“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again I won’t look any further than my own backyard…”
I am often accused, chided, kidded and chastised for not leaving the yard. While other stories have and will show that I do indeed get out and about in a most adventurous fashion the truth is that for the months that I am in Negril I spend a bit of time at home.
I have everything I need – food, books, music – a pool, sea access. We’ve created a little “all-inclusive” for ourselves here so I do get why visitors to these types of resorts have a hard time leaving the gates. Our sea access is just steps below our back porch and while the snorkeling isn’t as spectacular as say the Negril Reef, we can spend a good deal of time in the sea staring into its depths as the fishies nibble about the boulders and rocks that we see from our patio.
What a great patio for sea viewing it is. Sunsets and rainbows aside, we get a great show of fishing boats and sea life there just about every day. Every year we see dolphins in the distance. This year we were treated to a real dolphin extravaganza – several times we would see them, swimming about, jumping, flipping and playing. I never get tired of seeing dolphins do their thing in the wild, even from a distance. To have them right there in our backyard is just beyond description.
Each morning we enjoy our Blue Mountain Coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice on our friend’s porch. They live in our yard and their porch is the perfect viewing spot for all types of hummingbirds. They have feeders as well as terrific plant life that attracts them all: The vervain (the second smallest bird in the world), the large and purple Mango and the regal Doctor Bird. They buzz our heads, dance and “argue” over who’s turn it is at the feeder. The Mangoes are particularly territorial but while they are having it out with the juvenile Doctor Bird, the Vervain will swoop in and get her turn. Its fantastic morning theater.
In the afternoons we often hear a familiar chatter – the Green Parrots have landed a top the branches of a few dead trees.
While a good deal of my time is spent with my butt planted in a lounger and my nose in a book, my favorite yard activity is exploring the caves.
Our yard is situated on property that has many blow holes all about. We have a small one right next to the house – I have to be very careful at night so I don’t fall in. Many of these blowholes have been there for eons – and have been “landscaped” with stone walls and are pretty big. One of them actually has a tree growing out of it. A blow-hole is created when the pressure of the sea during a storm builds up and the sea erupts through the ground in a spout like a geyser. The more often the sea escapes through that hole, the larger the hole becomes. A great example of a “grand” blow-hole can be heard when walking on the road right where the Caves resort sits. You know the sea is on your left – but you can clearly hearing it roaring to your right. On the property across from the hotel must be one mother of a blow-hole.
We have five sea caves ringing the property, four of which have been “built out” for access. One sits directly below our house, to the right of where our sea ladder is. This cave is the most “finished” of the four, at one time wired with electricity and pipe water. It has a small bar and sink and is fully cemented. It has a short sea wall with divots in it to allow the sea to run through. We call it the “Party Cave”, for obvious reasons.
The “Coral Cave” we named due to the great collection of rocks and coral that collects in there throughout the year. Aside from the steps leading down, this cave is completely undeveloped. Its one of my favorites for that reason. It is also popular among the friends and residents of the yard as a rustic sea access. There’s no ladder but there is a small ledge just below the surface of the water used as a jumping or diving point into the blue goo. Getting back in through that cave is a bit tricky though but it can be done if you don’t mind a few bruises on your knees and elbows.
The cave at the farthest end of the “inner yard” is what we call the “Sunset Cave”. There’s a nice large cemented platform where we can get a massage, bring down a lounger and sunbathe, or, as we like to do, sit along the narrow ledge and watch the sun set at just about sea level.
To me, the most interesting cave is located at the most northern part of the property in the “outer yard”. We call it the “Goat Cave”. The outer yard itself is a great walk – it is a stark contrast to the more landscaped and mowed inner yard. There’s a sea wall in varying stages of disrepair hugging the cliff and the landscape is natural and bush-like, the terrain rugged. It offers the same magnificent views of the sea and its surroundings as the inner yard.
A spiral stairway leads down into the cave. About half-way down we discover that a large part of the steps have been washed away so there is a bit of trekking involved. Once we make it down we are treated to a large cavern, off to the sides two other smaller caverns and a large opening out onto the cliff and the sea. At low tide you can see the life teeming in the small tide pools that had formed. Walking further out you see what looks like an infinity lipped pool, ringed with some rock formation and directly below it the sea.
Inside the caverns are covered with fossilized coral and sea life – huge formations stand about in all colors and hues.
When we climb back up and start heading back we notice this fur ball type thing hugging the sea wall not too far away from the cave. A mama goat has deposited her two brand new babies there while she has gone into the bush to forage for food.
So, even if we go nowhere, we can be everywhere. That – and as our neighbors always say: “It costs money to leave the yard”. Exploring the natural beauty of these sea caves alone to me is priceless.