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A Freelance Writer’s Life Abroad: Inside Peek at My Life as an American Living in Negril, Jamaica for a Year, Part XXI

I made it back to the mineral springs in St. Thomas, Jamaica weekend before last. This was my third trip there (Nov 2011). You can view photos/video from the second Hot Mineral Springs of Jamaica trip here.

I took lots of video this go round (lots!), which you can view on Inkwell Editorial’s YouTube channel.

Note: Access links to every post in this series at the end of this page. Also note, there are tons of links (to photos and video) in this post. Enjoy!

Some Highlights of This Trip to the Mineral Springs in Jamaica

First, it was a gorgeous day for the 5.5 to 6.5 hour trip from Negril to St. Thomas, Jamaica (this photo is of what looked like a rock quarry to me — it was huge). It took us a bit longer to reach our destination because my friend stopped a lot along the way, as I’ll discuss more in a bit.

I Drank My Way Up the Mountain

As I said, this is my third trip into the infamous Blue Mountains of Jamaica to get to this amazing place. And, the Rasta friend I go with has friends along every bend in the mountain – or so it seems.

Hence, we stopped at what seemed like every roadside bar on the ascent up the mountain. By the third stop, I was a little tipsy because every time we stopped, I had a rum (and so did he). You see, it’s kinda what you do when you stop at these little bars. You have a rum, you catch up with friends you haven’t seen for a while, and you continue on your way.

That, for me, is the fun of going with a local. You get to experience how Jamaicans really hang out and interact with each other.

As this video of a typical roadside bar in Jamaica shows, they’re little more than huts on the side of the road. Some can fit two or three people; others may fit 12 or 20. The point is, they tend to be small places where the locals go to enjoy cheap drinks (mainly white rum (J&B) aka JB) and just hang out.

It’s Hard to Starve in Jamaica

The first night, we stayed with friends of my friend who live about an hour away from the mineral springs in St. Thomas; in Whitehall. They’re farmers. I opened the bedroom door to the back yard the next morning to a plethora of food – coffee beans, pepper, passion fruit, jack fruit, june plums, honey bananas, breadfruit and goodness knows what else.

My friend went out and literally plucked from the trees what I’m holding here — passion fruit (to die for!) and june plums (a kinda sour plum; great with a little salt sprinkled over it).

They loaded us up with stuff to take back to Negril – fresh cinnamon, breadfruit, yams and sugar cane, to name a bit of what we carted back. The trunk was literally full of stuff!

As I said, it’s hard to starve in Jamaica.

Eating Our Way Up the Mountain

Speaking of food, we stopped back at what I’ve nicknamed “Foodtown.” As this post explains:

The Best Food in Jamaica Is Sometimes by the Side of the Road

Another interesting thing you’ll encounter if you go through St. Elizabeth is what I call “Food Town by the Side of the Road.” You come up on it seemingly out of nowhere. There’s a beach behind it.

Well again, I had the conch soup (very good), some bammy and we got some fish and bammy to go. See these videos for our stop there — I interviewed a: Jamaican fisherman who was cleaning some red snapper and one who’d caught some Bonita fish; and  Jamaican cook named “Trust” who was cooking bammy.

Why the name “Trust?” Cuz he trusts people to come back and pay him when he extends credit; he doesn’t extend credit to tourists, of course.

To Pee or Not to Pee

This is one of my favorite stops along the way; it’s usually the first stop we make because it’s about two hours into the trip, just enough time on the road to get hungry (and in my case, have to pee; although, there’sHow to Work and Live Abroad from the Caribbean: It’s Easier Than You Think to Make the Move to an Island Paradise no place to pee at Foodtown; you find a spot in the bushes and just go if you can’t hold it).

I usually hold it because as I said, my friend knows EVERYBODY, so we usually make another stop in about an hour where there are facilities.

The Infamous Bamboo Lane of Jamaica

We passed through Bamboo Lane again, of course. The first video of Bamboo Lane here in Jamaica was more comprehensive. I didn’t shoot all of it this trip because I promised to link back to the first video. It’s amazing no matter how many times you see it.

Finally, the Bath Mineral Springs of St. Thomas Jamaica

We finally arrived. And boy oh boy, I think Erroll (the gentleman who gives me a massage) gets better every time. This time, I think my massage lasted about an hour and a half; maybe an hour and 45 minutes.

I just gave myself over to the experience:

I was covered in mud from the mineral springs from my front to my back;

Had 130 degree water was poured over me again and again (it cools down within seconds and relaxes every muscle;

I was massaged from my bottom to crevices I didn’t even know I had;

Had a hot stone massage;

Then I was rinsed off in more steaming hot water coming out of a bamboo chute; and

Had my pores closed by very cold water (which comes as kind of a shock after the hot water), but feels good very soon thereafter.

Then, I was ready to eat and drink!

We stopped and got food from the (rather grouchy) rasta in this video (drinks came later via stops at more roadside bars down the other side of the mountain) – the plate of food only costs $250 JMD (about $3) and was enough for me and my friend to eat off of. All vegetarian – rice, plaintain, peppers, ackee, etc. smothered in a bean soup.

Delicious!

What more could a girl want?

Well this girl a go go — particularly after food and a massage – wanted a nap.

Ocho Rios

Alas though, we had about four hours of driving in front of us (and I like to yak while my friend is driving). We drove from St. Thomas to Ocho Rios, which is where we spent the night. We conked out soon after getting in around 7, but did go back out around midnight to get a bite to eat. That’s about all I saw of the “nightlife” of Ochi (as the locals call Ocho Rios).

It’s a big, teeming city; one I plan to explore more fully on another weekend trip out of Negril. Speaking of, Ochi is only about 2.5 to 3 hours from Negril. We got up early and were back in Negril around 10.

Flawless, Smooth Skin

FYI, I did buy some of the mudd from Erroll $500 JMD, along with some Pimento oil. He gave me a big hunk of it, which should last at least a year by my calculations because he said to only use it once or twice a week and it doesn’t take that much (I only put in on my face and neck).

As an aside, my mom had flawless skin and she used to use this product called MUDD on her face. After about age 16 or 17, I could no longer find it in stores. The mudd I bought from Erroll reminds me of it though in color and texture.

Erroll says it has some kind of sulphur in it. Whatever it is, it makes your skin so soft and smooth. As I say in one of the videos, I don’t want to wash my face for at least 24 hours because it feels like a baby’s bottom (combined with the pimento oil Erroll rubs in).

Do’s / Don’ts for Your Trip to the Mineral Springs in St. Thomas Jamaica

I gave some tips on this in my last post about this; but I wanted to add a little more.

DO Bring 3 Towels: In my last post, I said bring two (and you’ll do just fine with two). But, bring three. This way, you can have one to lay over the rock where you get your massage. Make it a thick one. I got a little soreness in my shoulder from laying on the rock (I fell asleep and was probably in a “wrong” position).

DO Hire Someone to Take Photos/Video: I hired Omar (a guy who just kinda hangs out at the springs I gathered). The last time I went, I paid someone to take photos/video as well. I’ll forever do this.

Omar took all of the video and photos here (from the time Erroll started working on me). I paid him $500 JMD (about $6 US) and he shot/videod for the entire time we were there. This way, you can relax and not worry about missing a shot.

DON’T Wear White: My bikini bottom was white, and boy did I have a time getting all the mudd out of it. It’s still not bright white like it was. Note: I do a lot of laundry by hand here; so have to take this to the laundromat to see if they can get it all out.

DON’T Eat Starch: My stomach is poochy on my best days; that morning for breakfast I had rice, cabbage and fried breadfruit (which tastes just like French fries). Hey, our hosts cooked – I couldn’t be rude and not eat now could I?!

But, if you want to not look chubby in your bikini, don’t eat a ton of starch before you go (duh, Yuwanda!). The mountain air makes ya hungry, let me tell ya, especially when combined with the drinking I’d done the night before.

DO Get Over It If You Do: I was a little self conscious in my bikini upon seeing the photos, but then I remembered, “Thank God, I’m healthy!” So, what’s a little flab. Hence, I got over myself-consciousness really quick.

To tell you where I’m coming from, my mom died from breast cancer at age 45; the same age I am now. She had a mastectomy, lost her hair and underwent radiation and chemotherapy (and endured all the ill effects that go along with that).

I saw an Oprah show once where she was talking about how we as women denigrate ourselves (especially our bodies) so much. She went on to say that she tried her best not to do that when she looked at her body. She said what she decided to do instead was thank God that it was healthy; that it had gotten her through another day; and that it was “always there” for her.

This show always stuck with me; cause lord knows I put my body through the wringer running. So when I looked at my rolls, I thought to myself, “Thank God I’m healthy (really healthy), for I’ve seen sickness firsthand, and it ain’t cute.”

And not for nothing, but Jamaican men like women with some meat on their bones! Hallelujah!

Photos of Trip from Negril to St. Thomas

Following are some random photos from the trip. As I say all the time, every corner is a photo in Jamaica. I’ve fallen in love with tree roots (and other nature shots). That’s because the roots of trees are so big they grow on top of the ground here and they just fascinate me.

Jamaican Palm Tree Farm? Just a random shot captured out the car window on the way to the mineral springs. Don’t know if this was a palm tree farm, or what, but there were acres and acres of them.

Blue Mountains (in Whitehall Jamaica): Whitehall is about an hour away from the mineral springs in St. Thomas. It’s where we stayed and partied with friends of my friend, before getting up and driving to the springs the next morning.

The photos never do the mountains justice. You have to actually see them to appreciate how truly majestic they are – and the deep valleys and canyons below. Many of them have streams below (hundreds of feet below). Bamboo and all kinds of other vegetation grows up the hillsides, deep into the belly of the canyons; many forming canopies over the roads.

Breathtaking.

Rum and Dominoes: Can’t get more “Jamaican” than that!

Rustic Schoolhouse: Loved this shot of this old-world-like schoolhouse. It looks like it dates back to the late 1800 or early 1900s. It was a gorgeous Sunday morning.

Sunset in Jamaica: Need more be said? This was on the drive back from the springs, going into Ocho Rios.

Tree Roots: As I said earlier, I’ve fallen in love with tree roots. Something strong, magical and mystical about them to me.

Typical Jamaican Board House (Cottage): I wish you could see the full breadth of the surroundings. It’s like these houses are just plopped into the side of the mountain. Their colors (yellows, blues, oranges, etc.) just “pop” against the lush greenery of the mountains.

Base of Mineral Springs: This is at the base of the mineral springs, when you first arrive.

Water Logged: I named this shot water logged, for obvious reasons. For some reason, the simpleness of it resonated with me.

Ackee: A Jamaican food staple. Kinda tastes like eggs when/if fried and mixed with onion. Used in everything from soups to rice.

Ackee Tree: Ackee is a plentiful, FREE food source in Jamaica. The trees are everywhere and they bear a lot (a lot!) of food.

Me with Child: Anyone who knows me knows how I adore babies. This one was so fat and cute; he was my friend’s friend’s son. He’d let anyone hold him. It was almost as if was saying, “Hey, as long as I’m being carted around, I don’t’ care who’s doing the carrying.”

He’s breastfed, and he tried to start feeding off of me. Had to give him back to his mom; the poor child would have starved with me.

Me and Erroll: My masseuse at the springs. I’d pit Erroll’s massage skills against anyone’s. He’s a master. Some masseuses like to yak their way through a massage. Not Erroll; he’s quiet, serious and soothing with hands of God (I swear!).

Water Shot: I never get tired of taking pictures of the ocean – and in Jamaica, you could take hundreds a day – and still not capture its beauty.

Up into the Blue Mountains: This was right across the street from yet another bar (one that belonged to my friend’s friend) we stopped at on our way to the Mineral Springs. The simpleness of the bike against the rusticness of the mountains made for a gorgeous shot (in my opinion). Love nature shots like this.

Videos of 3rd Trip to Mineral Springs in St. Thomas, Jamaica

I shot tons of video on this trip — everything from a passby of the ghettos of Kingston, to baby goats (they’re sooo cute!). You can access all clips on Inkwell Editorial’s YouTube channel. Look for those labeled “Bath Mineral Springs, St. Thomas, Jamaica, 3rd Trip.”

Hope you enjoyed the video/photos of this trip; lord knows I had fun taking them and experiencing it.

GirlaGoGo.com: My Camera of Choice

I’m a gadget idiot, so my camera of choice is the Sony Cyber-shot. It’s literally for dummies (like me) who don’t know anything about photography but still want to take great pictures and video. To take pictures, you literally point and shoot.

To take video, you simply flip the switch to the video/movie setting, and point and record. You can see everything on the screen and if you don’t like it, you simply delete it. When in video mode, it records sound automatically; you don’t need to do anything else.

This is the easiest camera to use for amateurs who want video and photos, and for what it does the price can’t be beat (I paid less about $160 — and that was a year and a half ago now).

That’s it for this installment of Girl a Go Go.

Til next time!

Yuwanda
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