The Yard

The property sits right on the sea and spreads out to be about a total of ten acres. It sits on a series of caves – very little “terra firma” here. Throughout the property, inside and outside you find what are called “blow holes” – holes in the ground made by the sea during storms and hurricanes. The pressure builds up within the cave and the water blows through the top as an outlet. Some are well established, have trees growing in them and have stone walls around them and are landscaped. Some are more new – there are two by Ron and Peg’s house, one right in front which now sports a little heart stone ring around it and some sweet plants and there is a new one right next to the “big house”.  The phenomenon is cool unless of course you happen to be near or next to one of these things during a hurricane. The property derived its name from these holes.

The inside yard has sea access through three caves, the outside yard, one.  On the outside, between the inner and outer gates is what we’ve come to call the “Goat Cave”. The Goat Cave got it’s name because Ron and Peg were walking with their dog out there one day – the dog went down into the cave and out exploded all these goats…there is a spiral staircase that takes you down and you find yourself in various caverns and practically on a “beach” or ledge that is right on the sea – it’s perfect for sunning but the sea access is really tough unless you can climb slippery rocks.

On the inside there are four caves – three have access into them and access to the sea. There is the “sunset cave” located at the north end of the property. We call it the sunset cave because we frequently sit in there to watch sunset. It is a well developed cave with a somewhat large platform for sunning and sitting and a ladder that goes into the sea. Then there is the Pool Cave or Coral Cave – this cave is less developed and the sea access not developed but not impossible. This is the most natural of the three caves and it got its Coral name because of the sea rocks that wash in and out. Stones from this cave can be found in everyone’s home in one manner or another – at Ron and Peg’s it tiles part of their shower. Joyce, the rent-a-dog fancies going into that cave and finding a rock that is shaped “just so” – she parades around with it in her mouth, showing it to all who care to see then lays it in the ground and uses it as a back-scratcher. This is one of our posse’s favorite sea access points because it’s so pristine – you walk through the cave out to this little platform and dive in – to come out you kind of have to go with the currents and waves of the sea, gripping on to two rocks and hoisting yourself back up. Yeah, it’s somewhat tough and your knees get banged up, but it’s a rush.

Then there’s Uwe’s Cave – the cave located in the center of the property somewhat behind and below what we know as Uwe’s House – the “big” house located right on the sea. This is by far the most developed cave on the property. At one point it was wired for electricity and it somewhat finished on the inside with bench seating and a bar. It had been my intention all winter to party in that cave but it never came to be – basically with no lights, too dark, a little freaky when the sea was rough and too much work. But it’s a beautiful hang and sea access – there are several places you can throw your towel down to sun – built in steps to get down into the sea along with a ladder as an alternate choice or a way out. It was a great place to watch sunset – watching sunset from any of these caves is a treat as you really do get to see the curvature of the earth and be on the same level just about with the water making those sunsets that much more dramatic.

 

Topping off the whole resort feel of this private yard is the lovely pool. It is shaped like a dolphin, not too big but lovely all the same – with a great palapa there to boot so that you can get out of the sun. I’d spent many a morning sunning by the pool, dipping in there when I got too hot and gazing out at the sea. The pool sits on the edge of the property almost up to the sea wall – it was designed to be an infinity lipped pool but the sea wall was necessarily too high – but from the pool if you position yourself right you can get that infinity lipped “feel” by obscuring the sea wall. Another great place to watch sunsets – hanging on to the edge of that pool, legs and feet dangling down, chin resting on arms – quite tranquil and nice.

It remains a private yard – the landlord renting to permanent residents only. Most everyone there has been living there a very long time. I’m pleased to say we’ve become a part of that yard, one it’s residents. There are a total of six houses there – five of which are occupied all year.

In Jamaica I’ve grown accustomed to and actually enjoy rustic and plain accommodations. In the cottage we had no hot water and I used to delight in the ritual of boiling water for a shower.

I have to say though I was greatly excited about our new digs – 2 bedrooms, a large “great room”…and it sits directly on the sea with French doors in both bedrooms and the great room opening up wide onto the expanse. Best of all – hot water! It has a hot water heater that works and as much as being Pioneer Woman is appealing turning a knob and having hot or even warm water come out of the tap is more appealing.

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We rise early – just at daybreak usually. He prepares coffee and we descend from the bedroom, opening the back doors and windows to let the fresh morning air into the house. I take my coffee and cigarettes out to the back porch with the book Iam  currently reading – He cues up the IPod to some morning music…usually Frank Sinatra. He smokes his morning spliff and they sip coffee and watch the fisherman pull up their pots, cast their nets – the sea calm, the sun still low enough so they are not overwhelmed with heat and brightness – not much shade on the back porch anymore you know…they watch the fishing boats scatter back and forth – many with their vessels filled with fish and lobster headed for the market.

Eventually we make their way across the yard to visit with Ron and Peg at their little cottage right at the end of the property. Ron and Peg have a 320 square foot home that is designed with wooden built-ins and such, much like a swanked out motor home. It is the most efficient small space ever seen, with a beautiful outdoor shower tiled with the rock hauled up by Ron and Rusty from the Coral Cave right on the property. They have a large back porch that accommodates their stove/oven and some workspace as well as a supply fridge and freezers for their cheesecake business. They have a sweet little living area/kitchen but their “living room” is really their front porch – wide and wonderfully shaded by mature trees and plants with a view that can’t be beat – 25 yards away is the sea.

The house is surrounded by Peg’s lovely garden that she works relentlessly on – battling crabs and sea spray, tending to each plant with loving care. The garden seems to always be blooming with wonderful tropical plants that this re-invented botanist has studied and cared for with great love over the years. There was a time when Peg reinvented herself to exclude gardening and plants all together – this changed in the past few years and has once again become one of her great passions.

Strung about the front of the porch are hummingbird feeders – Ron and Peg’s home has become a “spot” on the route of Doctor Birds, Mango Hummingbirds and the smallest hummingbird in the world. As we take our seats on the porch we are immediately entertained by this wonderful hummingbird dance – they flitter from feeder to feeder, branch to branch, each vying for domination over the feeder or the branch. We are treated to a bird watching fiesta – Doctor Birds of all kinds – males with their long and regal streamer tails – the juvenile mails who’s tails are just starting to grow – the females – then of course the mighty Mango engaging in “battle” with the male Doctor Bird – for the time he has won, chasing the Doctor Bird to a limb on a tree just over Red Leader’s head so he can feed but as soon as he flies, the male Doctor Bird is back with his family.

Peg joins them on the porch with her coffee and morning smokes…the dogs come up to say hello. Joyce can be needy – she has a long pointy nose that she uses without inhibition to prod the nearest arm into resting on her back or petting her head. Rizla is more subtle but does look at you with is big doleful eyes…so much puppy left in this six year old dog!

Joyce had been given a gift of three shiny new tennis balls which she adores. She carries it everywhere – I try to feed her a snack and the dog is honestly trying to figure out how to eat the snack while retaining the ball in her mouth. She can’t of course…so the ball drops and the game is on. Les  throws, she catches but does not retrieve. Fetch is not in her vocabulary. Now it is a game of “keep away” – Les chasing Joyce, Rizla looking on in a puzzled fashion as he doesn’t really get what’s so great about the ball. He’d rather have his belly rubbed – Peg obliges him happily.

Ron is inside getting ready for work and it is at this point of the day that we ever get even the slightest bit of media – CNN coming through the window. We don’t much pay attention. Peg in the meantime ducks into the house and comes out again with glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice…it doesn’t get better than this – Blue Mountain Coffee, juice squeezed fresh from the oranges of St. Elizabeth – and ganga from Orange Hill. All this in the jungle like setting of birds dancing and dogs playing. They could stay there all day but they don’t.

The veg man is at the gate so as Ron leaves for work, Peg, Les and I go to meet himToral is already there doing her shopping. I poke about in the van – string beans, tomatoes, yam, dasheen, bananas, pumpkin, lettuce, cabbage…anything I can imagine. They stock their refrigerators with gloriously fresh produce and get on with their day. Peg goes to work…I head for the pool to swim some laps. Les picks up his guitar and noodles around.

We do not leave the yard. Once the sun gets too bright and hot on the back porch I come inside to do some work on the computer. Once that’s done I’ll  take my book out to the pool to relax in the shade of the palapa.

Visitors might come by…to swim or visit or smoke or eat. The call will come that someone is at the gate and either Les or I will go to escort them into the yard.

Close to sunset either mine or Peg’s phone will ring – its time for their evening cocktail of choice….Red Stripe Light Beer and Clamato juice with a squeeze of lime from the yard’s prolific lime tree. They take their places on the back porch, now cooling as the sun begins its decent into the sea.  Toral will come by – dinner plans are discussed – they decide on vegetarian stew (I’ve been cooking a big pot of flavorful red beans)to be accompanied by rice and home baked bread. Toral is invited – she gladly accepts. They sip their cocktails and watch the sunset…and get started on dinner. The breadmaker is brought over…as the stew brews, the rice cooks the smell of fresh bread fills the room.

Toral arrives with a bottle of wine in hand…the family of five sit at the dining room table and enjoy their home made meal with gusto.

After dinner they retreat back to the porch and watch the night sky – Venus is prevalent, she has been the entire time – “rising first and shining best”…the hour is not too late but the group is not eager to go out – Toral wants some chill time and to get ready for work the next morning – Les and I are eager to continue watching the Weeds second season that we have become addicted to! Ron and Peg also want a quiet evening with TV and an early bedtime.

We watch our show and climb the stairs – the windows are open as they drift into a contented and lovely sleep to the sound of the sea gently lapping against the cliff right below their bedroom window.

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4 Responses to The Yard

  1. doctoro says:

    Nikki,

    I like your new format, makes it much easier. Nice tagging along on your mussings. You write well, and your photos are beautiful.

    Bless
    O

  2. sue says:

    May I ask, where this lovely property is?

  3. Sue, it is located deep west end of Negril.

  4. Jodi says:

    this was such a great post…I can smell the bread, hear the sea and definitely taste the beer and clam!! Heaven.

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