The real Jamaica
Port Maria Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
Our first glimpse of Port Maria was a breathtaking bay with an island in it, steep hills climbing up from the beach and township. As we continued we noticed the beaches were littered with bamboo poles and other debris. Later we were told that this had come down in the rivers during heavy rains.
The instructions to finding the Sunrise Apartments said to find the beach front bus station, look back towards the town centre and the apartments were there along a one way street. There was a bustling market surrounding the "bus" station and with a little difficulty the driver found our place. The streets looked very seedy but they had formed gutters and people were everywhere.
Tall, solid double steel gates with a picture painted across the front had a security hole to put your arm through to open them. The booking details had told us of the resident dog Ruff and indeed a large dobermann bounced up to greet us. Eventually the only other residents of the 4 apartment block made a phone call for us to get the manager to come along and let us into our place. Our place had a lounge room with kitchen and dining area, a bathroom with a hotwater tap and a large airy bedroom, all with tiled floors.
Our first walk to the new supermarket ( three chains from the corner said Winston the manager!) and we saw only politely curious black faces. In the supermarket 3 young school girls said "Hello and how are you today?". They followed us around helping us with our selections. The meat section displayed chicken feet, pigs tails, smoked pigs tails, cow feet and many other wonderful choices.
Next day we walk along the beach and back. On the street corner a woman calls us over to "take a picture". The men sitting beside her have caught a small shark and it is slowly dying on the roadside. Further on through the village a rasta man comes up to us and tells us all about Tacky's monument. Tacky was a slave who escaped and when the soldiers had him within their sights, Tacky decided he would rather die than be recaptured so he jumped off some sheer cliffs with a waterfall and killed himself. The falls are now called Tacky's Falls. Rollin (our new rasta friend) marches us around places he thinks might interest us and mentions that our beach walk might not be the safest stroll as some tourists were robbed there a few months ago! As we take our leave of Rollin who is busily trying to arrange a fishing boat trip for us the next day on our suggestion, he broadly hints that he could use a donation for his time.
In the early evening Rollin arrives at our gate and calls to us. When we go outside the compound to meet him he hands us two plastic bags. He has made a dinner for us of traditional Jamaican food. There is festival (a cornmeal fritter), callaloo, ackee, fried plantain slices and a bottle of sorrel juice. I put the chicken soup I had made in the fridge for the next night and thoroughly enjoy Rollin's meal. We enjoy the next few days mingling with the locals, a smile at a woman with a beautiful baby boy and she hands him to me for a hold! She tells me I could become his Godmother. Rollin takes us through the fruit market to the meat market where the butchers are cutting up whole pigs and goats as people point to the cut they want. A woman laughs at Rollin being there as Rastas dont eat pork, so I tell her that I will make sure he doesn't buy any!
Through the night the winds get up and our boat trip never eventuates as the rough seas stay for several days.
A man takes us through the modest one bedroomed house. We see the room where he painted, the sitting room with two baby grand pianos, the dining room that is open to the NW where amongst so many famous people, the Queen Mother came to lunch. The very plates, cups and wine glasses sit washed and stacked on the sideboard behind the table. Then there is "the room with a view" he wrote about. What a view over Pt Maria with Carbarita Island in the bay. Noel is buried in the garden in his favourite spot looking over that view. The land was once used by the infamous Captain Morgan and the small stone cottage with two foot thick walls and gun slots that is centuries old was built for Morgan to watch for his enemies along the coast!
Noel Coward bought the land and cottage while he was staying a little further on with his friend Ian Fleming. Many scenes from Dr No were filmed on beaches around Jamaica and James Bond was known to only drink Blue Mountains coffee, the best in the world from Jamaica!