Mandeville is the official capital and largest town in Manchester parish, and fifth-largest city in the country. But it carries just as many unofficial titles. Sitting at 610m above sea level, it’s essentially the capital of the Jamaican hill country, and certainly the largest urban center in the interior. It’s also one of the strongest magnets for wealthy, returning-from-overseas Jamaicans, recalling its old role as colonial hill retreat. Stupendously gaudy mansions are studded all around the local Don Figuerero Mountains, cloaked in a year-round early spring/late autumn coolness.
In the topmost hills of Mandeville you’ll find neighborhoods laid out in neat grids with spick-and-span cul-de-sacs and consistent street signage – they resemble American suburbs, largely because a lot of the residents used to live in American suburbs before they retired back to Jamaica. Finally, Mandeville is something of a base for volunteer, Peace Corps and NGO types in Jamaica; don’t be surprised to see a few young, Western faces (more than you’d normally expect in a non-resort town) wandering the streets.