Adventure in the Southern Cockpits and Alligator Pond (2006 flashback, part two)

“I’ll pick this up tomorrow and finish, promise.”

I told you so, right?  When I left you we ‘d left  Christiana, visited Gourie Forest and Cave and were heading southwest toward Alligator Pond.

We turned off the main south coast road at Gutters (I had our trusty paper map from our trip in 2003)  and made our way down to Alligator Pond.  It wasn’t not hard, just went straight basically.

Little Ochi is a pretty major destination there so we had no trouble finding the parking lot. We pulled in and parked. Note – it was raining on the way down. We had our headlights on. This will be key a little bit later.

We walked in and what you do first is go to this area and decide what you want.  There’s a  menu that basically tells you what kinds of fish/shellfish they have, how much it is per pound that day, and then the ways they can prepare it (curry, jerk, steamed, pepper, etc).

Then we go to the cooler and choose our actual, specific fish.

They weigh it and take it into the kitchen, we’re now free to take a table or walk around or whatever while we wait.

So I walked around and took pictures. It’s a really pretty part of Jamaica, remote, dark sand, mountains frame the northeast and northwest (forming a rain shadow, supposedly, but it’s actually rained both times I’ve been there, go figure).

These are houses/businesses adjacent to Little Ochi. on the beach.

This is looking west. You can see Port Kaiser jutting out there. It is, or was, a major shipment point for the major ingredient in aluminum which is mined in this area – bauxite.  Bauxite is one of the most important sources of income for Jamaica and at one time Jamaica was the largest producer of it in the world.

It also exploits Jamaica in a very colonial way – the minerals are strip-mined, leaving awful swaths of bare earth with runoff that ruins farmland, fresh water sources and uproots entire communities, then it is shipped elsewhere for the value-added process of smelting.

I encourage you to check out the history of the industry in Jamaica. Gaining an understanding of historical and current political and social issues is really the best way to appreciate this country as a visitor, in my humble opinion.

In the meantime, controversy continues as production is resuming this year (2017): http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/jamaica-must-get-its-due-from-bauxite-mining_100672?profile=1100

Here is the restaurant itself. Tables are on platforms, built into boats on stilts. A unique experience.

Looking east, kids playing in the surf.

Looking east where the fishing boats are “parked”.

East still.

A boat tie-up.

Looking north to the mountains (and that rain).

The sun came out and you can now see that despite the dark sand, the Caribbean is still very blue and pretty here.

Our boat-table, waiting for the food.

And after not too long,  the food comes. And it is SO GOOD.  Curry crab, garlic shrimp, festival. I think we got steamed fish too.

So after we ate we headed out to the car. in the parking lot. We all climbed in and my husband went to start it.

Uh-oh.

Click-click. You know that sound.

We’d left the headlights on and the battery was dead.

While we carefully checked to make sure we had a good spare tire when we rented this car, because we’ve been through THAT before, we didn’t think about jumper cables.

Luckily there were a few people around the parking lot so we asked around for cables.

Not luckily, no one had any.

We were getting a little desperate since this is our last full day in Jamaica and we need to make our way to Negril to return this car – that’s 3+ hours away –  and it would be great if that happened before dark.

Finally a savior came in the form of a guy who got someone else with a car to pull near us, located a wire coat hanger from God-knows-where, and used that wire coat hanger (!) to connect our two batteries and jump us.  It worked and I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.  Savior guy accepted our profuse thanks and a little cash  and we were on our way.

Now we’d been to Treasure Beach in 2003 and I really wanted to get back there. I proposed driving along the coast so we could show it to our friend and check it out on the way back to Negril.  Map in hand, we set off north then made a turn west, towards Treasure Beach.

We came to a town called Nain, with a very large sign welcoming us to the community. About ten minutes later, we came to that sign again.  About twenty minutes later, we came to it for the third time.  I will never forget that town.

Let me explain, with the advantage of experience gained over the years and the advent of google maps, what happened here (oops typo – “exist” should be “exit”) – anyway:

So after the third visit to the center of Nain, we gave up and took the road back up north to the A2 at Gutters, the way we had come.

At least we got to go through Bamboo Avenue.

Where we followed an ill-fated goat for awhile. Sorry dude.

Here’s that wrecked boat in Black River. It’s still there, though less of it, now, 11 years later.

As it was now approaching sunset – our LAST sunset in Jamaica this trip – we decided to stop along the south coast somewhere. A place called Culloden Cafe had been recommended to me by a couple of friends – at that time (no longer, it’s now a private villa for rent)  a public restaurant with an amazing chef and situated right on the water in Culloden (which is in the vicinity of Whitehouse, Belmont, etc).

We located it with no trouble – it was right on the main – and pulled in. It had this really nice terrace where we could eat.

There are the boys, watching me take pictures.

…of little lizards…

..and the grounds.

This lower seating area was sweet.

And there, in the distance on that point, was the then brand-new and fairly controversial Sandals Whitehouse. You can imagine how sleepy and quiet that bay was before, not that most SWH guests really walk around the area, I guess.  It was (and is) the only all-inclusive mega resort on the sleepy south coast.

We did make it in time for sunset.

And then, we headed back to Negril for a final night at Blue Cave Castle, then on to the airport the next day.

Thanks for coming along on this little side trip with me, I’d wanted to get it in writing for awhile.

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