Dawn. Without fail, daybreak is there. Some days, it’s more pleasant than on other days. A few days away from the freezing weather of North America in exchange for the warm breezes of the Caribbean can make a huge difference. Remember, though that not everyone is at their best first thing in the morning.
I woke at 6:30 this morning–not a school day, but body clock still working–and had no hesitation to get up and head straight out. I wanted to walk while the sun was still rising and the heat was still very bearable. Being some 3,000 feet up in the Blue Mountains on Jamaica, and seeing peaks around pulling me like magnets, I did not hesitate as I strode down one hill and headed up another. I walked towards a church that was on another peak. Once there, I took in the view towards where I had started. I decided, for reasons that did not matter, that I would run back, meaning uphill most of the way. I ambled, then strained my limbs up the steep incline to Strawberry Hill. My breath was heavy and my legs were starting to ache. Sweat was just forming on my brow and back. The cool air was making that moisture feel chilly on my skin.
I looked in on my sleeping family and decided to take a book to read outside. I heard the voice of my older daughter from the balcony below where I stood, who’d woken early for reasons that were not clear. We exchanged a few words then she went back inside. I walked out to the stairs and found myself a spot over looking the valley where I could read comfortably.
I took my book and read about a man growing up in Malawi. It brought back memories of trips I had made there in the 1980s. I smiled at the recollection of cartons of ‘chibuku shake, shake’ (local beer made from maize) on the roadside–signs of a night of revelry.
About an hour later, my troops were all assembled ready to start their day. “Would you like to come for a walk with us?” came an offer. I explained how my morning had been already, but still joined them as they ambled down the hill, taking the opposite direction of my earlier walk. Their objective was a local breakfast at a hillside cafe, but they had to put off that treat because no cook was there so early during the week. A man brought in his morning catch of fresh water crayfish, still alive. He poured his ‘breakfast’ glass of white rum :-). My third grader lost all interest in wildlife as the cray fish squirmed in the bag.
The ‘adventurers’ were ready to reverse their trail and now set off up the hill. The thin air took its toll. Little legs stalled…till a kitten proved enough of an attraction to elicit a trot. I took a little hand and coaxed its associated body of the final steep incline, diverting with a story of a lion and a leopard.
Fortunately, breakfast was not going to be any problem. We’d worked up a good appetite, some of us doubly so. For some, what could be better than Blue Mountain coffee in the Blue Mountains? The addition of some ackee and saltfish, some bammy, some fresh juice? White rum, anyone?