Yallahs is one of St Thomas’ primary towns with a population of over 10,000 people and growing. At night the town changes from a congested urban center to a mellow yet lively scene of streets, lined with pan-chicken stalls and small pubs with patrons and reggae music. The most interesting features of Yallahs are the twin salt ponds located just outside the town center, which were once a key source of salt for the region. Several theories abound, but one of the most respected opinions is that during the earthquake of 1692, the land below what are now the ponds sank, leaving pockets of seawater almost completely enclosed by land. Due to evaporation, the water in the pond is extremely saline, at times recorded as being 15 times saltier than the seawater!
A number of interesting and amusing stories abound as to the origin of the twin salt ponds in Yallahs. Some say the ponds were created after a dispute between two brothers in love with the same woman. According to that story, the older brother married the lady, but one afternoon when he traveled to Kingston on business, his wife and brother slept together, betraying his trust. Upon hearing of the dastardly deed, the older brother began to cry himself to death, and his tears fell into two salty puddles that drowned both the wife and the brother. Other stories tell of a dispute between the brothers, or some of a punishment for crimes the two brothers committed.
Three miles north of Yallahs, through the green hills of the Yallahs River Valley, lies the district of Heartsease, a sleepy little community that comes alive when Revival and Kumina meetings are held on the riverside near the old bridge. These meetings are loud and energetic, as believers in flowing garments and colorful head wraps sing and dance for hours at a time, moving to heavy, hypnotic drum rhythms.
Just north of the town of Yallahs lies Easington, which houses one of the most interesting geological formations in this part of the island – a sheer cliff that rises over one thousand feet high. Judgement Cliff, as it is called, is the most visible reminder of the 1692 earthquake that destroyed Port Royal. It was created by a landslide that happened when the earth moved. Many people were trapped beneath the heaps of dirt, including, it is said, a wicked slave owner who earned his fate. In 1955, the Jamaica National Trust erected a commemorative plaque in honor of National Hero Paul Bogle, leader of the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865, who is associated with the area. Today, Easington is a sleepy community, with a bridge, road and civic square that all bear the name of the former parish.
Say Hello To:
Poor Man’s Corner is a well-known stop along the main highway between Yallahs and Morant Bay. Here you will find Bev’s Restaurant, run by Bev who has three frisky pet dogs at the side of her house, along with a beautiful collection of tropical birds under a sprawling cherry tree. Stop in, have a bite to eat, play with the animals and tell Bev howdy for a wonderful complement to a warm St Thomas afternoon.