Day 14: A blind man, a tent, and a train . . .
Colette swore every year was the last year she would make the trek up to the Blue Mountain peak. But every year like clock-work she would prepare herself physically and mentally for the exhaustive 10.6 mile hike. She would cherish the peaceful scenery where the vegetation was always a lush vibrant green mixed with the colours of the wild; the air was crisp and clean and she loved the cool climate in comparison to the concrete jungle she was coming from; the tranquility of the mountain side and the awe-inspiring sunrise was always spectacular. At the top of the peak on a clear day you could almost make out the coast of Cuba to the north; you could see the rolling hills of the Cockpit Country to the west, and once, Colette saw a small black snake moving through the flat-lands in the south which she later realized was a bauxite train.
This year, Colette and her group of friends, started their trek at Mavis Bank in the early morning hours; the hike would take them roughly 4 hours to reach the peak. Colette knew from her previous experience to bring sweet snacks for the trek along with water. Last year Colette went with her boyfriend and the usual group, and despite the fact that they’ve done this hike many times before, she and the group completely neglected to carry any snacks. Needless to say they were fatigued before they even reached Portland Gap, a familiar rest stop along the hiking trail. Thankfully the group found a road-side vendor who carried a wide variety of sweet treats and snacks.
“So how unnuh fi come all di way up yah an nah no food fi eat?” Asked the old man tending his stall.
“We have food man, a jus di snack dem we figget.” Marlon answered the man.
“Mmhmm” The man mumbled in a tone that suggested he didnt believe Marlon. “So wah an wah unnu tek?” The old man asked.
“We tek five Butterkist biscuit, five Snicker bars, five cheese trixs, an five bottle a wata.” Marlon replied for the group.
“So dat a . . .” the old man counted on his fingers. “Call it seven fifty.” The old man shrugged.
The group rounded up their moneys and handed it to Colette who then held her hand out for the old man.
“Here,” she said.
The old man in turn held out his hand expectantly. Colette studied the old man intently, then realized he was blind when she stared into his clouded grey eyes. Her mouth dropped open in amazement at the old man. She closed his hand around the money.
Just as she was about to walk off, she turned back to the old man and asked, “How you tell de difference wid de money?”
“All a dem feel different mi chile.” The old man replied.
“What about teef? Nobody neva teef from you yet?” she asked with a desire to understand how this little old man could survive out in the middle of nowhere, and blind at that.
“Teef nuh come dis far up di hill. Nuttn up yah fi dem.” The old man simply replied. Colette then rejoined her group.
This year however, the group was more than prepared for the trek. They all had their snacks and water well stowed; Colette even brought some frosted flakes in her pockets and munched on it while walking. They were all dressed to the nines as well, equipped for the cold morning air, the slick dewy tracks, and the long weary trail. By the time they arrived at Portland Gap the dark grey sky was lightening to a soft baby blue. Colette half-expected to see the little old man with his stall waiting for them like he did last year but he was nowhere in sight. The group paused under a familiar tree off the track to re-hydrate and rest a bit. After about 15 minutes they continued on their journey up a section of the trail called Jacob’s Ladder. This part of the trail was especially steep and narrow but once you’ve completed the Jacob’s Ladder you were half way there.
The group made their way up the winding trail and finally rounded the peak just in time to watch the sun rise over the world. The view was breathtaking; mist rolled over the hillside as far as the eye could see, and on that particular day, Colette saw the dark smudge on the horizon which could only signify Cuba. While on the peak, they took pictures by the tripod, and prepared breakfast while soaking in the warmth of the morning sun before making their way to the camp site where they would set up their tents for their three-day retreat on the Blue Mountain.