My husband doesn’t normally bother with my Saturday morning expeditions, but since his birthday visit to Reggae Falls he’s wanting a piece of the action. As we rock up to a secluded Stewart Castle at sunrise, I spot a pair of feet in the long grass, and realise that on closer inspection there is a man laying face down on the ground. The last time I saw a pair of feet positioned in such a way was in Kingston and the man was dead. We can’t just leave him, I tell my husband. He disagrees and tells me not to disturb him before walking off to explore.
First patented in 1754 by James Stewart I, by 1799 the sugar plantation at Stewart Castle had grown to over a thousand acres and was supported by the labour of over 300 enslaved Africans. The still visible musket slits and heavy fortification of the castle serve as a reminder that the owner, James Stewart II, was concerned about the threat of attack from both the Maroons and those he enslaved.
With my husband exploring, it’s now just me and my moral compass. Maybe I should administer first aid, or at the very least offer him a gluten free, sugar free, carb free snack bar. Perhaps it’s because I’m now standing less than a meter away and staring at him that the man suddenly wakes up. He shouts something at me in Patois, and then rolls over returning to sleep. I run off, Napoleon Dynamite style in search of my husband, who has heard the commotion. Do we have to leave now, he asks? Possibly, I say. We jump back in the car, pass the sleeping man and take an overgrown track that eventually leads down to white sands and glistening blue water – a deserted beach! There’s loads of coral and it’s shallow, but with water shoes it’s possible to swim out.
I don’t think the beach has a name, at least not one I’ve been able to discover. It sits somewhere between Burwood and silver sands public beaches but isn’t accessible from either. Stewart Castle is also not that far from Glistening Waters, I’m sure it has a name locally but there was nobody around to ask.
Directions: Look for the “Jamaica National Heritage Trust, STEWART CASTLE” signage on the north highway (A1). Follow a dirt road to the “T” intersection, you’ll see a Stewart Castle sign – turn right.