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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Ocho Rios

I Weep For Jamaica

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Ocho Rios

The events unfolding in Jamaica are disastrous for the country, its reputation, tourist industry and economy.   They give an impression that is completely false.  In reality it is a wonderful place, full of kind, warm, generous people.  I was astonished on my first visit to find the countryside lush and green, rather like Cornwall or Wales and the people more friendly than anywhere else I have ever been.

I was very privileged to be introduced to Jamaica by a Jamaican.  It was no all-inclusive tourist resort for me.  There the poor Brits hunker down and never move anywhere.  They seem to believe that right outside the gates are a bunch of Uzi-toting crack dealers but it’s simply not true.  I’ve been back several times and I love the place.  I recommend Ocho Rios on the north coast of the island.

True, the murder rate is one of the highest in the world but it all happens in a very small area of Kingston.  The rest of the island is peaceful and probably safer than London.  I have been through the Tivoli Gardens and Trench Town districts where all the trouble is.  It’s not a good place.  You lock the car doors and windows and you don’t stop but it is tiny.  According to my memory it’s not much bigger than, say, Regent’s Park so it’s easy to avoid.

My Local

Undoubtedly at the root of these problems is high level corruption and I wouldn’t be surprised if that extended to US officials as well as Jamaican.  The cocaine trade is a huge curse on the country but while the world continues with its ludicrous, discredited policy of prohibition it will never solve the problem.  Drug laws support and encourage organised crime and corruption.   If we stay on our present course things will only get worse.

I weep for Jamaica and its wonderful people.  Without radical international action, I have no idea how this problem can be solved.

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Walking The Dog 12

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We returned to lashings of ginger beer and a plateful of scrumptious ham sandwiches.  That’s not the actual menu but as we had been struggling in Kimmeridge clay all morning, the Famous Five comparison felt right, particularly as we’d just had a huge adventure, even bigger than we’d expected!

It wasn’t the Famous Five that set off from Ringstead that morning but the Intrepid Three: Carla, Capone and me.  We were set on continuing our Jurassic Coast walk and so drove to the end of the last episode – and the beginning of the next!

The White Nothe

The White Nothe

We were heading for the White Nothe headland.  It’s the tallest and furthest headland you can see from the top of our mountain above Sutton Poyntz.

We left Ringstead Bay but then cut back towards the beach and descended using the sort of steps that are just pegged shuttering into which the hill slides.  Onto the beach and the dogs wanted to swim but there was no time for that.  I planned to keep along the beach as far as possible and then climb up the fallen clay cliff before we reached the towering chalk cliffs of the the White Nothe itself.

burnwavSo, at what seemed a sensible point, I turned away from the sea and started to pick my way up through the clumps of clay, each surmounted with a brush of coarse grass.  Climb up further and there are vicious gorse bushes and and little trees with thorns like hardened steel.  In some areas a raw wound of open clay has appeared where a minor landslip has taken place.  This was almost real climbing, all the weight on the feet but still reaching up at head height and above for support.

The Burning Cliff

The Burning Cliff

This, in fact, is the Burning Cliff.  In 1826 a landslide uncovered deposits of gas and oil which caught fire and famously smouldered for about three years.

At last, at the very top, the thickest brush of all so, heroically, I rolled into it with my back and the dogs slipped through underneath me.  Then a semi-tropical glade, completely enclosed by thorn and flower.  A strange, even light and ferns of all sorts rooting in the carpet of leaves.  We were trapped.  The way back out was prickly and difficult. In every direction was more thorn and bramble.  I swung at some branches to clear a path and I was cruelly shot in the eye by a sloe berry hurtling back towards me, an eclipse of the sun seared in my eyeball and I actually felt dizzy and slightly feint.  Had she been there, George would have immediately volunteered to go for help.

No such rescue was open to us though.  Forcing our way back out through the thorns I picked, slipped and slid a perilous path back to the beach.   No option for it but to go back up the way we had come down.  That was hard work too.  We wearily resumed the footpath but when I saw that we had made exactly half a mile’s progress from our start, discretion proved the better part of valour and and we returned to the car.

Undaunted, undefeated and determined to reach our goal we returned this morning.  Avoiding the pull of the sea and the beach itself we stuck to the path winding upwards through an area that reminds me of Fern Gully, near Ocho Rios in Jamaica where are there is supposed to be a greater variety of ferns than anywhere else on the planet.  Here, now safely above the Burning Cliff, this area has a similar ambience.

Finally up onto moorland then close to the edge of some truly scary cliffs.  This was “Vertigo City” for me and I was filled with that priomordial fear that at any moment I might flip, run and throw myself headlong into space.  Concerned only as to who would look after the dogs, I restrained myself and we made the summit.  There we sat and communed with nature until that intense moment of peace arrived.  It comes very easily.  You just sit, look around you and wait.  The very moment you forget yourself it arrives.

So Carla and Capone scampered down the hillside with me in close pursuit.  Another thrilling and exciting adventure completed!  I wonder what will happen on our next visit!famous-five1