The eagle has landed (December 2001)index | next

Most of us arrived at the Kingston International Airport around noon on the 28th. We were supposed to be met by a bus driver that would be taking our party of eleven from Kingston to the castle in Port Antonio (a drive that we believed to be in the neighborhood of an hour and a half).

Of course the driver wasn't there when we arrived, and as the hours ticked past and the warm Caribbean sun got to work baking our pasty white hides, we began to despair that things were getting off to a bad start. By the third time Vic went up to the desk of the tourist information board, they were giving him the Jamaican equivalent of the cold shoulder, which consequently, was to say vaguely reassuring things and point him in the direction of the beer stand.

Eventually, the fellow that was scheduled to arrive three hours later to pick up Eric, who was coming in on a later flight, turned up and explained to us that there was some sort of landslide on the mountain road between Kingston and Port Antonio and that he, having come via the coastal road, arrived before his cousin, who was driving the van. He assured us that said cousin would be along in mere moments, and amazingly, about forty five minutes later, he showed up.

Eric managed to show up about 10 minutes after we departed in the van, so he was still relegated to a separate car. Fortunately, they caught up to us about an hour into the now two and half hour journey around the coast and we consolidated vehicles and proceeded merrily onward.

When we finally arrived, it was well dark and we were in varying degrees of bad shape, ranging from completely exhausted to drooling on our neighbors. To snap us out of our travel exhaustion, the castle staff made a fine show of waiting until we came around the last bend in the road before turning on the external lights to the castle and it lit up like our own private Disneyland. We all gave a cheer.

The castle cuts a fine profile; even more so when it leaps out of the pitch darkness illuminated by flood lights. You can imagine why we were motivated to cheer. Were we not all so tired, I think we would have given it a standing ovation.

At the entrance, one is greeted by a pair of wily crocodiles, which guard the door with menacing jaws.

The other is a bit more subdued, but don't think that he mightn't leap out and chomp off a leg if you drop your guard for even a moment.

One enters via the main ballroom, a fine place for parties of all sizes.

Claudia soon took the opportunity to do a little decorating.

Next on our tour, the dining room. The table, they claim in the brochure, is the largest on the entire island. It's clearly just the thing for those big dinner parties.

The library, stocked with a selected collection of the classics and a host of trashy action thrillers. No candlestick, however, which put a damper on our plans for a live action game of Clue.

The arcade, complete with ping pong table.

In addition to the ping pong table, the arcade hosted a painting of the ballroom. I think this is a great idea: hang paintings of rooms of your house in the other rooms. In a place as big as the castle, I imagine it saves a lot of walking around.

The sun room is next on our tour. It offered a few comfy chairs, a festive atmosphere and most importantly...

...the bar. Which was reasonably well stocked and came with that most important feature, a bartender. Byron was as good a sport as one could hope for and took great care of us; he even cooked up french fries to satisfy our late night hunger.

Of course, there was a pool, by which we did a great deal of lounging.

The grounds were well looked after. We played a rousing game of late night croquet out here on the lawn.

The master bedroom was well appointed. In fact, I think it was bigger than my entire apartment. Getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night involved navigating an antechamber, a long hallway, and a walk-through closet.

Photographing the remaining bedrooms seemed too arduous a task, so I'll just list them to give you a feel for their themes: the wicker room, the princess room, the pink room, the west pink room, the white room, the round room, and the children's room (the honor of occupying which we gave to Charlie and Eric).

After our initial tour, we were sure we'd spend half of our trip wandering lost through the halls, but fortunately we quickly developed a feel for the layout and were soon prancing about like young lords and ladies on Caribbean holiday.

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©2002 michael bayne  <>