It is stupid cold and there is snow on the ground in Connecticut so I thought why not grab a cup of tea and close out 2017 by writing this long overdue post about one of the best things I did this year: I went to Jamaica!
Let me set the mood. It was July and I was tired. My soul was weary.
Between the national foolishness that by then was seven months young and a spring spent doing the absolute most in the best way possible, my spirit was parched. And to top it all off, I was physically coming down with some type of bug.
My wonderful friend, hairstylist, and favorite Jamaican Karaine “Kay” Holness had let
me and another friend and client know months prior that she was planning her annual trip home.She has made the pilgrimage every year since 1999 with a travel group she founded called Sistahs Jammin’. She told us that this year’s trip would be different from any previous one — no turn-up, no structured days. Then she showed us the small boutique resort high up in the Jamaican Blue Mountains where we would be staying. We jumped at the chance to go.
It wouldn’t be my first trip to Jamaica. I had the pleasure of spending some time in Negril several years ago. But this was going to be different
I’d known I needed a retreat — unplug back when I said yes. So you can imagine how much I needed it by July. I was more than ready to lay my burdens down and pick up my carry-on bag.
And for seven days and six nights, we did just that.
I must confess, the idea of group travel kind of makes my ass itch. I knew two of the women on the trip would be cool. But the other two? I didn’t know them.
Would they want to do a thousand things together? Would they be incessantly picky about everything? Would we all grow to hate each other and fall out? All possibilities. All wasted energy. Nothing close to my concerns ever happened. Because serendipity.
Serendipity is defined as “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” It also is the name of the resort where we stayed. And it is where we each reconnected with Markeshia, Babz, Karaine, Jackie, and Sharon.
At home in Connecticut, we are mothers, daughters, sisters, citizens, employees, business owners, lovers, and friends. We are all the things we do for others but don’t do for ourselves. We were all our secret anxieties and fears.
And we were a tired lot when we touched down in Kingston. But as soon as the heat and humidity of a Jamaican morning hit us, instantly creating a light dew on our skin, we began to unfurl like flowers greeting the sun.
It takes a harrowing ride from Kingston up into the Blue Mountains to get to Serendipity Holistic Resort. And this ride is not for the faint of heart honey. But when I tell you it is worth it, I mean it.
I don’t think anyone of us realized that our resort would be literally carved into a lush rainforest teeming with the sounds of animals, birds and the occasional falling mango.
We had the whole place to ourselves for the most part and we hadn’t counted on that. But serendipity.
We also hadn’t counted on every day that we would rise to the sound of the rushing water that flowed through the small waterfalls on the property. And the rooster. Never forget the rooster.
I never thought that every night we’d want to come together and have amazing Jamaican dinners and laugh over the day’s adventures before tucking into the most comfortable beds at 9 p.m. or earlier.
Or that we’d rise early, for a first breakfast of the most delicious fruit our mouths had stopped to enjoy in a long time, with the juice dripping down our arms. And that at second breakfast, we’d linger over Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee so good that we’d often plot how to save the world one cup at a time.
There was time for hiking, swimming naked in a very cold waterfall, getting sunburned and being covered in the healing love of sisterhood and aloe. There was time for reading, coloring, sleeping, and yoga. There was time to think without all the responsibilities drowning out that still small voice.
And more importantly, there was time to discover the sound of our own laughter, the refreshing freedom of tears, and to listen to those hopes and dreams that we’d tucked away for someday.
The resort’s owner, who we serendipitously discovered was someone that our friend Kay knew from their younger years in Jamaica, would open her beautiful home on the property to us. And then she would teach us many things.
Two things she said have stuck with me since we’ve returned home. My paraphrase of what she said is this: Guard your peace dangerously and do not leave this earth without knowing you are loved.
We would realize that everything about the resort — all of its natural beauty, the way that all of the cabins are designed, and the amenities offered — was designed with teaching these two principles to all those who want to learn such powerful things.
As I told Kay after the trip, Jamaica owes me nothing. I arrived nearly empty and left so incredibly full. Jamaica taught me the way. It’s up to me to keep up the practice.
Click below to hear what the sistahs of Sistahs Jammin 2017 had to say about the trip in this episode of LoveBabz LoveTalk on WNHH radio.