Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jamaica 2016 Day 9. Port Antonio

There is a subtle difference between the south shore of Jamaica, where Kingston is located, and the north side, in that the wind comes from the north so the waves are more significant and the ocean is more “interesting” in Long Bay. I know because I woke up before sunrise and walked to the beach to dunk myself into the Caribbean Sea and see the sunrise. I got back just in time to greet my excellent host, who invited me a cup of real, Blue Mountain coffee brewed Italian style. It was heavenly. Enrico also explained to me that all the good coffee is for export, and in the rare occasions when Jamaicans drink coffee they prefer instant rather than roasted and brewed. Go figure.

As I headed west I could not help by notice how beautiful the coast is, in stark contrast with the road, which was horribly potholed. No doubt it was this beauty that attracted the type of resorts preferred by the English in the 1920’s: Enormous white mansions surrounded by beautiful gardens, where Miss Marple would have had the chance of practicing her very own brand of sleuthing. They have been kept in pristine condition, so apparently they still attract their fair share of visitors.

Also along this stretch of the coast is the famous Blue Lagoon, a small bay of great depth, where the crystal clear water of the Caribbean acquires a deep turquoise blue color.

Eventually I reached Port Antonio, which turned out to be quite the attractive city. It is a horseshoe-shaped bay, where a good portion of the shore has been turned into a marina and public park. Apparently it was Errol Flynn who came up with the idea (and probably funded it), but the city has kept the park in great shape, and it is now a favorite place for families to go for a walk and have a picnic, or for the younger crowd to go have a drink and dance. One of the horns of the horseshoe is still occupied by an old neighborhood, slightly run down, but where there are all sorts of B&B’s with lots and lots of character.

I had another 80 km to go before getting to my next destination, Ocho Rios, but it was an easy, beautiful ride. I made a couple of detours to go up some interesting canyons, but the roads quickly degenerated into mud tracks that I had no interest to explore.

So I got to Ocho Rios around 3 pm, thinking that this time it would be a good thing to treat myself to a hotel with a swimming pool. Just as I was thinking about this I spied a tiny sign to the Pineapple Court Hotel, in a side street, which was all I could have hoped for. Contrary to what some of my detractors say, I actually took the time to go for a swim, and sat in a lounge chair to read my Kindle and sip a Cuba Libre J   

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