Thursday, February 09, 2012

Jamaica 3--Up the Falls

Today a guy from the mission here took us to the airport to rent the car Paul had reserved for us. (Thanks, Paul!) Of course this is not allowed to be just a routine procedure, this being us ladies in a foreign country.

We got a ride with the ones taking today's shift to Blossom. On the way, I discovered that Amy, who had sounded so confident that she could drive on the left side, which had made me delighted to get the car in her name, actually never had yet, but she was sure it would be ok.

I had been warned that they would want me to buy insurance and I should say no. The tall Jamaican lady said I had to buy insurance. I said no I do not. She said yes, it's a requirement here, and here are your options.

Argghh. Where's Paul when I need him?

I fussed enough to embarrass Jenny. In fact I tried hard to sound exactly like Paul would, and he always gets his way with that tone of voice, but it did no good. And obviously the lady had all the power because we needed that car.


She took a key off the row of hooks (not the row that said, "dirty keys") and took us out to a neat little gray car. I hopped in, along with my long-handled purse. She took Amy around and showed her the details. Then she asked me to step out so she could show Amy the jack under the seat.

I stepped out and promptly hooked my foot in the purse handle on my way out. I took two panicky hops and was flying nose-first toward the asphalt when the lady, Ms. Dishonest Yes You Must Buy Insurance, reached out, hooked her elbow into mine, and hauled me up with the neatest save you ever saw.

So I forgave her.

I also laughed so hard I embarrassed Jenny.

Then we took off for a day of touristing.

Amy capably drove us along the coast for about two hours, to Dunn's River Falls. It's an amazing place, with the river dropping over 600 feet in maybe a quarter mile, and then it flows right into the ocean. The cool thing, and the real draw of the place, is that you can climb the falls from the beach right up to the top.

When we parked the car we shared the parking lot with three huge tour buses and probably 50 smaller buses, our first clue that this was a big tourist draw.

As we walked inside the gates, we saw hundreds of tourists milling everywhere. We changed into swimwear we could conscientiously wear in public, stowed our things in a locker, and headed down the path toward the beach, surrounded by crowds of people speaking Italian, German, American English, British English, Southern English, and languages I didn't recognize. They were also in swimwear, and if I never again in my whole entire life see such quantities of bare flesh again--tattooed, bulging, shapely,or bouncy, I will be perfectly happy with that, and that is all I will say about that.

It was Cruise Ship Day, it turned out. The ships dock at various places along the coast of Jamaica, and people can sign up for a frolicsome time at this natural attraction.

Amy had been here before and knew how to go about it, so we went barefoot, and didn't use the guides.

It was beautiful. Lush green growth hanging down and growing all around, and this clear just-cool-enough water flowing down over a rippling and tumbling stairway of rocks that settled into pools for landings and then flowed down another flight.


As high as we could see, a long line of shrieking tourists held hands and slowly worked their way up the falls, with agile guides coaching them along and other agile guides leaping over the rocks to take videos, egging people on in imitating crazy whoops and cheers, which I have a hunch were all to make them not think about how terribly slowly they were progressing as they waited for a bottleneck to clear way up ahead.

We slipped behind tourists and in between them and began climbing. It was refreshing and fun, climbing up from this rock to that one, all with this lovely rush of water sloshing over you. It seldom had enough force to make you unsteady on your feet, but just enough to take all the fatigue out of your calf muscles, and I was wondering how a person could replicate that sensation in an exercise video.

Amy and Jenny started a little water fight in a pool, which the cheerful guide caught on his video camera, which will no doubt show up on the overpriced video going home with the cruise passengers.
(Looking downstream at people working their way up, with a tour guide in the yellow shirt.)

Finally after about 100 feet we gave up. We weren't about to join the cruise ship conga line, and it wasn't working to slip past them. The girls clambered back down and I found a way off the side and back to the path. Amy asked a guide and he said it should be better in an hour or two.

So we swam in the lovely warm Caribbean and walked on the beach and did other unbelievable rich-people things, and then after a while things did indeed clear out and up we went.

I wish you could all experience it. Up and up, step by step, left here along the rocks, grab there, step there, down through a pool, on and on. All with that soothing water flowing toward you. I read that the hike takes 3 hours but it took us maybe half an hour. It helps if you're not with 200 other people, in a long line.

I pretty much kept up with my agile girls. That was very cool too.

Afterwards I asked the lady at the desk how many people come through here every day.

"It ranges from 1500 to 7500," she said. "7500 is on the big cruise ship days."

I said, "Was today a cruise ship day?"

She said yes.

Then Amy drove us safely back, and on the way we stopped for Jerk Chicken And Jerk Pork With Rice and Beans, and Festival.

Festival is a deep-fried cornmeal thing. It's good. So is the Jerk stuff.

While we were eating, I suddenly remembered that I was going to be very clever and ask the girls, when we reached the top of the falls, if they didn't feel like they should start spawning*. They didn't think this was funny.

*Since we had just fought our way upstream, like salmon, which you might not know if you're not from the Northwest.

I also had an idea that was even more clever. The cruise ships should offer one more day trip for their adventure-hungry passengers: a trip to Blossom. These wealthy people could hold babies for a few hours and have their eyes opened to how some people really live, and their consciences could be stirred, and they could either come volunteer in Jamaica or send money to JRM for their foster care program, or they could sponsor adoptions so babies like little Aldane could go live with my niece Annette and her husband Jay, or they could come to Jamaica to help people set up micro-businesses and help the economy in general, or they could come find a way to motivate Jamaican men to be real men, since some 85% of babies are born to single moms. Or at the very least they could just hold babies for a few hours and that would be good too.


  1. If I EVER get a chance to go to Jamaica, I will certainly contact you as to where this place is! Sounds like my kind of adventure!
    I've been enjoying your posts about Jamaica. And shedding tears for the dear children. Heartbreaking. My cousin's son & his wife just adopted a little boy from Jamaica. I have to wonder if he's from from the same place! :)
    Enjoy you stay!

  2. Enjoyed your post. I'm with you on the bare flesh part. WHY DO THE PALE SKINNED TOURISTS think they need to show the world their flubber!!