Tue | Oct 3, 2023

Letter of the Day | Fort Clarence Beach has lost its rustic charm

Published:Tuesday | December 6, 2022 | 12:05 AM


I write in response to Carolyn Cooper’s article, ‘Rockfort Mineral Bath at risk of development’, published on Sunday, December 4. I agree particularly with her comments in the second half of the article about Fort Clarence Beach. I want to add something about the food experience as well, for which Hellshire and Fort Clarence are renowned.

On Saturday, December 3, my husband and I visited the beach for the first time since the pandemic was declared over two years ago. I must say I was happy for the better bathrooms, adequate garbage bins, additional tables and benches, free Internet, free lounge chairs, showers and changing areas. However, I was absolutely disappointed with the single source of food being sold. Here are some of the reasons: The fish was not fresh. It seemed to have been bought in bulk from some outlet and was being sold as 1lb or 2lb options. There was only snapper; no bammy. (We had ordered fried fish.)

In the past, I used to arrive very early at the beach and would see the fishermen in their boats selling fish at a little distance from the beach area. I knew the fish would be fresh and taste great. Now, one can’t select fish. One has to purchase a ‘package’. In the good old days, you could purchase fish singly, by weight and, separately, from the side orders. And, now, there was no container on the side with the ‘escoveitch’ sauce. The meals are now served in disposable boxes, not on trays as we were used to. And they are not brought to you by the chef. You need to pick them up, unless a specific request is made otherwise.

In addition, the festival was tough and made of too much cornmeal. It tasted like a cross between a dumpling and a festival. I could only eat half of a festival. I usually eat five. My husband struggled to finish even one. We dumped the rest, all 13 of them. We had planned to take some home, given the high quality we had become accustomed to since our teenage years. I’m in my mid-50s. I took home the extra fish and converted them into a brown stew, to add some moisture to them.

I do not believe the new owners appreciate the authentic Jamaican recreational experience. I feel like something very, very special has been taken away from us – something deeply Jamaican, for example, the natural, unspoiled simplicity of the beach, handwritten signs on a chalkboard with ‘chaka chaka’ spelling; something that is so precious and beautiful!

I hope Dr Cooper’s article will gain some traction with the new owners/lessees of Fort Clarence Beach.