June 15th, Fearless 1989

Magical waterfall day.

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Today Latoya and I hiked 3 miles up to this astonishingly gorgeous waterfall. Our guide was a local man named Maxwell Steel who goes by “Doggy”. He told us that everyone who lives in Strawberry Fields is a family; they all know each other and look out for one another. This village is extraordinary in the same way as other places I have loved; everyone has chosen to be here. The land has claimed them and so they fit their lives around their need to be right here. As I hiked along the coastline with the bush on my left and the sea on my right, I realized that everyone here lives in a world of green and blue. Only at twilight do the colors change. The people here call it “pretty time”, when the skies streak with sunset, soaking orange-pink light into the air. After that comes the stars.

We swam in the crystal cold water and ate dried figs I had left over from my flight. Some little birds had made their homes against the rock, small pocket like nests stuck onto the cliff walls. Then we continued on, to the black sand beach.

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making us lunch

Steve, our boat captain and chef, was already there making us lunch. Afterwards Latoya and I swam in the sea, body surfed and laid out on the beach. There was a small “island” next to the beach, a steep pinnacle of gravley rock. Although this was not the kind of point you could jump off of into the ocean, I decided I wanted to climb up in anyways. This involved navigating through sea urchin infested waters, climbing the crumbling rock face and standing on top, buffeted by the winds. Daunting and exhilarating. As always when standing atop tall structures overlooking the ocean I pretended to be Leonardo Di Caprio, king of the world.  Then I quickly climbed back down.

To get back home we took a boat named Fearless, 1989. Steve put all of our stuff into a large white Igloo cooler, strapped on flippers and swam it out to the boat. We stood on the shore and I watched my phone bobbing across the waves. The weather was windy, the water tumultuous. I had thrown a white polka-dot tunic over my swimsuit, the cleanest and most glamorous I looked since arriving in Jamaica (even paired with Chacos). We crossed the navy sea, shooting perpendicular across the waves, balancing on each crest then pivoting swiftly down. The sea poured into the boat, spraying us, dumping buckets of herself on our heads. I couldn’t have gotten wetter if I’d swam home. Latoya had NEVER in her life been on a boat before and was terrified. She held my hand, insisted on wearing a lifejacket and was horrified when I opted not to (me: “do i have to?” doggy: “no” latoya: “ISABELLA!!” me: “i’m a really strong swimmer” me inside: feeling *^&^%#@@$ VINDICATED for every time I had to nonsensically wear a life jacket on canoe trips as a child). But we all got safely back in only 15 minutes. And now we’re eating watermelon and waiting for dinner.

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