Michele Cliff’s novel, No Telephone to Heaven describes the journey of Clare Savage as she travels to and from different parts of the world. Given that Clare is seen traveling a lot, Cliff makes mention of several different landmarks and streets that can be found in Jamaica, New York and London. One of the places that Cliff mentions is the Cockpit Country.
The Cockpit Country is an area in Trelawny and Saint Elizabeth parishes in Jamaica. According to an article titled “The Karstlands of Jamaica,” “The rough and uneven surface of the country… renders it quiet impassable; high peaks, steep hills, ravines, gullies, sinkholes, etc. present so many obstacles that this portion of the parish has well earned the appellation of ‘terra incognaation’” (Sweeting 183). Jamaica is generally known to be a hilly and mountainous island. The Cockpit Country has an average depth “…between 300 feets and 400 feet and some are as deep as 500 feet” (Sweeting 184). In the article, Sweeting goes on the describe the Cockpit Country with bases that “consists of puddled muddy area, containing yellow or brown residual clay; in wet seasons this area may contain a pond forming a small perched water-table” (Sweeting 188).
The video below is a short documentary of Jamaica’s Cockpit Country. It is shown in the video, the many hills, grassy areas and slopes, that can be found in the cockpit areas
What makes the Cockpit Country unique among its surroundings its limestone base. When Jamaica subsided below sea level it was discovered that “Limestone was formed over millions of years from the accumulated skeletons of sea-dwelling creatures such as mollusk and corals” ( Windsor Research Centre). The deposits of limestone were contaminated by the debris that was still being washed off the remaining land area. These limestone deposits were given the name Yellow Limestone during the nineteenth century. This limestone can be found directly on the remnants of the volcanoes of the Cretaceous period. As Jamaica sank completely below sea level, pure White Limestone was rested on top of the Yellow Limestone. Currently, White Limestone can be found on about 70% of Jamaica.
Below is an image that shows the geological make-up of the Cockpit Country.
Jamaican Amphibians, www.cockpitcountry.com/limestone.htm.
Sweeting, M. M. “The Karstlands of Jamaica.” The Geographical Journal, vol. 124, no. 2, 1958, p. 184., doi:10.2307/1790245.
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