Photo Gallery, pg 6
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Sightseeing in Jamaica
Black River & Waterloo Guest House
The capital of the parish of St. Elizabeth, Black River is named after the river that runs through the parish and enters the sea at the southernmost section of the town. Originally called Rio Caobana by the Spanish, the river was once a busy waterway and the primary trade route for sugar and logwood destined for markets outside of Jamaica.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the port at Black River was generally regarded as one of the most important ports on the island. As both logwood and sugar declined in importance as Jamaican exports, the once thriving port town became increasingly lax economically, although today it still is one of the most important towns in the southwest section of the island.
The river itself, the longest in Jamaica, winding forty-four miles from the interior to the coast, was used primarily for transporting logwood from the hills of the parish where it was cut to the port of Black River from where it was shipped. Black River's heyday lasted until the logwood industry died, but not before the town of Black River achieved distinction as the first town in Jamaica to receive electricity.
Now the river, which begins in the Cockpit Country as Hector's River and surfaces and disappears at will, is used primarily for shrimping and eco-tourism. From the Black River town end, there are a number of safari operators that for a small fee will take you on a tour of the lower river delta and the Great Morass. The mangroves (swamp areas named after the tropical trees which grow in the swamp mud) along the river are home to a wealth of species of plant and animal life.
The most captivating animals to call the Black River home are the Crocodylus acutus, commonly known as the American Crocodile. Once these magnificent creatures dominated the river, but were hunted almost to extinction for their high-quality skin, used to make purses, belts and other fashion accessories. Now crocodiles are a protected species under Jamaican law, which makes it illegal to hunt or kill them.
A great way to get up close but not so personal with these reptiles is to join one of the motorboat safaris up the river. These tour operators are so familiar with the river and the crocs that they know their territories, mating schedules and have even given some of them names!
An old spa to the west of the town, up until the 1930s was very trendy, and was even a favourite of King Leopold of Belgium. There are hopes that the spa will be revived in the future.
Credits: Jamaica Travel visitjamaica.com