My wife & I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary at Zion Country. Mostly we just relaxed and read and explored the vast and lucious garden that Free-I has so masterfully created and maintained. Birds, frogs, lizards, plants, fruits, and flowers thrive on this one-acre oasis with a beach-front.

Do not miss Owen’s good cooking…it is finger-licking, lip-smacking GOOD! Both Owen and Tamar were very kind and sweet to us, helping us to connect to people in the community and informing us of local customs.

One day, Owen hooked us up with Baba, whom he described as a bushman, and who guided us up the Drivers River trail into the forested hills. He and his assistant, Cornell, even cut open some coconuts for us to drink and eat on the way. The scenery was beautiful in every way.

On a different day, I hired Baba and Cornell to take me birding (I’m an avid birdwatcher) in the rain forest. Baba led us to some amazing birds like the Olive-throated Parakeet, Vervain Hummingbird, Smooth-billed Ani, Jamaican Mango (hummingbird), and Black-billed Streamertails. We slogged through dense jungle to get good looks and photographs of a Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo!

Later, Jan & I hired a Rasta guide named Rennie to take us up a river trail (sometimes terrestrial, but often right in the river) to Reach Falls. The water was cool and clear. The forest was emerald green. And Rennie was full of peace-loving wisdom which he was happy to share with us.

Most of the Jamaicans we met were poor (in money) but not in spirit. The Jamaicans we got to know were kind and generous and took care of our needs. The ride in a minibus to Port Antonio was an adventure and the visit to Boston Beach for some fiery jerk pork was good, too.

Our room was in the main guesthouse where Owen also lives. There is a bathroom and shower in our room, and a fan helped to keep us cool. We slept peacefully even with the noisy frogs outside. The beach cabins do not have bathrooms or showers but shower facilities are nearby and the toilets are a short, but steep, walk up the stairs.

Free-I spent time with us in the evenings on the porch overlooking the bay. We talked a lot about Jamaica, its people, culture, and natural history. Free-I has invested a lot in this community and his eco cabins provide some tourism dollars for local residents. There are lots of small shops just down the lane, and on Saturday evenings, you can get some good Conch soup from Miss Sarah’s shop.

Memories were forged here and friendships made. Zion Country was magical for us. If you want to be pampered in comfort, go to the all-inclusive resorts….but if you want a taste of the real Jamaica, then Zion Country is for you.