Scratchie\’s World

School Done!!! Other stuff in life to write about now….

Mohammed to the Mountain…

Well in a manner of speaking anyway. I decided in my old age to take that awe-inspiring trip to the Blue Mountain Peak. It was one of those moments when insanity won out over reason. I will state here and now that it was a once in a lifetime never to be repeated experience with emphasis on the never to be repeated part.

This escapade started in mid July when a group of friends, 13 from my company and 12 from a co-workers group, decided to take the trip. Our guide decided to do the short walk instead of the long one citing “not wanting to leave a lasting negative experience on persons”. People… distance is relative when talking to country dwellers. Statements like “just down the road” and “just around the corner” bear no reflection of the true picture. In the same way I can only conclude that our guide grew up in some other part of Jamaica than the city, because in this case short is relative. Hint hint 5 hours of uphill and 3 hours of downhill is not short.   

We decided to drive to Mavis Bank which is about 1/2 an hour from Papine.  We parked the cars at the police post there since the second part of the journey was to be by Land Rover to our start point. The roads were too steep and rocky for cars so Land Rovers are the vehicle of choice on the trip from Mavis Bank to Whitfield Hall. BTW, I use the word “roads” loosely…very loosely. These are basically dirt and marl tracks cut into the hillside.

The trip to Whitfield Hall was about 2 hours of straight uphill driving in the back of a pick up truck with rails and no suspension. The drivers knew the roads though and there was no fear about visiting the bottom of nearby ravines. We arrived at the cottage at about 10:30 p.m. yes at night since we would start out in the morning. We settled in until about 1:00 a.m. when we were awaken to begin our briefing and our walk commenced at about 1:30 a.m. I did say morning.  Flashlights lit the way for the trip, the first part of the trip called Jacob’s Ladder. This took about 1 1/2 hours to a place called Portland Gap. We stopped for a bit to catch our breath and get some sugar and salt back into our bodies. I have never before sweat so much in cold weather. Every corner meant a drop in temperature. The path is well marked and there are signs everywhere warning persons to stay on the trail.

The journey to the Peak was another story I will sumarize for sake of time. It was uphill, damn hard and pure rock stone. Every corner left your joints screaming for murder and demanding that we turn back. Signs showing how far to the summit are false. Either that or it’s the longest 500m and 1 1/2 km I have ever seen. I have never heard so much swearing in one place. dwl. We arrived at the Peak some time after 5:00 a.m. but we were unable to see the sunrise as cloud cover was heavy. The Peak provides a spectacular view of surounding regions but IT DAMN COLD!!! A few photos and some chit chat and the trip back began.

The journey back to Portland Gap was weird since we were now able to see exactly where we had been walking earlier in the pitch black night. I can only say that we were indeed lucky that all of us are part mountain goat (or so it would seem). If we had been this way in the daylight many of us would have stopped at the ranger station at Portland Gap and called it a day. At some places the path is no wider that 3 or 4 feet.  Broken away hillside was evident. The walk down was much more gruelling since we are not only fighting fatigue but also the forces of gravity and the pain it was inflicting on those of us with bad knees and backs and hips.

Arrival back at Whitfield Hall was fantastic as not only was this self inflicted torture ended but we had the foresight to arrange for a fabulous Jamaican style breakfast of ackee and saltfish and breadfruit and callaloo and dumplings and plantain and you name it and we had it.

The trip back to Mavis Bank was a reverse of the way up. Rocky roads, nuff corners, dust and all in an open back Land Rover. The only factor was that the moon was now replaced by the sun. Nobody told us that Mavis Bank was about a million miles closer to the sun because the temperatures soared to intolerable levels. 

All in all it was a good trip. I am grateful for the experience but don’t think I will ever try that again. I had no after effects I suppose because of my fitness level (thank you badminton training).

Thanks to my fellow hikers for a great trip so Mohammed…err …Scratchie went to the mountain since the mountain wouldn’t come to me.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Those Red Plates….

As I sat in traffic yesterday evening, it suddenly dawned on me, not a new revelation or anything like that, just an eye opener, that as soon as vehicles are issued with red plates the drivers turn into jackasses.  Wifey says I’m not to insult the jackass by calling them that but if the term fits…

For those who aren’t familiar with our system our vehicle tags are colour coded, white with blue writing and border are for private cars, green with white writing and border for commercial vehicles, white with red writing and border for heavy duty equipment and trailer backs and the infamous red plates with white writing for taxis and buses. There were others which have been sidelined or used in special situations but these are the more popular ones.  There are the yellow with black writing for government and the yellow with green writing for diplomats and the blue with white writing for demo vehicles and the list goes on and I digress.

Back to the red plates. I can only conclude that they send all these idiots to the same school to perfect the art of making the roads hazardous for other road users. They make it a point to ignore every road rule. The sidewalk and soft shoulder are synonymous with paved roadways to them. Pedestrians are targets to be removed if you dare to walk on the sidewalk and they want to use it. See a passenger and just stop in the middle of the road oblivious to the cars travelling behind or the mayhem they cause with traffic build up. The turn lanes are used and fasttracks to get to the head of the line since nobody else has to go anywhere we all just love to wait in lines at traffic signals to work on our tan.  Silly us for not using the right side of the road as a second or third lane while cars sit in the left lane waiting on lights to change.

What amazes me is that they all drive exactly the same way. You can actually predict their movements way before they execute their plan. The other source of amazement is that people actually sit in these cars and allow wild animals to drive them to their destination.

I suggest that we need a whole police force out on the roads to deal with these red platers. It’s time to stop them before their dangerous game of bumper cars wreaks even more havock than it already does but knowing my country, nothing will happen until some bigshot or their child or family gets maimed by one of these idiots.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments