Rafting Along the Rio Grande

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There are several spots in Jamaica that offer rafting down its many rivers out to the sea, and the Rio Grande is one such spot worth visiting. Aptly named, it is one of Jamaica’s largest rivers and has been used for many years to transport bananas from upstream into the coastal city. It would take American actor, Errol Flynn, to introduce casual rafting along the Rio Grande in the 1950s, as he made Portland his playground.  
 
Many of the rafters have been taking part in the sport for their entire lives. They know the ins and outs of the river and its surroundings like the back of their hands. Their vehicles, bamboo tied together to make the raft with a seat at the back, have been crafted to handle the twists and turns of the river smoothly. Another piece of bamboo is used to push you along the path. There will be rapids along the way, but nothing these expert guides can’t handle.  
 
See what life on the river bank is like for those that have made it their home. You’ll be delighted with tales of the exotic birds as they pass by and hear stories of the famous people that have journeyed the same stretch. A few local shops will be selling cold beer and juices. If it’s a hot day out, take advantage of the option to swim at a sandbar.  
 
Undoubtedly, a highlight of the trip is stopping for lunch at Belinda’s Riverside Restaurant. Located on the river bank, Belinda cooks up some of Jamaica’s most famous dishes in huge dutch pots over firewood, while underneath an unassuming palm thatch roof supported by bamboo. It isn’t fancy, but it is fresh and delicious! Served up on Styrofoam plates are chickens from Belinda’s own backyard that have been reared organically, along with her vegetables and seasonings.  
 
If you’re lucky enough to grab a plate of Belinda’s Coconut Curry Crayfish Rundown, you’ll enter culinary heaven. The crayfish are caught that morning and delivered daily to the restaurant after Belinda’s one-hour journey through the forest. She also collects wood for her fire along her way. Meals are served until about 4 p.m., when she usually makes the return hike home.  
 
Finally, visit the Scatter Falls and Fox Caves with a short hike just up from Berrydale where the rafting adventure begun. The owners of the property have built-up wash facilities and a bar to top off your perfectly lazy afternoon of exploration.   

 
- by Monique Solomon