Jamaica Poetry

The Calabash Experience: Lovers Leap Guest House

By: Denise N. Fyffe.
Copyright © 2018, Denise N. Fyffe

With bated breath and eager hearts, Davene and I are eager to reach the cool hills of St. Elizabeth. We have been waiting for months, to experience the world-renowned literary festival, Calabash, at Treasure Beach.

We had a few false starts in trying to leave Kingston.

But by midday, we were finally on our way. For those in the literary world, Calabash is a big thing. We plan and prepare every other year. Ensuring to book rooms, rent cars if necessary and save precious cash to spend on all the great books, read by world-famous authors.

Calabash wasn’t gonna miss these two itching poets and lovers of all things books, culture, and verse.

And so, my heart was set on a great experience.

As I drove along the winding South Coast roads, which were in mostly good condition; I enjoyed the wind caressing my skin and rejuvenating my senses. We arrived at the Lovers Leap Guest House, after a two and half hour journey in from Kingston.

We got there just as the rooms were being prepped for the influx of sojourners who were sure to flood in for the three days of cultural onslaught sure to come, starting at 7 p.m. that Friday evening.

Lovers Leap Guest House
Lovers Leap Guest House

Upon being shown our room, it quickly dawned on us, that we were not to expect great comforts and amenities in our room.

So long as I had internet, I would be good. Right?

Hm! we will see.

The rooms and linens were clean, the bathroom was large but bare and we overlooked the pool. I guess all we were gonna get that weekend were clean beds and Calabash.

After taking a brief nap, Davene and I trekked down to get the keys for our rooms, directions to Treasure Beach and some much-needed grub.

Yes, I did say the keys to our rooms, as we were escorted to the rooms before actually being registered.

That was the first indicator that this was a more relaxed guest house. As shown in the picture above, we stayed in the room to the far end, on the top floor.

The wind was powerful and we were sure to enjoy a cool and comfortable night.

We sashayed our tired and coma-like bodies down the steep slope, in search of the registration office and restaurant. To our weary minded surprise, they were one and the same.

Ok, no biggie.

After being told of the limited menu selections we opted for fish, chicken, and chips. Then we proceeded to secure directions to Treasure Beach and Calabash Bay, pay for our rooms and collect connection details for the WiFi.

One of our servers reminded another lady that the Wifi did not reach up to the hill, where our rooms were located and the older lady reassured us that it did.

I reiterated my need to have internet and again I was reassured.

After all, this was one of the reasons, I opted to stay at Lovers Leap Guest House.

Needless to say, I was not amused, when we returned to our rooms and discovered that indeed, the Wifi did not reach that far. Not that I already did not know this. I maintained my composure, shrugged it off and executed humility and grace in the situation.

It wasn’t life or death, so I prepared myself to live without the internet for the weekend and forgo any hopes of getting work done.

The sunset, view from top floor of Lovers Leap Guest House
The sunset, view from top floor of Lovers Leap Guest House

We sat down to wait for our dinner, which should not take long, because fries only took 10 minutes max, right?

Wrong!

For what seemed like an hour or more, we waited as hunger stroked our stomachs into growling alley cats.

I, hate to wait. So, I felt like a prisoner of Alcatraz, locked up in solitary confinement, suited with a straight jacket; but yet again, I remained saintly and patient.

I watched the sun slowly slide off the side of the hill, preparing to hand the reins over to the night. The time was drawing near when we would need to leave, to catch the beginning of the festival at 7 p.m.

So, when the food finally arrived we took it to our rooms and supped there.

Davene discovered that her fish had long passed off to the land of the dead and was tasting like decay rather than the savory dish it should have been. I, being too hungry at that point to savor anything, wreaked havoc on the piece of chicken thigh and fries held high in front of my face, for a shorter journey to my mouth.

I suggested that she return the fish and lodge a complaint. Totally forgetting that I ordered fish to break the next morning’s fast.

Bah humbug!

After a long night of enjoying sweet, succulent literary verses we returned to the Lovers Leap Guest House at 2:00 a.m.

I was suffering from face splitting spasms that kept dragging my cheeks and lips from left to right, testing how wide my mouth could open. Needless to say, Denise was beyond tired.

I rested my head, hailed my Daddy in heaven and searched for the insomniacs sleep.

Breakfast from Lovers Leap Guest House.
Breakfast from Lovers Leap Guest House.

When my eyes popped open at 6 a.m. my senses alerted me to a full bladder, so I dragged my lumber like limbs off to the bathroom and crawled back under the sheets.

Two hours later, my brain pressed the button for ‘eyes open’ and I sorely greeted Davene with a voice more like Barry White than Marilyn Monroe.

On time, breakfast arrived and I prayed it would be even a touch more tasty than the previous evening’s.

Food is life to me, so a more serious kitty you will never find.

The dumplings were good, the bananas a bit hard and the fish – upon reaching halfway – were spoiling.

Argh! Again, I called upon my Lord, like David before a battle; I decided to yet again execute humility and patience.

Before I left for the day, I returned the breakfast and expressed my disbelief that the same fish which was reported spoiled the night before, was still used in the morning. I had no intention of paying for that meal and was told the manager would handle it. So, off I went to enjoy a day of Calabash and a better breakfast, I hope, at Jake’s restaurant.

No internet, bare rooms, spoiled food, and the long waiting were enough to turn me off. I took it all in stride, but I am certain that will be my first and last stay at the Lovers Leap Guest House.

The facilities are more suited to hosting maybe church camp groups or school retreats.

So pack was the schedule at Calabash, we had no time to visit Lovers Leap itself.

That, maybe, on another visit.

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