Ask the robust and healthy Claudius Henry, who doesn’t look a day close to his 83 years, what is so special about Sturge Town. Every six weeks, he packs his car trunk full of containers and drives more than 50 miles from his home in Vineyard Town, St Andrew, up to the remote Sturge Town Village in the mountains of St Ann to get his regular supply of drinking water from the famous Marley Spring.

Swearing by its magical properties, to him the treacherous journey up the single-lane rocky pathway is definitely worth it. Born and raised in Jamaica’s second free village, Henry may have moved out some 60 years ago, but nothing will stop him from getting his consistent stream of the mysterious water that springs from its mountains.

“I have been drinking this water all the days of my life and I am hoping to live as old as my father, who died at 103; or my mother, who died at 101,” he said. “Most people in Sturge Town live to over 100. The oldest person lived to be 113. I don’t know anywhere else in Jamaica where people live this long. There must be something that so many people out of this district live so long, and I know it’s the water.”

“From I born it never run dry,” noted the retiree, with two five-gallon containers left to be filled at the tap. Sturge Town’s third-oldest living resident, 99-year-old Cathleen Maud Tracey, calls it “gifted water”.

A descendant of the original 100 families of ex-slaves who were given the village in 1840, she said the residents there do everything with the water from Marley Spring – drink, cook, clean, wash, bathe – as it is their lifeline and what they believe allows them to live this long. “People have traveled from all over to come for this water,” she announced!

Neo Makeba


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