Dear Friends,

image

Last week at this time, my mother and I were at Milk River Bath in Clarendon; she was soaking in the mineral baths, which are reputed to be among the most curative, restorative, and mineral rich in the world, and I was lying across the bed, in a sleeveless blue floral dress, reading Dan Brown’s latest novel, which was intense, but a bit lengthy.

This day, last week, was sunny, hot and tranquil. There were no mosquitos buzzing, because the repellent, Vape, was plugged into the wall; and the only breeze came from a large standing fan making its way slowly back and forth.

image

I hadn’t been to Milk River Bath, since childhood, and I remembered not liking it then, so when my mother went on her numerous visits to the baths (possibly her favorite place in the world, besides her orchid-filled garden), I never accompanied her. However, my time in Japan, opened my eyes to the wonders of soaking for lengthy periods, and it was with eagerness that we both made the trip to Clarendon (the Jamaican parish in which the baths are located).

image

The legend of the bath is that of a slave, who for a week, soaks his severely whipped body in the mineral water, which heals his wounds. He returns to his master (I never understood that part of the story), and is then made a manager of the Bath. Upon the slave owner’s death, the property was willed to  the Jamaican government, who test the water every year. The waters of Milk River are reported to be as potent and mineral laden as it was over 150 years ago.

Last week ago at this time, a few hours before, I had seen many pelicans in flight, rising from the marshes and gliding upward and outward. My mother and I, on our walk toward the nearby fisherman village, had encountered a rastaman who greeted us with “Bless!” By this time, we had eaten our ackee and saltfish with boiled green bananas breakfast, followed by passion fruit juice and Blue Mountain Coffee sweetened with a bit of thick condensed milk. Our senses were fulfilled.

image

It’s unfair for any place to follow a visit to Jamaica, where streets give birth to butterflies. It’s unfair to compare Jamaica in January to Germany, which has greeted me with sleet, charcoal skies, which makes early morning look like evening, and the general feeling of barrenness that winter brings. It’s unfair for winter to follow summer with no fall as a buffer in between.

Though, I was treated to coffee in my first two hours of being in Dusseldorf, (ain’t it nice being a woman?!), my bones and hands are still cold. You’d laugh if you saw me– I’m wearing gloves, a scarf, wool socks and leg warmers inside the house. It’s much too early to say, and snap judgements are unfair, so I’ll withhold judgement; the pluses are the accommodations are large (though chilly, even with the heater on high), there’s a long balcony (on which I won’t sit for two months), it’s clean, and the supermarket and train station are nearby. As they say, “Life is what you make it.”

image

Love,

Val