Jamaica, For Your Health
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Only in “middle age” chronologically, I seem to inhabit the body of an old lady in everyday life. I creak and crack worse than most ninety year olds.
My body, having stood the test of birthing 10 babies and running a goat farm for 20 years, now rebels against me. Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis swell my joints and cause me long periods of great fatigue. My bones ache and my body screams for healing.
Traditional medicine dictates that I stay out of the sun and away from heat, as they are supposed to cause my body to attack itself and exacerbate my conditions. I heeded this medical advice for many years, shielding myself from the sun and living as far into the cold north as I could stand. What did I gain? Nothing. Well, nothing AND a severe vitamin D deficiency.
My symptoms continued to rage, leaving me in painful misery. Oddly, my best days were always during the relative heat of summer and my worst fell in the dark, cold days of winter. And then I discovered Jamaica.
I sat on a cold November day in New Hampshire, watching the world around me slowly die, the brilliant fall leaves cascading to the soon to be brown, frozen earth. The days were growing shorter, too, a time of year I refer to as “sinking into the dark abyss of winter.”
New Hampshire is the only place I’ve ever lived where the winter sun rises just a bit over the horizon, scoots across just above it, rather than overhead, and then falls again, in what seems like a few hours. I dreaded the long, bleak months ahead. I knew it might be July before I truly felt the sun warming the earth. Running a goat dairy and cheese business, getting away was always difficult, but I needed something different.
Before long, plans were formulated, tickets were purchased and my husband and I, along with his brother and sister-in-law, were headed off to Jamaica for the very first time. Having no idea as to what we were getting into, we took the easiest route and booked a stay in an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay. We didn’t have a lot of money to spare and it seemed like the least stressful way to enjoy such a rare vacation. Arriving in Montego Bay, we were told they had overbooked and we were being upgraded to their location in Negril.
Looking back, I realize this was a pivotal moment in my life because, I now know, that I might not have ever returned to Jamaica had I not made the drive from Montego Bay to Negril, seeing the countryside and getting a tiny glimpse of Jamaican life.
The brightly colored houses, the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the goats wandering the hillsides and the smiling faces walking through the tiny towns, captured my mind and heart. The best part? Although we were only in Jamaica for five days, I felt GREAT!
In my many, many trips since, as I immersed myself in the culture, food, music and communities, this effect has only been magnified. The medications I live on in the states sit on the shelf during my stays. I’m awake early and never tired during the day. I sleep restfully and feel refreshed each morning on a fraction of the sleeping hours I clock at home. I’ve never really been able to figure out why.
Lest you think I’m daft, I’m not alone in this. I have many friends and acquaintances who also find great relief in those environs.
Be it old, damaged bones, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, chronic pain or what have you, I’ve now heard story after story of people leaving canes and crutches to sit while they walk the beaches and swim in the warm waters of Jamaica.
I used to believe that it was a side benefit of the abundance of freshly caught fish, trees hanging heavy with fruit and the fact that I drink gallons of water per day while there, thanks to the heat. However, there have been times that I was waiting in line at immigration, having landed only an hour before, and realized that the headache and joint pains that I landed with were already gone.
The days are longer there, the sun shines on my skin, the heat penetrates my bones and I simply feel alive and at peace in Jamaica.
There is definitely less stress for me there, or at least it’s a different type of stress. Sure, I get frustrated with how old fashioned some aspects of daily Jamaican life can be, but I also find great comfort in seeing things done in the way they were done when I was a child, as if I had gone back in time. Life goes on there, but somehow, it’s different. I’m different.
I’ve never figured out exactly what happens to me in Jamaica, but I feel mended while there, body and soul.
If you feel aged beyond your years or if your body is rebelling against you like mine is, I’d highly recommend you give Jamaica a try. What do you really have to lose, other than your misery?
If you would like to read more about life in Jamaica for this American lady, check out this post.
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