Monday, 13 August 2012

Pot Holes R Us

In spite of the catchy title of this blog, there are no pictures of pot holes. That is because we were too busy navigating them and it as much too dangerous to stop in the middle of one, lest one is rammed by an overzealous Jamaican driver, to take pictures. Let me start of the beginning of a very interesting and excellent Sunday . . . 

If you have been following the last few blogs you will know that some friends and I were in Portland parish on the northeast shore for a few days of relaxation out of the heat of Kingston. We usually drive up and back over the Junction. However, I have wanted to drive around the eastern end of Jamaica so that I could say I have circumnavigated the island.  Also wanted to see what is out there.  This is in spite of what all the locals kept saying: "you can't drive that road", "it is too dangerous", you will get many flat tires", "the road will be flooded", "the higglers will put trees across the road and stop you, wanting money to remove the trees", "you will have to turn back", and on and on the warnings went. 

However, with support of my brave passengers - Brianna, Ivy, Britta and Fred - we decided we would try the road, stopping at Reach Falls along the way and the statue of Paul Bogle  in Morant Bay.  We could always turn back :-)  

Turns out that it was folklore and we had made a serendipitous decision. The eastern shore is extra-ordinarily beautiful: sometimes we felt like we were driving through the countryside of northern England or Ireland, complete with stone fences and hedgerows;  and sometimes I felt like we could have been on the north shore of Oahu watching the surfers. 

Most of the road was just fine and much better than many roads I have driven in Jamaica. The pot-holed section lasted about 25 km, started a while after we left Reach Falls and lasted until just west of Port Morant, and took us about 90 minutes to navigate. And I do mean navigate: these are caverns or dugouts or whatever you want to call them and they cross the entire road, with little respite in the entire 25 km stretch. Sometimes you can drive through them slowly, rarely can you drive around them, and often you have to ease the front tires hesitantly and hope they come out the other side before the back tires get stuck.  Fortunately, we did not get stuck and no flat tires.  Though I certainly would not want to do this in the rain or at night. 

Unfortunately we did not see the famous Edna Manly statue of the equally famous leader of the Morant Bay Rebellion. According to Brianna's Lonely Planet book, which she wisely brought with her, it has been removed for restoration after damage from the last hurricane. 

It was good to be home. But I would do it again. And next time I'll try and get some pictures of the pot holes. In the meantime, here are the pictures I do have . . .
The green farmlands of eastern Portland parish, between Priestman's River and Manchioneal.

Long bay.  The strong surf and undertow prevent large tourist developments, but it is a gorgeous beach.

Fred walking the beach.

Ivy soaking up the beauty and the sun.

Rest stop across from Long Beach

Road along the cliffs of the eastern shore.

Sheltered harbour of Manchioneal with painted dugout canoes on the shore.

Drivers River at Reach Falls

Reach Falls. There were more falls higher up, but we did not want to take the tour up there as we were more keen to cool down in the waters. It was very hot and humid. You can swim here in the pools under the falls; and also enter the falls midway and come down and out through the curtain of water.

Sunny and her little cousin Raj. They sat with me and kept stroking my hair and saying "soft".  I had to stroke their hair and say "prickly!"  They laughed at that and had a lot of fun looking at their pictures on my camera. 

Upper pool at Reach Falls

Upper pool at Reach Falls

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