Travel just a few miles north from the melting pot that is Kingston down at sea level and you find yourself heading up into a chain of mountains probably most famed for their production of coffee. The coffee produced on the sides of the steep misty mountains is excellent and I found myself wired off the stuff for most of my time there, but it was more than the coffee that got me hooked on the place.
While most people would picture Jamaica for it’s stunning beaches, it was here in the mountains I really experienced that unique element the makes Jamaica something a little bit special. There are not many mountain ranges I have been two where after walking for hours through deserted coffee plantations you are greeted with booming vibrations from the valley below, as the latest home made sound system is tested. Or staying in a lodge with Rasta’s from the Bobo Ashanti mansion who grow and cook their own I-tal food every day. I-tal is a vegetarian diet that varies between Rastafarian mansions but is routed in healthy, vegetarian food which for me as a vegetarian travelling in the Caribbean was a revelation. I came for the opportunity to climb Blue Mountain Peak but I stayed for the people, the wildlife, the tranquility, the food and of course the verdant mountains I was nestled in the middle of. I really had found a place of sanctuary for me on an island that can be at times, testing.
Of course these are mountains, and while the serene beauty of the place can trick you into a false sense of security, for three days of the seven I was there, the rain lashed down hard. I planned to get up to Blue Mountain peak in the first couple of days but the days and night were filled with such ferocious downpours the trail would have been impassable. Eventually the rain clouds cleared and the blessedly cool valley was once again bathed in Caribbean sunshine allowing me to make the climb up through stunning and sometimes eerily silent cloud forest to the peak. The peak itself is nothing to write home about (and yet here I am?) a lonely ramshackle structure and a few signs peppered with small calibre bullet holes is about the extent of the excitement. It’s the walk starting in the coffee plantations and snaking it’s way through the cloud forest that is really worth the effort.
I even managed to share the walk with a few doctor birds or swallow tail hummingbirds to be correct. Found only in Jamaica, they are the national bird, instantly recognisable with their long forked tails and iridescent plumage. Truly stunning creatures and a privilege to stand so close and hear the call of one of the worlds most beautiful creations.
I spent most days trekking up into the hills, working, or just relaxing with a book sharing with the locals in a strange herb they seem to be fond of here.
Undoubtedly my highlight of the journey so far, however feeling guilty for not working in a while, I started up a few projects to keep the bread rolling in. Welcome to my office.
Chronixx – Capture Land