“Is it safe in Jamaica?” That was just about the most common question I heard from friends and acquaintances when I told them I was headed to Negril for the third time… and not only that, we weren’t staying at an all inclusive. We would be out wandering and exploring.
The honest answer is, yes, I feel safe in Jamaica. I also answer that while I quite enjoy the sights and sounds of Jamaica, I’m not sure it’s a family destination (if you aren’t staying at an all inclusive).
Here’s a quick synopsis of our first 12 hours in Negril:
5 p.m. – a quick unpack in our two-story villa at Hide Awhile (the most special place I can ever imagine staying) and then off for a quick dip in the pool. On the way, we encounter Marley, the sweet and affectionate cat we met on our last visit two years ago. We are thrilled to see her again, and can’t believe our luck that she has found us about two seconds after we step outside our door.
5:30 p.m. – back to the Villa, where we enjoy Marley’s company for a while as we watch the sunset from our balcony and get ready for a walk to one of our favourite places to eat.
6 p.m. – we take our lives in our hands to walk about 15 minutes to LTU Pub. The road along the Negril cliffs is pretty darkly lit and pretty narrow, and it always takes a while to get used to the fact that everyone drives on the other side of the road here. The cars zip VERY close as you carefully hug the side of the road (no sidewalk). This is my least favourite part of the Negril experience. It doesn’t phase Dave one bit.
6:30 p.m. – we arrive at LTU Pub! We get a seat outside along the railing by the cliff. It is gorgeous. We are tired, but happy.
6:45 p.m. – a local “recognizes” Dave from our last visit. While he does have a face people remember, we quickly realize he is just starting conversation. He asks us if we want some “Herb.” We politely decline. Already hit up for marijuana within a few hours… ahhh, Jamaica! This is why I am not sure Negril is for families. But, Dave and I find that because we are polite, we really don’t get hassled too much. I find the conversations fun.
6:50 p.m. – best rum punch ever.
7:30 p.m. – our food arrives. Everything is on Jamaica time, which means you wait a while. It’s totally worth it though, as we love the pumpkin soup. I have an amazing shrimp in white wine sauce and Dave loves his curry chicken. The food in Negril is one of the reasons why we return. (No pictures, too dark)!
7:40 p.m. – we smell “herb” all around us, radiating from a table near us, and from the gentleman who “recognized” Dave a while ago.
7:41 p.m. – we marvel at the beautiful stars above us!
7:45 p.m. – we see an old guy hug a young Jamaican woman. A little too intimately. He sits down with her and another young Jamaican woman. Yep, this is a transaction folks! It’s something you witness fairly often along the beach, and it’s gross. You also see older white women walking around with young Jamaican guys, also pretty gross. But, I have found it is a part of tourist culture in most warm weather destinations, if your eyes are open.
8:30 p.m. – we grab a taxi back to our hotel. We don’t take a taxi because we feel unsafe. It is just too dark to walk the street back now – not many street lights. Taxi’s are everywhere around Negril, and we agree on a pretty cheap price back to the hotel. We don’t quite get that price when the driver doesn’t have exact change. Dave calls this experience on the first day “set up costs” because we also don’t have correct change yet.
8:45 p.m. – a red stripe beer on our balcony – with Marley the cat.
9:30 p.m. – blissful sleep.
11:57 p.m. – huge rainfall and tropical storm! I am amazed by the amount of rain that falls so fast in a half hour. Dave sleeps right through it.
2:15 a.m. – dogs are barking (there are dogs all over Negril – and two on our property). This is just part of things here. While I am annoyed I have woken up, I kind of like it.
2:45 a.m. – a cat is wailing loudly outside. I don’t like this one bit. I wonder if it is Marley the cat and we have been too friendly. I learn later the next day it is not Marley the cat, as I pet her and hear the other cat wailing.
7 a.m. – we start our first full day back in Negril and wonder what amazing things we will see and hear today!