Backcountry Jamaica: No Problem -- Steeped in History and a World Away from the Island's Famed Resorts, Jamaica's Rio Grande Valley Provides a Tantalizing Getaway for a Scandal-Weary Washingtonian

By olsen, Eric p. | The World and I, November 1999 | Go to article overview

Backcountry Jamaica: No Problem -- Steeped in History and a World Away from the Island's Famed Resorts, Jamaica's Rio Grande Valley Provides a Tantalizing Getaway for a Scandal-Weary Washingtonian


olsen, Eric p., The World and I


"The fairest island that eyes have beheld; mountainous and the land seems to touch the sky."

----Christopher Columbus

It was February in Washington. Cherry blossoms slumbered through an icy winter rain. Roads choked across the city as potholes multiplied like frisky rabbits. On Capitol Hill, Congress was soiling itself with a tar baby called Monica, while a hunkered-down White House weathered the season with a strategy of abject apologies and ironfisted threats.

It was time to slip away from the tawdry scandal, propagating like a noxious fog from a B-grade monster flick. It was time for Jamaica. After twenty-six years I was returning to the Caribbean island--not this time to inhale a last gasp of the sixties, but for a research project that would take me high into Jamaica's backcountry and--well, yes--a tonic of palm trees and tropical sun.

I was on a tight schedule. My driver would be waiting in Kingston to shuttle me to Port Antonio on Jamaica's north coast. From there I was to travel to Cornwall Barracks in the little-traveled John Crow range of the Blue Mountains. A great cleft carved out of the mountains, the Rio Grande Valley, climbs into these highlands, whose fastness once sheltered Arawak and African refugees in flight from Spanish slavers. Descendants of these archetypal freedom fighters, the Maroons, still dwell in remote settlements, preserving memories and traditions of a heroic struggle for liberty.

I tried to hurry the calendar forward, repacking my shorts and sunscreen. I had been gorging on grapefruit to fortify my system against a raging flu epidemic. But a fever had begun to muddle my head, and as my departure day arrived, the flu boiled within me. Fortunately, my early morning flight was lightly booked, and I staggered aboard and sprawled across three empty seats.

Two hours later, the barren sprawl of Baltimore-Washington yielded to the indigo waters of the Bahamas. As we continued over central Cuba, the green hills and cane fields below radiated an assurance of warmth, health, and tropical vitality.

By midday we had arrived in Kingston, the largest English-speaking city in the Western hemisphere south of Miami. My driver, Steve, a soft- spoken young Jamaican, was a veteran navigator of the jarring seven- hour round trip between Port Antonio and Kingston. Making the circuit sometimes twice a day, Steve was prepared for the incidental interruptions, such as the informal "tolls" requested by locals who supposedly filled in a pothole or performed other road services in exchange for a gratuity from a passing motorist.

As I drank in the moist, restoring air, I considered my options. The choice was through the city and over the mountains or the less-direct route, around the coast and then north and west to Port Antonio. Traffic congestion seemed too dear a price to pay for the more scenic mountain route, so we launched toward the coast. The road wound around the eastern extremity of the island, through a no-man's-land of distressed villages, reduced by decades of neglect and an absence of capital. Reaching the north coast, the road hugged miles of picture- perfect, albeit nearly deserted, beaches. An occasional fishing boat, dugout canoe, or roadside fruit stand added rustic charm and an inducement to dally, which Steve readily agreed to.

Where the mountains meet the sea

Port Antonio, the capital of Portland Parish, is a colonial-era town that still thrives as a banana port. Despite extraordinary beaches cradled among some of the Caribbean's loftiest mountains, Port Antonio appears relatively undiscovered as a tourist destination. One can poke about in leisure through quaint streets, markets, and local galleries for just the right Jamaica, No Problem T-shirt.

Film star Errol Flynn discovered Port Antonio in 1946 and made his home on offshore Navy Island until his death in 1960. Writer Ian Fleming arrived around the same time on a mission from British Naval Intelligence and remained to live, authoring his famed James Bond novels there. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Backcountry Jamaica: No Problem -- Steeped in History and a World Away from the Island's Famed Resorts, Jamaica's Rio Grande Valley Provides a Tantalizing Getaway for a Scandal-Weary Washingtonian
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.