We got up shortly after 9 and got ready for the beach. The kids knocked on our door to let us know they’d arrived on the shuttle, so we headed down there to meet them. Michael pointed out their chairs to us, so we hung out there for a while as they swam. After a while, we decided to join them.
There was a partially-eaten dead starfish in the water, so of course Kris had to throw it around. Blech.
Once we were done swimming, Orsi decided she wanted to walk up the beach. (This was code for “go to bars”, apparently.) Kris didn’t feel like going, so she and I headed off in the direction of Yellow Bird. We stopped and experienced the joy of a Dirty Banana. After those were done, we walked up further and found Drifters, where their friends tended bar. It’s set off behind some properties on the beach, so it’s not easy to find.
Orsi introduced me to them. They’re a slightly older couple, and they’re awesome. The husband is Scottish, and the wife British. We had a beer there, and saw one of the original Drifters making phone calls at the bar, arranging for a karaoke night on Sunday. I was sad Matt wasn’t with me, because I know he’d want to see him.
On the way back, we stopped at Yellow Bird again and got two 2-for-1 Dirty Bananas, so we could bring them back for Matt and Kris. They of course started melting the second we started down the beach, so I arrived very sticky. Kris refused to drink it, because he thought it wasn’t manly enough. HIS LOSS.
(Fun fact: if you drink Dirty Bananas, you get “Dirty Diana” by Michael Jackson stuck in your head forever. It’s not pleasant.)
We hung out at the chairs for a while, then went down the beach in the other direction to get some patties for lunch. Matt and Kris declared themselves dancehall stars, and started making up music constantly. It was something to hear, believe me.
We went to the room to shower and change, then out to the road to get a cab to take us into town. Matt took the front seat, and the other five of us piled in the back. The driver dropped us at the Corner Bar, a place that we’d noted on our last trip was always the loudest building in town.
They didn’t really have much vegetarian food, but Matt got me an order of fries and a beer. They all had various varieties of fried chicken and brown-down.
When we finished, a guy came by and asked if he could take the bones for his dog. He poured all the boxes into one, and cleaned off the table for us. We then hailed another cab and rode up to the Canoe Bar just in time for happy hour.
After a while, Kris decided to take the kids back to the hotel while we hung out. A glass-bottom boat pulled up to the beach and a bunch of old people lined up to get out. I had had enough rum that I really, REALLY wanted to see one of them fall in the water, and I was not disappointed. At least she had the presence of mind to save her camera bag.
We had another round of drinks and made plans to meet up the next evening. Then we all used the bathroom for the 20th time there, and headed off in different directions on foot: Orsi up the cliffs, and Matt and I back toward town.
Once we made it down the hill, we cut through the little mall and headed toward the parking lot by Hi-Lo. There was a whole crowd of cab drivers there yelling to us, and we told them no thanks. One of them then pointed out the ATM across the way from Hi-Lo, which was good since it was almost disguised in there. We both got cash, then went grocery shopping.
We got rum, beer, snacks, and sunscreen, since we’d run out. The sunscreen didn’t have a price on it, so the cashier asked if I wanted to check it first. I said no, since we needed it anyway. (It was under $9… that’s a good deal regardless.) Also, I was once again aware of how incredibly much easier it is to always carry local currency in Jamaica. Everything is so much cheaper, since everyone estimates their own exchange rate for USD.
We walked back through town near the roundabout, which was really crowded that time of day. A guy stopped us and told us that he had been asked by the government of Jamaica to rewrite the Lord’s Prayer in patois. And he did, but they stole it from them and never gave him credit. He asked if he could recite it to us, so I said yes. (I knew he was angling for money, but hearing it was amazing.) He tried to sell us one of his other psalms in patois, but we told him to keep it and gave him cash for the privilege of listening. It was pretty excellent.
We dashed across the roundabout (there’s always some life-risking involved), crossed the Negril river with the trees full of egrets, and headed toward our hotel. On the way, I had to stop and take a picture of a Jamaican basketball court, since of course we were traveling with our basketball friend.
We sat on the patio drinking some (not) delicious Rum Fire, then decided to go get dinner. We went next door to Kuyaba, which was pretty full despite it being fairly late in the evening for Negril dinner. Our table was up front on the patio, overlooking the beach. Matt had browndown and conch, and I had extremely delicious ital stew peas. It was a far better meal than the previous night’s.
After dinner, we decided to make our obligatory visit to Margaritaville, since it’s a tradition. We headed up the beach, noting a few interesting-looking (and still fairly busy, which is unusual) bars along the way. We reached the point where we could see the neon at our destination, but in between us and the bar was a building sticking out into the water. We saw it from a ways off, but had to actually walk up to it to even grasp the concept of a building BLOCKING THE BEACH in Negril. It made no sense at all.
We stood there considering our options for a minute. It looked like we could probably climb past it (on the pile of questionable-looking sandbags surrounding it) without getting our clothes too wet, but what if we tried to come back later and the surf had come in farther? We weren’t wearing shoes, so going out to the road and cutting around it wasn’t possible. We gave up and headed back the other direction.
We decided to go to Bourbon Beach, which was advertising a free reggae show that night. It was basically being put on to advertise the Capleton show the next night, but that was fine with us. I love Bourbon Beach.
We got drinks at the crowded bar, then grabbed a picnic table to watch the show. There was a solid mix of locals and super-hippie ladies hanging out. The band would play a couple songs, then make an announcement about the Capleton show, then go back to the music. Guys were wandering around selling tickets and weed.
My favorite moment was when the band played “Welcome to Jamrock” by Damian Marley. That made me so happy.
As the show wrapped up, we headed back toward our hotel. The beach was pretty empty apart from the people at Bourbon Beach. We arrived at Legends to find the beach gate locked, so we tried to go through the restaurant. Those gates were locked, too, but there was a security guard inside who told us to go next door to the restaurant. I said, “Kuyaba?” and he said yes. We went over there and the gates were closed, too, but they weren’t locked. We went inside and closed them behind us, and felt REALLY awkward about walking through a closed restaurant, barefoot, in the dark, especially since we knew there was a gigantic birdcage with a loud, crabby cockatoo in the back.
As we neared the exit that led to the resort, we ran into another security guard who told us to be careful walking through. I asked him if we could get to Legends this way, and he said yes. There’s no gate between them except the one by the road, though, so by the time we’d walked across the parking lot and out onto the road, we were regretting being barefoot.
So my advice to you is to bring flipflops with you if you go out at night on the beach, just in case. Those gates close early.