National Geographic : 1927 Jan
JAMAICA, THE ISLE OF MANY RIVERS About 40 miles from Kingston, in the parish of St. Thomas, is the little town of Bath, and near by certain mineral hot springs that are justly famous for their curative properties and made this beauti ful spot a gathering place for Jamaican aristocracy as far back as two hundred years. THE STRUGGLE OF PORT ANTONIO Beyond, on the eastern extremity of the island, is Manchioneal, the scene of some of the exploits of Scott's "Tom Cringle." And then, as we motor along the foot of the John Crow Mountains, past the Blue Hole, which so well deserves its name, eye-filling vistas of unrivaled beauty in great bays and mountain side are un folded, and in a very few hours, that all too quickly pass, Port Antonio looms into view, with its splendid twin harbors, the westernmost of which is the best in the island (see illustration, page 32). In 1721 strenuous efforts were made by the Jamaican Government to establish a settlement there. Thirty acres for every white person were offered and five acres for every slave imported, provided some part of each tract should be cultivated. This failing to bring enough immigrants, in 1723 two barrels of beef and one barrel of flour were added as a bonus. Later four barrels of beef and 400 pounds of biscuit, or bread, were offered to each white newcomer, and one barrel of her rings and 400 pounds of bread for each slave. We linger a day or more at Port An tonio to enjoy the glorious scenery and creature comforts with the winter tourists who flock to the charming Titchfield Hotel, twin of the Myrtlebank at Kings ton, both operated by the United Fruit Company; then head westward along the coast to Annotto Bay. Certainly that popular song of a season or two ago must have been born here, for on this road we pass through some of the finest banana plantations in the world. With the ad vantage of being two days closer to American markets than most of the best banana lands of other tropical communi ties, with labor so cheap and plentiful that much of it is exported to Guatemala, Nic aragua, Costa Rica, and Colombia in com petition with the native labor of those districts, Jamaica possesses the added ad vantage of having a good, fat soil that is famed for producing big bunches of early bananas which beat their rivals to the market during the peak of the buying season and command high prices. The greater part of the banana plantation area of the island is owned or controlled by two large American companies. It has also been found that cacao trees may be grown in the same fields with bananas, and that the grower can have the two crops at little more than the cost of one. We ride along past Annotto Bay and Port Maria, the center of the north-side banana industry, and where an additional annual treasure is gained by a bumper coconut crop, which is, perhaps, reflected in the well-being of both the homes and dress of the native workers; and just ahead lies St. Anns Bay, where "Still there walks the ghost of one that ate his heart in exile here-Don Cristoforo Colon, four hundred years ago." THE ANCHORAGE OF THE GREAT ADMIRAL As we stand on the shore at St. Anns Bay and look out across the Caribbean, we fancy we see approaching again two weather-beaten, worm-eaten caravels, the Capitana and the Santiago de Palos. They fly the flag of the Great Discoverer. In June, 1503, he had bidden his last farewell to the mainland of the New World he had added to civilization, and had hoisted his sails for Spain. Passing the Cayman Islands, which he named Las Tortugas, 180 miles off Jamaica, Colum bus encountered a great storm. He was forced to run before it. Hoping to find shelter at Jamaica, he finally reached what is now called Dry Harbor. He found no fresh water here, so went on to St. Anns Bay, which he called Puerto Santa Gloria, and there ran his ships on the beach in one of its coves. No longer seaworthy, the two little craft were propped up at high tide. The water began to fill up their holds as soon as the pumping ceased, and the gallant Admiral was forced to build cabins, thatched with straw, on deck to take the place of those that were no longer habit able below. Strange-looking craft they must have been.