Bed and Breakfast Review: Casahun, Ocho Rios
During the weekend celebrating Jamaica’s Emancipation I tried to find accommodations. A friend had a performance at the Seville Estate, but that performance wasn’t until 2:00 in the morning. This meant we needed a 3am check-in. We had planned a road trip to Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth. So instead of driving up to Ocho Rios in St. Ann then back to Kingston and over the St. Elizabeth, it would be best to overnight in St. Ann then make our way to St. Elizabeth. Every hotel I called laughed at me. One lady laughed so hard she told me I made her day.
“There is no-one here at 3am,” she scoffed.
Just when I thought we would be spending the night in the car, I called Casahun in Ocho Rios. A cheerful female voice answered, “Hello.”
“Hello. Is this Casahun?” I said.
There was a long pause. “Ahhhm. Yes it is.”
“Are you sure?” I chuckled
Laughter erupted from the other end.
“You know, I have some strange friends who would prank call me.”
“Oh I’m not one of your friends. But I could be.”
We both laughed at the same time.
I was on the line with Avis Marshall, a most delightful woman. I told her my predicament and waited for her to decline.
“Three A M check-in. Wow. Ok sure.”
“Yes, I’m going out anyway, so call me when you get close to Ocho Rios and I can direct you. I’ll put you guys in the flat. I should be dancing my butt off, but I’ll make sure to keep my phone close.”
I pushed to make sure it wouldn’t be a bother.
“Oh dear, when you’re in this business you have to be prepared for anything. Including 3 am check ins!”
Avis was mint.
Traffic flowed freely up to Ocho Rios that night and we got up there sooner than anticipated. I gave Avis a call and she sounded alarmed that we were there.
“You’re here already?! But I’m not at the house. Don’t you guys have a performance? Why don’t you do that? You know what, I’m at the Seville House. You guys should come. You’d love it.”
And so we did. Turns out, my friend was performing at the Seville. The Seville property used to be slave plantation that’s now a museum. You can read more about it here.
The grounds were alive with people teeming with patriotism. Folks were dressed in Jamaican colors or African garb. Traditional performances like Nyabinghi drumming, dinkimini and quadrill were performed.
I located Avis and gave her a big hug. “You crazy girl,” she quipped.
Avis left the festivities about forty minutes before we did. At 4am we pulled into her driveway underneath a heavy downpour. She opened my passenger door and sheltered me under an umbrella as we walked towards the flat attached to the side of her house.
Avis disappeared and came out with a standing fan. By this time we locked the grill.
“That was fast.”
“Yea. We’re from Kingston,” my friend said laughingly.
The one bedroom flat was equipped with a kitchen, laundry nook, living room and an adequate bathroom. Needless to say, we slept until early evening. At around 5pm I called Avis to tell her we were leaving. She wasn’t home, but just a few minutes away. We waited in the driveway. When she emerged, her dogs were happy to see her and wouldn’t stop jumping in. Avis spoke sternly to her dogs in a language unfamiliar to my ear. They retreated promptly. When we enquired what she was speaking, it was Danish.
Avis convinced us to stay and eat since she had prepared breakfast for us. Ackee and saltfish with fried dumplings and plantains were just what we were jonesing for.
We sat and talked for close to two hours. Like me, Avis taught abroad. She lived in Denmark for a number of years; taught in Burma when it was called Burma under the military regime. We discovered that we visited the same countries in Asia.
“You lived in Indonesia? That’s very un-Jamaican,” she said.
“So is living in Denmark.”
Here I was in Jamaica, sipping on Columbian coffee with condensed milk among fellow world travellers reminiscing about our travails. We were Avis’ first guests in her new venture in the bed and breakfast world.
“I took a long time to do this. I wanted my first guests to be special and I got that with you.”
Stay at Casahun. Avis is lovely. And so is that flat.
Telephone: (876) 892-4728
Secluded Nest: USD $60 a night