Jamaica: Not Just Sun, Sand, Sea

Two days, I spoke to my mother on Skype, and after hearing about her trip to The Blue Mountains, I begged her to write it down and send it to me. My mother’s voice is soothing and warm like ovaltine, but her words are richer. Please see her trip in detail, in her own words.

Jamaica: Not Just Sun, Sand, and Sea

by Lorna Smith

I often lie on my bed and look at the mountains. First thing in the morning after opening my eyes,
I open the balcony door, stand for a moment, look at the mountains and savor the day. Often, I return to lie on my back, gaze at them and feel their presence anchor and ground me.

I have looked at the mountains with love and respect and have thought, “I lift up mine eyes to the hills, ”and today I am here at last fulfilling one of my deepest wishes. As a child of the inner city, I had often wondered what it would be like to live where everything was green, quiet and peaceful. As a young adult, I migrated to the concrete jungle and never had time, space or opportunity to
find out. And now, at the sunset of my life, all that I have the courage to pursue is open to me. Sure, my knees won’t allow me to climb to the top of the mountain as I had always dreamed of doing, but with the aid of a car, I can now climb into her lap and be enfolded in her arms. And so, seemingly on the spur of the moment, I made arrangements.

Earlier in the day I had thought of postponing my trip, due to torrential rains, and called to cancel but it was too late; the car had already left to pick me up. We made the twenty- five mile journey
upward into the heart of Blue Mountains in the continuing rainstorm. However, traffic was light and the roads good, except for a short stretch as we neared our destination. So good in fact that the driver and I joked that the politicians must have their homes in these hills. The driver was very careful; he seemed to sense my disquiet as we navigated the many twists and turns. Then very high up in the mountains, the road ran through the training camp for the soldiers. Newcastle. We watched them as they drilled, ramrod straight. They didn’t even glance at us as we passed. Once dry gullies, now rushing rivulets dressed in full khaki, washed the roadway as impromptu waterfalls cascaded.  As we ascended, I saw the way lined with wild flowers, big blowsy lily-like flowers on cane like stalks, and underneath them, ferns. Now and then, an intemperate mongoose flashed across the road.

After hearing of a series of illnesses and deaths of acquaintances, I decided to give myself a respite.
I opened the telephone directory and randomly chose the Starlight Chalet and Health Spa based on their advertisement, in which they offered peace, quiet, nature walks, and “a Blue Mountain Escape.” The chalet is located in the beautifully named Silver Gap. It is a part of the John Crow Mountains in the Blue Mountain chain. In a few shorts minutes all the arrangements were made and now, two days later, I was about to fulfill a long-cherished wish.

At last, we turned onto a long curving driveway drive way and approached the hotel, a venerable pink lady two-stories high, attended on both sided by tall trees, sitting in the protective arc of the mountain.  Flowering shrubs lined the driveway and I gasped in pleasure in anticipation of tomorrow and hopefully the end of rain.  I arrived in a furious rainstorm; sheets of heavy rain in a continuous downpour, accompanied by a thick mist, shrouded everything.

The Starlight Chalet and Health Spa is not a large hotel; however, I was shown to large airy room which opened onto a private verandah and a three sided expanse of mountain. A beautiful canopied bed awaited me.  Only the sound of the rain could be heard.

I woke up early; it was still dark outside, and I lay still and content waiting to watch the sun as he also awakened from his slumber. The morning dawned bright and clear and, from where I am stood on the verandah, the hotel seems to be held in a loose embrace by the mountains. A series of hills present themselves to my admiring gaze. Verdant folds of the nearer ones and in the distance, sharp ridges clothed every shade of green imaginable. In the pure morning light the trees on the top of the mountains were sharply defined as they reached up to a clear blue sky. On the distant lower mountainside, the bright green is almost black at its base; the summit is backdropped by fluffy white clouds that seem to touch it like a layer of icing on a cake. Now, as the sun gets higher, the morning coolness is somewhat dispelled and a curtain of mist covers the near mountains and the characteristic blue that gives the mountain its name is evident.

So, I have learned something this morning, it seems to me that the two strong forces of green and gold uses the cool air as a catalyst to produce that unique blue; almost diaphanous, almost indigo, can’t properly describe it, except with my heart. The blue clothes the mountains of my beloved land.

Now the sun is in my face, I am being embraced by him. There is a soft breeze that floats off the trees and there is the sound of the river far below. I hear the trill of a bird nearby. My senses are overwhelmed.  As I watch the mountains, it seems that the colors shift momentarily; only the view in the distance remains constant, covered as it were with its blue sheet. The nearer slopes are very dark, almost black and bright green with the progression of trees up its slopes. As I feel the increasing warmth of the sun, I am eager to dress and go outside, morning ablutions kept to the very minimum in my haste.

A gentle breeze rises up from the valley and caries a fragrance I cannot define. I had not intended to walk or to explore the grounds before breakfast, but the grounds are magical. The driveway
approaching the chalet follows a curve along a gently sloping assent. It is bordered by hydrangea, rhododendrons, daylilies, old fashioned pink roses, and abundant in bloom and beauty are lesser players in every shade tucked in between. I sit for a while on a bench tucked in a small secret garden that is not visible from the house or the main pathway. I lie on my back and watch the
hummingbirds as they put on their dazzling show. As I, in bliss, drift, I am certain that I hear a dazzling saxophone reach, circle and float away. As I listen intently, I recognize Miles Davis and John Coltrane on the scented air. A gentle breeze, the murmur of the river celebrating “Blue and Green,” and, in this piece of paradise, the trumpets caress and celebrate every “Kind of Blue” in
my heart.

This morning, “I lift up mine eyes to the hills.” As I witness the sun spread his splendor over the newly washed mountains, golden rays through a diaphanous mist, joy bubbles up within me. For a moment I do not recognize the feeling, I’m so transported. Then, when I do recognize what this is, it takes me a few seconds to claim it, hug it to me, to cherish it. This is it– a feeling of ultimate lightness, transcendence, pure, joy.

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