Beaches, I must tell you right away, are not my favorite vacation spots if the trip is in summer. I love beaches. I love oceans. I love all water views. But, I am literally allegic to the sun on hot, humid days. I have what is known as polymorphic light erruption. Look it up. PMLE is a real thing.
I first discovered this condition of mine after my girlfriend Gail had visited me when we had access to a swimming pool. Gail loves the sun, can’t get enough of it, and I love Gail, so I spent many hours sitting by the pool with her, soaking in the sun.
Evidently the most common seasons for PMLE are spring and summer, after winter, and before skin has had much light exposure, especially sudden intense ligh expoure.
This is all to say that maybe, knowing this about myself, February may have been the wrong time to visit Jamaica, for my sun-loving hubby, who after a long winter can’t wait to get to a beach.
I loved the idea of Jamaica. I was thrilled, in fact, to be going to see it for the first time. We had watched Anthony Bourdain’s travel story about Jamaica and the damage being done to the native people by the tourism trend, where vacationers want the all-in-one experience, which really matters little what country they are in, because they’re all pretty much alike.
So we didn’t want that. We have California or Florida for that, at way less expense. (Jamaican holidays aren’t necessarily cheap).
So after chatting a bit with a friend we met in St. Maarten’s, we decided to book Negril, on the west coast of the island, and far away from touristy places. We wanted to meet the people, see what the real Jamaica, without the high rises was like.
We booked into Crystal Waters, a lovely idea for having a villa with a cook. Knowing we could try out food cooked authentically was one of the main attractions for us.
We had wanted to fly in around the second week of February, but they were filled up (a good sign), so we agreed to the last of Februrary sliding into the first week of March, 2016.
Our Southwest Airlines flight to Montego Bay airport allowed us hours to work up more anticipation for our first week-long exotic beach adventure. We were excited.
We landed, and after some navigating of the bustling noisy, airport to find money exchange and the location of our shuttle to Negril, we settled into the van for the two hours it would take to get to our villa, including dropping others off at their destinations along the way.
The ride took us along the coastal road, where we could see the Caribbean most of the time, and we jutted into the resorts for the other passengers just long enough for them to disembark with their luggage.
Arriving at Crystal Waters, where I thought we had established a pretty good communicaiton with Nehru, the owner, we were a little surprised that he had to go check his schedule to see who we were. Evidently most of his guests are returning customers, not first-timers.
But, after confirming our status, we were warmly welcomed, and were escorted to our villa, a duplex we shared with a couple from the midwest, USA, who turned out to be mildly friendly, but definitely there to kick back on the beach and smoke their pot–a pastime we were to learn was more than common for Negril visitors (if not the rest of the island, which I cannot attest to.
We lost no time donning our beach clothes and making our way through the property to the Crystal Waters beach, which turned out to be next door to Margaritaville, separated only by a fence, and a gaggle of drug dealers and their steady customers. We saw them disappear from time to time, and asked a local about that. He told us they get arrested, but then they come back because they have to sell some stuff to pay for their bail bonds. We were learning. While we in our country are voting on referendums, this island, and I suspect many islands are welcoming the potheads without hassles. It is very, very available.
Our first day, concluded with ordering a whole red snapper fish for the next day’s meal, finding that we would have our breakfast prepared whenever our cook, Denice saw our front door ajar, and that our grocery order would be delivered the next day–paid in advance, in Jamaican dollars, because one Jamaican dollar cost us about $.77 plus the exchange rate, which we found out later is not a good rate at the airport.
We lounged on the beach some more, and turned in for the night, with me, resisting complaints that it was already very hot, and very humid. And, I wasn’t wanting to turn on the air conditioner, since going in and out of air conditioning isn’t usually a good idea either. But, I kept eyeing hubby who was in beach heaven.