Lacovia is the longest village in Jamaica, laid out for more than five miles on either side of the South Coast highway and the Black River, both of which divide the community into East and West Lacovia. Throughout the 18th century, Black River and Lacovia alternated as the capital of the parish of St Elizabeth. At one point in time, the river was the main transportation route for the parish, as road travel through the dense and humid mangrove swamps was treacherous at worst, miserable at best. The name Lacovia seems to be derived from the Spanish name for mahogany – la caoba – when the main industry was the logging of mahogany trees, which were floated down the river to the wharf for export. Today the cashew nut has replaced mahogany lumber as the prime export of the area, and the Black River is no longer used to transport goods to the parish capital.
Lacovia was once home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Jamaica, and the town is still of great importance to the existing Jamaican Jewish community today. There are many interesting remnants of that Jewish heritage, including an old graveyard with many telling tombstones. To date there is no formal site, but do contact the Jamaica National Heritage Trust for more information on Jewish settlements in Jamaica. In Lacovia, the Jewish cemetery falls on the land of one Mr Robinson, who respectfully maintains the tombs and is always accommodating to visitors.
In Lacovia, cashews are abundant, but there is only one Cashoo. Cashews are grown all over the district, and cashew nuts are the area’s largest cash crop. The only ostriches in Jamaica are bred at Cashoo Ostrich Park, a small attraction and working farm just outside the village. At Cashoo, there is horseback riding, river tubing and lots of prime picnic spots, with a restaurant and bar for grownups and a playground for children.
Beside the Texaco gas station along the main highway, two grey concrete tombs lie raised, almost in the middle of the road. One is unmarked, but the other belongs to one Thomas Jordan Spencer, said to be an ancestor to Winston Churchill and Diana Spencer. Why these men were buried here is a mystery, as are the circumstances surrounding their deaths, but just ask, almost anyone from the area is sure to give an animated account of their personal version of the story.