If you follow C+C on Instagram you'll recall that I mentioned I would be introducing a series of my most interesting island experiences. The "My Time" series will outline some of my most interesting times in the Caribbean. Get ready.
First up: Negril, Jamaica.
Negril was my very first trip out of the country as a young adult in college on spring break. I know you're probably thinking wild parties, drinking and all the things that come along with that but no; this wasn't that kind of trip. The year was 2000 and my roommate and I were super excited. This wouldn't be my first experience in the Caribbean; I had went on cruises as a child. *Side note: I remember the adults being sad about heading back home after visiting several warm and sunny islands. I've always had an "I'll be back" mentality, from 10 years of age!
Anyhow, we booked this trip through one of those questionable student spring break vacation agencies. Keep in mind this was before the popularity of travel search engines and TripAdvisor - I say that to say we booked blindly. We paid $700 for a 7 day trip, hotel and airfare included. Keep thinking what you're thinking.
We landed in Montego Bay for a choppy connecting flight over the beautiful Blue Mountains to Negril. Upon arrival we searched for our "airport transfer". This turned out to be a guy with a van. No problem, we thought. We boarded the van along with a couple from Boston. There were 4 of us in this stuffy van (AC wasn't working). Still, no problem.
What should have been an easy 45 minute drive from the airport to our hotel turned out to be 2 hours. Our driver refused to take the paved road and took the bumpy, unpaved back roads. Still, we thought, no problem; we're in Jamaica! E'ry ting irie. We stopped pon di side of the road because our beloved driver saw his ex-girlfriend and wanted to chat. This was fine with us because there happened to be a curry shop with a bathroom we could use. My roommate and I purchased a curry chicken and 2 Tings. Life was great. Meanwhile, the couple from Boston was slowly growing impatient.
Back on the road, our driver warned us to close the windows because the area we were about to go through were filled with men who would shove marijuana through the windows looking for a sale. We laughed. About 2 minutes later, the men appeared as our driver seemed to swerve aggressively and accelerate (not sure if he was trying to avoid them or run them over). The Boston couple made a quick weed transaction which further angered our driver.
About half an hour later we arrive in a small parish. Still not Negril. We pull up the driveway of a small house with galvanized siding and roof. Driver tells us he has to pick up his son. His son, who looks to be about 8 runs shoeless to the van. Driver tells him to go back and get his shoes. The Boston couple is very impatient by now. My roommate and I are tickled by all of these unpredictable events.
We finally make our way to Negril, as I said, about 2 hours later. Boston couple gets dropped off at their resort. My roommate and I are also asked to step out the van because the driver needs to speak (get paid) to the student agency representative. We receive our wrist bands for the spring break activities included in our package. This takes about another 45 minutes because the representative wasn't there when we first arrived.
Back in the van, we head deeper into Negril. Past Burger King, Margaritaville, cows and everything else. Our poor driver doesn't know where our resort is so he asks some ladies on the side of the road. He's not satisfied with their answer and gruffly pulls off without saying "thank you".
Several minutes and a few u-turns later we pull up to a gate. We didn't know what we had gotten ourselves into...
To be continued!