New friends in Negril
Negril Travel Blog› entry 4 of 13 › view all entries
As we headed back to the castle with the intent of finding a taxi to take us to check out the resort Riu, with its all-inclusive appeal because of free food and drinks, we passed by another restaurant we'd hoped to try while we there. This restaurant was called the Royal Kitchen and it's an 'ital' vegetarian restaurant that was recommended to me by a friend. As we walked by, even though it was closed, there were a couple of men seated in the patio area and one of them kindly asked us to join them for a bit. For whatever reason, we were feeling shy and were reluctant to go over but I thought to myself that one of the things I most wanted to do was meet the locals and this was the perfect opportunity so why be shy? I asked my friend, "Why not?" and we entered the patio and took a seat at the table with the man who had just invited us.
We introduced ourselves and learned our new friends' names. Sitting back a ways being a bit shy himself was Steve (a.k.a. DJ Zone) and the one who invited us was named Viggo. Very soon, we were joined by the proprietor of the Royal Kitchen who introduced himself as Errol Ites. Not long after that, a woman joined us who is a waitress there (but whose name I've forgotten) and we were all chatting happily, enjoying the beautiful afternoon while watching the people and traffic go by. They were closed that day since it had been slow due to low season for tourists so they were just taking it easy. Our friends shared stories with us and Errol gave us some great history on the area as it was when he moved there during the 'hippie discovery' era in Negril.
As we sat, visitors came and went and a man in a chartered taxi eventually arrived which worked out for us since we wanted to go check out the beach resort to see if that was indeed where we wanted to move to and if not, we'd next check out Riu for availability.
We returned to the car and were off to the next destination, Rick's Cafe on the cliffs!
After a good, refreshing night's sleep, I again woke earlier than my friend which gave me time to ready for the day at a liesurely pace. It was nice to wake to the sounds of waves crashing against the cliffs and I felt renewed like I hadn't in a while. Once I was fresh and ready to go, I climbed the steps up to the penthouse to wake my friend and get her going so we could have our second breakfast of saltfish & ackee. While she got ready, I explored each of the three decks we had private access to because my friend had the penthouse. Each offered a different view and I had fun taking pictures from virtually every angle. I also took pictures of the penthouse and the views from it which were as phenomenal as those from the decks.
Jayeesha was soon ready and we ventured out onto the street in daylight this time. We were immediately greeted by our friend the jewelry maker from across the street who seemed to delight in keeping us from heading anywhere quickly. Just a few moments later, it seemed from out of nowhere appeared our 'tour guide' friend from the night before who whisked us away from the jewelry maker and led us to the breakfast spot, Kool Brown's restaurant, where he told us the night before we could get saltfish & ackee. It was funny how he just seemed to appear from thin air as if he was a magic man keeping tabs on our every move. When we approached, the proprietor of Kool Brown's let our friend know he was closed since he'd run out of gas for cooking and was awaiting delivery of a new tank that hadn't arrived as expected.
Once seated, our friend let us know he'd have to have our breakfast made special but he needed some extra money to buy the saltfish. Reluctantly we agreed to the $140 JA ($2 US) and wondered if we were being hustled yet again. I'm always cynical until I know a person or situation better so I was even more skeptical of the situation than my friend. She handed him some money and he was off to who knew where. After several minutes, he returned as I was on the steps leading to the water taking more pictures and seemed somewhat alarmed that I was there saying, "oh, come up, I don't want to lose ya already". He had us come back to the table and told us his next step was to go and pick some ackee fruit. We were amused at this point at each step in the process he went through to get us our breakfast.
Later we learned that Augustus lived at the top of the building and his mother Winsome was the woman we first saw cooking in the kitchen. Pewee's also had a sign indicating you could rent rooms there so it's an all-purpose sort of establishment apparently. Once we finished eating, Augustus checked on us to see how we enjoyed our breakfasts (to which we proclaimed how much we did) and to settle on a reasonable price of $600 JA for both meals. Again he seemed to vanish into thin air and we were off to the internet cafe to seek out other accommodations with some on-line research. Our original intent was to stay at the Castle for the entire four nights in Negril until our trip to Treasure Beach but earlier that morning I'd warned my friend of the incredibly low water pressure I discovered after my first shower and she was disappointed because conditions were not good for swimming due to rough waters at the cliffs.
We walked a short distance to the internet cafe and wine bar next to the restaurant Choices where we'd had our first dinner in Negril. It seemed expensive but we had no other options so for the $200 JA per half hour, we connected with the world back home briefly and sent some 'everything's good' updates. Jayeesha researched several places on-line and finally, despite some reservations about it being a large, corporate resort (since our preference is to support small, locally-owned businesses), settled on Riu which would be all-inclusive.
Our driver took us back up to the cliffs where we passed the castle and a mile or two beyond there where we arrived at Rick's with plenty of time before the sunset. As we approached the entrance and the two 'security' guys, they let us know we couldn't take our water in so we'd have to drink it right there....okay then, finishing bottle of water. We also were almost deterred from going in because Chumbawumba's Tubthumping (I had to look it up since I could only remember the lyrics "I get knocked down but I get up again....") was blasting from the speakers and it was almost more than we could bear....it just seemed like too much of a tourist trap. Fortunately, the next song was much improved since it was a good reggae song (though I can't remember what one) and from then on the good reggae continued to flow, putting us at ease once again.
One funny part was the young boys on the cliffs across from Rick's posturing and yelling at all the tourists, "Two dollars, two dollars!" in an effort to make a few bucks for jumping off the cliff. I don't think they were able to collect on any of that but they sure tried.
The finale just before sunset was when two of the men climbed to the top of the tree above the highest cliff after some showboating on the steps below. They began by doing handstand pushups and things of that nature to show us just how virile they are! Then, each man climbed to the very top of the tree where more showboating took place and first one took the huge leap, plummeting to the waters below and then the next one did.
Stay tuned....lots more coming including our dinner at the Rockhouse and getting to know Augustus!