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Published: March 10th 2011
Martha Brae River - "I'll take the most stable raft you've got, please!"
Sorry for the dreadful pun incorporated into the title of this section, but a trip to the Caribbean in January 2006 replaced the regular annual January ski fixture, and was yet another encounter with the American tourist, which was to be the last, for absolutely no reason other than ongoing commitments and diminished practicalities. I arrived on the island of Jamaica in poor shape due to a newly-broken collar bone, which I was told would still require some rest, and that a beach holiday shouldn't aggravate it. We stayed about halfway down Montego Bay's 'Hip Strip', which contained a few overpriced eateries, and a terrific fast-food style jerk speciality place called the 'Pork Pit'. Downtown Montego Bay is best avoided at all costs any time after 6 pm at night, for safety reasons alone, but it was pleasant enough to stroll around the city area in the daytime, and take in the full flavour of its Caribbean city appeal. One huge downpour of rain resulted in cars floating around in the town centre, which made the place look spooky, and it was good to discover that a 5 minute walk further up from the payable Doctor's Cove beach was a stretch
Dunn's River Falls, Ocho Rios. With a recently-broken collar bone, a wave is the best I could offer!
of beach equally enjoyable, minus the full extent of facilities, but cost-free, and the kind of beach with which I would associate a Caribbean lifestyle. It is worth pointing out that it is in the realm of the excursions where I felt Jamaica came into its own, and there is a blisteringly great range of tourist activities which I felt fully exploited all of what the island had to offer. These excursions include the obvious climb up Dunn's River falls, to rafting on the Martha Brae, and a day trip to the glorious beaches of Negril, and a stop at Rick's cafe, where cocktails, cliff divers, and live musicians created the atmosphere just the way you'd have wanted it to be. All in all, it was a far cry from skiing down a mountain, but then again, winter sun never goes amiss, and as I left the place armed with a souvenir T-shirt, a whole bunch of photos and terrific memories, it comes as no surprise as to why I began to consider a healthy travel schedule to be something as worryingly vital as breathing in air.
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