All Around Jamaica Again: Days 7-8-9, Treasure Beach

Nov 7-8 Treasure Beach

The days in TB blend together for me a bit.

I know N left on the night of the 7th to go back to Kingston…I think the storm came the morning of the 8th. N and I “battened down the hatches” on our porch before he left – I refer to these canvas shades that can be pulled down and tied on to block rain – because it was really windy and wet the night before. That was a job that took all of our strength.

Tracy has kept me apprised of the storm and so has Rebecca here, so I know it’s coming but it isn’t coming HERE exactly. Knowing what I do about the state of power lines in TB I fully expect to lose current at some point but so far so good. I have been waking up somewhere between 8 and 10 most days but this morning I am awakened at about 6:30 by howling wind and driving rain.

Since we have this awesome porch over the water, I get out of bed and walk down the hall to check it out. While we are ON the water, we are a good way above it, so I am not afraid…but it is truly a sight to behold, complete with soundtrack of crashing waves, rain and wind.

The “hatches”

Rain out the kitchen window:

Compare that with someone else’s video of the same storm in Negril…we got off easy:

I return to bed after taking these photos and wake up again around 10. It’s still raining a bit but the storm appears to have passed. Kind of funny because we have had the outer bands for days but once it hit, it hit and went on…it remained cloudy this day and rained a little, but the wind was already beginning to die down.

I love “villa life”, hanging out with my friends by the pool…we are teaching the older boys to swim after breakfast each day. Well one can already swim, one can’t yet. But they both love jumping in to me and I am gradually backing up so they are swimming to me instead of jumping into my arms. It’s working, every day the non-swimmer goes further. I remember doing the exact same thing with my own kids who are both competitive swimmers now…much better than I am, in fact. My son did 30 laps of butterfly in practice yesterday. So working with the little kids is fun.

Generally I walk over for breakfast and hang out awhile then head back to the “grownup house”, as we have taken to calling it, for a relaxing afternoon reading or talking or hanging by our pool. Most every day we go down the steps to the beach and swim a little bit. You can see even during the storm our beach is pretty calm, we could always swim there though it wasn’t very deep and even the sandy beach had some rocks.

Our villas are set back from the road a bit and are accessed via driveways or lanes, I guess really, that are lined with houses. We live in a real neighborhood and I like it a lot – no one can walk down that lane without attracting the attention of several dogs and there are always people sitting outside. As the weather has been bad we have taken to walking on the road to the other villa instead of the beach, the water has gotten a little higher down there and it is hard to pass without getting at least feet wet, so we have had at least a wave and a hello with most of the folks that live here.

One thing I really wanted to do in TB this time was get to Great Bay. I’d never been before but had corresponded with Stephanie Genus for a couple of years and wanted to stop by and see her and check out the area. She and her husband Viking have a home for rent as well as Ital Rest, a hostel-roots sort of place on the beach there.

As I also want to go to the new supermarket in Crossroads, I call Rebecca to ask her to get me a driver for my excursion. She calls me right back with Kevin. He is a professional driver, mainly does charters, and he lives on our lane.

I change into real clothes and we head out. It’s probably 15 minutes ride to Great Bay as Billy’s Bay is on one end of TB and Great Bay the other. The roads around here are always quiet, it seems. We pass a car occasionally but for the most part it’s us and some goats, an occasional pedestrian. This area is ideal for scooters or bicycles…next time I will rent one or both.

I tried to call Stephanie to tell her I was heading over but her phone is off. I had emailed her before I left and said I hoped to stop by and it apparently wasn’t any big deal to just drop by.

Kevin knows Stephanie and Viking…you soon find that everyone knows everyone else in TB and often are related in some way to boot. We pull into their yard and head to the little bar that is situated between Ital Rest, Viking House and the family’s homes as no one seems to be around at Viking House.

The bar is a really comfy spot to hang out; just a couple of people are around. I get a beer and Kevin and I chat for a bit but I want to see the beach here. Kevin graciously offers to walk me down…he seems to enjoy being a tour guide as well as a driver and I’m great with that because we are hiking through a field on a path that I’d never find on my own.

I’d love to tell you I took photos of this walk but I did not. Once we got out to the beach though, my camera came out.

Paloma was still sending BIG waves here.

…but a few intrepid aquaphiles are having a ball jumping in them:

This area was calm:

Then it wasn’t:

This is what I think it looks like in normal weather:

These guys were having a blast…if I’d had my suit on I would have joined them:

We are not on the “main” Great Bay beach, which I understand to be a sandy, long, calm one, but sort of to the west side of it. I think the fishing/main beach is past these buildings:

After a bit we walked back up to Vikings. This time people are here. Stephanie is in her house resting so I opt not to bother her, but Viking is around and offers to give me a tour of the house, at least the part guests aren’t in. Viking is an older rasta with a fascinating history. He was a fisherman but gave that up in the 70’s…he has a lot to say about the management of the fisheries, or rather the lack thereof. He has worked and lived in many places in the US but now mainly runs the guesthouses and house with Stephanie.

Viking House is a fairly basic place to stay with comfortable accommodations and incredible hosts. It is a great budget option in TB. Rooms have fans and screens, the yard is surrounded by Viking’s family (I met his dad who has recently retired as he sat on his porch a few steps away), but I can tell guests’ privacy is respected if they want it to be.

Viking and I talk for quite awhile after the tour is over…about US politics…Jamaica…my travels thus far…fishing and government…people we know in common…this is a man I could easily talk to for hours. It was a real treat to meet him and I will definitely be back.

I reluctantly bid him goodbye and Kevin and I get back in the car to go to the supermarket. I have a list of things we’ve run out of (beer) and a few more groceries we need…apparently the bacon is running out. I also need more bug spray. The recent rains have really upped the mozzie population and when you are not in the wind, they are there. I find I spray myself pretty regularly – when I have it on I am fine but if I forget…yowsa. It has gotten me using the AC at night so as to avoid opening the windows in my bedroom. I don’t usually want or need AC in Jamaica but I am using it for just this reason here…and that works fine.

The new supermarket in Crossroads is as big and nice as any I’ve been to in Black River or Kingston or Negril, though I did not go to Megamart or whatever it’s called, this is more than adequate. The only thing I couldn’t find on my list was pretzels for the kids. It is also brand new, with very friendly service. I buy what I need (Kevin insists on coming in and pushing the cart for me), I cash some travelers checks into JA$ at the desk, I get the buy spray from the pharmacy next door.

People could not be friendlier…I really need to emphasize this. Just like Duncans Bay, I am not asked to buy anything and everyone says hi to me, offers to help me find whatever I am looking for (groceries…the right road…whatever and asks nothing in return). It is so easy to RELAX here, I don’t need to have my guard up at all. They definitely have the right idea with the community tourism thing…visitors are not gated in here, they are treated like a part of the community and everyone looks out for them. This is a feeling I cherish and I hope TB always stays this way.

Kevin helps me unload my groceries at the villa, gives me his # should I need a ride at some point, and I head in to change for a swim in our pool and get ready for dinner.

It’s another great day in TB.

Here are a few shots around the villa property:

November 9th, I believe. Sunday.

We eat breakfast which has been awesome every day by the way…there is always ackee and saltfish, also a variety of fruits, sometimes eggs, always bacon, some toast or pancakes. A serious meal that keeps us full until dinner every day.

After breakfast we are swimming and Holly sees dolphins. They are just swimming on by, doing their thing. I grab my camera but I am too late:

You can see in that video though, how calm the water is already. Today will be HOT and sunny…it makes me miss the clouds and drizzle of the past few days because now we have to have shelter from the sun, we can’t just lounge around the two-villa pool all day. Our pool at “grownup villa” has shade and we begin to use it more.

It’s calm enough to walk on the beach again when we go back and forth between the villas.

This beach Dan calls a “beach for two” and it is – perfectly hidden by large rocks it is sheltered and private. Pull a lounge chair down and it could home for an afternoon.

I took a little video of it…you can also see the lowest sea-level deck at SW, we sat here a few times and looked at sea life on the rocks.

I had hoped to go out tomorrow to Guts River and Little Ochi. I’ve been to the latter and really enjoyed it, never been to the former and I really wanted to check it out. But the little kids don’t do car travel very well and the grownups are very happy to stay at the villa, so I leave it on my to-do list for next time.

As the sea is calm today I am noticing boats going by. I want to get out and about and I would like to see an old friend so I call Dennis Abrahams. Dennis is a boat guy…used to be a fisherman but he never has time for that anymore as he is rather popular with Treasure Beach visitors who want to go to Black River or Pelican Bar. He now has a sunset cruise boat called the “Shallow Bar” that he made himself with two “canoes” he attached and put a platform onto. It has a bar and everything, he takes it on sunset cruises when it is calm and has music, drinks and goes out just enough for people to swim if they like. It’s not in the water for the season yet but I will check it out next time.

I met Dennis in 2003 when we stayed at Mar Blue and he came to dinner on Axel and Andrea’s invitation. The next day he took us out to Black River and Pelican Bar and we saw dolphins. It was an awesome experience so I called him again in 2004 to show my children what we had seen the year before. I arranged the trip with Talk of the Town Tours and introduced him to Solomon. As we were coming from Negril that time it made sense to meet him in TB for the boat ride then get picked up in Black River afterwards. I believe TOTT runs a combo tour with Dennis like that still. Dennis is a great guy and he is an ace dolphin spotter.

I ask him if he has a group going out that I can join as it’s just me that wants to go out and indeed he does. We agree he’ll pick me up on my beach in the morning at 11.

I take a walk around the other villa property and take some photos:

Our awesome porch:

Infinity pool at the ‘family villas”:

This is looking back to the mountains from the “front” yard:

It’s USUALLY very dry in TB:

The driveway that leads to the lane that leads to the road:

I don’t know who put that Corona there…

Dan

Family villa pool

A friend said to me on this trip that Treasure Beach reminds her of Italy because the sun is always coming from the water, whereas on the north coast it comes over the land to the water. I had never thought of it that way before but this photo shows exactly what she means:

The “snorkel-ey beach”

No one’s footsteps but ours

The “sandy beach:

Our beach gate:

Before dinner we get our first real sunset:

And some funny remnants of Paloma

D’s brother D2l arrives this evening, he’ll be staying with us just for these last few days. D2 and I ran around Alaska together last summer and I am excited to see him. He’s never been to Jamaica before and we all know he’s going to love it.

Our friend Lee picks him up at the airport. They should have arrived around dinnertime but Lee doesn’t know TB all that well and he gets lost. Apparently they kept passing a place called the G Spot – eventually they call us to say they’ve just gone on in…Lee is showing D2 some “real Jamaica”. Real I am sure it is…you can probably guess the type of establishment it is by the name. Eventually we get them moving and I go meet them on the road with a flashlight so they can find us. It is dark at night, not much in the way of street lights out here in Billy’s Bay, at least.

We hang out for awhile by the pool and eventually retire for the night.

Continue reading this series:

Thoughts? Questions? I'd love to hear them!