The harvesting heart of the western highland agricultural yam-basket, Christiana, some 16km north of Mandeville and 900m above sea level, is a pleasant town set in a lovely backdrop of rippling hills and shallow valleys.
The area was settled by German farmers during the 18th and 19th centuries, which is a little bit evident in the complexion of some locals and the local Moravian church, located at the northern end of sinuous Main St. During the 19th century, Christiana became a hill-town resort popular with European dignitaries and Kingstonians escaping the heat of the plains. Today Christiana makes a good base for exploring YS Falls and the Appleton Rum Estate.
This is a fairly sleepy place – farmers go to bed early and get up around 4am or 5am – which you may find refreshing if you’re tired of Jamaica’s usual cacophony. That said, if you’re here on Thursday when the higglers come to sell their produce, the roads are so thick you can hardly drive through town. It’s a sight worth seeing.
Around Christiana you’d be forgiven for imagining yourself in the Pyrenees or the Costa Rican highlands. The air is crisp, clouds drift through the vales and pine trees add to the alpine setting. This is an important center for growing Irish potatoes, cacao, yams and coffee, and during picking season you can watch women with baskets moving among the rows, plucking cherry-red coffee berries.