July 12, 2009

A trip to the swimming hole in Gordon Town

This Sunday, the family took a trip to a swimming hole in Gordon Town. Although we were just outside of Kingston, it felt like a trip to the countryside.

I have been a bit of a recluse lately, which is quite unlike me, actually. I barely left the apartment complex this week, apart from taking the kids to summer camp on Monday and a lunch date with Nando at this fabulous Indian restaurant, Akbar, on Wednesday. On Saturday, the kids and I just hung out at our pool and lazed around all day, while Nando went to Papine to play music with a Rasta community. Nando, of course, has been getting all around Kingston. So, today, I decided I needed to get out of the house as well.

We called Ken, our taxi driver, and asked him to take us to a swimming hole in Gordon Town that Nando found on one of his trips to visit the Rasta communities in the Blue Mountains. It is about a twenty minute drive from our house, just past Papine. Ken dropped us off near the entrance, a precipitous climb down the hillside that leads past a few houses and to the river.

When we got to the swimming hole, there were a couple of dozen local kids jumping off of the rocks into the hole. Tatiana and Soraya were fascinated, and rushed to change into their swimsuits. Several people asked if they could swim, and we assured them that they know how to swim.

Before I could tell the kids not to go into the swimming hole until I could take a closer look, Tatiana and Soraya had already gone to the edge of the rocks and jumped in. Not too long afterwards, Nando dove in and Raymi joined him. I, on the other hand, was not ready to strip down and jump in the water. Not yet, anyway.

I wasn’t sure about getting into my swimming gear. Most of the people in the water were much younger than me, and nearly all were males. More importantly, I was a bit worried about jumping off of the rock, the only way to get into the swimming hole. I can be a bit of a chicken when it comes to scaling rocks and crossing rivers. So, I sat on top and enjoyed listening to the waterfall, looking at the green hills, and taking in the lovely Sunday afternoon. A very nice change from the urban scenery of Kingston. Tatiana and Soraya quickly made friends and were having a ball in the water. Raymi came out after a bit, and sat next to me on the big rock.

A couple of young men asked me if I was getting in, but I told them I wasn’t sure. Eventually, the sun got very hot, and I became tempted. I put on my bathing suit and put my feet in the water. But, I still wasn’t ready to jump in. I had realized that not only do you have to jump ten feet off of a big rock to get in; you also have to climb up some rocks to get back out. I wasn’t sure which worried me more, falling on the way in or falling on the way out. So, I stayed on the big rock.

A young man sat next to me and asked where I was from. I told him I was from Washington, DC. He told me his mother has been in the US for five years, and he would love to join her. She doesn’t have here papers straight, so she can’t bring him up there herself. He mentioned that he has some soursop and limes that grow in his yard, and that he’d like to give me some, that his spirit was telling him he should give me something. As we were talking, I realized that, just a few minutes outside of Kingston, we were in the countryside. The people at the watering hole seemed a lot more like country folk than Kingstonians, especially with this talk of giving me limes. Well, I suppose some Kingstonians have offered us mangoes.

Anyway, eventually I decided to overcome my fears and jump into the water. It did look quite refreshing, and I was getting hot sitting on that rock. So, I asked Nando to show me again how he jumped in and then climbed out. He did. It looked hard, but do-able. So, I inched a bit closer to the rock. I put away my glasses, as I was sure they would fall off if I jumped in with them. I watched a few more people jump off the rock. I told Nando I was going to do it; I just was trying to get up the courage.

Nando helped me get even closer to the ledge. He even put his foot where I was supposed to put mine to show me just how to do it. He is so sweet! Finally, I decided to take the plunge. I got to the edge of the rock, held my nose, and jumped right into the water. Ahhh, so refreshing! I swam around until I cooled off a bit, and then it was time to get out. Another challenge. Thoughts danced in my head of me never getting out.

I swam over to one of the ways out. You have to swim against the current to get to these rocks that lead out of the water. Then, you have to scale these large boulders to get back up to the path. I am not sure how Tatiana and Soraya did it so effortlessly. The twins got out of the water with a little help from Nando. Then, again, Nando came all the way down to help me up. With a lot of directions and some pulling, I got myself out of the watering hole. I sat on the rock to relax while I watched the kids continue to jump in and jump around until it was time to leave.

On the way home, we picked up some jerk chicken at Chelsea’s. Delicious! As I enjoyed my scrumptious chicken, I thought about how different my trip to Kingston is because I am with my family. Nando, because of the type of person he is, and the fact that he is a man, is able to get around Kingston easily and get to know people. I would have never found this swimming hole on my own. Even if I did, it would be really weird for me to go there by myself. Going with Nando and the girls, however, made it a bit less unusual. I am sure most of the people there know each other, and thought it a bit strange for us to come to their local spot. However, they were very welcoming to us, and helped the girls get in and out of the water whenever they needed to.

It was a great day. This week, I’ll try and get out of the house more often! That shouldn’t be too hard. I have some interviews scheduled in St. Thomas for Tuesday.


  1. What an amazing journey you are on! Wow. As a writer I am fascinated with the idea you have for a book. The swimming hole looks wonderful.

  2. Thanks, Maggie. Yes, it has been amazing so far. And, we are looking forward to the months to come.

  3. Kesha PendergrastJuly 15, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    I enjoyed your swimming hole post. Sounds like a fun place to visit. I'll have to make time to read your other adventures. Enjoy your jouney!

  4. Hi, Kesha! So glad you are enjoying reading the blog! Let me know if you are coming to the Caribbean this year; it'd be fun to see you and your boy!