Category Archives: AMENITIES

Ain’t That A Trip? …when a climb to a retreat advances through a dreamscape of rocks and fallen fruit.

Birdsong

The sweetness of a perched bird’s song is a clever mask for the beautiful design in its folded wings. All things about a bird were designed for flight. I closed both my eyes, and opened another. There I saw a bird. Like any ordinary bird. As I crept closer, he rustled daring me to come nearer.  After our meeting, what I know is the song is small in comparison to the beauty of his unveiled wings. Unveiled. Once he takes flight from the safety of the tree’s arm. Sing a sweet song this morning and flap your wings.

~Michelle J. Pearcy

When I arrived at the beautiful Irish Town resort in the St. Catherine parish of Jamaica, the first thing I was thankful for was my driver’s uncanny sense of knowing what was around the next corner. From the view of a backseat driver, passing vehicles no matter the size seemed ominous on the fallen-mango and limestone-littered road. The serpentine road stretched and wound and curved and constricted up 3,100 feet above Kingston. The best way I knew to deal with the thrill of seeing over the road’s edge into the gully was to gently close my eyes and recite the Three R’s:

Relax. Relate. Release.

Besides, I was on my way to a beautiful retreat and what a folly it would have been to arrive in a bundle of nerves and tensed up muscles. And to be honest, some of my life’s journeys have been on roads less traveled, with far less visibility, and deeper potholes! The Three R’s offered relief, yet the lesson of this trip would be to grant myself permission to let go of repetitive thoughts, patterns and behaviors – the kind of meditations that can keep one frozen and in a mold like an ice cube. 

From My Veranda:  High Above Kingston 

In the short climb to Strawberry Hill Hotel & Spa, a beautiful Blue Mountain oasis, I gained the tremendous wisdom of neither looking too far ahead in the road or over my shoulder on the steep climb behind me. Instead…

Focusing on living IN the moment

 

After living the majority of its life as a nymph, once the dragonfly is able to fly it spends most of its time flying.

 Along the path, I have discovered the genius in focusing on living IN the moment, the present. One afternoon, during my stay at the resort, I discovered this dragonfly.  The simple creature had already lived out its life. I was totally intrigued by the fragile lace-like design of its wings and the strong breastplate-like shape of its body. What a contrast! The dragonfly lives most of its brief life in an immature state as a nymph. With most of its life in a state of being that is not-ready-for-prime-time, is there any wonder what it will do once it is able to fly? The dragonfly literally leaves nothing to be desired by living his life to its fullest. Once it’ s able to fly, that’s what it spends most of its time doing. 

I ask myself how different should my life be from that of a simple creature?  

Strawberry Hill Hotel & Spa is a Blue Mountain oasis.

 What is it like to live and work in Dreamland,? I asked.
“Like heaven,” she replied.
Then she said her family asks why she left their home for 
Irish Town.
“For peace, for healing”

I suppose that makes her something of a dragonfly.

Fly.

I was unable to gain the fullness of her heartfelt answer until after the sun set on my first evening in the oasis. A mist comes over the entire mountain that seems to erase the day, blanket the evening and lay foundation for the new day. Once I experienced that, there was no question. 

 

Lush Life: Sunset Over Irish Town, Jamaica

 One of the things I long for most when I have been away from Jamaica for an extended time is nighttime sounds. It is a veritable symphony of crickets, tree frogs, and yes, the occasional irritating sound of an irritable dog’s bark.

In the decades that I have traveled ‘back to Jamaica,’ I had never recorded those spirit-soothing sounds except in my memory. Each morning, the symphony that lulled me off to sleep gave way to a symphony of crisp, chirping birds, clanging castanet sounds of june-flies, and an occasional rooster’s call.  Like a symphony orchestra sequestered in the pit, it is not always easy to see or fully appreciate the tiny musicians. 

 

One of the fine musicians of the daytime symphony.

 At first, I did not appreciate the blessing Theresa, Steven, and Little Sophie, the family that stayed in the room above me had become. Their European body clocks were set to a different rhythm than mine and their very early stirrings were just what I needed to be gently awakened in time to sit with the daily sunrises. 

Sometimes the smallest musicians make the sweetest sounds.

The mist obeys the morning’s command to rise and shine. The lush landscape is left looking like a sleeping green giant. 

Some journeys are serious, some fun, and others of discovery. This was a discovery mission.  

Dave greeted each person we met with the word ‘Bless’.

 

I took a two-and-a-half-hour walk with walking tour guide Dave down the mountain to a place called Gardentown. It was scenic, peaceful and serene. All along the way, he showed me the indigenous fruits and vegetables, and along the way shared some of his herbal roots knowledge.

Coveted Blue Mountain Coffee In Its Nymph Stage

Of course, the conversation shifted to the power of love. One love. In Dave’s view, all that life amounts to. My view too.

House Resting on Stilts. The route to Gardentown.

As I was being led through narrow paths on completely unfamiliar terrain, often paces behind Dave, I imagined that my inside voice is still the best choice for a guide. That still voice best is best suited to correct my path, setting me back on course. It’s a forgiving voice that has never given up on my lack of direction and recalculates better than the best-rated GPS gadget! 

Once  the sun made it over the mountain and beamed on Red Light, the small town opposite the oasis 3,100 feet high above Kingston, the town with no traffic lights of any color, it became blistering hot. I gave in, relented and retreated to the infinity pool. 

Infinity is without limits, right?   

Limitless

When I left Dreamland, the place that took traveling a road littered with rocks and fallen fruit to arrive to, I awakened. Then I recalled that there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome, no barriers that can stand in my way – that  today is the greatest day of my life!

Ain’t That A Trip? …when a climb to a retreat advances through a dreamscape of rocks and fallen fruit. 

Mention of Strawberry Hill Hotel & Spa in this post should not be construed as a review. Their website is located at: http://www.islandoutpost.com/strawberry_hill/

Ain’t That A Trip? …when some things have to be entered into head-first

 

Somethings Have To Be Entered Into Head First. Negril, Jamaica

 “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” ~William Shakespeare

 Growing up, I was not allowed to use training wheels to learn to ride a bicycle. Neither did my first pair of ice skates have double blades. No half-stepping. If you’re going to ride, ride. If you’re going to glide, glide. The message was clear: a half-step should only be the interval between notes on a keyboard. But, there are some things I can honestly say I have extreme respect for – one of them being heights.  

As I stood on the cliffs opposite this child of about 10 years, I rehearsed the meaning of the caption of this photo:

 Some things have to be entered into head-first.

One of the biggest challenges with shooting this picture was ‘when’ to shoot versus ‘if’ he would jump.  I knew enough about physics and trajectories to know I would have to train my camera ahead of his launch to get the best shot. Besides, “if” he would jump was not the question and his hesitation probably had very little to do with fear or lack of courage – it was more likely to do with him calculating when he could command the most attention.

These rocky cliffs are his playground – or at least during this strategic time of the day. The cliffs are next to Jamaica’s famed Rick’s Cafe, where tourists flock in a daily pilgrimage to experience the coveted Negril sunset. That evening, several party boats including the notorious catamaran, Wild Thing, had eclipsed in or nearby the small bay. Rick’s sits about 50 feet above the lovely Caribbean Sea. 

I was standing on a curved patio outside my resort, Catcha Falling Star, a sweet little Negril resort where the staff makes you feel just like family. And like a close family, keeps a good eye on your comings and goings which really makes you feel safe and cared for. Catcha is a neighbor of Rick’s and just close enough to draw energy from the festive partyboaters, revel in the cheers and whistles of their patrons that egg-on the divers, and perfectly poised to be inspired by it all.  

While most of Rick’s visitors who step up to the challenge of diving usually go in feet first, the local divers mostly opt to go into the sea head-first.  

Some of life’s challenges can only be entered into going head first. Going in feet first leaves too much temptation to change course. The playground I played on as a child had rocks of its own – small, gravelly rocks. And, if you changed course abruptly, a misstep could land you with a number of painful little reminders lodged underneath the skin on your knees.

Some things in life are uncertain, but not good cause to remain ashore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I become more familiar with digital photography, I am learning that sometimes the only game plan is to be contented and resigned to allow the subject to grant you the image it would have you have.

Can’t life be a little like that too?

Hummingbird: Fast. Fleeting. Like life.

Like this hummingbird, life is fast and fleeting. Though I hoped to capture the bright turquoise and rust plumage of my finely feathered friend, something more splendid was to be found in the shadows. On a perfectly sunny day, the lighting gave a hint of black and white.    

I did catch a star on this journey: Catcha’ Falling Star, a small seaside resort that I will visit again and again, as much for the warm feeling of being welcome as its location, location, location. What I also caught was the lesson that sometimes it’s not what we expect that brings the most joy.

 

Ain’t That a Trip? …when some things have to be entered into head-first.

We all seek different experiences in our travels; mention of the resort should not be construed as a review. Catcha Falling Star’s website is http://www.catchajamaica.com/