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A trip to Jamaica's south coast gives a glimpse of the real Jamaica and is both thrilling and intriguing. You must have the time and the desire to spend a rewarding eight hour day getting to know Jamaicans who are going about their day to day lives. Tour the other side of Jamaica and experience the "life". See many villages, small towns and farming communities which form the bedrock of communities. Of note are the many British names you will find along the route. This is by no means surprising. Such a journey takes you from Montego Bay due west and then south up Long Hill to your first top with is the "Bird Lady" Lisa Salmon (deceased) where hundred of birds of varying species some indigenous to Jamaica come to feed at 3.00 P.M. daily. The journey to Montpelier where you will find roving acres of oranges. Once upon a time this area housed a dairy plant with lots of cows. The land mark here is the 100 year old Anglican Church which sits proudly atop the hill. Jamaica is famous for its many churches and "rum bars" quite an interesting contrast. The famous Cuban barracks are a strong reminder of the many Haitans who were once housed in their bid to escape the hardships of their homeland.
The journey continues through Chester Castle with the its small and quaint Catholic Church steeped in history. Then its on through numerous farming communities with persons either going about their fields or milling around enjoying their siesta. From Bethel Town it on to Woodstock Great House which has been restored and the owners are creatively engaged in farming and production. Then New market which is famous for its under water caverns. During the famous 'June Floods of 1979' this small town was submerged for several years which saw to the relocation of a once thriving market to New Town. The next stop is a must in Middle Quarters where you will find the famous "Scwimps" shrimps spiced and cooked to perfection for visitors and locals alike. The famous Bamboo avenue is not far away. For three miles bamboos form a canopy over the road - a most scenic drive. YS falls could be a treaty if time allows.
Move on to Black River which remains reminiscent of the old days. The longest navigable river in Jamaica is home a species of the Jamaica crocodile. Boats ply this river and this is a treat for the crocodiles who are hand fed by guests. This was formerly a means of transportation for spices, logwood for making dyes, sugar and produce. The first house to have electricity is found in Black River. The real reason for this trip is to spend the day in the 'bread basket of Jamaica in which farming is king even though it is the driest area in Jamaica. Farmers use creative ways and means of irrigating and 'green house" farming seems to be popping up. Every possible tract of land is used skillfully. The lawns could be replaced by a bed of onions or escalliion, pine or melons or other vegetable crops. History has it that a ship with some Scottish marines was wrecked and the sailors swam ashore and melded with the natives of African descent. Residents are independent farmers, skilled workmen as can be borne out in their opulent homes or engaged at the bauxite companies. One of Jamaica's famous sons' roots - Colin Powell can be found in this area of South St. Elizabeth.
A walk through the community is a must. A visit to 'Lovers' Leap will give you a full picture from one mile above sea level. It is said the son of a white farmer jumped with his slave girlfriend to their death since they were not allowed to married. Then it's off to a friend's home where the afternoon is spent enjoying a true Jamaican fare topped up with fine display of fruits and bakes from the area. The day is complete and the return journey takes you via the south coastline another interesting review. This is Jamaica and a must do for nature lovers.