Jamaica. Amazing. We are nestled right in the blue mountains. A surprisingly mountainous area that boasts most of its peaks being 7,000foot above sea level (which is a stones throw away) and very very steep. It is famous for its incredible high quality coffee beans. Blue Mountain coffee beans sell for alot of money. I have been informed that because of the altitude which they grow, the beans take longer to ripen but that lengthened period means more goodness in each bean and the plants yeild a higher percentage of good beans.
The mountain sides upon which we are working are covered in plantlife and after the desert of mexico this is very welcomed. Actually everything is almost the polar opposite of mexico. Whereas mexico was space, soundlessness and sparceness, here is a profusion of visual delights, close sided valleys which restrict the horizon, and a bounty of smells and sounds.
The smell…wow! The most fragment smelling place I’ve ever been. It’s spiced, pungent, and sweet. Like incense and cooking but washed with the clear waterways and the sea breeze. It can be smelt everywhere, from the moment you step outside the airport terminal all the way to the top of the mountains and right down to the oceanside. Unfortunately the smells is fading for me as my nose becomes accustomed to it. I wish it wouldn’t, ever.
There is a particular wood here that once cut gives off the most pleasant smell I’ve ever smelt. It’s called Juniper wood and it has been used in places on the existing trails to build bridges or retaining walls. Whenever I ride nearby where it has been placed I want to stop and just inhale it deeply for awhile. I’ve taken a small off-cut and I have it next to my bed, it helps mask the other smells and makes me smile whenever I put it to my nose.
The plants…there is food and eats on many plants. As well as the coffee bean plants (which if you pluck the bean, squeeze from the husk, and suck the sweet muccus from the bean itself before disposing of the bean, provides a sweet treat), there are banana trees (some randomly plantations others relics from the plantation days), mango trees (coming into fruit right now), orange trees, raspberry bushes, fig trees, and I’m sure many more we have yet to discover.
The sounds…the valleys are very very steep and very close. Even when we climbed 3000 feet the other day (steepest pedal ive ever done and only walkable in places), it felt like we were only a stones throw from the other valleyside. There are residents everywhere in the hills living in shacks or houses of differing grades. Whilst we work we here the children at the school playing, music blaring from someones house and even the sound of friends and family calling to each other from one valley side to the other. Having the sounds provides a gentle and comforting charm that allows to feel located. Whereas in the desert the silence was a veil of silk, here the sounds of mountain people life is like a patch work quilt. The silk is smooth and disguises its weight and strength in its appearance of almost nothing, the patch work quilt has warmth borne from the character and care that went into its production, something that feels like a hug from friends and family.
Paradise…many places I’ve been to in the past have offered themselves as ideals of paradise but rarely have they lived up to the preconceived images. Jamaica has surprised me in the opposite way. After work each day we ride down the trails we have built with our callused hands and stop in the river to have the hardened muscles soothed and softened with a jump into the river. Actually river would give the idea of a body of water that flows. yes thats true, but this body of water is terribly discombobulated by the thrashing waterfalls, rocks, and clear pools along its route. the way to some of the best spots we have found include climbing up waterfalls, wading up jets of river, climbing underneath waterfalls to emerge above the spillway to be greeted with blue pools of gently bubbling gurgling water. Fresh but under the suns rays and after a hard days work are nothing more than tingling cool.
We have been to the beach too and playing in the water there is like having a thousand warm kisses planted all over your body. Nice mental image to leave you with.