Hiking the Blue Mountain Peak.

Blue Mountains
Blue Mountains, Jamaica.

I‘m sat in a taxi straddling a pair of giant speakers, with Mariah Carey blasting out between my legs, as we wind our way precariously from Mavis Bank, through the Blue Mountains to Whitfield Hall, the road is narrow and the drop steep. The taxi driver speeds along, as everyone in the taxi screams when it looks like we might veer over the edge, only at the last minute to swerve to safety. We arrive at Whitfield Hall as darkness falls, but I didn’t get the memo about there being no running water or electricity as my iPhone dies and I hold the charger expectantly. Jamaican chums excitedly share the hike brief, after being shown our child size bunk beds, we enter the dining room and find Rasta-man has prepared a Jamaican feast of delicious chicken with rice and peas.  After dinner, I abandon my bedtime shower because the water buckets in the bathroom hold barely enough water to wash an unusually small newborn hamster.  I then realise the toilet is out of order for exactly the same reason. By now it’s kerosene lights out as we’ve got a 2am start. By 01:00am I’ve just managed to doze off to the Jamaican orchestra of bear snores, grunts and farts. When the alarm sounds, I’m tired, grumpy and dangerously close to telling everyone I’ll catch them up. But the Jamaicans are happy, laughing and raring to go and so we set off into the darkness and up the mountain. Two steep miles in, the rain starts, rain like I’ve never known in Jamaica. The group has split up into different pace groups, despite one friend’s desperate attempt to keep us all together; as we walk in and out of cold, thick cloud I try and remember why I agreed to do this again. By the time three of us in our pace group reach the Blue Moutain peak, it’s freezing and we’re completely drenched. We just missed sunrise but the weather is so bad, the only thing we can see is each other, just. Cuba is somewhere in that direction, someone shouts, but we’re freezing and after a couple of minutes we’ve seen enough and begin the three hour hike back down to base. It’s cold and we’ve been walking in rain for hours and because it’s Jamaica and there’s been a drought for the last year nobody thought to bring waterproofs. About half way down, I’m feeling a little fatigued but very happy to be able to tick this one off my things to do in Jamaica list. We pass the ranger on his motorbike, man, you look real bad, he tells me. Do you need a ride back down to Portland Gap?  Er, I always looks like this, I tell him. Mannn, he says, revving up his bike and speeding back up the track. Once back in the warmth of the Whitfield Hall, the bath I had been dreaming of is no longer an option as the water buckets are once again empty and I sit there dirty, damp and ever so fatigued. Suddenly,  Rasta-man brings me a cup of hot blue mountain coffee with a huge smile; and as I stare out to the Eucalyptus trees, hugging my cup for warmth, I forget about my swollen ankles and my odorous armpits and think, there is no where else I’d rather be.