It came to me in a dream. Adventures mixed, I revisited the places I have been when time stood still and I was in a different setting, experiencing fully. The places are alive, smells and tastes loading my senses and filling my spirit. It could be anywhere, collecting the picture frame into photographic memory equipped with the intensity of a culture that is different than my own. I remember arriving in the sweet hot of the day, and running straight out of the airport for the bus. Face after face passing and I pushed into the sticky doors of transit, not knowing where to go or how long it would take me to get there. Kingston, Jamaica welcomed me with neutrality, as though I had easily slipped under her arm, carried to destinations beyond my control. I can see clearly as though I am living it again, walking the dusty road at night towards my hostel, carrying the burden of my backpack with enthusiasm. Like I could walk across the entire island in a night. Arriving at the hostel, I remember sitting and smoking with a sailor, someone who travelled for a living. Listening to new people talk like I had known them forever, laughing and excited about life. Tomorrow was unplanned other than exploring and adapting. I remember looking at the stars and feeling so relaxed, music churning out of the stereo, I think it was reggae and I couldn’t feel more content with this place. Sleeping in the hostel meant sleeping in bunk beds, surrounded by strangers. I pulled a sheet over my head and drowned out the noise and the light, when they decided to get up and go out in the middle of the night and then come back in, repeat.
Under the mango tree. There were many mango trees, and dilapidated buildings beneath them. I soaked in the sights of tin rooves and the sun light bouncing off. Each day was full, either of the ocean, the mountains, beaches full of people that planted themselves as though they would always remain. We ended up in Negril, on the touristy spread of beach staying in a room with its own bathroom. Next door to a Rastafarian jigalo with long dreads and a soccer jersey. He was perched, picture perfect on the porch railing talking to us with wise eyes and worn hands. I liked the warmth in his face and how he spoke volumes with a few words and puffs of smoke. He gave us a piece of cake. I ate much more than I should have. The day stretched into night and I ended up contemplating existence in the bathroom projectile vomiting into the tub. Time stopped and I opened my mind to my heart, mixed the two and laid on the bed for 10 hours. The sequence plays vividly still, as I became everything that surrounded me, golden cord into space and past the layers of my humanity, I became again and again. I received precious memories, answers to questions that I no longer ask, and an understanding about who I am at the center. We woke to find the room a disaster and the bathroom was inhabitable, we couldn’t stand it. The night was a gift wrapped in the sickness before and bliss after.
Travelling to quieter places, small round huts that faced the ocean. Golden sand and lobster shacks that piled butter high on fishy flesh. We spread our bodies like star fish and eventually took a boat trip with a crazy eyed local with a safe smile. Down a crocodile river and spending time on a manmade island fort, carving our names into the wood of a dock. We drifted further on the journey, finding a hidden restaurant in a house where we met a man who offered to take us to the mountains. Up the winding roads and into the blue hued fog, to a house that had no mirrors and bare walls. I remember the smell of the morning and how the lush green mountain paths that seemed to go on forever. Pushing my hands down into the mossy front of a tree and collecting coffee berries to peel the fruit and pop the center into my mouth. The dream came alive, with fire flies at night, dancing lights that flickered through the branches and became magical. It all passed so fast until the day we left, in the back of truck bouncing down the mountain towards the water. Our faces filled with mountain spirit, bodies sparkling with pearling sweat. We were just beginning to disappear into the type of life that could crack you open, letting loose the tension, until all that is left is the gooey warmth of adventure, but we had to return. I am collecting mouldering butterflies, can’t quite see it all but enough remains to admire, to replay, and motivate the next leg of my journey.