Portland, Jamaica

March 15, 2016

Every winter my mother essentially hibernates in Jamaica. She makes occasional trips up to New York between December and March, but she always dreads those trips as she thinks about the cold weather she may experience. Her disdain for winter is real, but this year, that disdain became our come up.

Because my mom hates the cold, and yet can’t go more than six weeks without seeing her beloved grandson, she said she’d rather fly us down to Jamaica instead of flying up to New York. And we–being the oh-so-sacrificial people that we are–agreed to make the trip. And we weren’t even bitter knowing that it was Jameson that really made this arrangement worthwhile. 

We made plans to spend one night in Kingston so we could catch up with family and friends and then to spend three nights in Portland, which is a parish on the northeast part of the island and about 2 and a half hours drive from Kingston.

I was really excited to be spending time in Portland for a few reasons: 1) I hadn’t been in at least 10 years, 2) Jordan had never seen that part of the island, and 3) it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the island — extremely lush, beautiful beaches, and actually where Jamaican tourism started (though now people are far more familiar with places like Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril).DSC_9530-2Walking into our room and seeing this view meant it didn’t take long for us to settle in to our accommodations and a slower pace of life.IMG_8220-2DSC_9537-2DSC_9544-2DSC_9838-2Sadly, Jameson came down with a fever the first day we arrived, so he wasn’t quite his lively self. Lots of wanting to be held with few smiles.DSC_9523-2Our first full day in Portland started off with rain in the morning, which is typical for the area, but it gave way to an amazing day of sunshine. Jameson was also feeling much better, so we spent most of the day hanging at Frenchman’s Cove, and there was beauty all around.IMG_6107-2DSC_9582-2IMG_6093IMG_6102-2 I really can’t get over Jameson’s little hand on his knee in the pic above. We ordered jerk chicken (Portland is the birth place of jerk!) and festival, and Jordan got hip to Jamaican-style potato salad, which I love. Meanwhile, Jameson tried to figure out the sand.DSC_9641-2IMG_8241-2DSC_9639-2IMG_6121-2DSC_9623-2We also spent some time enjoying the swings suspended over the water. It was quite idyllic in a Mariah Carey Always Be My Baby video kind of way. (Tell me you didn’t love that song and video?!)DSC_9690-2DSC_9761-2DSC_9814-2The next day we took a bamboo raft ride around the famous Blue Lagoon, which were two more firsts for me. Our tour guide, Jason, pointed out the stunning villas owned and frequented by the rich and famous, as well as ones featured in movies.DSC_9937-2DSC_9938-2Jameson took his duty of holding his sun umbrella quite seriously. He refused to let the thing go.DSC_9899-2The blue lagoon is the craziest color of blue, mainly because it’s close to 200ft deep. I couldn’t wait to jump in and swim in that bad boy. It has all of these spots of warm and cool, because it’s a mixture of sea water and cold river streams.IMG_8275-2DSC_9967-2And while Jameson was a bit timid at first, he got way into splashing in no time.DSC_9992-2DSC_9994-2DSC_9982-2We capped off the trip with a visit to the home of one of my mom’s friends. He’s an architect and built an amazing house in the hills of Portland, looking over the ocean. His art collection and rug game throughout the house had me drooling. And Jameson made himself at home, exploring the furniture and enjoying some of my red snapper, which was on the menu for dinner.DSC_0021-2DSC_0024-2DSC_0042-2DSC_0043-2
The next day, we headed back to Kingston to catch our flight home. And by some miracle, in the midst of holding Jameson, I got to watch The Big Short during the flight. I’m still not sure how I managed to pull that one off. The movie was great — funny, frustrating, and made me think about how inclined many of us are to submit our decisions to figures in “authority,” or to people telling us what we want to hear, instead of doing the hard work ourselves (whether that’s in finances, faith, learning something new, or otherwise.)

But if ever there was a good decision to be made, visiting Jamaica is most certainly one of them. No expert needs to tell you that. And if you’re looking for a trip to Jamaica that’s a bit off the beaten path, I can’t recommend Portland/Port Antonio enough.

Where to stay: Goblin Hill Villas at San San
Where to eat: Woody’s Low Bridge Place, Anna Banana, Boston Beach for jerk
What to see: Frenchman’s Cove, The Blue Lagoon, San San Beach, Reach Falls

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  • Reply
    Katie Christiansen
    March 22, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Beautiful writing and pictures, Jess! I think I need to settle in with a pot of coffee and read your blog thoroughly. Miss your beautiful smile xoxo

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      March 27, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      Thanks so much, Katie! Still have such great memories with you. Glad I can still experience your wit and humor via social media. :-) xoxo

  • Reply
    March 29, 2016 at 6:19 am

    This was so, so good! I felt like I was there just looking at the pictures! And I loooved your island style. You have to tell me where you got that baby wrap with the wooden/bamboo (?) rings. So adorable! xoxo

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      March 29, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Thanks, my dear! I love that baby wrap too – but I have no idea where it’s from, lol! A Nigerian friend of mine gave it me when I was pregnant once her daughter had outgrown it.

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