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Reach Falls Portland, Jamaica | Jamaican Conquest

For a journey that took me three (3) hours from Ocho Rios, Jamaica, many would think it would have drained me. However it was definitely the opposite. I was constantly energized by the beauty of the land. No cliche, no over selling, Portland is the most beautiful and relaxing parish on the blessed land of Jamaica.

I pulled over every 10 minutes marveling at the views, however after the third go I realized I would never Reach before sun Falls at this rate. Journeyed past Boston drawn by the scent of jerk pork marinated with the secret spices of Portland Jamaica. Boston was followed by Long Bay and then came Manchioneal, followed by the signs, “Reach Falls up ahead”.

On arrival at Reach Falls, I learnt I had decided to visit on a busy day (Sunday), and honestly I was disappointed. Nature would not have this disappointment last, as shortly after I was aligned with tour guide Pete who shared with me the history of Reach Falls. This would enable my imprinting on this treasure.

I was first guided under the waterfalls which I was informed was a great hiding spot utilized by the maroons and runaway slaves. We then took upstream into the unknown, for me at least.

As I headed upstream, my grin became permanent, I could not believe this had been hidden from me all these years. Reach Falls definitely did not disappoint, there were both flora and fauna leaping out at me and my heart was full, and for a moment I felt I was Tarzan, WILD AND FREE.

Free from all the hassle, the programmes and the pollution, both physical and mental. Though popular, Reach Falls felt untouched, and I myself was very mindful of the trail I left behind. Therefore many times, in an act to protect the flora I opted to swim. Portland Jamaica was like nowhere I had ever experienced.

I literally meant the grin didn’t leave my face. I thought there was no more that could top this experience, until Pete asked if I had ever heard of the Reach Falls Rabbit Hole. Of course I haven’t, he then became silent and continued directing me upstream.

We then came to a stop and Pete pointed to where I would be jumping into. “This is the Rabbit Hole” he said. I smiled, maybe because the grin was permanent. But I was terrified. “Jump and you will see” was the answer to “What is down there?”

This photo is a true depiction of embracing uncertainty. I would share with you lovely people what lies below, but what would be the point? Please ensure you experience the Reach Falls Rabbit Hole. All I will say it that it was Gavmazing.

I am sure you could see I enjoyed myself. And so will you. There are a lot of memories I swam away with. I urge you to create your own.

Admission is J$500 /US$10 for adults and J$250 / US$5 for children under 12yrs.

REACH FALLS CONQUERED. RABBIT HOLE CONQUERED.

Statia Exploration | St. Eustatius Golden Rock

Welcome

Being from Jamaica which many consider a small island, I was unaware of what 21 kilometer squared felt, looked and tasted like. St. Eustatius, affectionately called Statia is definitely a Golden Rock. How could such a small Island have so much to offer? It’s not like I have never seen the world before. I have seen a lot, but Statia packaged it so perfectly and the delivery was flawless.

I landed and immediately I dived into the culture, this time not literally. I was greeted as if I was a Statian returning with goodies for the family. However this family were the ones offering the goodies to me, and how dare I say no.

I posed next to the sign, however at that point Statia had not yet imprinted on me. The Smoke Alley Beach had a cultural explosion I had to experience. What other way to commence this trip to Statia?

Explosion was the correct word. Statia smelt like a cultural melting pot. There was the Spanish, Caribbean and Dutch cuisines offered and as you would have known me by now from my previous blogs, I never skip an adventure.

As diverse as the food was, so were the people and the liquor. Their warm pleasant personalities solidified in my heart that this was indeed genuine, no pretense, no selfish agendas. It was this that activated my permanent smile on the Golden Rock.

Science and Education

Having a strong appreciation for the natural science and education, St. Eustatius really spoke to my inner geek, as I learnt of both the land and aquatic species through both the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute and the STENAPA. Here I learnt of the invasive Green Iguana and the measures taken to control its population. Once again I am not known to pass on an adventure, and had to pet this specie that is as foreign to this land as I am.

I was also privileged to visit the schools and share with the pupil my experiences, my challenges and my dreams. Encouraging them to never stop dreaming for it is through these dreams we learn more about ourselves. With my eyes years ago being where my knee was, I had no knowledge of Statia nor the impact it would have on me. Keep dreaming viewers. I must applaud organizations such as the Mega D Youth Foundation for their commitment to developing the youth on Statia.

Known for venturing where my feet touches ground, this adventure had me sailing out my comfort zone. As co-captain we headed to explore the marine ecosystems and vibrant coral reefs of Statia. These are protected gems, literally, as STENAPA recognizes this as a Marine National Park.

Anthony Reid the Director of Economy and Infrastructure for Statia showcased the impressive agricultural programmes and the plans to solidify food security on the island. These are initiatives many other small islands should model. Request a tour and have a true Agrotourism experience.

Nature Adventures

Venturing back into my element of hiking, I was excited to explore the Quill and Boven National Parks. What the adventure had to offer was described to me, however I had no idea I would be this mind blown. If you have been following thus far you would have realized this is not a simple island.

The Quill

When told about venturing into a dormant volcano the thrill that follows is unforgettable. Does dormant mean it could become active tomorrow? So many questions and scenarios were enacted in my mind, trying my best to protect self. On entering the Quill National Park it was clear to me that I was the one responsible for protecting, and any disturbance could only be caused by us. It was then I decided to “Leave No Trail”.

We hiked following the arrows pointing to the Quill. And it was on reaching the crater that my curiosity spiked to having me wonder if there will be magma remains or will it be hotter within. I know, silly thoughts, but when excitement takes you over there is a slim line between logic and fairy tale.

Entering the crater solidified that there were no trails of magma visible. It was as if venturing into a healthy, protected and cherished forest. It was cool and amazing. It was in this moment I added the Quill to my travel bucket list and in the same breath crossed it off. Conquered!!

Being 6 feet 3 inches mattered not inside the quill. I shrunk and felt small for once. It was probably my smile which refused to shrink, I was elated. The trees, the leaves, the roots, and the rocks all expanded around me.

On exiting the crater I caught a quick glance of Nevis, an adventure I’ll soon take.

Boven

For my journey into the Boven National Park I headed to the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute for a bicycle. This was an interesting journey which will require you staying hydrated. Unlike the Quill this hike has you in full blast of the sun and for this I had no fairy tale expectations. I was out to have an amazing time and capture Statia in all its beauty, and so I did.

On starting the hike I must admit it was not easy maneuvering the rocky trail. I paused and looked back and was amazed of this view from a different vantage point. At this point I was living the fairy tale.

The paths are clear and same for directions. I capitalized on the few covers I encountered on this hike and took well needed rest and photos of course.

On Statia I saw my first wild snake. It drew my attention as it slithered through the shrubs heading to its home or what might just be its hiding spot. For I was a stranger here.

Amazing right? It’s quite obvious that the peak seen in the photo below is the Quill which I had already conquered. The view was amazing and so was the breeze. I am honest in saying I didn’t want to leave. And this wasn’t only because I was tired.

Both hikes should be on your to do list when planning your trip to Statia. If you visited and didn’t take on these challenges, please return.

City and Night Life

In exploring St. Eustatius, the architecture will grab your attention. The cultural relevance in any development is considered and it is obvious. The pavements, the houses, cemetery and even the churches were culturally relevant.

What amazed me was the people’s knowledge of their history. Cultural Identity is lost in many islands. However Statia ensures theirs is preserved.

For a small Island who would have thought Statia had so much to offer? One would have thought its time to sleep. But no, Statia doesn’t sleep. Karaokes, restaurants, bars, and even the food and ice cream from Mobile Delicious.

The people are warm, friendly and generous. Statia has captured my heart and definitely will be seeing me again. I couldn’t keep this experience to myself, the world should know and experience pure untouched culture, food, drinks and nature.

You can’t pretend to enjoy five apple ales. One cannot pretend to enjoy Statia. It is either you do or you don’t. I will guarantee you that you will. Visit or revisit soon.

STATIA CONQUERED!

Old Spanish Bridge, Jamaica | Complete Guide

My Spanish being rusty did not Bridge a gap between a great time and myself up in the hills of Labyrinth, St. Mary, Jamaica. I dived into the Spanish culture as if I was back in the 17th century when it was built. Yes I dived, but this time literally. But first let us take you from Ocho Rios to the Old Spanish Bridge

Compared to my Reach Falls Adventure, this journey took me only 45 minutes . Heading from Ocho Rios, turn right at the stoplight before the White River Bridge, head straight up to Mile End, turn left, at Cascade turn right. In addition to using your google map to search for Spanish Bridge Jamaica, NEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS.

You will realize the adventure takes you on narrowing dirt tracks, surrounded by lush green forestry, and notice, even the smell is different. It smells as if the flora and fauna has found balance and takes care of each other. It smells like home. Sadly, I am but a tourist.

At first glance I was absolutely speechless. Nature smiled at me and at that point I understood what the Spanish had in mind when they marked Jamaica with the Spanish Bridge. A true indicator of Spanish colonization. I exited the vehicle and headed straight to the banks. There were no trail present, I knew then I had a responsibility then to mother nature.

Seeing this beautiful Spanish Bridge had me realize I was held bondage by the cotton and denim I wore. But this was short lived.

I had now experienced true freedom, and for a moment the stream could be confused with the run off from the melting ice caps in the Arctic. Yes it was that cold. That feeling also was short lived, my body within a minute was acclimatized, and now I truly was at home , and FREE.

It is important that with all adventures, the different angles are explored. Here is an angle of the Spanish Bridge many may have missed while being captivated by the frontal view. No one is to blame, you would have gotten your heart filled with just one glance.

Allow the current to take you to the banks where you first admired the Spanish Bridge. Please note that the depth of the water under the bridge and a little past it is not recorded. Meaning, as Jamaicans would say “IT DEEP BAD!”. Be cautious. Life vests are also available.

In my Reach Falls Adventures I had a brief Tarzan Moment. This adventure however would unlock fully what it is like to swing into uncertainty, embracing fear and the cold.

I know its a lot to conjure up such courage to allow gravity to steer your fate. However if you aren’t such a risk taker, your swing from the Spanish Bridge can be a guided one. Guides are ever present to assist and also cheer you on.

I look forward to your feedback, share your experience and feel free to ask for guidance as I am ever ready to assist.

I told you I dived into Spanish Culture. I should have added swung to that.

Spanish Bridge Conquistado!