With two Irish colleagues visiting Kingston for two days on business, I had to make sure they saw a bit more of Jamaica than the offices and hotels of New Kingston. So, on their last day, I sped them out to Fort Clarence for a sunny swim and a fry up Friday fishy lunch!
Navigating (almost) like a native, I drove us out in the jeep that came with my husband’s job, zipping out of Kingston on the Nelson Mandela Highway. We overshot the turning and seemed to be heading to Montego Bay, so we stopped to ask a friendly chap with a machete for directions. (It is a bit alarming how everyone has machetes here, but he did seem to be using his for coconuts!) He pointed us in the right direction, back down the road to Hellshire, a free beach I’ve heard can be a bit ‘colourful’, and finally we popped out at Fort Clarence.
My husband and I visited this beautiful beach a couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday when it was fairly busy, though still very calm in comparison to the boom boxes and crowds that apparently Hellshire attracts. But coming here on a Friday was bliss; there must have only been about 20 people on the whole beach. We found ourselves a big old wooden picnic table in the shade, as my pals were a definite shade of wintery Irish blue. This beach is definitely worth the admission fee (about €1.50), a little strip of paradise.
After a heavenly swim in the turquoise waters (where I didn’t mention the painful jellyfish sting I’d got a couple of weeks before as I didn’t want to put the lads off!) we dried ourselves in the warm wind, then put an order for lunch at the beach hut.
You put your head in the back, where 3 chilled guys in flip-flops are frying fish, and pick out which fish you’d like out of a large ice box. We choose a Snapper, a Lion Fish and one that sounded like it was called a Grunt, but I must have heard it wrong. They also had Parrot Fish, an amazing blue stripey fish, but I couldn’t handle the guilt, he was far too pretty to eat! We also ordered up some plantain (giant fried bananas), bammy (a weird kind of fried bread) and festival (sort of long donuts that go very well with fish).
Twenty minutes later we were tucking into a feast, with delicious meaty fresh fried fish, falling in chunks away from the bones! But it’s not for the fainthearted – the fried fish is literally just that, fried head, skin, bones and all, and served to you straight up with a small fork that is of absolutely no use at all. You just have to get stuck in, alley-cat style.
What a day, and what a lucky hot expat mummy (to be) I am. Poor old H (husband) is slaving away in the office while I’m gaddying about having a ball in paradise. Do I feel guilty? Just a little bit, but, with the baby due in 4 weeks, soon enough I think he might be glad to escape to the peace and quiet of the office and leave me at home with the little screamer!
And now, as Friday night kicks off in Kingston, it sounds like a huge party has started next door. Hope H comes home soon, then we can brave it together. If not, it’ll be me and the bump popping in! It seems unimaginable that my two friends are already hundreds of miles away, winging their way home to Ireland… Safe home guys – and lovely to have a visit!!