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Published: October 2nd 2015
This was the first day we'd left our Belmont bubble since we arrived and we were excited. So bright eyed and bushy-tailed that we woke up poor Gherti an hour too early (our phones were still set to Florida time) but we all got a little more sleep, despite the roosters. The drive there was much like the rest of Jamaica, unspeakably beautiful and we arrived outside of Negril beach just before 8 am where Gherti dropped us off for the day and off we went. It was the perfect time of day: too early for the heat and hustlers (or so we thought) and just in time for breakfast. We walked to a hotel restaurant on the beach where I ate aki fruit, breadfruit, and salt fish. It's the breakfast of the locals and it was nutritious and delicious.
After breakfast we were in search of shade and sunglasses, not necessarily in that order, and on the way ran into a guy that said he'd show us the "shortcut." We followed, figured it was our best bet. He instead led us through the craft market where each shop had not only it's own owner trying with his best haggling to get you to come in but also the very same “hand-crafted, authentic” Jamaican artifacts. Most of them made in China. In one of the first shops we entered, I was almost a sucker for a carved Red Stripe bottle with a $45 price tag. Thankfully my souvenir budget was limited so my gullibility was spared this time. We made it out unscathed finally to the street that led to the shops we needed to get to. Our friend lingered outside the shop, I imagine for a tip for taking us though we told him we'd find it on our own, but he finally left us to look for his next tourist client. After spending the American equivalent of $35 on sunglasses and sunblock we headed back to the beach. At almost halfway there, the clockwork morning rain decided it was time. We got drenched and found shelter with some locals under an awning and exchanged a few words while we all waited for the rain to quit. So much for needing those sunglasses.
We arrived back to the beach and found tree to sit under where we made short-lived friends with one of the many stray dogs around. He was in search of shade as well as another man who strolled by to share the treasured break from direct heat. After our shade-buddies took off, we decided it was time for a swim so into the Caribbean we went. It's amazing how buoyant I felt floating there in the salt-dense water. I could've taken a nap and still stayed floating.
After taking a dip, it was nearly time for lunch so we thought it'd be a good idea to try to walk to Rick's Cafe. Known for its beautiful view and high dive, we thought it would be fun to check it out. We walked..and walked..and walked some more until we couldn't and finally a red-plated taxi stopped. Unaware that the beach was 7 miles long, we were grateful we didn't try to continue our trek on foot.
We pulled in and the rumors were true, the view was breath-taking. We went to the upper deck to order lunch and though the prices were way too high for the sub-par food, but the vibe, that view, and my company were extraordinary. Bradley of course wanted to try the high dive and while I contemplated it the whole meal, I couldn't bring myself to do it. He jumped 3 times into the most beautiful blue water I think I've ever seen. We took a route taxi back to the beach and it was time for a Red Stripe.
Strolling along the beach, a man with a jewelry table asked us to buy something and Brad bought me an anklet made with loci beans and rasta colored beads and I still love it. Shortly thereafter, we happened upon Erroll's Bar where the green rhino was welcome and the Red Stripes were cold. I don't know how long Brad and I sat there but I could've done it forever. Instead we thought it best to explore the area we'd only be in for a day and continued to walk and sit, order beer and sit, people watch and sit. The hustlers at this point were in full swing this time of day. We were offered anything from opium to a taxi but refused all offers, wanting just to relax and be irie.
I did too much relaxing and drinking Red Stripe because right after having dinner at an intriguing local bar, I came down with a bad case of heat exhaustion. Bradley had me lie down and drink water (no more beer) and as the sun went down, so did my body temperature. We saw the most incredible sunset, during which a light show was being set up in the water for a show to happen that night. If I'd have felt better and had a ride back to Belmont, we would've stayed to check it out. Though the MC announcing the party said it would be, “HOT HOT HOT!,” I'd had all the hot I could handle. Gherti picked us up shortly after the sun went down and back to our bubble we went.
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