Downtown Kingston ends at the waterfront and the wide expanse of the seventh largest natural harbour in the world. Morris Cargill, veteran journalist at The Daily Gleaner, described it more equivocally as “the world’s most beautiful sewer”, as tons of garbage are washed down the gullies running through the city, straight into the water; and, given that only 20% of households are connected to the sewage system, this second title is not exaggerated. That statistic was enough to put an end to our trips to Fort Clarence and Hellshire, the nearest beaches to Kingston and which lie right by the “mouth” of the harbour, or should that be waste drain?
Dis a pier
Years ago, the cruise ships that now stop only in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios on the north coast used to dock right on the Kingston waterfront. It’s a surreal image now, sweaty pink and puffing tourists hopping over the broken pier to arrive bewildered in the baking wasteland opposite the craft market.
The main waterfront street is lined with tall white
elephants buildings that house impressive-sounding institutes, such as the National Gallery and the Conference Centre. They were part of an earlier attempt to bring life back to downtown Kingston, which has been only a very limited success. Further attempts to coax government ministries to the area are being resisted tooth and claw by civil servants who fear they will be attacked the moment they step out of the office.
There are also plans to further spruce up the waterfront to create a park and leisure area. I actually had a dream, a while back, of strolling along the boardwalk at dusk, coloured lights strung from the trees, kids running to the merry-go-round, and a band playing (softly!) by the pier. It’s not such an outlandish idea. In the early morning, the walk is very pleasant and unthreatening, although I can’t say what it’s like after dark.
I hope that the QuickTime panorama will have loaded by the time you’ve read my blethers. It’s not as successful a panorama as some of my others because of the emptiness in the middle. If I had scaled up the vertical to give more of a sense of the vast landscape, the details of the fishermen would have been lost.
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