Archives – November, 2009

Mom and Dad in Negril 9-09

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.”

Mom & Dad in Negril

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…

Vinny (~~)

1 Comment November 15, 2009

A letter to the editor . . .

I wanted to share this note from Joe & Laura:

Hi Vinny!

I can’t tell you how much I have, and am currently, enjoying reading your Negril exploits! Too funny, way insightful and very informative. Thanks for all the vivid descriptions of a lot of the places I’ve been reading about for the last year in anticipation of our trip to Negril.

I’m writing to tell you that my wife and I are flying into MoBay on November 20th for a 10 day trip to Negril for our 3rd wedding anniversary. It is the first time in Jamaica for both of us, and after reading most of your articles I am thrilled that we picked Negril for the whole trip. We have a car rented through EFAY car rental that we will pick up at the airport and then we will hit the “Road to Negril.” We are staying at the Charela Inn the entire time. Do you know anything about the Charela Inn and did we make a good choice? We will have a Junior Sea View Suite on the second floor.

The only thing we really have planned is our anniversary dinner on 11/24 at Rockhouse and a Wild Thing Cruise/Snorkel/Horse ride trip. We definitely plan on eating at Selina’s, 3 Dives, Kuyaba and Best in the West. We also want to eat at Xtabi and check out the snorkeling from their cliffs.

If we have time we hope to drive to the Black River and check out Rasta George.

I’ve got your packing list printed out and will take your advice on the Wet One’s! Any other advice about where to get some good local flavor would be greatly appreciated, but we can’t wait to have a Red Stripe in our hand, and our toes in the sand. You’re not going to be there from 11/20 -11/30 are you?

Thanks again for the great reading. We both hope to become one with Negril and its people.

“A phattie the size of a baby’s arm” OMG, LOL! When I read this I immediately fell off my chair and rolled around laughing with tears streaming down my face. Nice work!

Joe & Laura

Wow! Thanks Joe & Laura,

It never ceases to amaze me that people are helped by my ramblings.

First off, Negril is a great choice! People are always asking me, “Why do you go there?” Soon you will know the answer. You also picked a great time to go, I’ve done the late fall trip. The place is getting ready for the high season so things look great and the businesses are up ready to go.

Charela is very nice, I have friends who’ve been spending two weeks there each summer for more than twenty years. I’ve gone for dinner and drinks, and you can’t beat the location right in the center of all the beach action. I like taking a private water trip with Famous Vincent, or one of the many glass-bottomed boat guys up and down the beach, but The Wild Thing is also a great time. As you may have gleaned, I stay at The Blue Cave Castle and every afternoon the Wild Thing takes a slow cruise right by, when, on occasion, I’ve been known to moon them.

Please remember, you don’t have to go totally native on your first trip to have the time of your life! If you get one thing from this note, please get that. My first two trips were to an all-inclusive, but luckily a buddy told me to get out and see a little of the real thing which I did. On both of those trips I spent a fortune for all the things you go to an all-inclusive for and I totally loved both Hedonism and Sandals. I often give first timers the same advise I received. Go AI but get a little taste of The Real Negril!

For me, it wasn’t till my third reach when I needed a cheap trip that I totally immersed myself. I paid $25 a night at The Yoga Centre, foraged for food at small local places, drank in little hole in the wall bars, and really fell in love with Negril.

All your choices sound great. I suggest a stop into the The Blue Cave Castle up in the cliffs for one of Teddy’s sunset meals. He is an inspired chef and there is simply no better view, period. Also, don’t miss Rick’s Cafe! Some of my friends consider it too touristy, and even though I agree to some extent, its sheer awesomeness overshadows the commercialism.

The only thing I’d warn you about is the car rental. Getting around is very cheap and easy via route taxi’s and tour bus. I like to use Kenny 876-384-1371, and most of the better restaurants will send a car for free. I’ve heard many a story where the stress of dealing with a car in a third world country had buzz-killing results. Hey, maybe you guys are seasoned world travelers so this is a moot point. As for me, I’m usually too wasted to even chance a bike ride :)

Happy Anniversary! Have a great time! And please let me know how it turned out.

Peace and gassho,

Your Pal Vinny (~~)

Leave a Comment November 10, 2009

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