Goblin Hill, Port Antonio
Last weekend, H (my husband) and I joined a gang of his work mates and their families renting villas at Goblin Hill Villas, a resort on Jamaica’s north east coast. With just 3 weeks until my estimated delivery date, I was keen to get out of Kingston on one more adventure before the little screamer turns up and the s**t literally hits the fan!
On Friday afternoon, we joined the traffic crawling out of Kingston. It took us a whole hour to get out of the city. Once we started the climb up Stony Hill, we had hardly any traffic at all, just beautiful golden afternoon light and steep bends as we made our way north across the island, waving at friendly locals along the way and stopping to buy two coconuts from a very cheerful chap with no teeth. It’s a good road, much less pot-holed and not as rugged as the way up to the Blue Mountains. (But I had packed an emergency homebirth kit just in case all the jolting around got anything started! Rubber gloves, hand sanitiser, shoe laces to tie the cord and two pillows!!)
We got to the the north coast just in time to see the sun set into the crashing surf in the gorgeous little coves around Hope Bay. As darkness fell (as it does here in about 10 minutes!) we drove into the busy town of Port Antonio, mistakenly taking a wrong turn and finding ourselves driving through a crowded Friday night street market. Feeling very white and embarrassingly conspicuous, I did a lot of apologising out the window while H navigated us out extremely slowly so as not to clip any shoppers!
We reached Goblin Hill Villas, and were shown to our little villa at the end of a terrace on a hill surrounded by lush rain forest. Part of the deal here (about $90 US a night), is you get a ‘helper’ with your villa, who’ll cook for you at no extra cost. So I’d rung ahead and asked them to get in a few groceries for us, and there she was; a lovely lady called Dorothy, cooking us a delicious chicken curry right in our own little cottage! Pretty heavenly to arrive to after a long drive. After a delicious supper finished off with banana fritters, we lied low for the evening, both of us exhausted; H after a very long week at work and me from growing his enormous baby! We went to sleep under a mosquito net which makes me feel like (a giant heffalump) princess in a four poster bed, though it was a pretty basic room. From the racket of crickets, tree frogs and insects outside, the net was probably pretty essential!
After a breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked for us by Dorothy, we visited Port Antonio’s swanky Errol Flynn Marina, a stark contrast to the street market going out just outside the huge wrought iron gates, then hooked up with the rest of the gang from Goblin Hill for a lazy afternoon at Frenchman’s Cove, a picture perfect beach that looks like something out of a Timotei ad. A fresh water river winds down to the sea, about 3 foot deep, shaded by trees and full of little fishes; the perfect place for toddlers to play all day. Watching the gang of Irish kids play in the warm, safe water, I was thinking how lucky they are, they’ve no idea about February in Ireland! And how lucky we are, H and I have been swept up by such a nice bunch of people; folks who mainly know each other because the men work in the same company. But the guys hardly see each other at work; It’s the ‘ladies that lunch’ that bring gang together!
On Sunday, I dragged a very hungover H out of bed (he stayed up till the early hours drinking Red Stripe with the lads, I’d been to bed pregnantly early) I was dying to visit the Blue Lagoon.
Listed in the Lonely Planet as one of the top 20 things to do in Jamaica, we’d been warned that we’d be hassled a lot as it’s a bit of a tourist trap. The water of this 55m deep ‘Blue-Hole’ (as the locals call it) was stunning; every shade of blue, jade and emerald sparkling in a lushly forested cove.
When you arrive, the locals do have it pretty well stitched up; it seems like you have to take a boat trip to see the lagoon. But, luckily for us, there was a fresh mini bus of Germans to distract them, so we managed to wade a few meters round to the right by the pier, and found a path that leads you round the lagoon in total peace and quiet. I had a glorious swim in the weirdly cold and hot waters that are fed by deep freshwater springs, feeling like a movie star if not quite looking like Brooke Shields (who’s movie career was launched here) as I am 9 months pregnant!
We had been planning an afternoon snorkeling rip from the very friendly Lady G’Diver outift based at the marina in Port Antonio, but a strong wind and choppy waters meant our trip was cancelled, so we spent another glorious afternoon on the beach, H mainly hiding his hangover under as much shade as possible. Definitely want to go back, hope the baby wants to come snorkelling. Wonder will the madly expensive second hand bugaboo buggy we are buying (yup we got sucked in) have a little boat attachment – it does pretty much everything else! Then I could float it behind me as I snorkel. Hmmm. Will suggest it to the manufacturers.