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Jamaica: where the wild things grow

If the Caribbean is rampant fertility – fences become hedges there almost as soon as you turn your back – then Port Antonio in Jamaica is botanical pandemonium. Undergrowth smothers the ground, creeping and clambering into a cat's cradle of overgrowth. Trees heave through this web, soar skyward and explode in an airburst of canopy. Branches carry whole microworlds of other plants, laden with small parasite bushes and dropping curtains of trailing vines. And all this in a million shades of green.
I see all this only on the morning after my arrival – flight times to the Caribbean dictate that you often arrive at your hotel after dark. And so after descending the Wag Water ravine and passing the delightfully named Carol Irresistible HQ bar, we flash through the small town of Port Antonio just past dusk.
Ten minutes beyond and we are winding up a hillside in the area of San San. I find myself sitting on a deck looking out into an inky night, with just the faintest outline of a promontory named Alligator Head. Tree frogs peep, unseen in the darkness, singing for joy at the evening cool.
After the stress of life and travel, I find I breathe easy. Where the rest of Jamaica has speeded up (literally, because of straighter, faster roads) and built numerous large hotels and absurd houses on the heights, Port Antonio has a delightful calm and low-key charm.
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