Montego Bay and east to Ochos Rios

Saturday 2 December to Wednesday 6 December

It isn’t often that the family comes together. 2016 was a good year as we celebrated Hayden & Andrea’s wedding in Granada, Spain, and Alex & Sarah’s wedding in Yarrawonga, Australia. And we were lucky to include trips to Berlin and New York to catch up with Hayden & Andrea and Evan & Stephanie respectively, during our 2017 travels.

But we had a big family celebration for Bruce’s 70th birthday.

After much discussion, we settled on Jamaica in the Caribbean. We expected warm weather and relatively easy travelling.

Unfortunately, plans were thwarted when Hayden & Andrea’s flight was cancelled after Air Berlin was dissolved. Fortunately, the German government stepped in and helped fund new flights, but it turned out to be a long and arduous journey, more than 24 hours and three flights each way.

We had booked Ladywood at Russell Villas for our stay. We arrived to a very open and brightly painted house of four bedrooms and lots of plein air living. Perfect.

The staff at the house cooked for us and we enjoyed many Jamaican treats such as jerk chicken, chicken curry, goat curry and fish 2 ways. Fruit was taken from the garden, and the local ‘pear juice’ was a great breakfast treat. We ate outside overlooking the pool and the Caribbean Sea. It was hot but we also had some rain, so it was quite humid. 

Evan & Steph had met us at the Sangster International Airport, so we got settled in, chose our rooms and made our first visit to the supermarket for food, beer and wine before Hayden & Andrea arrived.

Then it was Sunday,10 and apart from shopping for more food, beer and wine, we stayed in, enjoying the pool. 

We ventured out the following day to Montego Bay. Steph wanted to see the old town but Melly would only drive us through, he said it was too dangerous. After a short stroll of about 500m along the ‘hip strip’ we stopped in at the Doctor’s Beach Club for lunch, treating ourselves to wine and beer which is unusual for us in the middle of day. 

And of course there was lots of chatter. 

Our next adventure was to Ochos Rios (the eight rivers). We stopped en route at Discovery Bay where Christopher Columbus had landed in 1494. The Christopher Columbus Park had been developed by the Kaiser Bauxite Company which is nearby. The bauxite site is an iconic looking structure which was used as Dr No’s headquarters. Ian Fleming had lived in Jamaica and the settings of some of his stories were heavily influenced by the country. 

We continued on to the Dunn’s River Falls. The adventure here is to climb the falls, that is to climb through the running water, to reach the top of the falls. We were told that tour groups go in crocodile lines, holding hands as they make there way up through the slippery rocks and gushing water. 

We had to buy beach shoes, $US10 each, another addition to the luggage. They were bright green, yellow and black, Jamaica colours. We were glad for them as some of the rocks were slippery and others were sharp.

Evan and Steph had armed themselves with waterproof satchels to hold their smart phones so that much of our mirth could be recorded. 

It was a bizarre experience, with local guides reving up their clients to have the courage to do the climb. And some of the clients certainly needed all the encouragement they could muster. 

We had some fun afterwards in the children’s playground area with the water slides.

Afterwards we were ready for lunch, typical Jamaican jerk chicken and typical Jamaican music, in nearby Ochos Rios.

Our driver and guide Otis took us to see fire water, the incredible Flaming Waters nearby. Really a sulphur fissure bubbling into a stream. The highlight was that you could light the fumes. We were equally entertained by the villagers, who were putting on the show for us.

Steph, in her research, had found the New Seville Historic Home so we stopped by for a visit. It was extraordinarily expensive to enter this old colonial house to see the historical exhibition, so we made do with photos around the former Hoskins home. 

We then visited Duncan Bay, a favourite place for expats to build luxury homes on the waterfront. 

We spent the next day at the Rose Hall Beach Club. We were offered free membership, but as it turned out negotiations had changed since the offer, so we were given strict instructions not to sit on the seats or go to the rotunda which was part of the massive development next door called Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa.  

Evan and Steph enjoyed the beach while Hayden and Andrea enjoyed the pool. And of course more chatter. A lazy day. 

In the evening we went to Glistening Waters Luminous Lagoon at Falmouth. The lagoon is famous for the water which become luminous when it is agitated. The luminosity shows up at night, so our tour was an evening excursion. The lagoon is formed where the Martha Brae River meets the Caribbean Sea and the microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates thrive in the layers where salt and fresh waters combine into brackish waters. They glow brightest in the shallow, warm water. So as these creatures glowed, you could make out fish and jellyfish in the lagoon.

As part of the experience you can swim in the water and get close to the luminescent creatures.

As Australians we were concerned about swimming with jelly fish, but we cracked up when the boat’s captain assured us “don’t worry man, these jelly fish testicles won’t sting you”. I do hope he meant tentacles. 🦑 

We stayed on at the Glistening Waters Restaurant for dinner, with perhaps the most friendly waitress we have ever been served by.