Mon | Mar 27, 2017

Travelling to GoldenEye

Published:Sunday | August 24, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Hillside view of GoldenEye cove, island and Bizot Bar.
Looking out to sea. - Photo by Laura Tanna
Oracabessa fishing beach.
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Laura Tanna, Contributor

The saving grace to our harrowing drive to GoldenEye in June was that, once settled into the estate's calm and natural beauty, I was able to rest in a hammock under a tree, the sound of waves gently lapping on the shore, as I read a marvellous new novel, Fallout, by Sadie Jones, best-selling UK author whose father is a Jamaican writer, Evan Jones, known to us here as the author of The Song of the Banana Man poem, the television documentary, The Fight Against Slavery, and the novel Stone Haven inspired by his family's history in the eastern coast of Jamaica.

I found Sadie's first award-winning novel Outcast too cold, preferring her sister, Melissa Jone's third novel, The Hidden Heart of Emily Hudson.

Now in her fourth novel, Sadie Jones has surpassed herself, undoubtedly drawing on her parents' familiarity with England's theatrical and film milieu of their own generation. Evan is better known in the UK as a scriptwriter for the movies King and Country, Modesty Blaise, Funeral in Berlin and Escape to Victory, having worked with actors Jeanne Moreau, Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone, while Sadie's mother, Joanna, is a British actress who has appeared in The Avengers, amongst other roles.

Sadie Jone's Fallout is a page-turner whose characters linger with you, like family; so well does she depict their personalities, their actions, their feelings. And that is the big difference. Sadie Jones has ripped off her reserve and revealed more of herself now that she has gained confidence in her ability to be an important writer. [Freefall, Chatto & Windus, Random House, London, 2014]

The drive from Kingston to Oracabessa in St Mary on June 25 was harrowing! We made the mistake of taking the Fern Gully route, rather than the shorter Junction road, but all was going well until we reached the traffic light at the roundabout after Bog Walk and Linstead. Perhaps the truck in front obscured our view, but instead of turning left there, we proceeded around the roundabout and started towards Ocho Rios at the next exit. A cement barrier on each side of the road with a single lane left open in the centre confused us. Where to go? We drove to the next exit marked Treadways, but at the corner shops, something looked too country to be right. We stopped and asked the way to Ocho Rios. "Go back to the roundabout, the road parallel to this." At least that's what we understood - in other words, the road we'd hesitated to enter.

Around we went and
hesitantly drove through. Toll booths were up ahead, one marked with an
electronic red X, the other two open so we drove through one of the open
ones, passed a number of people standing around. We remarked on the
banners being in Chinese script, joking about how could any Jamaican
possibly understand them? Then we noticed the Chinese workers and new
highway, one side blocked, the other with a sign 'No Entry', but just
behind the blocked side another sign saying: 'Drive Slowly'. So we did. A
further sign said: 'Obey Flagmen'. Four Jamaican flagmen sat by the
roadside chatting.

Freefall

We
proceeded on thinking they were allowing one way traffic at a time on
the new highway when suddenly, a huge precipice loomed 15 feet ahead. I
screamed for my husband to brake just as he did. A few feet in front was
an absolute sheer drop. No barrier. No sign. Nothing. A sheer drop into
which we would have driven head first. Freefall for sure. A bridge must
be planned to breach the chasm to the far side.

We
did a U turn, and as we drove back, we marvelled that we'd passed at
least 15 people along the way and NOT ONE had signalled us to stop or
had tried to warn us. We don't have diplomatic or government plates so
how did that happen? We asked the Chinese at the toll booth which road
to Ocho Rios was open and one man said to turn at the light. We decided
to get a second set of answers, and this time, a female Jamaican guard
apologised for our near-fatal accident and said the truck must have
obscured the sign at the traffic light.

Then, in
Moneague town centre a youth pushing two children in a cart lost control
of the cart which rolled in front of our vehicle. My husband's sharp
veering to the right stopped their early demise. What more could go
wrong, but getting stuck eighth in line behind a truck carrying a
40-foot container over the mountains.

Forty-five
minutes it took to go 13 kilometres, I kid you not. The saving grace was
that, for once, no lunatic tried to overtake the line of traffic; no
head-on collisions. For once, everyone was patient. The almost
overtaking came later on a straight but narrow patch of road where a
schoolboy walking with his back to traffic never knew how close he came
to being killed as the car behind started to overtake just as we were
beside the boy.

Private
property

Fortunately, the other driver suddenly
realised the danger, probably saw the boy in time, and fell back. It
took almost four hours to reach Oracabessa and then we had to stop twice
to find the 'Private Property' entrance to GoldenEye. The cheerful
guard said: "Why should we have a sign when we're private property?" I
assume most guests arrive by plane and get picked up at the airport, or
if they have any sense, they do!

Driving on Jamaican
roads can be an adventure to say the least. Hopefully, the completion of
the new toll road will change all this.

Three days
later, on our return, travelling west from Oracabessa and then taking
the Junction road, we arrived back in Kingston over Stony Hill in just
an hour and 45 minutes. What a
difference!

Photos by Laura
Tanna