National Geographic : 1927 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Town behind and speed on to Kingston, where our island tour began. If not yet satisfied and no scenic in digestion falls to our lot, other places and interests are calling. The side trips are many. There is the Rio Cobre, with its lux uriant and beautiful vegetation-ferns, rushes, creeping black-eyed susans, bam boos, coconut palms, annattos, guangos, and many other trees of beauty and value. Gaulin, teal, and kingfishers are so tame that they bespeak kindly human neigh bors, while humming birds industriously flit from flower to flower. Near the mouths of the many rivers one notices fine coconut plantations. There is a crop for a tropical farmer who likes repose! Given good soil and a little cultivation, it will yield some 3,500 nuts per acre in this garden spot, and the nuts don't bruise when they fall, either! Pimentos, or allspice, is another Ja maican product. It grows on a species of myrtle which attains a height of 30 feet and a trunk diameter, at the base, of some 3 feet. The bark is smooth and shiny and the leaves a deep green. The allspice are the fruits, picked when full, but not ripe. A boy shinnies up the tree, breaks off the small branches bearing the clusters of fruit, and throws them to the ground. He thereby prunes the tree and assures its bearing the following year. The native women pick the berries from the branches and carry them to drying floors called barbecues, which are paved and exposed to the sun. They are peri odically raked, so that every side of the berry gets its share of the sun. From six to ten (lays are required to cure the allspice for market or export. AMONG THE ISLAND'S HIGHLANDS The highlands of the island are indeed regions of delight. At Malvern, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one finds, at 2,500 feet above sea level, refuge from the heat of the plains and a region where the thermometer seldom goes above eighty, even at midday. A drive across the island from Kings- ton to St. Anns Bay carries one through Spanish Town and along the. celebrated Bog Walk, across the beautiful Mount Diabolo, atop whose summit is a good hotel, at an elevation of 2,300 feet. A fairer view could hardly greet the eye anywhere than from its broad veranda, where, on a bright day, with a glass, one may see Cuba far away to the north, and Kingston and the Panamaward reaches of the Caribbean to the south. TO THOSE WHO LOVE NATURE Beyond, one descends through a region of grazing pens, as the Jamaicans denomi nate their ranches, down past Moneague, where a very comfortable little hotel is situated and the view much like the Scotch Highlands, to Ocho Rios, with the last part of the trip through Fern Gully, a deep ravine several miles in length, the entire distance banked with as many varieties of remarkable ferns as the heart of the most blase traveler could wish (see page 25). Jamaica also boasts of a railroad, if you please-a government road that admits 200 miles of track. The first of its lines was operated in 1845, being then but 15 miles in length. Between the capital, Kingston, and the northwestern land's end of the island, Montego Bay, there is a daily train each way, except Sunday, while from Kingston to Port Antonio there dashes one each weekday and two on the Sabbath. The visitor who prefers railway travel to automobile will not be displeased, for the routes traverse areas of picturesque beauty and at times reach mountain heights of nearly 1,7oo feet (see map, page 4). The fascination of a tour around and across Jamaica cannot be overpictured. The ever-changing character of the scenery, the wide diversity of the types of agriculture, the charm of the legends associated with the communities en route, the richness of the historical lore of times when men who bore a more or less class relation to the evolution of our own his tory-all join hands in peopling every hour with healthful interest.