Clarendon

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The second most-populous parish, Clarendon is a major agricultural region with a lively market (Mon.–Sat.) by the square (or triangle) in its capital, May Pen. The parish, like all others in Jamaica, was originally settled by the Tainos, who were later pushed out by Spaniards who favored the area for cattle farming on their hatos or haciendas. Cotton and indigo became important crops during the early British period, before sugar took over later into the British colonial period. The parish developed as British troops settled on land granted to them as rewards for service by Charles II in the 17th century. Cudjoe, the Maroon leader, is said to have been the son of a slave on Sutton Plantation in Clarendon, the site of Jamaica’s slave rebellion of 1690. Following emancipation, large numbers of Indian indentured laborers were brought in, forming the basis of a distinct cultural enclave that still exists today. Visitors to May Pen will find virtually no tourism infrastructure, as the parish has little developed coastline and scarce attractions to excite the imagination of the short-term visitor. The undeveloped coastline can, on the other hand, be an attraction in and of itself, for the adventurous, and it is known to be dotted with caves in the vicinity of Portland Point. The brushfilled landscape in this same area is a favorite place for hunters to shoot birds in season for about five weeks starting in mid-August. The protected areas along the coast are the last place in Jamaica you have a good chance of seeing a manatee—native to the country’s waters but severely endangered. The famous bathhouse in the parish, Milk River, warrants a visit if you’re an old-school spa buff; if you’re into hanging with the locals and taking a dip, try Salt River, where a spring wells up from the earth and sound systems blast music to bathers’ delight.

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