A real life account from our journalist, Lucy.
Lucy had picked a small boutique hotel just on the outskirts of downtown Negril for her Jamaican vacation. The boutique hotel sat beachfront, had 8 bungalows and a small patio area situated closest to the beach. There was a dining and lounge area as well as a small tiki bar on the patio. To Lucy’s surprise, her bungalow happened to be the closest to the beach and patio area. She had planned this last minute getaway with her husband, Charlie, to do just that, get away… Work and city life had been weighing heavy on the two of them, and they just needed an escape regardless of the location. The goal was to lounge, disconnect from all electronic media, and zone out for a few days. She didn’t pick Jamaica for any specific reason except the flights and hotels were inexpensive.
On the second day of vacation, Lucy and Charlie found themselves vegetating on their bungalow’s front porch when an afternoon thunderstorm rolled in rather quickly and unexpectedly. One of the hotel staff members was strolling past as the rain clouds opened up. Lucy and Charlie signaled to him to take cover under their porch.
He introduced himself to Lucy and her husband. His name was Winston, he had a huge smile and a soulful laugh. Lucy, Charlie and Winston kept each other company barely protected from the rain under the bungalow’s small porch. Since Charlie noticed that the storm wasn’t going to let up anytime soon, he offered Winston a beer and Winston accepted graciously.
After introductions were complete, Winston chuckled as Lucy wiped a few droplets of water off her forehead. The porch had a tiny leak, which was expected since the porch roof was covered in thatch.
Winston asked, “You don’t like the rain, Lucy? Here, switch places with me and stand in the doorway, I don’t mind the rain.” Lucy thanked Winston and she moved to stand in the frame of the bungalow’s front door. The wind was blowing the rain sideways now, and although the three of them were under cover, there was a revitalizing mist spraying about.
Winston continued, “You know, I don’t mind the rain. It’s just water, and water is life.” He paused for a few seconds appearing to be in deep thought, then continued, “If you don’t get much sleep and you wake up groggy, jump in that cold shower and you will feel rejuvenated. And now if you wake up from a night of partyin’ and you’re hungover….” He smirked, “first, drink down a big glass of water and then go jump in that cold shower. It will get ya movin’.” Winston looked out toward the rolling thunderclouds and with a more serious tone continued, “and lastly if your heart is broken, first cry out all of your pain, then drink a cup of water and then jump in that cold shower.”
Winston smiled, turned and stepped down off the porch and belted out over the loud rain drops hitting the metal roofing, “Most importantly, if it’s raining don’t hide… run into it, water is life!” As he sprinted off into the rain he yelled out, “thanks for the beer!”
The next morning, Lucy and Charlie ran into Winston again. Winston asked, “How have you been enjoying your time here in Jamaica?” Lucy and Charlie both agreed that it was just what they needed: to rest, recover and relax. Lucy mentioned they planned on taking a ride around the area to check out the different spots. Winston replied he knew a trustworthy cab driver, Dougie, who could give them a tour.
When Dougie showed up in his well-kept white van, Lucy and Charlie hopped in and off they went. After driving through several of the small hillside communities located in the hills around Negril, Dougie stopped and parked in front of three modest homes that were about halfway up the hillside. The homes were quaint, probably only 1-3 rooms. Most of the homes’ construction was cinder block with metal roofing. It appeared to be a family reunion at the one home that Dougie was trotting over to. Everyone greeted Dougie and he socialized for a few minutes before pointing back to Lucy and Charlie in the car. After less than five minutes Dougie hopped back in the car. He said, “Sorry about that, I just wanted to stop in and wish my neighbor a Happy Birthday. The community is having a party for him today.” Lucy relished in taking detours like this and always made a concentrated effort in venturing outside of the predictable tourist spots to get a genuine cultural experience.
Dougie finally navigated them up to the top of the hill where a decent sized home, much larger and of a higher quality construction than the other compact homes they saw below, perched itself. This home belonged to a friend of Dougie’s and Dougie mentioned that he wanted to show Lucy and Charlie the view from the top of this home. Lucy and Charlie were a little hesitant, considering that all of the people gathered at this home were strangers, and some were carrying machetes. But Lucy had faith to trust in Winston who had recommended Dougie.
Dougie gave Lucy and Charlie a quick tour of his friend’s home before taking them up to the rooftop. Everyone was friendly and the home had many rooms with several bedrooms too. The view from the top was brilliant.
Dougie looked out over the hillside communities and remarked, “As we drove through those communities on the hillside, I know you must have thought ‘oh those poor people, they live in shacks’… but for most of us, living here is everything we need. Every morning I wake up in my small shack down on the hill, I walk out my front door, turn to the left and right and greet my neighbors. I look through the trees at the sun rising up. And I am happy. All you need is your community, your family, your friends. Even though I live in a small shack on the hill I wake up every morning and share the sunrise with my community. Community is love. Community provides contentment.”
Before Dougie returned Lucy and Charlie back to their hotel, Lucy and Charlie invited Dougie out to dinner with them. It was Valentine’s Day, and they wanted to share a meal with such a genuinely kind soul.
The last day of Lucy and Charlie’s trip was also quite memorable. Lucy and Charlie had a long day of ATV four-wheeling up Mount Zion and now they were in search of a Jamaican rum-based cocktail at the exotic-themed drinking establishment at their hotel. As they approached the tiki bar, they noticed two loud men who appeared quite inebriated. They were having a good old time, laughing up a storm with the bartenders and hotel wait staff, so Lucy and Charlie took the only two other seats at the bar next to these jolly men. Almost immediately, the two German men sparked up a conversation with Lucy and Charlie. Elias was president of a popular internationally recognized luxury sports car company and the other man, Paul, was a senior level executive for a popular fast food brand. They were quite drunk, but absolutely hilarious and surprisingly capable of holding very good conversation with Lucy and Charlie. After engaging in wholehearted yet humorous dialogue with the two men for about an hour it was clear that both men were very straightforward, so Lucy wasn’t hesitant in asking, “So why stay here at this small boutique hotel and not some luxurious mansion on the beach?”
Paul took the opportunity and detailed their journey leading up to the tiki bar, “Every year, Elias and I make it a point to take a boy’s trip. Our wives don’t mind the break, and neither do we. This year, Elias, two other men and I decided to take a boy’s trip to Florida. After about five days in Miami, Elias and I drunkenly decided to take a side trip to the Caribbean. We hired a private jet, picked Jamaica and chose the first boutique hotel online. Spontaneity cures boredom. After planning many trips myself, it’s easy to get into the habit of overly planning every single part of your vacation, to the point that it really doesn’t feel like a vacation at all. You see, each year we make it a point to take a boy’s trip but we also make it a point to do something completely spontaneous and out of the ordinary.”
Paul looked at Elias and smirked, then turned back to Lucy and Charlie, “We’re getting old in years but staying young at heart. Your age is temporary, close friendships are paramount, and adventures are forever. Never forget that.”
Lucy and Charlie will never forget those profound words that the Germans, Dougie and Winston shared with them on that extended-weekend vacation in Jamaica.
Water is life, community provides contentment, age is temporary, close friendships are paramount and adventures are forever.