Greetings from Negril

A Brief History of Negril

Negril’s seven mile long beach is among the best in Jamaica and perhaps the world. The white sands slope gently into sea water warm and crystal clear.

Ricks Café, located in the West End of Negril is breathtaking.

Best bar in the world! For sheer beauty and location, I’m sure it ranks as one of the best. From Hopewell, Hanover it’s an hours’ drive to Rick’s Café in Negril. The drive is much quicker, since they built the Highway 2000. The road to Negril ten years past was narrow, winding and studded with potholes. To make an arduous journey more challenging, it was faithfully patrolled by stray goats, cows and donkeys. Only a few decades ago, telephones and TVs were unheard of. Telegrams delivered from the Negril Post Office provided communication. Few hotels existed

The main road was the beach, known today as Negril’s “second high-way”.

Negril’s’ beauty and tranquil feel was reserved for the brave few “in the know,” who were willing to make the tortuous three hour journey by car, or pay for an expensive small airplane flight into town. Initially, development was very slow. Then in the 1960’s the American “flower children” discovered Negril. Accommodation was very limited and the few establishments on the beach did not appreciate or encourage “the hippies”. So these young foreigners, college kids, draft dodgers, Vietnam veterans, gravitated to the West End and The Rock and lodged in the humble homes of the local people, renting a room, a bed, or a space for their sleeping bags and eating out of the family pot.

It was a beautiful example of symbiosis. As a result the landlords in Redground and along Lighthouse Road prospered, extended their houses and put in modern conveniences as the hippies came in ever-increasing numbers. In the early days, the more affluent landowners were worried about Negril becoming a “Hippie Haven” and set up a committee to deal with the problem of “long haired, ganja-smoking, foreign visitors”, but the reply from the villagers was “let those that have the problem deal with it”.

Today my car slides along the highway as if greased, the sky mirrors the sea, vivid blue and vast. Time spins backward and as the bushes and trees fly by, I cruise into a slice of Jamaica, where the air resonates with the cultural revolution of the 70’s. Peace, love, drugs, sex and hippies. A young man on a scooter fearlessly weaves between cars, the heavy scent of his marijuana spliff wafts through my car window and out into the surrounding country side.The idyllic charm of this sleepy fishing village with the seven mile beach is disappearing one all-inclusive hotel at a time. Tourism drives the economy here, and the major hotel chains are cashing in, claiming and dividing stretches of pristine white sand beach, like pirates squabbling over treasure. Behind the well-manicured lawns and Hibiscus hedges, lie massive edifices of steel and concrete, an insulated haven for  tourists and the worker bees employed to make sure their stay, is blissful and oblivious. It was inevitable, and with the construction of the highway, Negril is rapidly on its way to joining the ranks of other tourism metropolis’s like Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

I didn’t get a chance to catch the sunset at Ricks Café, but I caught these pictures on my way home to my grandma’s house in Hopewell, Hanover.

This scenic spot was a popular stop for motorists, now behind the wall the gigantic sprawl of the Iberostar Hotel & Resort. Out of curiosity, I stopped at the historic fort Charlotte on the outskirts of Lucea, Hanover. The fort is in ruins, but the canons though covered in rust, are surprisingly intact. My favorite picture was of a group of high school boys playing a game of cricket. Wonderful cricket, a game introduced to Jamaica by the British, although our colonial masters are long gone, their influence on Jamaican culture is still present and visible.

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