Zimbali Experience Part 2 of 3 – Now That We Have Arrived – Sound, Sight, Touch and Taste –The Farm Tour
Stepping out of the car I take in the beauty that surrounds us. The first thing I notice is the sound that I hear. The sound is stillness. I even found it a little awkward and I was not sure why. I then realized that there are no sounds of cars, there are no sounds of people. I was reminded quickly that I had not heard the sound of stillness and quiet in a very very long time. In our day to day lives, we hear traffic sounds, radio, phones vibrating or alerting. In our homes we hear ceiling fans, air conditioning running, computer fans running, so many sounds that we have become accustomed to and we think it is quiet. Quiet is the absence of all sound. I could hear tranquility. I could hear myself breathe. This is what you hear after you shut your car door at the Zimbali retreat. I was present.
I could feel a peacefulness within me, immediately.
Walking through the bamboo gate we were immediately greeting by the beautiful Alecia. Alecia is one of the owners of Zimbali Retreat along with her husband Mark. Alecia escorts Richard and I to a waiting area, we are given a refreshing drink of fresh ginger and pineapple juice. The time of the year we visited was late July so the temperature is probably around 90 and the humidity was pretty high but not nearly as high as it is in our home state of Louisiana. We sit in the waiting area which has big ceiling fans to cool us off, and a balcony view of the land. The land is filled with deep tropical, lush trees. Sipping on my drink I take it all in. I look at the surroundings. I see and hear some birds. I see a beautiful hummingbird. I see butterflies fluttering through the leaves. I walk around and explore more. I see a shelf filled with books! I am an avid reader so I am drawn to see the collection. So many books, I could just imagine myself lost at this retreat in nature reading from their inspirational library. It was at that point that I knew I would be returning. I go back to the balcony and sit with Richard.
Then I hear laughter. Laughter of children. Two adorable children named O’Dane and Sol, giggling about who knows what? Sol is the daughter of the owners, Mark, and Alecia, she has the most mesmerizing eyes. O’dane is the son of Clifford one of the farmers. Clifford is also Alecia’s uncle, he has been with them since they started the creation of Zimbali. Sol runs up to me with a smile that goes from ear to ear. Her eyes light up, giving her reason to have the name, Sol. Sol asks me if I want some candy and she holds out a bag. I happily take a piece of the red candy. The candy is cold to touch, I ask her what kind of candy is it. Sol’s “candy” that she generously offers to me is frozen berries. They were very tasty too.
Alecia, announces to us that Clifford, better known as “Fudd” is ready to take us on the farm tour. We set off without hesitation with this stranger and his machete into the mountain area of the farm. Where else do you feel safe enough to go with someone you just met on a tour in the mountain with a machete?
When I hear farm I envision row after row of crops planted, is this what you have in mind? This is not the typical farm here. The farm and retreat is set nestled on about 7 acres of land nestled nicely in the mountains of Negril. The farm is spread out behind the retreat. There are okra plants growing almost 6 feet high, varieties of banana trees scattered. Mango and coconut trees are plentiful on the farm. There are peppers, pineapples, broccoli, star fruit, breadfruit, and beautiful avocado trees. There are herbs planted throughout the farm area also.
As Fudd takes us throughout parts of the farm, I am thinking to myself that I wished I would have worn tennis shoes instead of flip flops. I look at Fudd’s feet and he is wearing flip flops, his are not blinged out in décor like mine are. I decide to “suck it up” and keep walking. We have the farm dogs that join us on our short journey. As we walk on our tour, Fudd tells about his life in growing up in Jamaica. How he lives off of the land and always has. His children do also. He is “green”, he lives and eats organically because this is his way of life, has been and if it is up to him I do believe it will be for many many years to come.
Fudd walks through the land with his machete, knocking down a few brushes here and there to get through. Pointing out trees and plants that are native to the land. Richard being a landscape architect was filled with questions about everything growing. Fudd knows the answer to every question and more. Fudd takes his machete and reaches up in a tree to cut a mango down. I’ve never seen a mango so big. I think the mango was almost the size of a football. Fudd uses the machete to peel and cut it. He hands Richard and I piece of mango to share. Fudd did not wash this fruit off before we took a bite. There was no need to. They use no pesticides. We took turns biting into the mango, juice bursting out and sweetness like you have never tasted. Fresh, clean and delicious. Fudd throws the peeling and the seed down on the ground, the dogs eat some and what they do not eat just cycles back into mother earth. Just a few more steps away and he is chopping down a coconut for us. I personally do not really care for coconut water unless it is the chocolate flavored one, however since I am in another country I am being open and I am surely not going to turn this offer down from our gracious guide. I take the first sip, a very small sip, then another larger sip, then another gulp. Wow. Amazingly tasteful and thirst quenching. I finally pass the coconut to Richard. Fudd explains how the coconut is sweeter as it gets older. He chops us another coconut down and opens this one up to give us the “jelly” of the coconut. I had never heard of the jelly of coconut. I tasted this jelly by scraping it with my finger. 100% of pure yumminess. I have only known of coconuts to have either water or the meat that you shred for coconut cakes. This was a new taste of the coconut for us. Fudd explained to us the growth span of a coconut and how they farm them and use them at The Zimbali Retreat.
The tour was mostly shaded, however, the heat was getting to me, maybe the altitude and maybe the fact that I am not accustomed to being out in the heat walking around for an hour. I was sweating, I dare not complain. I was truly in awe of what has been created here by Mark and Alecia and by God. Fudd and the other workers do this on a regular basis year round. I think I have the luxury of working in the air conditioned office and these workers, well I think they have the luxury of being in nature to work. It is all a matter of perception.
We venture back to the retreat center to get ready for our food experience. That is part 3. The taste of the Zimbali Retreat.