When I’m asked what it was that made me return to Jamaica initially, before I’d met anyone there – I’d have to say it was the Caribbean Sea. I remember on my first flight in, looking out the airplane window at the deep blue beneath us turning light aqua with dark spot throughout – I was indeed looking through clear water to the rocks and sand below. I’d never seen colors like that and I was mesmerized.
Coming face to face with that body of water it called me to come in and partake of its magic. Warm and mellow she invited me – and I floated and bobbed with the delight of a four year old. It was that buoyancy where she got the name – swimming off the shores of Negril was like swimming in blue jello.
One’s perspective of the Jello changes with your location in Negril. On the beach the white sandy shore meets the crystal clear water as you wade into a deeper blue – a turquoise blue if you will. On the cliffs of Negril you gaze out into a rich blue expanse and those views remind you how vast this body of water is.
She is quiet at times – glass like at times – but she can rage and show her strength many times. An old friend and long time Negril resident once told me that when he and his partners built their business back in 1974 perched on the cliff the Jamaicans laughed – only “white people and goats” lived on the cliff. They were soon to find out why.
Tropical storms and hurricanes are quite common in Jamaica between the months of June and December. Hurricane Gilbert flattened the little town in 1988. Hurricane Ivan beat the crap out of Negril in 2004. And in between storm after hurricane after sea surge swept the cliff and beachside hamlet tossing its wrath upon the shores. With waves over thirty feet high the Blue Jello can churn boulders the size of small houses up from its belly and up onto the street 50 feet away. She’s swallowed buildings whole – her temper is a sight to watch from a distance.
Along the cliffs where we live we get to see her in this manner but not to that extreme. By the afternoon she’s swelling, her small but powerful waves hitting the Cliffside with drama. It’s her way of saying “don’t fuck with me”. Like everything else she demands respect and she gets it.
Looking below down to her surface is a thrill of a lifetime. The Carribean hosts warm water fish and creatures such as Stingrays, Lion Fish, Bumblebee Fish and others in assorted colors, sizes and shapes. It’s like swimming in your grandfather’s fish tank. Her waves deposit shells and rocks of all shapes and sizes. Brain coral washes up and a perfect urchin shell is a prize find.
Along the Cliffside is thousands of years of sea stuff and creatures fossilized in a natural time capsule.
Since I was a little girl sitting and staring at the ocean has always had a calming effect on me. When I sit on my back deck and gaze out upon the deep blue jello I am at peace with my part in the world. When I climb into her warm waters I am healed.