Magic at Nine Miles Village
by Guinevere Mathey
(Sycamore, Illinois USA)
Majestic Mountain Sunset
Contest Entry #17- Magic at Nine Miles Village
There are many beautiful landmarks and towns in Jamaica. I've yet to see them all (though I yearn to become more familiar with this paradise) but there is one magical spot that stands out from our trip to Ocho Rios.
If you want to see the real beauty of Jamaica you have to get up in the mountains. A trip to Nine Mile Village where Bob Marley grew up is the best way to get a real feel for Jamiacan culture and history.
After finding a local guide I asked if he would bring his daughters with our group for the day. He agreed and it was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted until today.
Twelve of us hopped in a van and began the most raucus of journeys. The roads that take you up into the mountains of Jamaica are more like paths in a forest than something paved for vehicles.
They made the route we took from the airport seem like the Autobahn, but the long and winding roads are definitely part of the adventure.
There are some curves in which you absolutely know there is not room for two vehicles to pass by each other. There's barely room for one and to your left there is a cliff full of jungle that drops hundreds of feet and the other side is solid rock that seems six inches from your window (and subsequesntly your nose). Hold on to your hats, this is the original prototype of what we now call rollercoasters!
We got to Bob Marley's birth (and resting) place almost at closing time. This ended up being perfect because we were nearly the only people there.
If you go with the cruiseship tours I'm sure it gets packed. It has quite certainly been revamped from the shack that it once was, though the shack still remains.
There are many steps to walk up and then large wooden gates that let you through to his tomb. Before you get there a stage and band are playing great Marley music to get you in the right mood for the occasion.
It was a little difficult to discern what this place must have looked like to Marley as a child. It's apparent it has been added to throughout the years in congruence with his success.
Trust me though; you must take a moment while you are there, close your eyes, and try to imagine him running all over this mountain as a youngster.
Attempt to visualize what it must have been like for this great leader of peace and civil rights when he was only a little guy, playing with bugs, and climbing up and down this vast landscape that was his home.
Think of the poverty it entailed and the strength it created within him. It was awe inspiring for me. The Rastafarian guide will point out many notable spots and give you a meticulous history lesson about Bob Marley if you wish.
My favorite was "Mt. Zion Rock" that Marley often sat on and pondered the ways of the world (and of course later sang about). I strongly recommend that you sit on it yourself and absorb the inspiration that must still be magically engrained in it's pores.
Perhaps it was because it was late afternoon or maybe because I had two local girls with me that HAD to go to the bathroom, but what happened next was nothing short of wondrous.
As I walked Kadene and Jordene (our tour guide's daughters) around to the public restroom, the doors were already closed up for the day. Now my next call was to sit on a stump by a tree, but those two little girls didn't seem thrilled about that idea.
Right next to the bathroom was a private little shanty that couldn't have been more than 300 square feet. Out on the tiny porch there was a buxom elderly Jamaican woman brewing something in a pot that I supposed was dinner. She looked up at us, saw my girls squirming and called us down. She motioned for them to use her bathroom and then fixed the little ones braids as the older girl went.
She asked if they were hungry and they respectfully declined. She spoke so gently to us, quoting Marley lyrics, and I remember thinking how impressed I was that the workers of this landmark were so kind to its visitors.
She asked the girls what Parish they were from and they told her where they lived in St. Ann. Then she told them a story of a boy she was once fond of when she was their age and he lived close to where they were from.
It was only about 20 miles away, but that was hours of travel for her when she was a child. The relationship didn't work out but she never forgot him.
It was a sweet story and I was so grateful that these Jamaican girls were getting an extra special experience that other visitors were not privy to.
It wasn't until we met back up with our group that I found out how absolutely fortunate we truly were. That gracious woman was not an employee. One of the Rasta guides said to the girls, "So I see ya' met Mutta B." I didn't know what to think at first. Could it actually have been? No way does Bob Marley's mom still live up in these mountains. "No, not usually," the guide told me.
She has a mansion in Miami and another large house in Africa, but a few times a year she comes back and stays right here..."wit her son." I can not say much more about that experience...utterly astounding.
I was so thrilled that the girls got to come face to face with the matriarch of such a great part of their island's history. I hope they remember it as fondly as I do when they are older.
To make things even more mystical, Mother B passed away a few months later in Miami. So often when fate interrupts our intentions we become discombobulated (no pun intended).
This experience reminded me to gratefully appreciate all acts of kindness no matter how small. You never know whose life you are touching and who is touching yours.
It's difficult to find words to describe the view in the mountains at sunset on our way back down, but I will try. I thought watching the sun go down over the horizon of an ocean was spectacular, but watching through the mountains and valleys of jungle in Jamaica is nothing short of majestic!
You watch in awe as this fire ball turns from bright tangerine to deep crimson. The falling star slowly drops through the curvaceous emerald landscape and nestles perfectly between two tower shaped mountains like it's a mere resting spot for the evening.
It seems so close you could touch it. Dusk is the most beautiful hues of pink to violet and then dark purple turns to pitch black. Once the sun is gone in those mountains the only thing to be seen is the fifty feet of headlights in front of the van.
From our daylight experience we knew it was only rock and cliff and it was more unnerving without sight. Yet, I wouldn't change a single thing about this great Jamaican adventure and would strongly recommend any other visitors taking the trek to Nine Mile Village also. It's mountain magic that you don't want to miss!
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