Monday, June 26, 2006

A Jamaican Day at the Beach

On Saturday we went to the beach with our co-workers for the launching of the Portmore Municipal Council Social Welfare Club. We were scheduled to depart at 7:00am from the PMC office, however in typical Jamaican fashion we left at 8:37. While we were waiting the girls went on one of their many food runs of the day to Tastee Patties for some breakfast (liver and onions or saltfish with food). Since there is only a little bar and restaurant at the beach we were instructed to bring along snacks and even though the girls brought coolers and bags onto the bus there was still an insistence for many food stops. Finally, we were off picking up the one last person on our way out of town instead of waiting on her to reach. Since there were so many of us, around 20 persons, we were riding in style in an air conditioned coaster bus with plush seats - the kind you see tourists traveling around Jamaica in, it was pretty sweet! And the cost of the bus ride (J$500 each/ US$ 7.70)was actually less then we would have paid traveling by public transportation which would have been way more cramped and sweaty.

We made it all the way to Spanish Town before our next pit stop. This time it was for ice, bathrooms, and KFC. Spanish Town is approximately 10km from Portmore so at this rate I figured we would be getting to the beach around noon. Once we were off again we journeyed over the imfamous Flat Bridge - a single lane bridge that washes out almost everytime it rains. And we of course all lifted our feet to prevent the duppies (ghosts) from grabbing hold of us and pulling the bus into the Rio Cobre. Then it was through the Gorge and up over the wicked Mt. Rosser where you can get stuck for hours when the big trucks break down. Luckily no trucks! Our next stop was off the side of the road to buy some juicy pine (pineapple). It was already peeled (the hardest part) and cut up in the baggies so it was ready for eating. Very tasty and only J$100 (US$1.50)!

The bus ride was pretty eventful with lots of dancing in the aisles and screaming, laughing, and drinking. I was surprised to see the "dutty wine" (a current popular, quite risque dance) being busted out at 9:00 in the morning but I suppose anything goes. The girls not only had mixed CDs for the driver to play but had a boom box of thier own in the back as well. Shane almost lost an eye due to some fast hair whipping action in the aisle next to his seat. But some would consider him a lucky man being so close to such movements.

Then we pulled into Ocho Rios, a cruise ship town on the St. Ann coast, and of course stopped for lunch even though it was only 10:30am. We pulled up to the main street and luckily it wasn't a cruise ship day so there weren't massive amounts of white people mulling around which made things much calmer than normal. We headed for Juici Beef Patties for vegetable patties and then stopped into Baskin Robbins for a rare treat. Others hit up Island Grill, Burger King, and of course KFC. Then it was off to the beach which was down the road aways and over the border into St. Mary.

Reggae Beach was a really nice, clean, low-key white sand beach. Since it is outside of Ochi it doesn't get so much tourist traffic and caters more to Jamaicans. We heard some music videos have even been filmed there. It was J$200 (US$3.00) each to enter but worth it for the cleanliness, bathrooms, and lack of harrassment. There were lots of shade trees and picnic tables and even a volleyball net. We had a tree swing near our spot and further down there were hammocks. Of course the Jamaicans mostly hung out in the shade (sun hot!) , snacking and napping. We chose to soak up the sun and do some swimming. Some of our friends did get in the water and there were a few attempts at swimming lessons. Dominoes and bingo were played and of course there was lots of eating. At some point in the day another KFC run was made too. After the girls were successful in building a pyramid in the water it was time to head home.

Of course the return trip warranted pit stops too. First it was to buy a big whole pine - but not for the tourist price of J$500 (they didn't even weigh it, the nerve!) but for the more reasonable price of J$200 that we got 2 stops later. Then we stopped at Faith's Pen for some jerk - it is a large string of roadside stalls who all sell jerk meats and roast vegetables. We got some roast corn, yam and breadfruit plus some festivals (fried dough). It was really, really tasty! We finally rolled back into Portmore around 7:30pm, tired with our bellies full!

- Kaelyn


Darius Kemp said...

Oh my God, don't you just love going on trips with your Jamaican co-workers it is the best. We just had a trip last weekend aswell to Long bay beach in Portland. The trip sounded like it was fun and I can not even believe that you did not call me so I could hang out with you. Hello I live in St.Ann!!!

Nick in Port Maria said...

Your blog is cool. Its nice you did a packing list. To bad I have access to the internet about 20 minutes a week or I'd read it more often. Linked off of Darius's site.

Mad Bull said...

"And we of course all lifted our feet to prevent the duppies (ghosts) from grabbing hold of us and pulling the bus into the Rio Cobre." Whats this? I lived in Jamaica for 39 years and I have crossed Flat Bridge countless times and I have never done that. I have never seen anyone do that either, and I have crossed that bridge with many people. Mind that those wicked people from the Portmore Municipality Council have been pulling your leg on that one. Thanks for posting the pics of reggae beach. Its a nice beach, though I've only been there once or twice.