Jamaica One Love

The air smelled as green as the mountains all around us. It smelled fresh and alive, like ferns, flowers, coconut, mango, banana, and was that a hint of a familiar herb I smelled? The air felt warm (ok hot), it felt inviting, refreshing, welcoming. The people felt the same as the air, just as warm, inviting, and welcoming with every greeting of ja mon and everything irie. The water was crystal blue and salty and exactly the elixir to winter in the city. It tasted like sweet jackfruit, jerk chicken with hot scotch bonnet peppers, crisp Red Stripe beer, and rum in every fashion imaginable. Everywhere we looked was beautiful, stunning, exciting – majestic mountains, thin winding roads, jungle, ocean, nature, small towns with colorful houses. There was the sound of steel drum bands, laughter, of course reggae, and the loudest crickets I have ever heard. The feeling was entirely of joy and love. Jamaica lived up to everything, One Love.

My sister and I had the most wonderful trip over thanksgiving, her first venture out of the US and we headed to a tropical island that exceeded my every hope and expectation. From the moment we flew into the island with high lush green mountains descending into thin ribbons of coastal road and then the ocean so close, palm trees gently bending in the tropical breeze it felt like a paradise.

We started our trip with 4 days by the ocean on the beach. We swam daily, we zip lined, we hiked up Dunn’s River Falls (my sister was so patient with me, that was a real hike), we kayaked, took a wind surfing lesson (so much harder than it looks and all respect to people who do this), we paddle boarded, we floated and just soaked up the beauty and the fun. We played pool (my sister may have inherited my mother’s pool sharkness), we had dinner at a beach restaurant where the floor was sand and you could hear the waves, we listened to music, my sister even got up and danced on stage, yes I said she DANCED ON STAGE (no I didn’t even initiate or encourage this)! That’s just what tropical places and a whole lot of fun can do to people.

Halfway through our trip we traveled into the “real Jamaica” as our driver and one of the favorite parts of our trip, our Rasta Deepak Chopra Chris told us. We drove through Fern Gully, up over the mountains, away from tourists and into the heart of Jamaica. We traveled through Spanish Town, and then Kingston seeing Trenchtown and the original home of Bob Marley. Our home for the next half of the trip was high in the Blue Hill Mountains above Kingston. Chris was our driver and guide both across the island and then the next day through Kingston and he earned his title because we was the most fantastic Jamaican character and filled with endless Rasta wisdom that he continued to share with us. His heart was as generous and welcoming as the country. We both loved his inspirational quotes and my sister even started to write them down, here are a few of our favorites:

Rasta Deepak Chopra Wisdom from Chris our guide and driver:

• Absorb the power of nature and let the nature rejuvenate you.
• Your strength should follow your wisdom but never overpower it.
• You are an empress, not a princess. You are angels and gifts.

We stayed at the most amazing place in the Blue Hill Mountains, once the home to Chris Blackwell the manager for Bob Marley, this was where Bob Marley came to recover after being shot in 1976. Set amid the most unbelievable nature each room has a balcony with a view. We had a fruit tree just in reach, there was mountains all around that dove and swung down into the city of Kingston far below. We sat every night and watched the sun set, we watched stars, and we watched lightning bugs. We relaxed into the slow island pace. We played checkers each night after dinner. We lived entirely in balance and immersed with nature and I tried really hard not to step on any frogs. We slept under a mosquito net and just watched the world move slowly.

We ventured into Kingston for one other day and visited the home of Bob Marley and the museum that now resides there. We sat under the mango tree in his yard where he used to play and write music and smoke his spliffs. We walked the streets in the day’s heat and humidity. We drove out to Port Royal that Chris said was once called the wickedest Port in the world. We drove up and down steep winding mountains with views of towns and their daily lives.

For me the best part of the trip was being with my sister and seeing her so happy. I watched her start to write her lists as she once did when she was younger on visits to New York. She started writing all of the new things she was trying – sugar cane, star fruit, ackee, jack fruit. To laugh so freely with her; to feel the relaxation one can only feel with family. For me it was the fist time I was with her and could think of my mother every day not sadly but in a way where I felt strangely like we were sharing this experience with her. Everywhere we went we talked about how much our mom would love this view, or that taste, how she would have enjoyed this island as much as we did. In both our hotels we had small balconies with 2 chairs and a table with an ashtray, in both places we could imagine our mother sitting there and smiling the largest warmest smile. I could imagine her not looking down on us but in some alternate universe sitting in a place just as peaceful, just as beautiful, just as warm, and her just as happy. I could imagine her there so easily and somehow I will always think of her rocking in one of the rocking chairs looking out over the mountains, fruit trees in easy reach, watching the view and just sending such love, ONE LOVE ever and always. It’s nice to imagine her in a place that my sister and I were so happy.

One Love Mon,

Ra & Camila

PS – if you are planning a trip to Jamaica and want Rasta Deepak Chopra’s number let me know I would be happy to share it.

PPS- for some great armchair travel and to imagine yourself in this gorgeous place watch the movie Marley, truly amazing!

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12 2013

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