Tuesday, we got up and donned our bathing suits right away. Walking to the beach, though, we noticed that the ocean looked extremely rough. There was nobody swimming at the time, so we decided not to risk it. We took up beach chairs (in the shade this time, because we were both already really sunburnt) and read. We also spent a fair amount of time wondering if coconuts would fall on our heads.
Behind us was a group of three fancier hotel rooms, with decks leading out onto the beach. These and several others were occupied by a group we knew as the North Dakotans. They were older than us, with a median age of around 45 (the age group most likely to appreciate being in a place where they freely have access to weed). They seemed to have a yearly date with Negril, and they were taking advantage to the fullest. The patios were stacked with pallets of Red Stripe; not just 24-packs, but the actual plastic crates that are delivered to businesses. They also had a full bar setup, which we were very aware of due to their incredible drunkenness by 10am (which lasted all day), and the fact that they were yelling drink orders from across the beach at each other. It was impressive. Those guys know how to party like we do back home.
After a while, we wandered over to 23/7 for lunch. I had the same exact sandwich I had the night before; it’s that good. Matt had jerk chicken with rice and peas. The bartender inquired about the show, and we told her what had happened. She was not in the least bit surprised.
After sitting around at lunch for a long time, we headed off down the beach toward Time Square. It’s actually on the road, but walking on the beach is more pleasant, even if it means you have to stop to chat with 50% more hustlers. They’re friendly, so it’s fine. Also, we wanted to see what Bourbon Beach looked like in the daytime, without the giant blue barriers.
We cut through a seemingly empty bar/hotel complex (which was apparently occupied, but like much of Negril, you never really know for sure) and walked out to the road to cross to Time Square. It has a giant Rolex on top, and it’s the place where you can have all your duty-free needs satisfied, particularly those related to expensive jewelry and perfume. We just wanted the ATM.
The Cool Cash machine was out of order, however. This was also not surprising, and not all that critical. We did a little shopping, and asked one of the guys in the store if he knew where another cash machine was. He said there was one at Risky Business, a hotel/bar nearby on the beach. We walked over there, and realized it was either closed or under construction or just in really rough shape; regardless, there was actually a guy standing behind the mostly-empty bar, so we asked him about the ATM. He looked confused. Nope, there’s no ATM at Risky Business.
As far as we were able to determine by the end of our stay, there was one in town dispensing Jamaican dollars, one at Time Square that works half the time and dispenses US dollars, one somewhere up at the north end in a fancy resort, and a few cambios that are hard to find. Just so you know: it’d be easier to get a ton of cash in Montego Bay before you leave for Negril.
The ocean seemed just as rough, but there were plenty of people swimming, so we decided to risk it. We went to the room and changed, to find this:
However, there were no bath towels. In fact, for most of our stay there, we never had 2 bath towels. We’d have one if we were lucky, and sometimes none. Even when I called housekeeping, they still never showed up. It wasn’t really that big a deal, though. The place was pretty great regardless.
We fought our way into the ocean, which was a challenge against the waves. Once you got past where they were breaking near the beach, though, it wasn’t terrible. We watched a couple guys bodysurfing for real, and gave that a try. It was awesome, but you end up with a lot of water in your mouth if you’re not careful. It reminded me of the few times I’ve swallowed water while snorkeling and almost puked in the ocean.
Having worn ourselves out bodysurfing, we went to sit on the beach near the lifeguard stand. We alternated reading and sitting there staring at the ocean or giggling about something undeniably awesome. And that’s when I started to realize was was so completely great about our trip to Jamaica: we were doing hardly anything, at least in the traditional sense. If we could spend three hours a day in the ocean, and several more just sitting around at fantastic bars, restaurants, or on the beach, watching the tourists and the sunset and the ocean, it just might be the greatest trip ever. That’s such a complete novelty to me, and it was amazing.
We slowed our roll like professionals. I even started telling Matt to walk slower on the beach, because it was easier to walk in the sand at an amble.
As the sun started to hint at setting, we went to shower and change. Matt had the most creative belly button sunburn I’d ever seen. I had sand all over everything I owned. We still didn’t have bath towels, so I used a hand towel and he used one he’d brought for the beach. I smelled funny from Jamaican deodorant, and probably overproof rum. My hair was always perfect with no effort. I think that’s why I need to live near the ocean.
We went out and sat on the wall facing the ocean to watch the sunset. With Red Stripes, of course. It’s a massive faux pas to be caught without a drink in Jamaica. Also, how great is it that watching the sun set over the ocean is an important daily event in Negril? It’s never disappointing. Somehow it was even more gorgeous than in Mexico.
We decided to go back to Margaritaville, because we were low on cash, and knew they took credit cards. On the beach, one of the many hustlers we’d begun to recognize shoved the blue stick under our noses: it was weed, but the stem was actually a very dark blue. I’m pretty sure he didn’t appreciate our vast interest in it, without making a purchase. We’d just never seen anything like it before.
The booze cruise was just dumping its load of stumbling North Dakotans as we arrived, and Margaritaville was packed. Instead of a table on the beach, they put us at one of the very few they had open, near the entrance. Apparently the shuttles full of resort-goers only come to places like that a few nights a week, and that was one of them. I was distraught over the number of kids who were very obviously under 18 at the bar, drinking from yard glasses, til I realized they were special kid-yards given to the resort folks, hopefully full of pop. Also, there were some alarmingly slutty 14-year-old girls there, hanging out with local boys. Holy crap.
The DJ that had been playing crappy dance music was replaced by a Jimmy Buffett cover band. And by ‘band’, I mean ‘one-man band named Orv’. We ordered yards, which they call bongs, a highly appropriate name for Jamaica. Matt exclaimed, “I’m drinking out of a giant pink dildo with an umbrella!” Orv launched into ‘All Summer Long’, and we died a little. Of awesome, I mean.
By time time we got our food, the restaurant had started to empty; apparently the resort people don’t stay out past 8pm. They all packed into already overfull buses and headed back to Sandals or Hedonism II or wherever they were going. (That ‘dinner at 6pm, back to the hotel at 8pm’ thing was completely foreign to our vacation sensibilities. I don’t really get it.) The food was surprisingly good, at least for drunk people. I know I had some kind of pizza that I ate with Gray’s Spicy Sauce.
We got our tab so we could move outside, then grabbed our yards, and tracked down Jimmy Buffet’s love seat on the beach. Then we got to some engineering projects with all our available materials, i.e. sand. I built an ottoman, and Matt built a yard-holder so he wouldn’t have to pick up his glass to drink.
We danced in the sand to a song I’m pretty sure neither of us remember, though I suspect it was ‘No Woman, No Cry’. Before we’d left for Jamaica, we’d place bets on how often we would hear that song while we were there. I picked 7, and Matt took the over. I’ve always liked it a lot, but it was kind of a joke. Until it wasn’t toward the end of the trip, and I started crying ever time I heard it. I still do. It kills me.
We went to the bar for reggae shots. We didn’t see what exactly was in them, but the green layer is minty (creme de menthe?) and the white layer is white rum, also known as overproof. They were delicious, and we got to keep the shotglasses. Of course.
At the bar, we met a couple on the verge of falling off their seats while watching Orv. We got talking to them about god-knows-what. The male half was extremely loud, wearing a Margaritaville wifebeater, and we ended up dancing with him to ‘Me and Bobby McGee’. I also requested ‘The Boys of Summer’ from Orv, with ‘Hotel California’ as an alternative (just to drive Matt crazy, because he hates the fucking Eagles, man), but he didn’t know them. Instead, played ‘Peaceful Easy Feelin’. Not the same at all, and yet.
I’m not sure what time we left, but we managed to close down the bar again. We were just starting to figure out the pattern in Negril, and why the hell most of the bars would be completely dead by 9pm. Granted, if you were sitting there at the bar, they’d serve you all night. But you’d be there by yourselves, and that’s nowhere near as interesting. Basically, there’s a reggae show happening somewhere every night (two places, actually: there’s one on 7 Mile Beach, and one up on the cliffs), and that’s where everyone goes around 10pm. The bars just shut down once they empty out. Strange, but kind of awesome. All you have to do is listen for the music and head that way.
So we did. Tuesday equals Alfred’s, which is a couple properties down from our hotel. Once we got near there, though, we decided to pass, because they had cover and we could hear the music from where we were: right by 23/7. Go figure! We climbed up on our bench, and even got to see one of the two guys there who knew the secret rum punch recipe and assembled it in the middle of the night. Matt got into an intense conversation with him about the week-long cricket match that was going on the whole time we were there. They seemed to be way more interested in that than futbol.
I have no idea what time we left there, but it must’ve been late. On the 250-foot walk back to our hotel, one of us fell down in the ocean. I’m not saying who, but you can probably guess.