Riverside Cool Cottages

Author:
Mokko

Come discover Jamaica and find something new about life. Why not come to the eastern end of Jamaica in the Parish of St. Thomas. We can stay at Riverside Cool Cottages and enjoy the farming town of Sunning Hill, or we can travel around beautiful Jamaica.

Some places to go are:

  • Bath Fountain at the hot springs
  • Blue Mountain Peak
  • Raft on the Rio Grande
  • Reach Falls
  • Winnefred Beach
  • Morant Point Lighthouse
  • Frenchman's Cove
  • Nine Miles where Bob Marley's body lies
  • Bob Marley Museum
  • Marine Park
  • Visit nicest guesthouses, I will take you. The motto for my business is, “I like to see people happy and be free. Smile with the rising sun.”

Call: (Please no texts as they can not be received)
Ras Soloman Jackson (Mokko)
Phone # 1(876) 849-1543 (cell)

Call Jamaica Inexpensively:
International Calling Cards from 0.5¢ per Minute

 

ShareThis

A Trip Report from Mokko's Riverside Cool Cottages

Wed, 09/11/2013 - 19:58
I recently returned from a trip to eastern Jamaica where I stayed with Mokko in his yard for nine days. This was a trip which I had a lot of time to plan and dream about before going. In 2007 I became interested in an eco-lodge in St. Thomas which I found on a website called worldstogethertravel. Later the same people behind that site posted some videos on Youtube (thebirney) of their friend and guide who takes in guests, a rasta named Mokko. I hung out and read all the forums on jamaica, negril.com. jamaicaholics, jamaica.com, here, etc seeking all I could on the runnings down there. It was very engrossing! Eventually I found marcline.com, a site gosted then by the poster "browning". She and her boyfriend visited different parts of Jamaica several times, and because they are superb photographers, they were able to document it on their website and in various forums like this one. They eventually encountered this Mokko rasta and his place in St. Thomas, and I enjoyed reading about their trips around the island with him. I was going to fly to Jamaica and stay at Mikuzi guesthouse near Winnifred Beach for a week, and then spend a week at Zion guesthouse in Manchioneal - both places are in Portland. Then the rasta Mokko popped up again on my radar when I came across...Ras Kitchen!. I was intrigued with the idea of staying at this guy's yard in the John Crow mountains, but a little uncertain at the idea of being so isolated. So I phoned up Matt and asked him about how he got to Mokko's place and so on, then I foundanother person, an American woman who sometimes stays with Mokko too, and got her advice, which was to just call Mokko and get the vibe. I did and ended up flying into Kingston. I called Mokko the night before and asked him to meet me at the airport with a cab. We flew down, a middle-aged couple, and as Jamaicans strangers often reminded us in the street, we were one white man, one Hindu woman..."Hey, Whitey! India!" We got through Customs - "Sunninghill? Where is that? The middle of nowhere?" "It's near Bath." We rsisted changing money inside the airport - terrible rates. Outside in the blinding sun the rasta was waiting for us at the front doors with his painted Riverside Roots Cottages sign and dreads down to his ankles. He was getting a lot of looks from the assembled other jamaicans waiting outside. He hugged my girl hello with a bg smile and fist bumped me and we followed him to the cab, and we got our introduction to Jamaica and Jamaican driving. It was exciting. About an hour and a half later, after following the twisty coast road east to Morant Bay through some amazing sights and colourful third world scenery, we dismounted in the Parish capital of St Thomas, just in time for Friday market day. It was absolutely perfect. We were the only outsiders and tourists of any kind. We ate a great meal in a little unmarked cottage restaurant (someone's house) beside the market, bought a few things at the supermarket next door, and then we drove for another 45 minutes up into the mountains to Mokko's yard in Sunninghill. The mountains are close to the sea, so after getting into the foothils, you are very quickly in a montain rainforest with huge clifffaces above and below you, at one point, just before entering the Airey Castle area, it's just spectacular, a claustrophobic grand dream landscape at a bend much like at the more famous See Me No More turn in the road in Portland. It's farmers and schoolkids walking home and goats and little else on the road. We arrive at the village of Sunninghill, the centre of which consists of a plywood shack general store and a small rum bar. And a sheltered stop for the route taxi. A few hundred metres up from there along a narrow road is the entrance to Mokko's yard. His place is surrounded by the yards of his various relatives of various descriptions. The Church is four yards away. I discovered while there that the rasta is on good terms with the Church ladies, with the farmers, with the people in town, and I was made to feel welcome wherever I went in the area by everyone I met. It was very nice and old-fashioned. So we got out of the taxi, I paid the driver, and we carried our bags down a good concrete staircase built into the hillside past Mokko's sister's place, to a compound walled in by bamboo walls painted in the rasta colours. Lots of excited but friendly dogs greeted us, then Mokko's kids and baby mama appeared, and we were led into the courtyard of this cleverly-constructed Robinson Crusoe home. Mokko unlocked and showed us our huts. they were clean, simple, spacious, comfortable. I brought mosquito nets so I installed those. Mokko had one of his teenage girls take us the 50 feet to the river to bathe and freshen up, and the river itself was pristine and a delight, reminding me of rivers I had seen long ago in a British Columbia that had not yet been clearcut. By the time we got back to the cottages, Mokko had the fire going in the outdoor kitchen, and was putting the finishing touches on a roast fish and rice dinner. The portion was generous, the flavour outstanding, it was hygenic, and I realized that we really were staying woth a rasta who could could and took it seriously. We ate fruit from Mokko's farm for dessert - June and July are mango season in Jamaica - I never kt. Thomas. We had tiny perfumed bananas, oraheite apples, pine(apple). So we sat and listened to Friday night Irie FM radio blast out the dancehall and traded tall tales over a few Guinness until the yawns broke out. -the nights were warm but comfortable, with a constant breeze from the Atlantic trade winds moving the trees and air. -the beds were clean and comfy if firm, the sound of rain on the zinc rooftop at midnight when the daily thunderstorm arrived was fantastic to fall asleep to. The dark there is total at night - you're ina tropical jungle. The sounds are great - cicadas, treefrogs, croaking lizards -the bathroom st.ays lit up all night and has a nice flush toilet and toilet paper, etc. -I felt very safe, and the 8 watchdogs who curled up outside my doorstep were very alert. -I learned to ignore the roosters crowing at the crack of dawn. The cost of the taxi to Mokko's door was $70. Driver, Mokko, me, and my companion. Of course, when we stopped for lunch in Morant Bay I bought the driver lunch too. Tthe driver looked like a bit of a rogue but turned out to be a great guy - we encountered him again several times, he's a local man. From Mokko's village to Morant Bay was $2 by route taxi, and it's a thrilling (!) and scenic 35 minute drive downhill to the coast where you can easily shop, change money, etc. It put my mind at ease having Mokko there at the airport with the car, so I didn't have to worry about connections and routes, etc. I enjoyed the drive in with all the brightly-painted rum shops, drum pan chicken stands lining the route, all the Jamaicans standing in the heat listening to loud dancehall, the smell of diesel, the sea, and rotting fruit in the air. Since the evenings were relatively quiet, spent talking and listening to DJ Kenny or to Mutabaruka's rasta chat show with its issue of the day, we got up pretty early, usually around 6 am. I was surprised that I fell into this pattern so easily. Mokko was usually up by 5, washed, and had the fire ready by 6, coffee soon after. He had a number of coffee alternatives as well, like his hot cola drink enriched with coconut cream - genuinely delicious and exotic. The coffee thing was interesting. At first the coffee was weak, then on the third day it was rich and satisfying. Mokko explained that it was a different variety of coffee tree today - he picks from his farm and roasts it himself. Every morning we had a different traditional Jamaican breakfast made with organic unfertilized ingredients from Mokko's farm. The first morning it was "fritters", saltfish fritters. You chop scallions, tomato, and scotch bonnet pepper and drop it into a bowl. The you flake in some dried salt cod that you have soaked to remove the excess salt. Add black pepper and garlic to taste. Add thyme. Pour a quarter cup of water on the mixture. Let it sit for a few minute, then taste to check salt and seasoning. Add a handful of flour with a pinch of baking powder in it to the bowl and work with a spoon. Keep adding flour until you get the right consistency for fritters. Heat one or two fingers depth of raw coconut oil in pot. Test heat by dropping a tiny dryi-ish bit of batter to see how to fries up. When ready, use a tablespoon to gently ladle out spoonfuls of dough with your thumb into the pot. Fry for approx four minutes, two minutes each side. Serve with a heavily-peppered fried egg as a satisfying and hearty breakfast. Conch meat makes great fritters, too, and as Mokko says, you can use any seafood in these. They're a lot like a Spanish croqueta, but better. Other breakfasts: Scrambled eggs and bread done uniquely and very nicely and sort of boiled, the secret of this recipe I missed, getting up late that particular morning. Sunday morning we had a fruit extravaganza, jellycocunuts, soursop juice, mangos, oraheite apples. Callalloo and Rice with saltfish and big glasses of June Plum juice (best fruit ever for juice) another day. Breadfruit and cabbage in coconut milk with ackee. Ackee and saltfish, still my favorite. I'm cooking saltfish recipes back home now. Saltfish Rundown with roast breadfruit, chocolate tea with cocnut cream, guineps fruit, oranges. Fried plantain and coconut milk porridge, with cinnamon and cane sugar, and roast breadfruit. Cola nut drink again, a spiced and creamy drink. Callaloo and ackee with fried plantain. Ackee and saltfish several more times, by popular acclaim and a gracious host. Mokko worked so hard to make us this stuff, and he still had to move the goats and do all his other daily chores. It's interesting to walk with a farmer through his land and hear his thoughts on it. Now talking with Mokko...hmmm. The man speaks very well, but he speaks patois! I'm used to Jamaican accents and while I should not be surprised at how thick the accent is in rural mountainous goat herding Jamaican communities, I was. It got easier after a few days, but I kept wondering how the Japanese guests managed to communicate with Mokko. yep. Japanese guests, and Madagascar guests and so on - the guest book had comments from guests from all over the world. My favorite low-key pleasure at Mokko's yard was the shower. The Riverside Cool Cottages - I just remembered the correctl name of the place for the first time - are surrounded by hills covered in lush vegetation. The shower is a raised concrete platform next to the toilet at the end of the yard. It has bamboo walls and lets the breeze through. The water is nice, tepid, room or air temperature, and easy to wash with in a warm tropical environment. I stood there in the shower,, basically just grinning a lot of the time, enjoying looking out over the hills covered in waving coconut palm and banana trees in the breeze. I'd bring my coffee cup and shave very slowly, feeling utterly unrushed and patient and happy to be just where I was in the sunshine. Lunch was usually eaten on the road or in town. If we ate lunch at Mokko's yard, it was fresh fruit collected from his place or a neighbor's. I got the answer to a question that was nagging me ever since i watched an episode of Ras Kitchen on Youtube while in Canada...Mokko has these free-range chickens running around his yard, yet he cooks with store-bought chicken from Morant Bay. When I asked him, Mokko explained that he doesn't like to kill chickens or goats and at this point in his life he just won't do it anymore if he can possibly avoid it. But if I wanted to kill and clean one for dinner, I was free to do so. He sells his chickens to neighbors, but doesn't consume them himself. He likes to see them running around his yard. It was an unexpected statement from a big macho Jamaican ras. Mokko is an unusual and interesting man. We often hiked the rivers and the hills around Mokko's place and didn't come close to exhausting al the interesting and beautiful possibilities there. There were walks where we met people and walks where we were alone. Mokko knows everyone you may encounter. The river walks were the best - you walk up the river to get to places unreachable by paths, and therefore pristine and private. There are beautiful oases of deep light blue-green mountain waters where you can swim and refresh yourself on a sunny day. The very best thing. it's like having your own private Somerset Falls or Reach Falls. Luckily we had sandals for the water walks on the stones, Mokko did it barefoot. He also easily out paced me and I'm far younger than him. While we swam and drank in the scenery, the rasta peeled mangoes and pineapples and handed us big pieces so we could eat it in the water - a dunk cleans the sticky juice off - yes, it's very primitive, but we were spoiled with luxury at the same time. It was like comfortable and exotic camping. We hired a car and driver a few times for excursions, but mostly we would go to "town", Morant Bay, and feel sucessful if we managed to accomplish one thing that day - I broke a part on Mokko's toilet seat, so that was a trip to the Chinese man's hardware store in town, a very interesting little visit, seeing how daily chores and shopping and things are done in Jamaica. I got a lottery ticket for a big cash draw and lined up for an hour with locals to do so, met lots of people. Mokko is often a vendor at the market when he has enough fruit or veggies in surplus to sell there, so he's one of the gang at Morant Bay, and once you've been seen there with Mokko by the other vendors there, you're a known quantity and you can do things like leave your bags from your shopping with his friends selling produce until you're ready to go home, so you don't have to lug all your shopping around with you or if you want to go into another shop unencumbered by bags. It was the same way when we first arrived from the airport...we left our bags in the car with the windows open, and need not have worried - there were local people guarding our car and bags for us. We got up early one morning an went up the coast to Port Antonio, walked around, and then came back east along the coast, checking out all the little places along Portland's coast that had caught my imagination. The sea was very high that day and the surf everywhere made swimming unattractive, but it was a glorious sunny day and my curiosity about Portland was satisfied. When we got back to Morant Bay around dusk, Mokko asked us, "So, you saw Portland, now which do you prefer, Port Antonio or Morant Bay?" We both easily preferred humble untouristed Morant Bay. One of the suggested excursions that we DIDN'T take was a trip to Bath. Mokko and Fari, one of his sons, suggested that we go there at night when it's quieter. I'd heard so much negative stuff about the higglers in Bath that I wanted no part of it. I have to say here that in ST. Thomas there was no begging from the tourists, no hassles, no higglers in Morant Bay, I was bothered exactly ONCE, while in Morant Bay, while standing examining a cart full of fruit, by an old crackhead, whom I ignored, as did everyone else at the fruit stand. People treated us with respect and had very good manners. People were very polite and approachable. Another day we went by the worst road that I have ever seen, simply indescribable, from Sunninghill thru Bath to the coast and Rocky Point, a lonley fishing village on the coast with a beautiful beach. Most of the fishing boats were out, but I found couple of shacks where men were playing dominos and a nice lady sold me cups of conch soup for 80 cents each. We later bought local conch in the market and cooked it in soup at Mokko's place - conch is so delicious, I had no idea how good it was. So, as I wrote, we ate out at lunch most days, and when we did we tried eat thing that we can't get at home,like red snapper wrapped in foil and grilled in its juices, or things that we can get back home just to compare them with the local product, like patties. Dinner was a big deal. I came to realize that the family would eat our leftovers in the evenings, so we began buying lots of food and making bigger batches of it as the trip progressed. I kept a list of most of the dinners Mokko cooked in his yard. Fish and rice, several times Stewed brown chicken with rice and peas Ital browned chicken soup - Ras Kitchen has the making of this one on video in 4 parts on Youtube. Deep-fried river fish from his front door,, deep-fried chicken delicacies/bits, chicken soup Rich Coconut sauce fish and rice Fried Chicken - puts the colonel to shame shame shame. Conch soup, fried river crayfish (janga) as an impossibly delicious appetizer. Yeah, the man knows how to cook - most guests gain weight there. 1789. Mutiny on the Bounty in Tahiti. Captain Bligh. Well he was collecting breadfruit when that mutiny occurred, and he eventaully took that same breadfruit to Jamaica, where he planted it at Bath Botanical Gardens, and from there very quickly to Mokko's yard -these breadfruit trees are not just organic and unfertilized, they are also heritage varieties that are hundreds of years old - this is real food, eaten with reverence by a rasta who appreciates such things. it was indeed an adventure as much as it was a vacation, I really enjoyed myself and found it completely engrossing. Jamaica has a great unique vibe. Just an example but one which sticks in my mind - we were starting to cross an intersection when a little girl in her school uniform stepped out in front of our car, pinted her finger and waved it and gave us such a look, then proceeded to slowly walk in front of our car with her nose in the air - Mokko went wild with laughter, screaming in approval - Att-ee-TOOD! (attitude). Ya mon!

A note about getting to Mokko's place

Wed, 07/10/2013 - 10:32
I was a bit baffled about how to actually get to Riverside Cool Cottages by myself. I called Mokko and I asked him to meet me at the airport (in Kingston) and he did. When I arrived he was waiting outside the airport door with his painted sign. We immediately were off with his driver along the coast of southeast Jamaica. This drive is an exhilarating introduction to Jamaica; you pass brightly-painted shacks and rum bars and fruit stands along the windy coastal road. We stopped at Morant Bay for lunch at the market, and then drove another half hour up into the hills to Mokko's place. I'm glad that I arranged for him to pick me up at the airport. I could get to his place on my own now, but it was very nice to have that taken care of and to not have to worry about it.

Apart from Jamaica's natural

Wed, 05/01/2013 - 23:09
Apart from Jamaica's natural beauty, I love the cuisine there. As I am a big foodie, I love every dish served there along with the stay at the lovely cottages there.

Jamaica is a place where you

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 23:29
Jamaica is a place where you always love to go every time. The sea and river side cottages always been a wonderful place to watch natural beauty of Jamaica. Also, other attractions like Bob Marley Museum, reach fall, Raft on the Rio Grande,Frenchman's Cove is a famous places here. If you are planning to visit Jamaica then must visit this places with family and friends to enjoy the real natural beauty of Jamaica.