Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gonja farms & Gurus

"How would you like to see a farm?", said our taxi driver after taking us to a field in the middle of nowhere. "umm... no thanks, we just wanted to go to Jackie's on the Reef. Shouldn't we be there by now?," we said. "No mon, it's far to Jackie's! You should see a gonja farm on the way! I have a friend... He can take you. You'll take nice pictures," he says as he stops the car on this abandoned dirt road. Then, proceeds to call a friend and speak in Jamaican patois that we can't understand. "Don't worry. I'll take you to the farm. You will love it, mon!"

I turned to Mark, trying to express my mounting concern telepathically. I've heard the stories about Jamaica. Have we really just been hijacked to work as slave labor on some gonja farm??? Our map says we should have past Jackie's a long time ago! We are no where near the town anymore! He's looking a little concerned too. We spot a couple ladies coming down the road 9(the first people we've seen for miles) and he (somewhat frantically) leans out the window to ask them if we are anywhere close to Jackie's on the Reef. They roll their eyes and keep walking.

Great... who knows what that means! "Please sir, just take us to Jackie's. We don't want to go to any farms." "Calm down mon," he says, "if I don't treat you right, you won't come back to Jamaica." uh huh... We get moving again, and finally pull up in front of a huge metal gate with a hand painted sign that says "Jackie's". We feel a little embarrassed for getting so scared, but this can't be right... we were looking for a spa with a nice spot to grab lunch & an afternoon massage. How do we even get back to the hotel from here? There hasn't been another soul for miles and I'm not getting in the cab with that guy again! So, we ring the buzzer and are ushered down this path to a huge open yoga studio filled with crystals, beds, drums, and all sorts of other accessories. "Jackie" gracefully walks up the hill to meet us wearing a little swimsuit bottom and a very loose fitting sarong across her chest. She's an older woman with an air of wisdom, and complete peace about her. You can just feel how calming and spiritual she and this place are. But, seriously, where are we???

We have no reservations, no expectations, but she happened to have massage openings at 2:00. "Feel free to wander around, swim in the ocean or the sea pools, have a bite of lunch and hang out until we're ready for you," she says. So, we made ourselves at home.

What had the potential for disaster, quickly turned into my favorite part of the entire trip! We let the waves crash over us on the reef, watched the waterfalls pour down, basked in the sun, and then ate one of the best meals I've ever had. We picked from the 2 or 3 options that change daily and ate at this tiny traditional cooking hut. They had smoked the chicken all night, marinated it in fresh fruit juices, placed it on a bed of shredded lettuce, and topped it with a homemade dressing. We both got giant fresh fruit smoothies to go with it. I was in heaven and the massage hadn't even started yet.

She escorted us to another small hut on the edge of the reef overlooking the ocean. We laid down and let the crashing waves lull us into complete relaxation. The massage was incredible and at some point, it started to sprinkle. You could hear the pitter patter on the thatch roof above. I couldn't think of a single other place I'd rather be. Miraculously, the rain stopped as we emerged from the hut. Jacki invited us to continue resting on the beds in the studio, sipping cucumber water and reveling in the feelings of peace and comfort that her home seems to exude.

This is another one of those places I absolutely have to get back to someday. She has a traditional looking hut that you can rent, complete with picture windows towards the surf, a huge skylight above the bed, and an amazing outdoor bathroom. Breakfast & dinner is included as well as a 2 hour yoga class each morning. I have a feeling you would definitely leave a changed person after a few days with Jacki. What a lucky discovery!

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