Aaaaah Negril, Jamaica! There’s no place like it! It’s a land of exotic fantasy that “hooks” you forever. Once you’ve been there, you promise yourself always to return and do. Why? Is it because of the lush tropical vegetation? Who could believe green could come in so many thousands of different colours? Or is it the fresh, clean, ocean-scented air, warm seductive winds and the psychedelic turquoise waters where floating is effortless bliss? Maybe it’s the silky, soft, white beach sand and big skies that won’t quit during the day and a gazillion stars that dazzle at night. If not that, it must be the sunrises and sunsets too breathtaking for words or the fluffy, flat-bottomed clouds hovering in the distant horizon or scudding across the sky in mare’s tails like brush-strokes sweeping across a canvas. It could be the swaying, mesmerizing royal palm trees and huge towering stands of bamboo…not to mention the pampas grass on steroids, dazzling orange chin chin trees or majestic bread fruit trees with their enormous hand-like leaves. Then there’s the shock of recognizing that the same house plants you grow back home are here too but instead, they’ve become a relative of Jack’s magical beanstalk and assumed monstrous proportions like poinsettia trees! Maybe too, it’s the blue mountains and hills that beckon, the bougainvillea flowers dripping in multi-electric colours over the walls or could it be the unmistakable, sweet smell of ganja wafting over the breeze?
Jamaica is a land of humming birds, lime green geckos, mind-boggling fish of all sizes, sand crabs, rock crabs and blue crabs all a-scuttle, crickets and tree frogs serenading everyone the second dusk commences, hibiscus flowers bigger than your head bursting into fresh bloom daily plus a myriad of tropical blooms competing for your attention everywhere. There are wondrous shells, corals, sea fans all manner of wild and strange beasties to discoverall enveloped by a brilliant-blue crystal ocean. Could there be more variations on the colour blue than green in Jamaica? Perhaps the most compelling reason to visit Negril, is that feeling of being caressed by a hot sun that is sexually stimulating as it heals and burns and warms from the inside out, making your skin glow and changing it to the indigenous colour of natives.
Food tastes better in Negril, than anywhere else in the world. It’s vital, ital, natural food – jelly coconuts, honey bananas, papayas, sour sap, ackees, pineapple, sugar cane, saccharin oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes, wonderful kalaloo, pumpkin, yellow yams, coco bread, bammy, not to mention mouth watering jerk chicken, pork, curried goat, ox-tail stew, red bean soup, peas and rice, eschovitch, steamed or roasted fish, fresh lobster, spicy beef or vegetable patties, hot sauces of every variety, exquisite chocolate cake and almond or coconut cookies to die for. Wash it all down with Jamaican rum or Red Stripe beer which now comes in Light! Most of all, let the infectious music that permeates the country enter and set up house forever in your soul as you become totally reggaesized.
And aaaah the Jamaican people! Their smiles light up their faces and it’s impossible not to smile back. They can be the funniest people in the world who love nothing better but to laugh. And they love to talk! Their unique patois takes some time to get the hang of but once you do, you can’t help it! You talk like them too! Their clothes are in a vibrancy competition and most Jamaicans are decked out in uplifting, multi colours of the rainbow encompassing the full spectrum – the brighter the better! This is the land of dreadlocks stuffed into crocheted, oversized tooks sporting proud Jamaican colours of yellow, green and black with red thrown in to represent the proud Rastas, reverent, religious people who worship Jah. One heart, one love. Respect.
The song says..”Come to Jamaica and feel alright”. Well we did and we felt, as the Jamaican’s say, Irie! Did we love it and have fun? Yah Mon!
Negril, Jamaica has a seven-mile-long, white, sandy beach ideal for walking, jogging, sand-castle making or just vegging with a good book. Best of all, there’s a bar every 100 feet. We walked the beach sometimes twice every day and we could see our legs getting stronger and tighter. We swam 80,000 times. There’s never been a shark attack in Negril ever! We rented a scooter and went up into the hills of Mandalay and Orange Hill and took in all its gorgeous countryside. We cruised up to the cliffs to have a drink and see the sun set at the famous Rick’s Caf (newly built after the original was destroyed by hurricane.) Plus we hit other hotspots – Mayfield Falls where we climbed up the river to let the waterfalls massage us and Savannah La Mar – the big outdoor market where you can find anything you want. We bought and learned how to cook all kinds of new Jamaican delights.
We went to our favourite restaurant, Sweet Spice for authentic Jamaican cuisine. Their fish soup starter is the tastiest on the planet and we recommend the eschovitch fish, curried goat or oxtail stew if you want to recharge your taste buds. We went to Bloody Bay (our own little private beach once upon a time that is now built up on all sides by huge resorts.) But we were thrilled to see that our old Rasta friends were still there in the same old falling down, makeshift bar with its corrugated iron roof and patched up holes. They still offer grilled lobster lunches and cold beers to tourists who are sick of the all-inclusive fare. They’re doing just fine and are happy, healthy and still laughing.
Our Jamaican fisherman friend caught a 20-pound snapper for us that we barbecued and fed six the first night! Then we curried the remainder in coconut milk the second night which tasted even better. We even made a fish soup just from the monster fish head that fed the whole service staff. Delish! We bought a beautiful piece of sculpture made out of lignam vitae (the hardest wood in the world and the national wood of Jamaica) from the best carver in Negril, Abdel Mason. It depicted two people in abstract design intertwined in a dancing loving embrace really gorgeous and a real piece of art! My husband watched football and golfed and I walked and shopped and read and exercised. We heard some wonderful live Reggae music on the beach late at night, danced, sang and felt totally safe walking home on the beach afterwards. We met people from all over the world, Germans, Turks, Kiwis, Aussies, Canadians and many Americans. We turned darker than we’ve ever been before and forgot the world and all its problems. We emptied all of our negativity and filled up on bliss. No bad “tings” happened to us at all. It was the best holiday we’ve ever had and exactly what we needed. Every one should spend at least a week in Negril, Jamaica every year just to hold on to sanity. And if you do, you will return again and again, because once you’ve visited Negril, it’s etched in your soul.