Wednesday May 1, 2013
I was finally able to get close to consecutive eight hours of sleep, but yet again we had plans and sleeping in was not one of them. Having talked about it since we first guided Ren and Ashley toward Jamaica instead of Cuba on their way through the Caribbean, the six of us planned on using the time there together to go see the Blue Mountains and some waterfalls. While taking our long walk yesterday we were approached by dozens of people trying to sell us on trips but unfortunately we never knew how legitimate any of them were. Brian and Ren were sent on a mission that morning to find us the best deal and when we met up for coffee around 10:30 they said they found a guy that could take the 7 of us on a packaged deal up through the mountains, to Reach Falls to do some swimming, and stopping at Boston Beach on the way back for food and relaxing. The total cost was $170 or just under $25 per person, plus additional cost to get into the falls. When I realized the bus sat 10 and there were only 7 of us I was quick to suggest that we invite the guys from Tamarisk to join us, thinking we could bring the general price down for everyone. I wasn’t inviting them just so we could save money, I genuinely like hanging out with them, but I also really like saving money. We found Jason on the stairwell once more trying to connect to the internet and invited him along. He was finishing up some business, but since the bus wasn’t coming to get us until just after noon it was still enough time for him to finish his work and round up the other boys. With everyone rushing back to their boats to get ready, we were soon meeting back up in front of the marina with a cooler full of ice that was desperately seeking beer.
Piling all of us into the van we made a stop at a convenience store to stock up on Red Strip, Dragon Stout, and Ting for the expectant Ashley. Continuing on, the buildings of Port Antonio fell away and we were cruising down a two lane road with grassy farms on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. The sights were beautiful and it was really relaxing to watch them pass by in a motored vehicle instead of on foot. There was one stop along the way before we reached the falls and it was the Blue Lagoon. I had originally thought this was the place where the movie of the same name was filmed, but a little check on IMDB later showed that was actually filmed in Fiji. This one we were visiting did still have it’s claim to fame though, by Jacques Cousteau’s 170 foot dive in it. While most of us were just happy to stare at the pretty colors of the water from a distance, Piers, Nick, and Matt quickly had their shirts off and were swimming in what they said was surprisingly cool water. It was a short stop, so they were only in a few minutes before returning to shore to dry off. While waiting for them, us girls browsed the stalls of jewelry and other knick-knacks for sale. Knowing there is no extra space on the boat for frivolous items, coupled with the fact that I don’t know if I’d ever get any use out of these said items, I politely turned down every seller that held something up to me with a hopeful smile. There was still plenty of business for them to be had though, as Ashley spiced up her outfit with a red coffee bean necklace, and Piers now had a new Jamaican flag to decorate his cabin with.
I love how these boats seem to be floating on air.
Matt & Piers taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon.
It didn’t take too long to get to the falls from there, or maybe we were all just having so much fun while talking about our sailing lives with cold roadies in our hands that time seemed to speed up a little. It was time to suit up and head down to the falls. Our driver told us to follow the well marked path down which would lead us straight to the falls. At the bottom there would be a guide that could walk us up the falls if we wanted, for a tip, or we could try doing it ourselves although it is not as much recommended. Finding the cement staircase with guardrails on the side (what is this, America?) we walked down to see a wide beautiful waterfall in front of us. It wasn’t too high, maybe 20-25 feet, but all it’s rushing water let to a delicate pool below that looked like the perfect place to swim while admiring the falls. We were all a little tentative to get in the water, only because it was much colder than the warm bath waters of the sea we’re used to, but Jimmy took the first plunge and we were all soon behind. There was a spot off to the side for jumping in the pool, and since it was only about 15 feet up and half the height of our jump at Dean’s Blue Hole, most of us were off it without a second thought. Stephanie took a little coaxing, but she too enjoyed the thrill of momentary zero-g.
There was a cave under the fall that most of the guys pushed their way past the barreling water and inside right after they made their initial jump in the water. Then it was time to have the guide bring us up the stream. Climbing the mossy side, most of us had opted out of wearing shoes since we figured they’d just get in the way, although with the amount of times I almost lost balance and face planted into rocks, I think they may have been worth the inconvenience. I brought up the rear, quite far behind actually, and didn’t get to enjoy the sights so much on the way up since I was constantly looking at the placement of my feet and where they would go next. I finally caught up to everyone though, due to obstacles like climbing over downed trees and squeezing through rock crevices, and then it was time to go back down….through the water. Our guide had deposited us at an area of the stream where the water ran down through a cave/tunnel before coming back out…and we were about to go through it. He gave instructions to the guys on how to get through and helped us girls down since it was about an eight foot drop. I was let down first and sat inside while I waited for Ashley to follow behind me. There were still spots for the light to shine through and it was actually quite wide. Getting tired of waiting I waded over to where I thought the exit was, and just when I was about to make the plunge to get out, Jimmy popped up in the cave, having come through it backwards. He showed me the way out and how to get down the next few obstacles where I was able to impress him with a belly flop into the next standing pool of water.
The rest of the way back down was much easier, floating through the open pools and walking over stones in some shallower areas. When we got back to the fall Matt was talked into jumping off the top of it, and although I was not worried about him and the distance to the bottom, the slippery wet moss at the top did make me worry that he might have a less than graceful fall. This guy is impervious to danger though and was back to swimming in the pool at the bottom just a few seconds later. I once again made the shorter jump off the side and made my way across the pool to finally check out the cave for myself. There was quite a current pushing you away as you tried to get in, but basically hanging on the back of Ashley as she went in before me, I was able to pull myself in as well. This cave was much bigger but also much darker than the first one we had been in. Matt lead us through a path in the cave that led us out the side of the cave where there was barely a trickle of water coming down over us. I was a little disappointed at this since I expected to burst back through the powerful opening we came in, but maybe it’s better because that route would most likely have led to a black eye , which I’m pretty good at getting. Back at the landing everyone was enjoying their drinks we brought down from the van and we watched the sun begin to lower and shoot brilliant yellow colors over the falls. Before we left, Jason set up his fancy camera equipment and took a great group shot of all of us.
(Above two photos courtesy of Rode Trip)
Go for it Jimmy!
Me & Piers floating downstream.
(Above two photos courtesy of Jason Windebank)
Getting ourselves back into the van we made our way to Boston Beach for some eats and relaxing. It wasn’t quite what I expected when we got there. I was thinking that something named beach would be a little more…beachy. This was just a patch of grass with a path leading down to a rocky waterfront. It was fine though since there were no plans to lay out on sandy beaches or get in the water, and it was still a good place for watching a sublime sunset reflect off the rocks in the distance. Stopping first at the food stands on the road we ordered items like jerk chicken and pork for dinner with sides of festival, a sweet slightly fried kind of breadstick, and brought our food to a grassy patch to enjoy it. Around us were locals trying to sell jewelry and trinkets, and I finally broke down and bought a bracelet made of sea root, after trying on every one he had to find one that could fit my tiny wrist. We were all tired and happy and when the food was gone we climbed back into the van for the ride home while watching the sky turn pink and orange out of our windows. But you know us…our night was not over yet..