Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Falmouth, Jamaica

Jamaica is awesome! It was everything that we thought it was going to be. Ya mon!

It was a shaky start. We had organised a private tour with Patrice, whose email correspondence was rather relaxed. Our pick up point despite several specific questions was “in the port”. The port, we soon discovered, wasn’t that small! We walked around for 30 minutes before finding the small area dedicated for private tour operators and there she was holding up our name. Relieved to have finally found her, we hopped into our van and we were off! 

Having breakfast delivered to our balcony

The  back of the ship. Our stateroom balcony is the second from the bottom

The sun is out and we're ready for Jamaica. Ya mon!

Finally in Patrice's van!
After having driven around the US for the past couple of days, it was a little strange being in a right hand drive vehicle and driving on the left hand side of the road! Nevertheless we enjoyed our scenic drive towards Rio Buenos, where we would be tubing down the river right to the sea. Richard and Frederick, our guides, fitted us with helmets and vests before walking with us up to the start off point. They were superfit, paddling beside us and guiding us down the river, ensuring that we stayed in the middle as we manoeuvred through the many mini rapids. Frederick sang and prayed as he paddled. Richard gave a brief run down of the area. The river was the boundary of 2 parishes, Trelawney and St Anne. The latter was where the famous Bob Marley and Hussain Bolt came from. We came to a small clearing with deep water when Richard pointed  up to a rope hanging off a tree. It was time to do what we've seen many times only in movies…swing on a rope and drop in the river! It was a lot of fun but it took strength to be able to hold up your own body weight. And for someone as deconditioned as I was, there was no hope of doing it more than once…Thank goodness we were not able to take our cameras with us and thus there exist no photographic evidence of ungraceful descents.

We continued on our way towards the sea and once past the last rapids, a boat towed us the rest of the way towards the beach just out of the river. Patrice was waiting for us in the van. As our time onshore was short, she drove us straight to Scotchies, where we bought some famous Jamaican fare to takeaway and eat in the van. The jerk chicken and pork were amazing! Moist and tasty, they didn’t last long. As were the potatoes and festival, Jamaica’s version of deep fried churros. Need I say more!!!

Getting ready to float down the river. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed past this point

The unassuming exterior of Scotchies

Ordering our meal

The food being cooked

We had asked Patrice to take us somewhere a little off the beaten trail. She recommended “secret hole” rather than going to Dunn’s River Falls, which she thought was very commercialised. This place, though, was not so secret anymore. Situated on the White River, it was essentially a series of small water falls set in the middle of the forest. Our guides, Ricardo and Riley, were phenomenal! We love how non existent OH&S was at this place. It was simply good old fun with locals who knew their way around well and using common sense. The rocks within the water itself was completely non-slippery. They explained that it was because the water was fresh and there was no bacteria and therefore no algae. They guided us walking up the falls. I surrendered my camera to Ricardo so he could take photos. We marvelled at how easily he held the camera in one hand and carried Jonah in the other. Alright, I panicked at how he was going to hold the camera and carry Jonah. In the end, it was all rather effortless for him. Riley did the honours on the way down. I was surprised at how quickly he ran up with Jonah to take him to the toilet and returned only a few short minutes later. It would have taken us at least 15 minutes to make the return trek. They showed us where we could safely jump into the water, where we could get a massage from the water falling down and just generally helped us explore the area. They also showed off their skills in diving from great heights into the water. It was a shame that we only had 40 minutes here.

We had to start making our way back to port. We were craving the delicious festival, and blessed Patrice, made a phone call and preordered some for us. She swung back into Scotchies, where a man was waiting for her with our food. Again, the food was ravished within seconds.

My mother had found a kindred spirit in Patrice. Patrice was like a Jamaican version of my mother, opinionated and not afraid to share her opinions, which were of course, the only correct opinion! Patrice was a gem and she had made our day in Jamaica so special. All our guides were so friendly and amazing. It was easily our best port day out of both cruises.

Winding through tiny roads up the mountain. We did wonder where Patrice was taking us

Um....we have to walk through there?!

Finally at the "secret hole"

Ok so Ricardo's shots weren't exactly sharp...but some photos are better than none! And he kept my camera dry...

Enjoying a waterfall massage

Learning how to jump off waterfalls starting with a baby one

The "mid" sized ones were scary when looked at from the top!

Graduating to the big one...

He looks oh so fluorescent white next to Ricardo!

Elliot wanted to have a go too and both Ricardo and Riley made sure he did it safely

Now we've gone over, let's try going under


Coming out from under the waterfall

They were so good with the children

Teaching them how swing off a rope

Elliot pretending to be Tarzan

Ricardo shows us how its done...

So patient with the children

A fun day by all!


Back onboard the ship, the dining team did a great job feeding us quickly so we could watch “How To Train Your Dragon” on ice. Jonah was enthralled by it as it was one of his favourite cartoons. If you had no particular interest in the cartoon, it probably won’t be worth watching. We decided to give the ABBA show a miss, the days efforts surprisingly used muscles which we had forgotten we had! We were exhausted and ready to crash.

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