Wednesday November 12th – TB to Negril
the walk from one Sparkling Waters villa to the other, minus the stairs at the other villas, oy.
But now it is time to pack up once again – we are heading to Negril. D and C and Dan and D2 and the kids are all coming too – they are 3 Dives addicts and want to get dinner and some sauce to bring to MoBay where they will spend a night or two before heading home. Chicken picks us up right on time- noon, I think. We say our goodbyes to the great people at our villas and Rebecca comes too…I am kind of sad to be going but i have been here a week and that’s longer than anyplace else this trip. All the same, I left so many things undone I need to come back.
Our ride to Negril was smooth. We didn’t stop anywhere along the way as we had the kids with us, went right into Negril. D wanted to stop on the beach for the kids and to show his brother, who had never been to Negril before. So we stopped at Margaritaville because it’s easy, they have changing rooms, a playground for the kids and all that. It is a total tourist trap, expensive drinks and food, but a lot of fun and the staff is friendly and the beach area quite nice.
I take my drink out to the beach to have a look around because I will be staying on the west end and am unlikely to come back to the beach. I am immediately approached by a guy who “has something special to show me”. I wave him off and tell him I doubt he has anything for ME…he gives me the once over and says I must live here. I say yes I do, because it’s easier and it is clearly giving me a bly on his sales pitch, and that’s that. I’ve been in Jamaica for 11 days and this is the first time anyone has tried to sell me anything. Welcome to Negril.
The beach has seaweed – this is about 3 days after Paloma’s passing – but cleanup is well underway and the water is already pretty clear. I look up and down, soaking it in, then head back into the bar. I’ll be here in March, I don’t need beach right now.
After the kids have swum we pile back into Chicken’s bus and head up to the west end. The group is heading to 3 Dives (we have called our order in from the road- always a wise move there if you are in any kind of hurry) and I am dropped off at Blue Cave Castle to get my stuff in my room and check in, I’ll meet them up the road.
My friend Dan flies out tomorrow and has opted to stay in Negril with me that night. I had booked the lower tower for myself but as Dan and I aren’t a couple, I switch to superior room #2 – it has more than one bed. I like the room a lot…it has freaky ceilings, lots of triangles, no squares, and 3 beds, a lovely bathroom with a huge shower and is on the ground floor near the steps down to the throne. It has a huge outdoor porch with a big table and chairs and there are loungers right nearby. This room must have been emptied for the storm as it is right on the water, but it looks and smells great. As always there is a fridge that is already cold, a pitcher of water and glasses, towels. This is my third or fourth time staying at Blue Cave and it remains one of my favorite places to stay in Negril. As I’d be alone (I thought), I had no hesitation in booking it because it is secure and friendly and it is always easy to meet other guests over coffee or sunset beers or whatever. I know Susan quite well, we met in 1999 and bonded over being New Yorkers, and I have met Petrona once now and she is very sweet.
I can’t resist the water…down on the beach there might be post-storm seaweed but up here on the cliffs the water is calm and clear and beautiful – I change into my suit and jump in and swim around to the other ladder and climb back up. There is a freshwater shower right there in the yard so I shower off. Now refreshed, I change for dinner and Dan and I walk up the road.
I get one or two call outs to come see something but a friendly wave “no thanks” and it’s all good. The pressure up here is not like the beach, in my opinion, and I think I have mastered the friendly “I’m all good” wave over the years so I rarely look at things for sale that I do not want to look at.
We arrive at 3 Dives and it is fairly crowded. But as we have ordered early (not 1 call but 2 – one to give a general warning that we are coming and one about ½ hour before we get to Negril with the specifics), our food is just about ready.
As always, I meet a few other diners…3 Dives seems to lend itself to chatting amongst tables.
Here is the latest menu – prices seem to be about the same as last time I was here.
We enjoy our last dinner together as a group and say goodbye to D and C and D2 and the kids. I see them all the time at home, it’s all good.
Dan is going to stick around with me, we will hang out at 3 Dives and wait for Lydie and Paula to finish work so we can go out for a bit…I am in Negril now and that means, to me, that it’s nightlife time. In the meantime I chat with other diners, visit with Lydie and Paula when they have a sec, and generally enjoy being on the west end.
We have ambitious plans to get to MiYard but never make it there, but we do make it to Eddie’s new place, “Da Bar”. Eddie is Lydie’s brother and he has a nice setup going. It’s a round bar with Christmas lights, across the road from the water…I want to say opposite the old Coral Seas cliff which is now called something else. Sunset on the Cliffs, I think. I enjoy seeing Eddie, who I met maybe 10 years ago when he rented motorcycles, and have seen him over the years as he’s been working at 3 Dives pretty regularly. I’m glad to see he has his own place in Negril. He had a bar in Orange Hill for awhile but he says he has leased it to someone else for now.
Eddie has built a small cottage for long term rent. It was empty when I was there so I could see it but he had a 6 month guest coming in the following week.
Here is “Da Bar”
Thursday November 13th – Negril
I don’t do much more than bat an eye at Dan and mumble goodbye as he leaves to get his ride to the airport early this morning. I see him at home all the time, it’s all good.
I sleep in until about noon, so have missed the complimentary coffee. Darn.
I do have some drinks I brought with me in my room, and I supplement those by running across the road to the grocery. I am feeling quiet today, and opt to hang out around the castle and read my book.
This book is one I have been trying to get for about 4 years. It is called “The Annihilation of Fish and Other Stories”, by Anthony Winkler. It’s a set of short stories that are mostly about death and rebirth in some way. Most are set in Jamaica but a few are set in the US. I have read every other AW book about Jamaica except one (which I ordered as I wrote this section…Dog whatever).
I couldn’t get the book at home so when I was in Kingston I tried to find it. Tracy took me to a store or two then she let her fingers do the walking and called about a dozen book stores…none had it or if they did they’d just sold the last copy…it went on like that until finally one in downtown Kingston had it in stock and agreed to hold it. T’s friend Pru lives near downtown so she was able to pick it up for me and bring it to Tracy’s…I was so excited, it’d been a years long quest, honestly. Thanks Pru!!
So I was happy for the chance to lounge around the castle and read it. I lounged right through the sunset:
That evening I was invited to join a group going to dinner at Erica’s. I had never been there and always wanted to go, and it was a fun group so I went. We took a couple of cars and were the first guests to arrive there (the place filled up in the next half hour). I know the thing to have at Erica’s is lobster, and most everyone had it. But I have eaten lobster a few times in the last few days so instead opted for curry goat. Everything was delicious. Our group was Susan the owner of Blue Cave, a couple who had recently moved to Negril after managing a hotel there in the 70’s, their son and his girlfriend from Brazil, and a local foot masseuse. It was a lovely dinner with great conversation.
I do need to go to 3 Dives though. I have orders for jerk sauce from home, Lydie has promised a fire, and as it is my last night in Negril, I need to say goodbye. I also need to talk with L&P about a show they are hosting when ekoostik hookah comes back in March. So the group drops me off on their way back down to the castle.
The place is packed when I arrive. Some people have been before and know the drill; a few haven’t and are kind of grumpy about waiting for their food. So I pitch in and help L&P get drinks out and serve some of the tables. Paula and Lydie are working alone a lot of the time these days…they say it is hard to keep good people to help them. I know that while they are glad to be busy they also really miss the days when they could sit down and chat with their guests as they ate. Now they just cook and cook and cook…there is no downtime to hang out and talk with them until the end, unless you get there very early.
But in helping out I meet some cool people…a guy staying at Catcha who was there the night before raving about it being the best food he’s ever had, a woman from Kingston in town on business, also saying she looks forward to eating there every time, Jackie the owner of Jackie’s on the Reef spa out the deep west end, a family from Canada.
I hang out for awhile, and get my sauce and marinade and say goodnight.
This might be the only picture of me out of the hundreds I have on my camera from this trip…so if you were wondering, that is me. Looking kind of grumpy because i thought the camera wasn’t taking the picture.
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All Around Jamaica Again: Days 14-15 – Negril to Runaway Bay to Home