Boarding a flight at 6:00 AM is usually not a pleasant task..even when you are off for a vacation. The silver lining though was that our 18 month old slept through most of the flight and we were able to catch a few winks ourselves. After a very uneventful flight we were finally there in Jamaica and right after walking out of the airport, the place reminded me of India! The roads, mango trees, shops, houses…even the smell seemed a little familiar! The drive from the airport to our resort in Bloody Bay, Negril was about 40 miles, and initially I was a little concerned about how long and/or tiring the shuttle ride would get. Fortunately, that turned out to be really pleasant thanks to a very entertaining driver who doubled up as a tourist guide and provided an ongoing commentary on the Jamaican country side and way of life all through the ride.
We arrived at the Riu Palace late in the afternoon and after a very speedy check in, we were off to the beach. Bloody Bay is one of Negril’s most picturesque beaches and prior to the trip I had read a few reviews which debated about how the beach had got its name. Some argued that pirates landed on this beach and fought viciously while others believed that hunters used to massacre whales here thus turning the sea blood-red! Whatever be the history, the present day beach is probably a stark contrast to its supposed violent past. The combination of really soft white sand, azure crystal clear waters, gentle waves and beautiful sunsets rightly puts this place amongst the top Caribbean beaches.
Like most of our past beach vacations, we did not have any agenda. Half the time was spent in chasing a toddler on the beach and the other half was spent in lounging on the beach chairs sipping on our cool drinks. I am still trying to decide what I cherished doing more! The highlight of the trip though was seeing Daivik go absolutely crazy with the unlimited supply of sand and water. Due to the gentle waves and shallow waters, he was easily able to walk 25-30 feet into the water without any major issues.
When we were not in the water, we enjoyed the Riu hospitality. The grounds were gorgeous, food was awesome, drinks were exotic and the staff genuinely friendly. A few other highlights from the trip that I hope to remember for a very long time:
The Jerk Hut
Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Almost all restaurants in Jamaica have some form of ‘jerk’ on their menu. Fortunately for us, the resort dedicated a whole hut right on the beach towards this cause. The Jerk Hut served pretty awesome Jerk chicken, Ribs and Sausages every day from 11:30 till 3:00 PM and made our time on the beach even more satisfying!
The friendly beach vendors
They were some of the most friendliest people and contrary to some reviews I had read before the trip, no one really bothered us in any way. Everything from pot to cigars, jet skis to boat rides, purses to t-shirts, beads to necklaces, painters to musicians, everything can be found right on the beach! The colorful vendors definitely added to enlivening the Jamaican experience and makes this place stand out from a lot of other destinations.
The Lobster Trail
On our last day, we took a short walk down to the ‘Office of Nature’ to devour on one of their famed grilled lobsters! It was really fun seeing the fishing nets and live lobsters. We got to select our choice and then had to patiently wait for the next 30 minutes or so while they grilled it in front of us! During the wait we were also unwilling spectators to how pot is processed!
Having lived in the US for the last 3 years, I had almost forgotten what it was like to see a group of people huddled in a public place watching a cricket match! Obviously, the first time I saw a bunch of Jamaicans huddled over a radio on the beach listening to the commentary of the West Indies and Australia test match…i couldn’t help myself from asking what the score was 🙂 Even more exciting was watching an IPL match between our favorite Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians while we waited for our return flight at the airport!
Finally our much awaited vacation got over and left us with a slight tan and countless memories. Four days is not nearly enough time to get tired of the sun, sand and the sea…even when you have a toddler that adamantly refuses to come out of the water at the end of each day. However, I think its just about the right amount of time to not get spoiled by all the luxuries of the Jamaican hospitality! After a very emotional adieu, we boarded the flight to get back to the US. Though getting in through the immigration, customs, security and making it to our connecting flight in Miami was a crazy adventure and took us almost 2 hours! (maybe it was due to the Easter weekend). Anyways, thankfully we did make it just in time for the flight back home.