Rafting the Jamaican Way

A typical bamboo raft that would be used in Jamaica

Do you like going to the river and having a good time? If so, then you have probably been rafting or kayaking before. In Jamaica, people raft but with a fun twist. 

People don’t use the traditional kayak you might know and love. The traditional kayak is made from composite materials that make it strong and durable. We are talking about a science that has advanced plenty in recent years. 

The rafts in rural Jamaica are made from bamboo trees, which are cut and dragged painstakingly (trust me, it’s hard work; I’ve had to do it) from the woods and into yards where they are cut and put together. It was one of those days for a Jamaican boy when he was coming from school but didn’t feel like going home. Craig had an idea to go into the woods, and there was an adventure in the making. Usually, every time Jamaican kids growing up in the countryside went into nature, something crazy would happen. 

There is just so much you can do, and see that you always end up going on an adventure. That is one of the many reasons why growing up in the Jamaican countryside is so much fun. Growing up there means a deep connection to nature that you just can’t find anywhere else.

Ditching School to Go to the River

What a typical Jamaican river looks like

 It was one of those days after primary school when Craig and his cousin Shane were in truant mode. They didn’t feel like going directly home and decided that they would explore. They usually walked three miles home, and in that time, there was plenty of opportunity to explore or go somewhere interesting. There was a lot of nature and also many abandoned factories and mines to explore. 

The kids always managed to learn something new wherever they went. So they set off exploring the hills of Jamaica, and what they found on the rivers could not have been better. They had discovered a bamboo raft that was completely functional and abandoned. Somehow, this bamboo raft had been left there by unknown people in a working condition. The boys had never built a bamboo raft before, so they understood how important and valuable this find was.

The Abandoned Bamboo Raft

 With this, the boys decided they must have the raft, and so they took it and hid it in the bushes. The next day, they returned, not knowing if the raft was still there. Luckily, it was there, and they decided that they must take it out for a test, and this proved to be a costly mistake. There was a small fall in the river, and as the boys rafted down the stream, they went over the waterfall unknowingly and plunged deep into the water. 

It was a difficult and dangerous dive, but they understood that they would never get an opportunity like this ever again. A good bamboo raft was not something that was easy to make. The boys understood how hard it was to go into the bush to chop down the bamboo trees needed to make the raft. It also meant manually carrying everything to wherever they had to assemble it.

 After that, they would need to bring it from home to the river, which was about 2 km away. However, there are more important things in life than a bamboo raft. Sometimes, you have to save your life instead of going down with the ship.

 The boys, realizing what had just happened, decided that the best course of action would be to recover the raft. In doing so, Shane had cut himself. Shane tried to keep up with Craig but soon found that his wound was too much. The boys decided to go home without the raft after this and, in doing so, got angry responses from their parents in Jamaican Patwa. Their lesson? Never truant. 

It was a great day because at least they had the opportunity to be on a bamboo raft, which is something that they never got to do before. In the future, both boys would eventually get the opportunity to build something like that for themselves, which they did. However, at that time, it was important to understand the value of being able to go to the river and have a good time with a nice bamboo raft.