The Legend of Martha Brae

The legend tells of an old Arawak witch who lived on the banks of the river Matibereon. Having heard tales of Arawak gold, Spanish treasure hunter captured the witch to lead them the  treasure. Pretending to comply, she led them into a cave, then suddenly disappeared. Frightened, the Spaniards ran out of the cave only to be engulfed by the river. The witch then changed the course of the river forever.  Passed on by mouth, the legend still lives on.

The dispatcher (or captain) guides the thirty foot long bamboo raft down the three mile stretch of slow moving, winding river which takes about an hour and a half.

Our captain stopped for quite some time midway into the trip, took something out of his backpack and with his back to us started doing something with both hands.  Being in Jamaica, my first thought was that it was time to take a marijuana break and he had to roll his cigarette as we could get a whiff every once in awhile from the riverbank.  Then it appeared that he was carving something.  Hmmm…  Commerce was frequently present along the river banks and our guide was no different.  He had carved a beautiful design into the outside of a dried calaba fruit shell (same fruit used for maracas) and we purchased a souvenier of the raft ride and he carved our names on it. We had about half of our trip left so I’m guessing that our guide would not have been as pleasant had we not purchased.  Oh, well… it was worth it.

Martha Brae raft tour is located about 20 minutes east of Montego Bay.

Safety first:  I opted to wear a life jacket, just in case. Randy chose to “live on the edge.”

Another salesman along the river banks selling bamboo replicas of the raft.  Mission accomplished – sold!

Randy is excited to be tallest one in the photo! Our guide is excited to have made some money today.

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