Big Belly Russell pulls the steering wheel left and then jerks it back hard to the right. This makes the small taxi seem to leap a small puddle without slowing down. He didn’t want to loose the momentum he had going up the slick road. Going down backwards would mean disaster. Sitting in the front seat is not the place I want to be right now. David and Lisa sit in the rear seat and laugh out loud every time they look into my eyes; They since the fear. I admit I’m scared. I’d never say it out loud. We are only a third up the narrow mountain road so this is just the beginning. It’s a full sunny day and the sun shines brightly but that doesn’t stop the fear inside. As soon as Big Belly Russell is back on his side of the road a multicolored bus squeezes by, barely missing the mountain trees on its right and us on the left. The bus has more wide eyed tourist sitting stiffly in their seats as it passes and continues down the mountain. Through the open windows I see them. They all have Red Stripe beer in hand. Jamaicans say that each bottle is filled with liquid courage. That may be the reason we do things here that we would never do at home.
The sun is still high but fades away as we head into the deep lush Jamaican forest that covers the center of the mountain. It darkens quickly. But, it’s not long before the brilliant color flashes out. They stick out against the dark backdrop of forest. Vendors with crafts and paintings line the road way. Any place that they can stick a hut is now a small business and a chance for better life. The small canvases are bold with color and rich in culture.
The paintings are inspiring.
It’s an inspiration that I would not recollect until a few years ago. I now use those colors in the same way on my canvases. So, I guess I owe some of the credit for inspiration to a scary ride, in a taxi, on a narrow road in the mountains of Jamaica and a driver by the name of Big Belly Russell