My wife and I just spent a week at Zion Country in Long Road Jamaica. Zion Country consists of two rustic cabins each with two rooms. The cabins are very well built and comfortable and the views are out of this world. Long Road is a quite little community in the heart of Portland township on the east side of the Island. The people there are exceptionally friendly. Never once were we approached to buy anything quite unlike many of the tourist areas like MoBay and Ocho. We never felt uncomfortable walking in town, even at night. Little grocery shops and jerk and fried chicken line the one street through town. A couple of things you should know: First of all Owen, your chef / guide, is a great host!! He is beyond friendly and helpful and will guide you in the direction of anything you want to do. I recommend you ask him his advice before doing anything so he can advise you on what to do or not to do. We truly enjoyed our time with him. We brought our own mosquito net which proved to be a good idea. We have been to other areas of the island and had been bothered and bit up. There are nets over the beds already so this is not necessary. Beds are futon type and a little thin and hard but being in paradise we could have cared less. There are no bathrooms in the room and you will have to walk up a pretty steep set of steps to get to the toilets. The toilets are very clean. The showers are in stalls located near the cabins. The water is cold, not luke warm, but cold. After the initial shock to the system we found them to be very refreshing in washing off the salt water or sun screen. The beach area is rocky with no sand but there is a nice spot of soft grass if you like to lay out. Zion Country is located on Manconeal Bay and the water is very warm but you will need to wear water shoes because it is rocky, however the rocks are flat and easy to negotiate. The grounds are lush with local plant life and truly enjoyable to walk amongst. Breakfast is continental style and is served at 9am. It consists of 2 slices of buttered bread, two slices of toast with jam, a slice of grapefruit, a slice of orange, and the occasional boiled egg. It was very good and a nice way to start the day without being weighed down. If you are a big eater in the mornings you can stock up on snacks at any one of the little stores within a five minute walk. If you are a big coffee drinker, like us, you need to be aware that the breakfast includes only two cups of coffee (or tea) and a small decanter of milk and no more. If you ask nicely and are willing to pay a little extra I am sure you can work something out. Dinners are served at 6pm and you need to tell Owen you wish to eat by early afternoon. One night a week, I believe it’s Saturdays, meals are not offered so you will have to eat outside Zion Country which is no problem. Owen’s cooking is phenomenal and truly Jamaican cuisine. The dining area is very nice and clean with a tremendous view of the bay. You can get a cold beer, rum, or soda at any time and just sit and chill if you wish. If you wamt to hang out at a sandy beach there are several available within a 15 to 20 minute taxi from Zion Country. We visited Long Bay which is one of the few beaches that attracts locals. It is lined with a few little bars and food shacks where you can get cold Red Stripes and enjoy the natural beauty and talk with the friendly locals who are more than happy to have a chat with you. You can take a route taxi for about $2000 – $3000 JA ($20-$30) or if you are more adventurous you can take the public taxis which will run you about $200 JA. Taxis are hard to get on weekends and in the evenings so keep that in mind. The public taxis are very crowded and not for the faint of heart. I recommend the public taxi for a truly Jamaican experience. I highly recommend going to Reach Falls. Have Owen set you up with local rasta guide Renny. He will give you a private tour up the river over and through many falls and tell you all about local plant life. If you simply go to the top and pay to go to the falls themselves you will only stand at the top and miss all the fun. Renny asked for $1200 JA for two of us. I gave him a tip and it was money more than well spent. The owner, Free-I, was visiting family for the holidays so we did not get to meet him. We paid $420 US for the week for the room and round trip transport to Kingston airport was $260 US. Meals were about $10 US per person and drinks were very reasonable, never trying to take advantage. We have been to Jamaica three other times, once to a resort in Runaway Bay and twice to a small place similar to Zion Country in Falmouth. We loved Time and Place in Falmouth and made some great friends there but sadly they are no longer in business. That being said neither of those areas compared to the natural beauty of the east side of the island. I believe that the people are friendlier and more genuine because they don’t see as many tourists and because of the small town atmosphere. If you are looking for a rustic adventure I highly recommend Zion Country. I’ve only been home a few days but have already started putting money in a jar for next year. Nuff Respect.

sanders s