Hello to all my fellow Negrilaholics! I apologize for not getting to this sooner, but I need a month or so to digest my trips before spilling my guts here. So here we go…
I planned this trip back around last Christmas. Sitting before my laptop and Google Calendar blocking out the major events of the year. At first it was a spring trip, but finally it had to be pushed to September. I like hurricane season in Negril, maybe I secretly want to be stranded for an extra week some day. OK, so that’s not a secret to anyone, except maybe my boss.
It was July 4th weekend 2009. I was eating my outdoor grilled bratwurst at my parents place in Jersey when the subject of my next Negril trip came up. “I have the second week of September penciled in, you guys should come…” I offered spontaneously. They’re retired, financially stable, so what the hell? Of course it was my Dad who responded about a nano-second after the words were out of my mouth, “OK.”
Now my Mom was a tougher nut to crack. She hemmed and hawed as she rolled their Fall 2009 social calendar around in her head, “We can’t go to Jamaica so soon, maybe next spring.” But it only took a few minutes of me and Dad’s cajoling before she was in. The last piece of the puzzle was seeing if my daughter Kris could make it.
Things moved pretty quickly from there. I went online to find Air Jamaica was running a $289.00 round trip special from JFK to MoBay if we purchased the tickets right away, so we jumped on it. Booked three tickets that weekend, and then sent an email to Petrona and Susan at The Blue Cave Castle to book two rooms. We got one of the fancy rooms “Superior Ten” for Mom & Dad, and my favorite room “Deluxe One” for me, and if Kris was able to break off a week to come along she could room with her old man.
Almost immediately Dad was back to “Ya Mon” as the affirmative answer to almost any question, and Mom was excited too, and was soon very concerned with what to pack. My answer of, “Just bring a bunch of t-shirts” wasn’t too helpful.
There was a lot of joking about the sagacity of flying on 9/11 amongst our family, not to mention some stern warnings from my sisters, “You better bring them back in one piece!” The sisters are planning the big 50th anniversary shindig next spring, so I had to promise not to let Mom do any cliff-diving.
About a week out I emailed Petrona at The Castle to confirm and to let her know about when we would arrive which I estimated at “just before sunset,” to which Petrona replied, “Fuzzy and I will hold the sunset until you get here.” I just loved the visual that put in my head.
Getting to JFK for me is a pretty easy run. I can do a taxi, bus, train or subway, but Mom and Dad had to get there from Jersey. Luckily my brother offered to take them, but since traffic is so unpredictable they left really early. With the “Luck of the Irish”, of course they hit zero traffic and we checked in, through security, and at the gate by 9AM for a 12:45 flight. I left early for me, and met up with them at the gate around 10:30.
Time flew by and although it was a bit rainy we took off on time, hit no delays, and had a nice uneventful flight. We arrived at Sangster a little early, about 3:15 Jamaica time, and sailed through immigration, baggage and customs in record time. We were just outside the sliding doors into the driver’s area after successfully side-stepping the deal makers and Red Cap guys, to see a guy holding up a sign with Vinny on it.
The driver looked familiar, but it wasn’t Kenny who I’d contracted for the drive into Negril. He introduced himself as Rocky and apologized that he wasn’t Kenny, which I thought was funny. Hey Man, we can’t all be Kenny.” He explained he works with Kenny who was double-booked that day. We didn’t really care, his van was in good condition and the AC was working, though I must admit to missing the ice cold Red Stripes Kenny would have had ready to go, a situation we remedied at the first beer shack we ran across on the other side of Montego Bay. There’s just something wonderful about that first Red Stripe.
I told Rocky we were hoping to get to Negril before sunset, and I thought it shouldn’t be a problem, but we hit a whole lot of Friday afternoon traffic. Making the turn just past Lucea we were able to fly down the western coast all the way into Negril. Mom was so impressed with all of the school children in their uniforms. I was intrigued how Mom, who grew up in Ireland, felt at home almost immediately. She kept relating names, places and word usages to the old sod. For me it was really cool, I’d been worried if she’d like Jamaica, thinking she’d get used to it in a few days, but she seemed to get it immediately.
Soon we were among the myriad “Welcome to Negril” signs, rolling past the all-inclusive joints, through town and up into the cliffs. I love the feeling when those big white gates open and we pull through to see Santa’s big smile and warm smile. “Greeting mi friend!” he says as I introduce him to Mom, he remembered Dad.
We settled in our rooms for a while. I think this is my fourth time staying in “Deluxe One,” it was like seeing an old friend, though the furniture had been moved around some.
The sun was getting low, but we still had about half an hour till sunset so I went to get the Parents and to give Mom a tour of The Castle property, and then we went across the street to L&M Grocery to stock our respective refrigerators. The neighborhood was coming to life as we walked back, but the various sellers and deal makers kept their distance out of what I would like to think was respect for two older tourists making their way back to The Castle.
Sunset was nice, The Castle’s view is as good or better than anywhere else in Negril, and it was fun to watch Mom and Dad take it all in. Mom kept saying how she understood why I keep coming back.
More to come…
1 Comment November 15, 2009