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Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

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  • Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

    2004 was to be my year! I had signed a lease on an apartment outside Negril and was preparing to move just after Christmas….for good! Boy! How things changed this year. First a portent on what was to come as Charlie broke a front window then Francis tore the roof off my home followed by Jeanne who uprooted three trees and finally Ivan that damaged my apartment in Jamaica. Some things just are not to be at least at this time, that is!

    I had promised my friend Shereth that I would spend my birthday with her so I took my $100 “Florida Fling” ticket and a one-week vacation and headed out Halloween the day before my birthday. I packed my usual presents for friends, supplies for school children and a box of floating candles that a fellow boardite had requested I purchase but never paid me for and headed for the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My good friend Mary Bridges (and second cousin) was going to Jamaica at the same time so we decided to meet and travel together while sharing expenses. We have been good friends for over 30 years and had traveled together to Jamaica three times before the last time being over 8 years ago. She was coming from Seattle Washington and her plane arrived in Montego Bay a mere 15 minutes after my arrival.

    DAY 1

    After meeting Mary at the airport, we headed for the Customs line where Mary zipped right through. For all you travelers, here is a piece of advice. Don’t tell the Customs Officer that you are staying with friends or that you are staying in a relatively unknown place, as they are more apt to search your bags. Just say you are staying at Sandals or another Mega-Compound and they will think you are too shallow or impersonal to bring a few presents for friends. This is a sad but true reality which resulted in me being directed over to the “Search for Goodies Table” to deal with the worker bees.

    As I said before, I was bringing a shoebox full of floating candles and that is what the worker bee saw first.
    “What is this?” she asked while looking me in the eyes.
    I leaned over and said, “This is for my girlfriend and me to use as we like to take baths together surrounded by the floating candles.” I then winked and she smiled in a brief second of understanding. “Take a few for yourself.” I continued in a low voice. Your boyfriend will love you for it. Her eyes darted around and then she took a package of the lavender ones and hid them below the podium where I was standing.
    Unzipping another compartment she pulled a pair of knee high leather boots with a heel that I was bringing for Shereth as a birthday present I promised her earlier in the year but could not find in hot and muggy Florida in May! “Another gift for your friends?” She continued with a smile. I decided to try another approach. “No, they are mine.” I lied. She laughed and said, “Put them on for me please.” Defiantly I answered, “No!” but she asked again two more times. “Look”, I continued, “Take the candles I gave you and enjoy them with your man, okay?” No longer smiling now and showing a general irritation with the process. Thinking she nodded and told me to zip it up and to gwan. I thanked her and strode off to meet Mary, as she was ready to exit the hall.

    Much to my surprise, the continued renovation of the airport in Montego Bay had thrown me a new curve as they had recently moved the main exit to the far end of the hall where you rent cars and get buses instead of immediately to the right as before. Mary and I walked to the end and exited the hall only to find no one there to meet us. Now, my 50 or more trips to and from the airport had netted me a gaggle of drivers who came to my aid but I explained I was waiting for someone. I begged a call from one of them and reached Shereth and my driver from Negril, Ian, who were just leaving Green Island as a community roadblock had delayed them.

    To the uninitiated, communities often set up roadblocks to protest the inaction of the police or the government to address a problem. Often that problem is a large hole in the road or no response to complaints. In this case, the roadblock was in protest to the Government and JPL (the power company) for not restoring all the power and water service after Hurricane Ivan. The Government also puts up roadblocks to search for weapons and drugs and, sometimes, to just check for proper vehicle papers. Most times they will just waive a tourist through if riding in a red plate taxi or driving without locals in the vehicle.

    We went over to the seats in the shade of the old exit awning and waited. A driver friend came over with two cold Red Stripes for $200 J, which really hit the spot. After waiting for a little short of an hour, I saw a familiar person coming towards me wearing a red wig! It was Shereth. She greeted us and took us into the parking lot to load our bags into Ian’s little car.

    We traveled to Negril to drop off the baggage at Whistling Bird before going to Shereth’s house for a dinner of fried fish in a special sauce, potato salad, calaloo, coconut rice and some fresh carrot juice with a hint of ginger. On the way, we stopped at one of Shereth’s favorite roadside stands for a jelly coconut. I did not have any Jamaican money yet as I was planning to go to a Cambio in Negril but Mary offered to buy. Remember now, it has been a long time since she visited Jamaica and she revealed that fact by pulling a lot of small denomination Jamaican bills from her coin purse. In it she had a $2, $10 and $20 bill along with some coins that the shop operator, Shereth or Ian hadn’t seen for years! We all had a great time reminiscing about the “Good Old Days” when you could get things with a $2 bill!

    Whistling Bird. What more can I say! This is one of the best run and friendliest properties on Negril’s beach. You could see the damage that Hurricane Ivan had delivered to Jamaica and to Whistling Bird in particular but already the scars were healing nicely. Mary, having never been there before, couldn’t tell a storm had even hit. Damage to the treetop canopy and to the little bar down at the beach’s edge were the most prominent as a worker said the toted out 40 loads of tree parts and debris.

    Don’t worry, however, as the general ambiance has not changed. Andrea and Lilly were there to meet us and Andrea gave us “Parrot” Cottage for the next 3 nights. We unpacked our bags and headed down to the bar for a quick drink and to chat with Lilly. After awhile, we headed out to Shereth’s house for dinner.

    After a fantastic meal, we retired to the front verandah to chat. Mary had been traveling for much of the previous night and this day so the meal was putting her to sleep. She stretched out on the verandah’s floor that signaled us that it was time to leave. Shereth agreed to meet us around noon the following day so we could go out and see Negril and celebrate the birthday a little.

    Ian dropped us off at Whistling Bird and I showed Mary to the cabin we would be sharing before going down to the bar for a chat with Lilly and an old acquaintance, Roy that was also staying at the Bird. We chatted for a while until politics and the impending coronation of “W” became the topic. I excused myself after a long day, as I was ready for some sleep….. In Jamaica!

  • #2
    Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

    Lovely.
    Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get.
    - Anonymous

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

      Bill, is that first picture your place in Florida? OUCH! Hope its looking better now that hurricane season has passed.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

        Hi Bill,
        So far, so good! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
        More please.
        better to want than to have . . .

        next reach dec. 28, 2011
        april 04, 2012

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

          (((Accompong)))

          That caption of the beach took my breath away...anxiously awaiting more!

          "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
          V.Frank

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

            You could see the damage that Hurricane Ivan had delivered to Jamaica and to Whistling Bird in particular but already the scars were healing nicely. Mary, having never been there before, couldn’t tell a storm had even hit.
            Very comforting words Bill. I'm enjoying this so much. I agree, the picture of the beach made me long to be there and stroll through the sands.

            Sorry about the damage your property suffered. I hope that too in on the mend.
            maxi priest...mellifluous!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

              very nice Bill,glad you can still se the humour
              http://www.iconscious.de/flaglionofjudah.gif

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

                Hi Bill,

                Glad I ran across this tread to see you back down for your birthday. My best to Shereth.
                Baby, my one and only desire
                Is to find some way in the doggone world
                To make this feeling last - Prince Rogers Nelson

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

                  Bill, as always you can write a story that will keep you glued to your screen. You have the nack for selecting the perfect choice of words to keep you on the edge of your seat but relaxed at the same time.

                  One questions: Mary has a blanket on her...was it chilly at night or did you have the airconditioned on.
                  Remember that the best relationships is the one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

                    Nice start Bill! That photograph of the beach is beautiful!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

                      OCHIGAL: Yes, that is my place in Florida.
                      LUCIJA: Hi! Write if you get a chance and let me know how you are doing.
                      ANGIEB: I sleep with the fan on at home and I thoughtlessly left it on when I went to bed. It was cool, however, just before morning. Sometimes a blanket just feels right!

                      Continuing....
                      DAY 2 (November 1st “My Birthday!”)

                      The rays of early dawn’s light were gently filtering through the louvers of our beautiful cabin as I lie in bed finding it kind of hard to believe that I am here in Jamaica and enjoying this spot at Whistling Bird. Parrot Cottage an 8-sided peaked roof wooden cottage has a phone, TV, A/C, Ceiling Fan, sunken shower and lots of beautiful little arty appointments to make it feel like a home away from home.

                      I just seemed to stare at the swiftly rotating ceiling fan as I reminisced about all the times I had been in Jamaica and how it always seemed like on each visit I had returned home and seem to spend the rest of my life “vacationing and working” in So. Florida. Slowly I slipped out of my bed as not to wake Mary soundly sleeping on the other bed. I grabbed my towel and swimming suit, took a long shower and then headed for the beach. The beach was virtually empty at the early hour and I decided to swim until the sun peaked the hills beyond.

                      When I returned to our room, Mary was just starting to stir. Seeing me already up, she started to talk excitedly about being in Jamaica and how much she loves the room. I sat at the small desk and put my camera and supplies in a small carry around bag, as Mary was now ready to get up for the day. I told her we would meet down at the bar as I was going to get a good cup of coffee to start the day.

                      The chef was not at Whistling Bird this morning as besides Roy and his wife Gladys, we were the only guests on the property. Mary came down from the room with a huge grin on her face and, after a cup of coffee or two, we made our way down to Alfred’s for a Jamaican Breakfast at just $300 J. We did this every morning in Negril as the sumptuous fare of ackee and salt fish, calaloo, boiled bananas, yam and two Johnny Cakes could not be beat as well as being delicious.

                      On the way down, we met “Bunny” an old friend from the Negril Yacht Club and invited him to eat with us.

                      He took his meal to go as he had a jewelry stall to manage in front of Arthur’s Beach Club. We finished our meal and headed up to Arthur’s to talk more with Bunny and to “Daddy Ran” who runs the beach bar and oversees the vendor’s stalls. Daddy Ran showed me a spot on the side of the building where the floodwaters had crested after Hurricane Ivan and it was a good 80 feet or more away from the ocean’s edge. They estimated the waves to have been 30 feet high during the height of the storm!

                      Mary seemed to be buying her way up the beach purchasing something here and something there as we finally arrived back at Whistling Bird. Mary and I took turns checking and sending E-mails when Shereth came walking up to the office kiosk.

                      We hung around the property for a few hours before hailing a taxi to the cliffs to survey the damage from the storm and to catch what was sure to be a spectacular sunset as the clouds were nicely layered just above the horizon. We decided on getting a ringside seat for the sunset at LTU near the far West End of the cliffs as it has a great-unobstructed view. We had a drink or two before the sun started to honor us with a spectacular show. A couple of random cloud shadows and shapes passed across the red glowing orb as it descended into the azure sea. The first shape looked somewhat like the continent of Africa (at least to three people having imbibed and equal number of drinks!). Finally, the last shape before dusk appeared to be an outline of an American eagle that Shereth was sure symbolized the defeat of “W” in tomorrow’s election. It’s funny to me how Jamaicans find symbolism in most any event. Too bad they are occasionally wrong.

                      We had decided to have a meal of jerk chicken at 3-Dives for dinner as the LTU menu seemed a little pricey and a large group of German Tourists had us surrounded in an “Oktoberfest” that was one day late in our overall plan. We began by walking the couple of miles to 3-Dives but a sudden shower curtailed our plans and we hailed a taxi for the short trip.

                      The Jerk Chicken dinner was great as usual. I have sampled various jerk dishes around Jamaica but 3-Dives has to rate in the top 10 to 15 places island wide. We were just finishing the meal and Mary and Shereth were chatting about their lives when Ian drove past. Shereth grabbed her cel phone and called him to give us a ride back to the Bird. About a half hour later, we were on our way.

                      Back at the Bird, Ian and I played Shereth and Roy some dominoes. Perhaps it was all the food, a change in drinking water or maybe the several Red Stripes but I had to excuse myself for an early bedtime. Tomorrow we would be going on a Day Trip. Shereth and Ian took Mary to “Mi Yard” for a nightcap. Tonight I would dream about Jamaica! I am truly home.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

                        A fitting end to a wonderful day. Is that a one-room cottage with 2 beds? Or is it a 2-room unit?

                        I always mix-up the names. Its clever to name the cottages after birds but I cant remember which bird I was staying in.

                        I will be there from TB on Nov 23ed. I love the coffee at the Bird; 6am.
                        Good to see you again Bill.

                        Geo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04




                          What a hoot to pop in and find Mendis .... LUV this Rasta!! I know I have some photos of him from my past trips - but probably on films I have not developed yet .... or still in my 35mm camera -

                          LUV him - but a bit difficult to have a conversation with him, wouldn't you say Bill?? [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

                            Originally posted by Accompong:
                            [qb]
                            Unzipping another compartment she pulled a pair of knee high leather boots with a heel that I was bringing for Shereth as a birthday present I promised her earlier in the year but could not find in hot and muggy Florida in May! “Another gift for your friends?” She continued with a smile. I decided to try another approach. “No, they are mine.” I lied. She laughed and said, “Put them on for me please.” Defiantly I answered, “No!” but she asked again two more times. “Look”, I continued, “Take the candles I gave you and enjoy them with your man, okay?” No longer smiling now and showing a general irritation with the process. Thinking she nodded and told me to zip it up and to gwan. [/qb]
                            [img]/forums/images/graemlins/704555_dwl.gif[/img] [img]/forums/images/graemlins/704555_dwl.gif[/img] [img]/forums/images/graemlins/704555_dwl.gif[/img]

                            Too funny.

                            Enjoying the rest of the report as well. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
                            7/5th of all people do not understand fractions.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Negril - My Week in Jamaica 10/31 thru 11/7/04

                              GEOCOX: Parrott is a 1 Room 2 Bed unit on the right just before the foot bridge.
                              LAUREL: Mendis is a long time friend and I understand him well just not often! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
                              PEPPER: My favorite part too! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

                              continuing........
                              Day 3: Day Trip to Roaring River! (getting there)

                              Still a little queasy from the night before, I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep after my normal 6:00am wakeup. I cracked a sleep-laden eye over at Mary and saw that she had come in sometime during the night and seemed to be sleeping soundly as well. Satisfied that a few hours sleep would do more good than a cold shower, I chose the former and drifted back to sleep. Somewhere in dreamland the phone started to ring. Phone? Yes, the phone in the room was ringing! I jumped up too late to answer but decided to get dressed and go down to the office to see what the call was all about.

                              Andrea saw me coming towards the office and motioned me towards the phone as the caller was still on the line. It was Shereth. Ian had called her to cancel our trip to Roaring River, as he is also a welder and had a big job to finish that day. I could tell she was very disappointed but I was determined to go anyways. I told her to hang loose at her home and that I would find a driver and pick her up on the way. I told Andrea that I would need a driver but that Mary and I would be having our Jamaican breakfast over at Alfred’s and would get with her on our return. Mary was shuffling my way so I greeted her and off we went to breakfast.

                              As it was our last day in Negril, Mary stopped to get a last souvenir at a vendor’s stand located near Arthur’s Beach Club. I proceeded back to the Bird and Andrea’s husband Alton greeted me near the office. He offered a good price for the Day Trip to Roaring River and I accepted. We would be leaving in an hour. We picked up Shereth and off we went!

                              Now, the decision to go to Roaring River was a difficult one. First, I had always heard about the idlers and hustlers who hassled tourists for money near the tour entrance. Shereth told me she had a good friend, Dr. Scott, who was a massage therapist and guide at the caves. She assured me that we could go around that problem and she was very anxious to have Mary and I go there. Secondly, both Mary and I have been to quite a few places and, although I have been to the Blue Hole up the river apiece, neither of us had been in the caves before. I have learned to follow Shereth’s lead as rarely has she taken me anywhere I didn’t really love.

                              The ride up to Roaring River is a scenically beautiful slice of the Jamaican countryside. Another interesting part of the trip was listening to Shereth and Alton talk about where they were from. Shereth was from the Bog Walk area and Alton just down the road in Linstead. You really get a good picture of how close Jamaicans are to each other when you hear them talk about the same people each had know while growing up. The roads were quite good for country roads and about an hour or so later we pulled into the parking lot.

                              Shereth called out to a youth who was approaching the vehicle to go get Dr. Scott. Boy! Was I surprised when I saw him coming across the road towards the van. I had met Dr. Scott at the January 6th Celebration in Accompong Town earlier this year! Small world! Dr. Scott told us to give the youth $1200 J ($10 US entrance fee for both Mary and I) as Alton and Shereth would not have to pay. We grabbed out towels and cameras and off we went to the top of the hill.

                              We walked up the road over a small bridge where a tributary came across a cane field into the annual flow coming from the Blue Hole. Dr. Scott explained that this part of the river only ran about nine months out of the year.

                              Going up just a few meters further we saw the confluence of the two streams and a foot bridge next to a huge 200+ year old cottonwood tree where the trail began on the far side going up to the cave entrance.

                              The asphalt path with some steps in a slow, gentle climb was an easy walk and the surrounding trees and plants were gorgeous. There was something to stop and see at every turn.

                              Finally, we reached the top of the trail at the irongate where the trail leads down into the depths of the earth. I turned around for a final picture before the spelunking adventure begins!

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