A few days into our Jamaica trip and things are irie. We spent the first two nights at the Grand Port Royal Hotel. Scenes from the James Bond film Dr. No were filmed there in the early '60s and the property has an air of once-greatness as it now doesn't get enough business to keep up appearances. I think there were more staff at the hotel than guests while we were there, though I think business picks up on the weekends when Kingston folks head to Port Royal for a quick getaway. Port Royal's main attraction is Fort Charles (renamed from Fort Cromwell after the Restoration), the remaining British naval fortress which survived the 1692 earthquake that sunk two thirds of the city and thousands of people. The site tour guide, a Rastaman claiming descent from Port Royal buccaneers provided a very entertaining narration. Despite some pre-trip hopes we didn't go snorkeling over the sunken pirate city
The last two days were spent up in the Blue Mountains at a lovely funky guesthouse called Mount Edge, with buildings which do in fact cling to the side of a steep ravine. Our cabin has a mishmash of construction that you can get away with in the tropics--half of the floor is polished stone on concrete while the other half is wood over the mountain slope that you can see through the cracks. The shower has a plastic bottom for some reason and you can see the PVC drain lead off through the grass beneath your feet. As I write this the night is loud with crickets and, I think frogs, chirping and croaking away. During the day cars honk as they approach curves in the winding mountain road--the low honk of truck horns sounds like the mating call of the lorries. The establishment is also the EITS Cafe, serving seriously delicious meals in an open air dining area where twin-tailed hummingbirds occasionally zip by your head.
Yesterday we toured a coffee plantation where a guide extolled the virtues of Blue Mountain coffee beans being the best in the world. I can't verify that claim; coffee generally smells so terrible to me that I don't even try to taste it. That said, I was able to drink a whole cup of pure Blue Mountain coffee without adding any other flavors which is a sing signal that it's good stuff. We then walked over to Strawberry Hill, a very fancy hotel, and had lunch. They seemed bewildered that we had just walked up their driveway; I guess guests at fancy hotels always come by car. We then walked further down into Irish Town, long ago home to Irish coopers who made the barrels by which Jamaican coffee was shipped to England. Today I hiked solo up the road two hours with no particular destination, though I turned around at the Gap Café when I discovered no one was there--so I couldn't celebrate my thousand foot accent with a cool beverage. Walking down I was bathed in clouds for awhile, taking in the scent of most tropical trees and bushes along with fresh asphalt. The clouds then lifted, revealing fine views of the Kingston harbor, though higher clouds and a mouse atmosphere likely mean the photos aren't great.
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