The best days are always the spontaneous and unplanned ones. After all, what is traveling without unexpected epic adventures?
Boring that’s what it is. Boring planned fun.
But boring is not something that goes well with our blood and spontaneous adventures seem to find us again and again. Just like the time we were in Port Antonio, Jamaica.
Like the day before, today was going to be cloudy with a great chance of rain, so visiting Reach Falls was out of the question, again. It didn’t seem like we were going to do anything, besides maybe walk around town and chat with the locals.
But somehow the universe had something else in mind.
It was lunchtime and we were getting hungry. Fortunately, we knew exactly what we wanted to eat and where to get it, Jerk Chicken at Seabird i.e The Chicken Man’s grill. We met Seabird a few days earlier as he was the first person to greet us when we got to Porty. He was also the one who suggested a gorgeous place for us to stay up in the hills of Port Antonio, called Mango Ridge.
Remembering who we were, he asked us what our plans were for today.
“Nothing,” we responded. “It’s way too cloudy today and it looks like it’s gonna rain soon. We just gonna hang out in town.”
He looked into the sky and shook his head. “No worries, man it’s not gonna to rain. Why don’t you guys take a taxi up to Rio Grande.”
We heard of Rio Grande before but all we knew about it was that tourists go there to float down the river on a bamboo raft. “I don’t know, we don’t really have the $70 bucks for bamboo rafting right now.”
“No mon, just walk around and enjoy mother nature.”
“Wait, you can walk around there? “
“Yeh Mon!, it’s irie.”
At first we didn’t know if we should follow his advice but after we got near the route taxis port near the Texaco gas station we said fuck it. It’s not like we had anything else to do.
We found a taxi and told the driver to take us to Rio Grande but then he asked where in Rio Grande as it was a huge area. We, of course, had no clue. So we just told him to drop us off at a nice place to walk around.
“No worries mon, I have a nice place for you! Cornwall barracks is beautiful, I will take you there.”
And off we went! He was not lying, even the drive up there was beautiful. Nature at it’s best. We got there and it was just breathtaking!
So unprepared for this adventure, we hiked the area in our slippers and drank our half liter water bottle that we happened to have with us within minutes.
We walked over a swinging bridge, trekked and swam through the river, explored a hidden cave, and spoke to locals living in the quiet, and nature rich village.
We loved every second of it! These are the moments we yearn for during our travels. The off the beaten path attractions and not the popular ones like Dunn’s River Falls. Mass tourism seriously destroys the charm of a place.
We would take this quiet, peaceful and lushes green hike over any crowded tourist attractions any day. And you know what, we would have never found this place if we didn’t interact with the locals or didn’t take our nose out of those travel guidebooks.
Jamaicans love their country and love sharing it’s beauty with visitors, so interact with the locals because you never know what hidden spot you might discover!
Have you ever visited a place you would have never seen if it wasn’t for a local? Share your local driven adventures with us!
Cornwall Barracks is such a lovely place – been there twice. Beautiful people, lov it. Thx fo your report :)
Alan Oakley says
Typically late, I just saw your Cornwall Barracks blog. My mother was born there and I experienced it for myself for the first time in 2005. Sadly she was never able to persuade me to go while she was alive. You didn’t mention the Maroons, so you may not be aware that this village at what was formerly Cornwall Pen is a satellite of Moore Town, the HQ of the Windward Maroons. A British barracks building was built there around the turn of the 19th century but destroyed a few years later when there was no longer any perceived threat of invasion by marauding Spanish or French fleets. An uneasy peace had existed between the Maroon rebels and the British for some half a century by this time and the Abolitionist movement was gaining serious traction back in Britain.
Local Maroons used some of the materials from the destroyed building to expand the village that today bears its name.
Incidentally, you are pictured on Swinging Bridge but this (revised) structure has been no more since the Rio Grande broke its banks during heavy rainfall 3 years ago, almost to the day. I happened to be there (in Port Antonio) when the news broke and wondered how people, many of whom are relatives, would cope. Mother Nature has conspired to place barriers in the way of these people for centuries, so it was no surprise when I heard they drew on their typical resolve to find a way. Now, however, I understand that an infinitely more substantial and thoroughly engineered bridge has been installed; funded, I imagine, by the Chinese (as are most things in Jamaica these days). I’m a little saddened in a way because I was already lamenting never being able to experience the rope and rotting board version of Swinging Bridge my mother described in tales of her childhood.
Marcia Green says
Hey Alan it’s your cousin Marcia. Ba’Stan my grandfather used to take us to church on the old swinging bridge. He placed all 4 of us all under 10 years on his donkeys back. That’s where I developed my fear of heights. The donkey was sure footed but I could feel that bridge moving beneath us.
Now, those are treasured memories. Us grandkids were feeling ourselves because we had spent a few years in the Bronx. This close to nature lifestyle was good for bringing us close to our home.
On the way back, I preferred to take off my Sunday clothes and hike back through the bush and cross the river by foot.
Such old and happy memories from the late 60s and early 1970s.
Woww this is awesome! Sounds like my kind of adventure 🤗
Thanks for all of the great Jamaica posts. We have been there several times and have never stayed in a touristy place or done touristy things. The locals in Jamaica are divine people and cook up one hell of a meal when they have us over. We have been gifted to meet so many good Jamaicans we now call friends/family!
Jamaicans make Jamaica truly Jamaica and many vacationers don’t get to meet these amazing people as they stay mostly in resorts. But I am glad we (you and us) got to meet them and call some of them our friends!
Hey, maybe we cross paths in Jamaica one day! I think that would be awesome!
Thanks for sharing your unexpected dsy. We took a road trip around Jamaica on one of our trips there and discovered Zion Country in Mancheoneal..Somerset Falls…blue lagoon..Alligator Pond…Boston Beach..Strawberry Fields…Firefly…Frenchman’s Cove…An eerily empty Jamaica Palace..Goblin Hill..Forres Park near Mavis Bank..Strawberry Hill..Nine Mile..Treasure Beach.. The wonderful Hibiscus Hotel …little ochi.. Glisteningcwaters in Falmouth…the past its prime Cariblue and unforgettable Memorabilia bar…Mandeville…kingston.. Castleton gardens.. I could go on and on but each memory is seared in my soul. Special is an understatement. All of the lovely…creative..funny ..kind people we met and the gorgeous nature and scenery and music and food. Memories of Jamaica are so precious. You never ever know what may be around rhe next curve.
I couldn’t agree with you more Elizabeth, our memories of Jamaica are sooo precious to us. We love Jamaica, it holds a special place in our hearts!
And yes!!! You never know what is waiting for you around the corner :)
P.s. Love that you visited so much of JA!
Ryan Biddulph says
Wow guys, beautiful!
Reminds me so much of Fiji. I had a similar experience in Fiji, on Vanua Levu. We thought we’d see a waterfall at a national park. 3 hours later we asked a local for permission to walk through their property to the most stunning scenery I’ve soaked up in person. Private land, amazing, inspired experience.
Thanks for sharing!
That sounds like it was gorgeous. Sometimes all you gotta do is ask! Thanks for sharing with us Ryan :)
Candace Amos says
Great post! I love Jamaica! I’ve been there four times already and I’m itching to get back. Traveling is all about getting lost in adventure and chatting up the locals. If you ever go back be sure check out the River Bumpkin Farm in Falmouth. Excellent food and the tour guides are so nice.
Thanks Candace :) We are definitely going back to Jamaica without question (it’s now one of our top favorite places) and of course we will check out River Bumpkin Farm. You had me at excellent food … hehehe!
Lieurene Tran says
Hey guys! Wow Jamaica is looking beautiful! It is always great to interact with the locals and learn about their lives as well as their home countries. Unexpected trips are the best! You just never know what you stumble upon if you don’t take a chance so glad you guys did. I love going off the beaten path, it’s great to see underrated places.
Jamaica is soo beautiful, and our trip to Cornwall Barracks was definitely a pleasant surprise. We hope to continue to travel to unknown places, off the beaten paths and stay away from touristy spots and the only way to do that is interact with locals!