JAMAICA

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TITLE:   THE TREK OF DREAD AND WONDERS IN JAMAICA’S RIVER VALLEY

 Flat Bridge and Rio Cobre- two peas-in-a-pod

The almost 300 years old Flat Bridge is prized for its unique historic architecture as well dreaded for its appalling death toll and dizzying flat base which up until today is still unable to hold a safety rail due to its unusual construction. In the past Flat Bridge have had several different types of  rails attached to it, but unfortunately none were rigid enough to withstand the roaring torrents of the Rio Cobre River beneath when it rained. The water would rapidly increase and overflowed its banks.

In 1933, the temperamental river had risen twenty-five feet above its level creating a catastrophe. Rio Cobre is Spanish and means Copper. The river is 50.09 kilo metres long, and usually runs stealthily and silent along the Bog Walk Gorge and throughout the Parish of St Catherine. The bridge is one of the oldest in the island of Jamaica and was constructed by the Spaniards with the help of  the native slave laborers after 1724 but the exact date is somewhat uncertain.

There are many startling folk tales out of death or river valley as this area is sometimes called but among the most popular are the tale of the river Mumma, the Golden Table, the pay bill wonder and the assembling of the spirits. Yet the tale of how the bridge was constructed is the biggest mystery even till today. It was said that the slaves being the primary common laborers had used both physical and supernatural powers to erect the Flat Bridge. And the true meaning behind its sometimes deceptive silence or sudden wrath to overturn vehicles and drown motorists who trek the pathway will never be understood by the natural man.

Among this beautifully  lush green stretch and cool river wind of the Bog Walk Gorge lay an eerie of mystery to be unfolded. Seers who requested that their names be withheld, professed that the spirits weep occasionally and sometimes relay messages and warnings to persons who had near death incidents.

Till this day, this very unique design of the Flat Bridge is a wonder and though repairs have been done to make it safer, improvements were not effective and would usually be destroyed by the strong  torrent of heavy waters from the Rio Cobre. Some persons had said higher powers kept the bridge in that permanent state of dread and nothing or no one could do much to alter its original design. Back in the seventeen century the bridge was known to be the perilous trek of escape for the slaves after they flee to the mountain. They had worked hard in the heart of the river course and knew the mountain side better than the Spaniards. Many of them had lost their lives as the faulty landscape created great difficulty to make a living but they used it none-the-less to their advantage. The slaves worked  very hard digging gravel, marl, limestone, sand among other things.

The bridge is supported by two piers and two abutments. Semi-circular spheres lined the edges of the floor are its only protection with some assistance from the newly installed traffic lights that regulated passage,  brought some relief to residents and motorists.

The narrow pathway leading to and from the bridge is curvaceous with hilly and rock-like embankment that lined the edge of the road way. A variance of lush green trees helped to darkened parts of the trek but to spread the true Jamaican spirit, friendly vendors lined the wider renovated sections, selling an assortment of colorful fruits, vegetables and crafts.

Nowadays even rescuers are said to be on spot. They are called river valley angels as numerous lives ended crossing that fateful bridge.  They say encouragement sweetened labor and make their efforts worthwhile divers are presently being paid a sum of $3000.00 Jamaican dollars as a reward for each lives they save. But all this is still little comfort to seasoned residents, who know too well, that the Rio Cobre is like a pretentious saintly maiden, with a deadly intent and a ravenous thirst for humans.

The Pum Rock  (vagina) wonder

This beautiful nature stretch of the Gorge has signs and wonders unfolding just minutes away from the Flat bridge, along the river course. One could easily say this river valley has been blessed with much wonders and rare beauty. The famous Pum Rock, is known to be the eight wonder of the world. ‘Pum’ is another definition for the vagina in the island’s native dialect.

The huge limestone rock sat about 8 feet tall, making up part of the river bank, could easily be interpreted as a giant (woman) oblivious of her surrounding as she washed her body’s most private part while she bathe by the river.

The rock was discovered and identified, sometimes in the early eighteenth century, and as the years went by, it became more of a striking semblance to that of the female’s vagina. Though bad the weather, the Pum Rock sat firm and solid. Today it is more popular than ever, and attracted hundreds of onlookers weekly as they stared shockingly and gawk in awe at her natural feature and  the graveness of signs and wonders of  river valley.

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