Monday, July 27th.
It’s 6:34 a.m. Guess we’re leaving fairly early for Negril. Although, it would’ve been nice to have known that the night before.
K kindly fixes me breakfast (scrambled egg, sardines and dumplings), and we’re out the door just before 8 a.m.
We pick up Uncle Eucline on the way at a nearby gas station, and off we go, reaching Negril by about 9:30 a.m.
K and Eucline want to take me to Rick’s Cafe (which I vaguely remember visiting back in 1993), but when we arrive, we discover it’s closed. Turns out they open the bar until 12 p.m. and close at 10 p.m.
That’s unfortunate for us, but good for the dozens and dozens of smaller bars in that area that rely on the visitor and tourist traffic for their business. Oh well. Another time.
Next stop: one of the aforementioned bars, owned by one of K’s friends. We have a bit of trouble finding it – it’s so small, it’s wedged between another bar (whose exterior sort of resembles a boat), and another building that’s boarded up.
Beer and liquor bottles of all shapes and sizes line the shelf above the bar. Overhead, a TV plays an American daytime talk show.
The open rear door reveals a view of the rocks, and the water just beyond. Walking out to the back, there’s gravel and wooden beams — the bare outline of an addition K’s friend has plans to build.
Looking out across the water, I can see the various bars and other buildings lining the shore. Even over here, the water is relatively clear and a greenish-blue. The sun is beating down on my neck and shoulders, so I head back inside for a bit.
We eventually leave and – on our uncle’s suggestion – try a resort just down the road. When we drive up the driveway and reach the front gate, we’re faced with something we didn’t anticipate: having to pay $15 US apiece to enter resort property, sit on the beach, and for me to go into the water.
The cost of leisure, I suppose.
My uncle – who has worked in the hospitality business – tries to negotiate with the man at the front gate, but the guy holds firm. After some momentary waffling, we decide to pay and go inside. We’ll get a nice view of the beach, have some lunch and leave.
While in the main lobby, K asks me to inquire about a towel. I approach the reception desk and ask.
“You can buy one at the gift shop,” the desk clerk says in a half-sing-song, completely unhelpful, tone of voice, referring to the building just next door.
Good thing I packed my own.
I go to one of the changing rooms and don my swimsuit (to the nearby soundtrack of a woman severely scolding her misbehaving child).
About 10 minutes in, I spot a dark object gliding through the water. A sting-ray. I stand upright, watching it pass by.
We have a delicious beach-side lunch of jerk chicken, rice and peas and salad.
Then, it’s out of my swimsuit, and back on the road to Montego Bay — K has to go to her mother (my aunt)’s house so she can let in a local welder to repair the security gate pried open by thieves almost a week and a half before …
But not before we make a couple of stops along the way. First, a local school in Sandy Bay, where I believe K taught at some point. Then, we stop in to see one of Uncle Eucline’s younger brothers.
Over glasses of lemonade, we learn his brother (whose name I never learn) is recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumour. Looking at him now, seemingly robust and in great spirits, you wouldn’t have known it. And — understandably — he gives Eucline a lecture about giving up drinking and smoking. I know he’s doing it out of love, but I’m not sure Eucline’s having much of it.
Before we know it, we’re at my aunt’s house, picking mangoes and waiting for the welder to arrive. But it won’t be a completely tedious visit.
(Photos taken are mine. Please do not use without permission.)