The Gate House Villa – our own private house on the beach. With our favorite beach bar right outside our door. The ocean breeze blowing though the front window and door that enters our bedroom. Traveling along the path of the house the breeze enters our giant kitchen and gathering area. With an added push of the next wave of fresh sea air, the breeze moves further in until it wafts through Nell and G’s room on the other end of the house. And it’s all just beyond the beach.
A typical day on Negril beach always includes hustlers. Everyone has got a hussle, whether you want jewelry, banana bread, boat rides, ganja, massage, hair braids, bandanas, orange juice, juicy patties, a party to go to, cigarettes, horseback rides – or “anything you want, I get it for you”. This particular day is worse than most. And by worse I mean annoying. Nell and I, two women alone on the beach are a bright beacon to the hustler. It also doesn’t help that we are the only people on the beach in this area. Our villa and Tony’s Hut sit between an open market area and a restaurant, so there are no other tourists laying on the beach nearby. It’s difficult not to be rude when you’re lounged back in your chair Kindle in hand attempting to bury yourself in the read when every 2-5 minutes someone is up in your face with their approach. It usually takes on something similar to, “hey beautiful lady, you look at my stuff, respect”, or they just stop right in front of you and stand with the bananas held toward your face. Until you look up and say no thank you, they keep standing there. So, it’s annoying, but hey, it sure beats rush hour traffic in the frigid cold with a fresh new coating of snow on the ground. I’ll get hustled any day.
I have to believe that one of the best kept culinary secrets ever is the gastronomical delights of Jamaican cooking. Not only is it treat to eat, but Jamaicans also take great pride in their cooking. We’re blessed to have the perfect ingredients for a Jamaican feast – a kitchen, a chef, a grill on the beach, fresh fish and lobster, and a beautiful sunset. A feast like this begins early in the day with a trip down to the fish market, an area along the river just on the edge of downtown Negril. This is the place where all the fishing boats come and go from. Late in the morning the lobster fishermen are coming in with their catch and that’s when you want to be there to get your fresh from the sea lobster. On the menu tonight is grilled lobster¸ stewed fish and rice and pea’s (otherwise known as beans).
It’s Monday night and the Vikings are playing on Monday Night Football, so our mission for the evening is to find a place to watch the game. Our favorite place to watch football is closed this year. Which is really too bad because it was a perfect spot. A giant projection screen with the beach as a back drop was surrounded by long benches, tables and a 50 foot bar with a bench so high even an average height person could use a little help from a friend getting on board. For many years we have gathered there with fellow American football fans to watch the Sunday or Monday game. While so many things in Jamaica never change, it’s sad to see a change like this.
Today is moving day. We leave the Gate House and Tony’s Hut behind and moving to Kuyaba. A beautiful little hotel just down the beach. It’s like starting vacation all over again.
Well, my dirty banana is melting and I’m hearing the call from beyond the beach. So…