From December the 19th till the 4th of January we stayed at Zion Country Beach Cabins. We arrived at Montego Bay Airport where Free-I and Shanon picked us up for a four hours drive to Long Road. Although it was evening thus dark time flew since everything was new and exciting: driving on the left side of the road, the crowed streets and sound systems, the smell of pimento wood fires, the reggae songs playing on the radio, the numerous potholes in the road, etc. When we arrived at Zion Country it was overwhelming as well: the beautiful nature, the sound of the sea and whistling frogs, the music of a sound system in a place nearby. Hello Jamaica!
We stayed at a beach cabin near the sea and since we were the first guests we had the whole balcony to ourselves. Don’t expect any luxury. You have a two person bed, a mosquito net, a couple of shelves, a hammock, a ventilator, a chair, electricity and that’s about it. But hey who needs more with a view like that! Our daily, cold shower (while looking over the bay!) was an excellent start of the day and there’s a toilet down as well, so you don’t have to climb the stairs when you have to pee at night.
Each day for breakfast we had four slices of toast (with cheese, jam, cucumber, egg), some fruit and the best coffee you’ll ever drink. A tasteful start from a nice spot where you can overview the ocean and the beautiful place Zion Country is. During the years Free-I turned it into a little paradise with breadfruit and akee trees, lovely flowers, banana plants, etc.
The people working at Zion Country are the sweetest. Tamar (making breakfast and doing the housekeeping) and food magician Owen: the best cook in whole Jamaica (and far beyond)! They are good company and tell you everything you want to know.
Tamar went to Grand market with us at Port Antonio during Christmas eve and we had a lot of fun. With Owen we spent a lot of time, talking, drinking a beer or cranberry watta and watch him preparing dinner (YUM!). We also went to the Atlantic club together on boxing day to dance on the uplifting beats from the Kilimanjaro sound system.
Long Road is a nice, little community. The people are friendly and when you have a drink at Sophia’s bar you can have a little chat and eat the best jerk chicken while watching television. Transportation is by van or minibus. Just put your hand in the air when one drives by, ask how much J (Jamaican dollar) for a drive and hop on.
Free-I (the owner of Zion Country) is a walking encyclopedia. He knows a lot and loves to tell stories. We were impressed by how far his name is known. For example: when visiting Port Antonio, taking a minivan back, the drivers know Zion Country and Free. It’s very handy when you have to negotiate about something: you can always play the “I stay at Zion Country” card.
With Free-I we went on a trip to Kingston. We love vinyl and wanted to visit Rockers International on Orange Street. One of the last remaining, famous record stores of the area’s glory days. Unfortunately to find out it was all faded glory. But Free-I made it all up by taking us to what once was a big distributer of reggae vinyl singles during the heydays. We had a great day going through the immense stash of records, talking to the owner and listening to reggae songs!
So, we could write on and on about all the things we’ve seen, heard, viewed and tasted: climbing up the Reach Falls with Renny, having a conch soup at Dawns, etc. But you make your own Jamaican memories. Just wanting to say that Zion Country is an excellent base to do so.