On Wednesday, our second full day in Jamaica, we decided to go on an excursion to the Black River and YS Falls. Once again the ease of Bluefields shown through as we told the manager we'd like to go and two hours later we had a van and driver to take us, a nanny along for the ride, another nanny staying home with our about-to-nap little Corabunny, a picnic lunch, drinks, and towels packed up in a hamper, and no need to worry about or research anything. I threw my camera and some changes of clothes in a bag and off we went!
The drive was lovely- so fun to see small towns along the way and hear stories of the schools, cities, and more from our nanny. We did the Black River tour first- the driver took care of the arrangements and next thing we knew we were on a pontoon boat looking for crocodiles. We found one immediately and Claire shocked us all by volunteering to give it a pet.
We saw several more, along with lots of birds and cool plants and trees in a environment so different from the coast we'd left only 30 minutes behind.
The water in the Black River is actually crystal clear- our captain filled a plastic bottle with it and it looked like something from the tap, it's just the silt on the bottom that makes it look brackish. Very cool.
After the river tour we got back in the van and continued on to YS Falls. This is probably the most touristy thing we did, but August is Jamaica's off season and Bluefields always tries to direct you to Tuesdays or Thursdays when cruise ships aren't docked. We took a tractor up to the grounds- there are natural springs in the area that feed two pools and lots of places for picnicking. Our driver set us up on a table and we had amazing cold fried chicken and salads and banana bread (and a Red Stripe, of course). Then, just as we were getting ready to climb up to the falls, a giant thunderstorm opened up and POURED rain and sent huge forks of lightning right over our heads. We found this disconcerting, but the swimmers in the pool weren't bothered at all. James the lifeguard kept looking like he wanted to blow a whistle (as did me the lawyer).
We waited about 30 minutes under the cover of a picnic cabana and then the thunder lessened so the driver ran off to get Bluefields' favorite guide. He arrived and asked if we wanted to go up- we looked at the dark skies, still pouring rain, and the rows of people climbing down the falls, then back at our expectant guide, and shrugged- "okay." He wrapped my camera in a plastic bag and up we went, shivering in our water shoes and swim suits. The falls were ROARING. Apparently they're usually quite calm, but the storms up in the mountains had filled them with way more water than normal and they were so loud we couldn't hear each other talk.
We got to the top, took a picture by the sign that said no swimming, and then our guide took us to another ledge, grabbed a rope, and said (or rather, yelled over the roaring water)- "you jump?!"
James and I looked at each other and shrugged, what the hell? We're strong swimmers, surely we couldn't drown?
Though I made James go first.
He survived, so I went next.
It was crazy- so much higher than it looks, and very fast, but surprisingly easy to put your feet down and stop on the rocks after you traveled a few feet.
And then we did it three more times. There certainly wasn't a line!
Landon asked to go, impressing even our nonchalant guide, so we said okay, as long as we were in the water to snag him in case he couldn't put his feet down fast enough.
James snagged him, and then we all did it again.
Claire hung out with Miss Tash on the side path, but did come in for a quick dip with me near the end.
We climbed down and then our guide pointed to a rock in the middle of the falls so, figuring things had gone well so far, James and I walked out to where he indicated.
The current was actually much stronger here, further down the falls, and it was much harder to push through the rushing water to stand up after the landing, so we wouldn't let Landon go, but the jump was fun!
We did that a couple times and then my legs were shaking from the effort of walking through the currents and it had finally stopped raining, so we decided to call it a successful Lag Liv family adventure and take break in the blessedly warm and blessedly still natural spring pool.
We were back at our villa around 4:30 and arrived home to a squealing Cora on the swing with Miss Ro, a tray of lime daiquiris, and a goal to snorkel and swim in the pool before a sunset dinner. And so we did.
Sometimes I still can't really believe we're here.
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