The river man - George Thomas rafting for 40-odd years on the Martha Brae
Rafting down the Martha Brae River in Trelawny is one of the most relaxing recreational experiences, and it is an activity that can only be made better with a captain like veteran raftsman George Thomas at the helm.
Thomas, 62, is one of the elder raftsmen on the river today. It is a career which he started at just 18 years old when he was employed at the popular Martha Brae Rafting Village. He has worked there for more than four decades.
"What makes rafting so special is mainly because of the experience," Thomas told WESTERN STAR. "Over time, I get to share Jamaica's history with the many foreigners I meet and they, in turn, teach me their language and culture. Meeting people from USA, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, France, England, and so on, allows me to grow in my personal way."
Thomas treasures these bonds he has made throughout the years, which has seen him taking descendants of past clients he met decades ago on tours.
"One of the best things is the good friendships that I have formed with the people. I have met persons who I have taken down the river like 30 years ago. There is a family from Wisconsin (in the US) that I took down when the boys were around nine or 10 years old. Now they are married and have children and they came back here," he said proudly.
Rafting is not the only means by which Thomas seeks to bolster the tourist experience.
"I like to meet and exceed people's experience while on the river through storytelling," he said, noting the availability of crafting accessories also adds to the wholesome experience. "I take pride that people often show up for these reasons, coupled with the natural surroundings while on the hour-long cruise."
He vowed to continue to do rafting and is inviting tourists to come to the village and experience it for themselves.