January 24, 2019
January 24, 2019, I met a man who is called Dirt though his government name is Clive (pronounced Cleave). When I woke up on January 24, 2019 (third week of my quest to travel the Caribbean in 2019), I never would I have imaged that I would have a life-altering experience that has changed my perspective on how I look at my life and what and who I would like to have in my life. The third Thursday in January 2019 is a day that I will never forget.
Let me start from the beginning, I have a love affair with Jamaica, but Negril captured my heart and refuses to let go. This sleepy beach town is just so perfect to me. It looks like a place in my dreams or a place that imaged, but Negril is a real place. So, for me, it feels like home. There is peace in the piece of this earth.
The drive to Negril from Montego Bay is absolutely one of the best drives I have ever taken. On the drive to Negril, you will experience breathtaking views that make for some amazing photos. The landscape on the drive consists of mountains, beautiful beaches, gorgeous shorelines, vegetation that includes trees with beautiful colored blooms of all kinds, livestock and dogs roam free and some super roadside stops with the most amazing jerk and soups (yep, I wrote soup).
The beaches in Negril consists of white sand and amazing crystal-clear waters with schools of small fish swimming around you. It’s an absolutely amazing experience. Once I was sitting in the water and something kept bumping me. Let me tell you, I was a bit tipsy on Pina Coladas and watched too many killer shark movies growing up, so I was freaking out a bit. Probably looked like a beached seal flipping and flopping trying to see what is bumping me. You know they say a shark will bump you first before it bites (at least in all the movies I’ve seen). It was a hand-size fish –maybe a snapper who knows. Oh, I’ve wondered off topic, but I thought it was a good tale to share.
You can enjoy the fabulous white sand beaches, food and drinks at Margaritaville and enjoy a great meal and see fearless divers that dive off the rocky cliffs at Rick’s Café as well as having a conversation with one or more of the locals. Jamaicans are a proud people and extremely proud of their culture and country.
Negril is in western Jamaica and is approximately a 2 -hour drive from Sangster Airport depending on which route you take. I didn’t take the A1 on this drive on the 24th, my friend and tour guide, Dave decided that I would enjoy taking the B8 after reading my list of places I wanted to visit that day. Now the Roaring River Park was next to the last on my list because my heart was set on the hummingbird sanctuary. I didn’t visit the bird sanctuary that day because we miss the turn, but I believe that is was a divine orchestration because we were on the direct path to Roaring River Park.
The drive to Roaring River –it’s a city in the Westmoreland Parish was a bumpy ride because of all of the construction building the road to Kingston and the potholes were horrible on the lane to the small mountain town surrounded by lush vegetation. It was like driving into the huge, lush garden filled with trees with orange, red, hot pink and white blossoms, bushes and wide-open fields where cows grazing. There was an instance when we had to stop because two cows were yoked together by a long rope crossing the road. The male had crossed but the female was taking her time and we didn’t want run over the tether.
Westmoreland Parish/Roaring River
Westmoreland is the eighth largest of Jamaica’s 14 parishes and the last parish in Jamaica (as stated by Dirt), Westmoreland takes up the south western end of Jamaica. It was first settled by Taino and Ciboney Indians, remains of whom have been found in Negril and Bluefields. The capital of Westmoreland is Savanna la Mar, which lies several miles up the coast from Roaring River. Christopher Columbus stopped in Bluefields which was known then as Oristan or Oristano, and formed a settlement in 1519, making it one of the oldest settled areas in the island.
When we arrived at park, I saw this reddish and black mama chicken with two little, yellow baby chicks pecking in greenest grass and my mind begin to drift to the days when my grandmother had chickens, cows and pigs. The large, lush trees created this cool shade for this countryside oasis of Westmoreland. There was a sweet fragrance in cool breeze as it skimmed light across my skin creating a chill that caused my hairs to stand. I knew that I was in God’s country. There was a calming peace that is settled on the land.
Once in the park, we were informed that caves were closed due having no electricity/light in the caves, oh but God smiled on me. I was offered a private tour if I would be willing to do it with no lights. I jumped at the chance not realizing that underground caves equal bats.
This is when I heard a loud voice telling me that I am in Jah’s country and welcomed me the Roaring River Park. He introduced himself as Dirt and that he be my guide. I thought he said Dirk until he clarified it by spelling D-I-R-T, Dirt. His mother named him Clive (pronounced Cleave) but everyone calls him Dirt. He told me that there was a pool and springs if I would like to change into my swim clothes. I was just hopping with excitement so hurriedly change into my swimsuit.
In the Park
As we walked along the path towards the caves, Dirt directed our attention to an area in the middle of the small pond where water was bubbling up. This place is where the underground spring was bubbling forth all of her goodness and watering up to 6 cities in the Westmoreland parish. The water was so clear you could these large fish just swimming all about. This underground spring feed the river, the caves and all of the pools on the property as well as the parish. He also pointed out the huge cotton tree as well as the roots extending into the river for a drink of the mineral water from the underground spring.
There are these little colored buildings that remind you of a tiny house. Some were offices and small stores where Roaring River citizens were selling their wares from jewelry to soda and chips. As we came to this bridge that led to these concrete steps up to the caves and a Rastafarian selling coconut water from fresh coconuts near the stream, I was excited and anxious at the same time. As we crossed the bridge and climbed God knows how many steps, Dirt explained that the town of Roaring River was farther down the path/road and we could explore the town as well.
At the entrance of the cave, I could see these huge, jagged pieces of rock hanging from what appeared to be a ragged ceiling. It was as if the mountain was crying from the inside and the tears stopped mid-drop. I had never seen anything like it in my life. We were advised to turn our lights on, duck your head, hold the rail and watch your step. As I walked down into that cave, I was in awe.
As we journeyed father down the steps into the cave, we had less and less sunlight and had to rely more on our cellphone lights to light our way. It was overwhelming, beautiful, and awesome. As we journeyed deeper into the cave, Dirt began to show us images/shapes in the rocks. You could see faces, shapes of animals and the glistening of the crystal formations. There is a rock shaped like a turtle, a bird, lovers looking at each other and so much more. I noticed candle wax, coins and even vegetables in the cave. Dirt explained that many people sojourn to the mineral springs for their healing powers as well as to pray the large prayer rock in the third cavern and to lay hands on the rock that is shaped like the bible and/or the 10 Commandments depending who you ask.
After I etched my piece of history (my name) in the 2nd chamber with the thought, the hope that one of my grandchildren will rub their fingers across my name. While walking into the third chamber, Dirt asked us to cover out light source and be quiet. He explained about the bats—yes, I said bats and it was creepy. All I know about bats are T.V. and movies. You could hear them and see a quick pass by some. It was scary to me and I screamed a little. Dirt explained that they were welcoming me to their home. You could see seeds from their meals as well as some seedlings growing from the discarded seeds. Dirt explained that the plants inside the caves grow from the seeds dropped on bat-dung enriched soil but will get no bigger or die from lack of sunlight. It was a beautiful silence.
A tear slid down my cheek when Dirt tasked us to look up at the nose. The nose he said is where the fresh air comes into the caves. Looking up as directed, I could see the sunlight streaming in, trees, greenery and I could feel this cool breath of air flowing over my body. It was a magnificent sight to behold. I realized how deep inside the caves we were. After leaving the 2nd chamber, we walked to the last chamber that was deemed the holy prayer room that contained the prayer rock.
After circling the prayer rock three time, I climb up to touch the book and say a prayer. We all prayed; Dirt, Dave and me. Dave and I prayed silently as Dirt gave thanks to Jah for all to hear. After the guys finished their prayers, I continue to pray, and they sang spirituals in the Patios. It was such a powerful moment. We left the prayer chamber and headed down to springs. Dirt said the springs were full of healing properties and was the reason many people traveled to sit or swim in the pools. When I stepped into the pool, it chilled my body but not my soul. The water was cold, deep and crystal clear. I could see the bottom. Still hesitant, I slowly put me feet in. Dirt began to splash me with the water and encourage me to submerge entire body.
The water was cold yet refreshing. I was the cleanest tasting water I have ever had. There is this strong flow of water that is feeding this pool and I was told to stand on the white rock and lean forward to grab a rock shaped like a foot dipping in the spring pool with right had and grab the rock shaped similar to and with my left. The strong current massage my body as I leaned in the crevice to try and see where this water is flowing. From the earth, it is a gift.
Inside the crevice is this huge rock that appears to be hanging down but also appears to apart of the wall. It has smooth sides that I had a strong desire to touch so I reached out without letting go of the hand shaped rock because the current was strong, and I am not the strongest swimmer. Actually, I can only float, so I was a bit scared, but I was like I’m in the pool now. So, I touched it with one hand and then with the other. It was an amazing experience.
The Washing of My Feet.
At the pool, there were these stone seats/stools for your seat with your legs still dangling in the water. Dirt instructed me to sit on the right stool and take off my shoes. Not knowing that Dirt was going to wash my feet and bathe me in mineral clay. When this man asked for my foot and began to wash it in the pool, I was so humbled, and the tears began to flow. I wept. There was this emotional floodgate that completely shattered. He washed me feet, legs and thighs in this burnt orange mineral clay, massaged my joints and applied the clay to my face. I thought of the woman with the alabaster as Dirt told me to stop crying and that he gave all glory to Jah and it was a service for him to wash my feet.
Dirt washed my feet and then proceeded to wash my entire body with healing mineral clay while I sat on a stone stool along the edge of a healing mineral spring pool inside a cavern crying like baby. As my heart and my soul burst opened, I thanked GOD and prayed. It was such a humbling experience. It was the first time a man—a person has ever washed my feet as an adult. When I began to cry, Dirt said to me that it was a service and he was glad to honor and give Jah the glory.
After washing off the clay, we headed to cement pool where you can dive in one pool and swim through the underground caves to a pool in another cavern on the other side.
The natural spring mineral pool on the other side was deep—I’m talking is was deep. The opening was so low that it required me to bend at the knees and duck waddle my way under the rock overhang. We emerged into a cavern with a large pool Dirt said was nearly 200 feet deep. He asked if we wanted to swim one last time before we went back up and I couldn’t resist so I climbed down the steep iron-piped ladder and sat on another stone stool. The water was so beautiful. I keep looking into the water to see what I could see. A part of me was terrified (scary movies) so I sat on the edge and dangled my feet in.
See, I am taking swim lessons to become a better because the Navy only taught me to float and I’m not bold enough to jump in a pool that is 200 ft deep.
The view on the way down was nothing short of spectacular! We took our time and Dirt pointed out plants and that herb and gave a brief description of the area and the history that brought it all together. I couldn’t get enough of Dirt and his stories and knowledge so I know I will be back soon for another healing session!
We took our time driving the countryside going into Savanna La Mar for some KFC for lunch. By the way, I love Savanna La Mar.
This was one of the most AMAZING experiences in my life. If you are ever in Jamaica and have a day to drive the beautiful countryside make certain you visit Roaring River in the last parish in Jamaica.
Contrenia Fluker http://www.whywaittravels.com
Photocred: Contrenia Fluker and Dave Scott iPhone Photograghy