resonate at a higher pitch as the wind picked up and the rain began to fly sideways. We headed for the shelter of our living room to watch in awe.
The storm seemed to last forever. Beautiful, vibrant flashes of pearly light pulsed, punctuated by jagged forks that speared the black velvet sky. Earsplitting cracks of thunder instantly joining in to tremble the very windows and doors, shaking us to the core. Yet as the storm moved away, drifting back out over the frenzied ocean beyond the coast, the furious voice of the tempest settled. Soft rumbles rode on the tail of the storm, the great sea absorbing the raw energy. Soon there was only the lullaby of the tree frogs and the murmur of an apologetic wind on the palm fronds as we closed our eyes to dream sweetly of the coming day in Port Antonio.