chapter 3

july 15, 2009

manchoneal, jamaica

it be 2 days later, mon, an' sad to say, we be on our way, won't be back for many a day, our heart is down, our head is turning around, we have to leave de zion country an' portland town.....

but... before we do, de stitchie-mon say we have to go to de "reach falls" in manchoneal, just tree kilometers down de road. it turn out it be monday, mon, which be very good, 'cause de reach falls be closed to de public on monday & tuesdays... which mean dat stitchie-mon can call his udder rasta friend, lion-mon, to take us up de back way... which mean from de bottom, for 400 jamaican, instead of de 20 dolla U.S. from de top on wednesday trough sunday. since i still be de stingey-mon on dis trip, dis be very good news.

but on dis particular monday morning, mon, it be raining. stitchie-mon say maybe it not be a good day for de trip to de falls, but i say, "nah, mon, let's go. we gonna get wet anyway, right?" because as de wife always say, "we not be made of sugar or salt", which means we not gonna melt in de rain. furdermore, which be de most important ting, dis be our one an' only chance to go to de reach falls.

so again, de stitchie-mon puts us in anudder route taxi up to de falls, by de back way of course, an' dere be de lion-mon, waiting to meet us when we arrive.

now de lion-mon also be a true rastafari, an' he live even furder in de bush den de stitchie-mon. it still be raining just a bit when we arrive, so de lion-mon tell us we have to wait until it stop. in de mean time, he put all our tings in a black plastic garbage bag, tie it in a knot, an' say "every little ting gonna be all right". den he start singing to pass de time. he be in good spirits, mon, 'cause he be rolling a very big ganja spliff for himself, an' in fact, he never stop rollin' an' smokin' for de next 5 hours, mon.

finally, de rain stop an' we start our hike to de falls, wid de lion-mon carrying our garbage bag over his shoulder. but de path be wet wid leaves an' mud from de rain, mon, so de lion-mon take off his shoes to walk bare foot. de wife, also being from de village an' de rain forest in indonesia, feel right at home here in de jamaican bush, an' she take off her shoes too. me, being from de new york an' los angeles urban jungle, also take off my shoes, but widin' 30 seconds, i fall flat on my urban jungle ass. "woah, it be very slippery, mon." dey both look at me wid pity an' say, "yah, mon."

which leave me wid de famous flip flops, mon. you remember dem, right? de flip flops from de caribbean, mon, one of which i tink i lose, but which de little naked black boy find for me, floating up near de shore? yah, mon, dat be dem on my feet in de wet jamaican bush, an' dey be ridiculously an' hopelessly slippery, mon. ok, i know, i not be too clever here, mon. why didn't i tink to bring de hiking boots? or even de stippled rubber swim shoes for de rocks? i don't know, mon. all i know is dat i got dese stupid, slippery flips flops, mon, an' dey be totally useless here in de steep, slippery reach falls bush.

so we be climbin' up an' down de rocks, mon, an' believe me, dere be no hand rails or nuting, 'cause dis be de way back way. now de lion-mon, he be singin' an' watchin' de two of us, makin' sure we be alright. of course, de wife, she be like a natural-born monkey in de indonesian rain forest, jumpin' between rocks, findin' de apu-apu (butterfly) cocoon in de tree... an' me? i be more like de billy crystal-mon on de city slicker horse in de funny movie, mon, slip-sliding away, more like de paul si-mon sing in de song. of course, de lion-mon, he be mightily impressed wid de wife, mon, while de both of dem try to keep from laughin', as i soon be climbin' on all fours like a hairy red orangutan. but fuck dem, mon, i need all 4 of me limbs, 'cause of dese stupid, useless flip flops. shit! de rocks, especially da ones wid de green wet moss, mon, dey be fierce-terrible slippery. oyyyyyyy-mon!

eventually, after only a few more (graceful) falls, we reach de reach falls. take a look, my brudders & sisters, dis be de most beautiful place on de planet.

pristine, clean, it be our own private "blue lagoon", widout de brooke shields or whoever else was in dat innocuous teenage movie, mon. truth be told, mon, we be a long way from hollywood-land, an'... one canna ever get far enough. am i right, my brudders an' sisters?

anyway, de wife an' i earn our just rewards by diving into our own private blue lagoon and falls. it feel like de water be fallin' from zion heaven, mon, an' what can i say, me almost drown an' go to dat heaven... many times.

de whole time, de lion-mon, he be rollin' and smokin' and singin', mon, about de river an' de nature an' de water falls, mon, while de wife an' i be slip-slidin' away until de wife get tired an' climb up on de rock to rest. wow, mon! she look like a bathing beauty from de 1930s movies, i swear, my brudders an' sisters. maybe like hedy lamar or barbara stanwyk. indonesian style. yah, mon, she do! okay, i be prejudiced, i admit, just a rasta bit.

finally, de lion-mon take off his shirt, an' dive into de lagoon himself, right under de cascading falls. he also be built like a black adonis, mon, because he also work so hard in de bush on his own plantation, besides takin' de people on de back street waterfall tours on Mondays an' Tuesdays. Pretty soon, de lion-mon be singin' loud an' clear in de middle of de lagoon, and since I see de beautiful wife sittin' up dere on de rock lookin' like an indonesian bathing beauty, mon, I decide "what de hell, mon? when will dis ever happen to me again?" an'... I slip up next to de lion-mon like a wet porpoise, an' I join a serenade to de wife.

lion-mon: "stir it up, little darling. stir it up. it be a long time... since I see a wo-man... so fine."

Is so beautiful. An' inspiring, mon. like de marley-mon himself. I tink I have no choice but to make up my own.

Me: "when I grow up, i'm gonna be a puma whale. i'm gonna leave dis all behind an' swim around de continent."

lion-mon; "dis be true, mon. dis be true. de city-mon, he sing de true song.....

me: "nobody as beaut-i-ful as dis indonesian prin-cess. Me gonna blow loud an' clear, an' everybody gonna hear. De river an' de beaut-i-ful."

Lion-mon and me together: "one love, little darlin'. one love........."

an' de wife, mon, she be smilin' and enjoyin' de serenade on her own hard rock cafe. an' de lion-mon, he be laughin' an' singin' his stoned rasta heart out, aldo' i tink he be laughin' more den he be singin', 'cause i don't tink he ever sang a duet wid anudder white rasta-mon in de middle of dese here reach falls.

an' me? i be singin' at de top of me lungs in de middle of dis jamaican blue lagoon, wid de stoned-ass, laughin' lion-mon, and de lovely, smilin' indonesian princess-wife. i mean, how did dis ever happen to me? dis perfect moment? dis whole kit 'n caboodle? my life? how did me turn out to be such a lucky-mon? to have traveled to de heart of rastafari jamaica, an' found me own private idaho? to have married for de first time de lovely wife at 54 years old, mon? to have survived de big bad cancer, mon, for over 20 years now? how me be teachin' what i love at such a fine university, mon... an' have 'nuff money... an' health... an' spirit... an' balance? yah, mon, me do indeed, be a lucky mon.....

but... my brudders an' sisters... even de perfect an' appreciative moments must come to an end, right? so... wid much joy... de lovely wife, de lion-mon, an' me, slip-slide way our way back down de falls. de two bush - mon an' wo-mon - no worries. me? i orangutan my way back on all fours, only fallin' on my city-slick ass about 10 more times. but it feel good, mon. because sometimes, mon, if you sing loud enuff, an' try hard enuff, you do find dat... every little ting gonna be alright.

so dis story end... somewhere above de blue lagoon in manchoneal, jamaica, mon. de rain be stopped, de sun be out, and we all be sippin' fresh 'n delicious milk from de wild coconut de lion-mon get from de bush. 'cause sometimes, my brudders an' sisters, even a stingey-mon like me, do find himself.... somewhere.... over de rainbow

cue music: "somewhere over de rainbow" by israel kamakawiwo ole'

one love from de falls,

stingey and lion-mon