So, this past weekend was my first weekend out with the other volunteers here in Jamaica. Naturally, I was feeling a bit anxious and unsure of how it would go, since we all didn’t really know each other that well. But this weekend changed that and brought us closer in so many ways!
Negril is a beautiful, little town that is about 3-3.5 hours away from Mandeville. And let’s just say it’s a slice of paradise. There are sandy beaches and orgasmic Pina Colada cocktails and lots of amazing characters who pretty much shaped our weekend to be one that we will never forget!
There were 6 of us who crammed – nah we were pretty comfy, I have to admit – into a chartered taxi with our designated driver Kemmar, who also brought along his incredibly sweet girlfriend Lorraine (who drove beside us). We stayed at this resort-style accommodation called Roots Bamboo and were thrilled to be given the local discount of $2000 Jamaican dollars (instead of a whopping $8000) as we are volunteers.
The resort was absolutely stunning! With a row of multicoloured houses, and the beach literally 5 steps away, I felt like we had hit the motherload – in terms of value, atmosphere, and general merriment. After having driven for nearly 4 hours (thanks to rest stops and imminent rain that Negril is normally prone to), we arrived at our accommodation with an hour till sunset. It was the perfect way to celebrate the advent of the weekend – a couple of us went sunbathing to catch the last rays of the day, while the rest of us decided to take our time in cooling off from the Jamaican scorching heat and walk along the beach, taking photos of our surroundings and acquainting ourselves to what was close by to Roots.
We were treated to a stunning sunset and decided to treat ourselves to some cocktails by the beach, thereby being the ‘easy to spot’ tourists in the area! 😀 We started off the night by being treated to a free drink of classic Jamaican rum (Wray & Nephew) with some peach juice. Sounds weird but it was gooood! Although, I don’t know how many shots of rum were there, but let’s just say half the glass was full of rum (which the bar tenders offered to top up with MORE RUM instead of the juice)! And then, we discovered what is possibly THE best pina colada I’ve ever had (x9 in the span of 3 days)! The night was young, we were greeted by some of the loveliest locals ever, and we ended up chilling as a group with some Rasta guys and girls and sweet Reggae music in the background. There were lots of laughs, the group bonded over the littlest and simplest of things, and all in all, we had a great first night out in the beautiful town of Negril!
The next day, we decided to have the laziest, most relaxing day at the beach – and it did start off that way! Sunbathing under the Jamaican sun, enjoying some (more) delicious pina coladas, and munching on some good ol’ BBQ chicken wings and fries, our morning was shaping up to be a fantastic one! Afternoon came and so did the clouds. And wow, the rains that followed were equally soothing and terrific! The water was warm and calm (till the rains came in, of course), but we decided to embark on a quest to go snorkeling in the Pirate Caves! While we were almost certain that the rain had effectively ruined our plans, the skies miraculously cleared up (as though they knew that some very eager and enthusiastic volunteers from around the world wanted to go on an adventure)! For $1500 (Jamaican), we were taken out to sea, where we were provided with the necessary snorkeling gear, had a guy swim with us to the caves, give us a brief but fun tour of the caves, hold a sea urchin (man, those things are CUTE AF!), go to the iconic Rick’s cafe, from where two of our brave volunteers jumped off a cliff, and bring us safely back to our accommodation – AND WE WERE ON A BOAT!
We were exhausted after our unexpectedly fantastic adventures at sea, but we were also famished. While we had attempted to budget our spending all day, we decided to spoil ourselves with some real, finger-lickin’ good Italian food, so that’s exactly what we did. While we spent J$1000 the previous night on dinner, we spent nearly twice that on the Saturday, but oh man! Was it worth it? HELLS YEAH. That’s nearly $20 for a decent meal of pasta + a classic (and very strong!) G&T and the priceless addition of hanging out with some seriously awesome peeps!
So, remember that I’m one jetlagged af mofo! SO, by this stage, I’m functioning on about 10 hours of sleep in two nights and awake at 430am on Sunday. But, here’s the thing – it felt so good to hear my Lumberbae’s voice first thing in the morning and connect with home – I’ve been terribly homesick for almost all of this trip, but it really helps to be able to talk to Lumberbae and a couple other close friends back in Australia! I even get to Skype here in Jamaica, so Jacquie in the States has been an absolute angel as well, in terms of helping me deal with my sprouts of anxiety attacks from the homesickness and the constant adjustment cycle that I keep visiting as I move from one developing country to the next! It’s been tough, but it’s been a good learning experience, that’s for sure!
Anyway, after starting the morning on a wonderful note, I was welcomed with a subtle but soul-pleasing sight of the sunrise. The beach waters were warm, the birds were starting to bring life to the morning with their lovely chirping and sweet singing, and it was generally a good feeling to take a nice, long walk along the super soft sandy 7-Mile beach of Negril. As the day taking form, the other volunteers woke up and before we knew it, we were back at the beach, sippin’ on some pina coladas for brekkie 😉 and making the most of our last day in this sandy, beachy paradise. We took a lot of photos, we sunbathed like it was the only time we’d get the chance to do so, we spoke to the ever-so-friendly locals and we were given a beautiful send-off by the crew at the beach who took care of us and provided us with their excellent services (dining, drinking, socializing). We saw people parasailing, we saw horses along the coastline, we saw a new wave of tourists, I MADE FRiENDS WITH THE CUTEST BAR TENDER IN THE FORM OF A PUPPER (who also became my swimming buddy shortly after) and it was all just…perfect.
Upon leaving Negril, we were exhausted af but we wanted to check out the Roaring River Park, where you can find nearly *every* type of tree – apple, banana, pineapple, lemongrass, oregano, mint, A V O C A D O ❤ , grapefruit, ackee (the national fruit of Jamaica, pictured below) and we felt like we were in a green heaven. The place is so lush but it’s so sustainable, I almost wanted to buy a house on the spot so I could live there for the rest of my time in Jamaica (and come back on a vacay with my #1)!
We also decided to go caving, where we walked in the dark among the perfectly preserved crevices that resembled tortoises, rabbits, elephants, Bob Marley (YES!), and the holy bible. Another volunteer and I also braved the cold and decided to take a swim in the bottomless pool within the cave – it was so cold but it was so worth it!
So that was our weekend in Negril – it was epic, it was awesome, it was brilliant!
Can’t wait to visit this beautiful little town again! xoxo