View Full Version : First trip to Negril - Travel Report - Day 4 - Moving over to the Coco La Palm
05-23-2011, 02:57 AM
It's the weekend, so we finally had some time to write more of our trip report...
DAY 4 – Leaving the Grand Pineapple
I woke up to the now familiar cry of a peacock. I lay in bed for a long moment just listening to all the sounds streaming in from our open window. The dogs barking in the distance, the birds chirping, the rustle of palm tree leaves, the sound of some of the staff speaking in patois to eachother.. I was really falling in love with this symphony of morning sounds.
I realized this was our last morning at the Grand Pineapple. I felt a mixture of emotions about this.
On one hand I was excited because today was the big move over to Coco La Palm hotel. It represented a new chapter in our vacation. I wondered what it was going to be like at a non-AI resort in Jamaica. We had explored a bit of Negril, but only ventured about mile away from our hotel so far.
I also felt some anxiety when I realized it was already 9:00 AM. We had overlslept and checkout was at noon. We weren't packed or ready to leave yet.. our clothes were still strewn all over the room.
It was going to be sad to have to say goodbye to Patrick & Ralston, the security guards. Andrew the bartender, Dahlia at the front desk, Kenneil and Davina. All these faces that had become so familiar and comforting to us. The Grand Pineapple had become a second home in only three days.
I shook Markus awake and suggested we get some coffee before we attempted to squeeze all of our belongings back into our two tiny carry-on bags.
As we headed back to the Buffet & bar area we could hear the music was already playing and most of the guests had already claimed their usual spots on the beach. We waved at our british friends in their lounge chairs.
We poured two cups of strong coffee..
and sat down at a table to sip our hot caffeinated beverage with a view of the beautiful beach in front of us.
05-23-2011, 03:04 AM
Ralston came up to greet us. "Hows your morning going?"
"Good.. today is our last day here", I said sadly.
"What?! Leaving already??", He asked in surprise "you just got here!"
We explained that we could only afford three days at the Grand Pineapple and that we'd be moving down the beach to the Coco La Palm for the last stretch of our trip. We thanked him for all his guidance and great advice.
Side Note: We just heard that Ralston was just promoted to a management position at the Grand Pineapple. it's a much-deserved promotion. To anyone that crosses paths with him in the future, please tell him that Daisy & Markus say "Hi" and that we really miss him.
Markus and Ralston
We were running out of time so We went back to the hotel room to start packing up our belongings. we worked at cramming it all back into our suitcases...
We left a tip and dragged our suitcases out of the room. We sat on the balcony together for the last time and took in the view of the lush surrounding garden area for the last time.
The cleaning lady came up the steps and asked if our room was ready for cleaning.
"Yes, we're all packed and ready to go..." I said.
It was 11:45...We realized it was time to bid a final farewell to room 14.
05-23-2011, 03:07 AM
We crossed the street and the crossing guard asked "Leaving already? ." She asked "I had no idea! I'm sad to see you go.."
She said it with such sincerety that it touched us and we both hugged her.
"You're both always smiling... every time we see you. I'm going to miss your smiling faces", she said.
"We'll be back" I assured her.
We checked out with Dahlia at the front desk.
"The check in for our next hotel is at 3.. is it okay if we stay here until then or should we....?" I asked
She told us "Of course! Stay as long as you like and go enjoy the buffet. Lunch is starting in 30 minutes. we can watch over your suitcases until you're ready to depart"
We head back past the buffet area and saw that our british friends were down at the beach speaking with Greenie, the bartender from the English Rose! Markus went over to join them, while I ordered a drink. My last dirty banana at the Grand Pineapple.
When I glanced back towards the beach, Greenie was gone and Markus was now talking with Hillary and Earl Grey.
Side note: Take a look at his hair. He was returning to that windblown curly and free hairstyle that I hadn't seen since our college days in Florida. I loved it!:) It's amazing what a few days in Jamaica can do. We were both walking slower than ever and relaxing into the vibe of the Island.
He gestured for me to come join them and I did.
"Greenie is having a live band come to the English Rose tonight. He is inviting us all to join. He'll be playing the steel drums. It starts at 8:00 - want to go?"
We all agreed to meet at the English Rose at 8:00. I was happy to know that we wouldn't have to say goodbye to our british friends just yet and that our partying together as a group would be continuing even when we moved over to a new hotel.
The lunch buffet just opened and we decided to grab a bite to eat before heading off. As we were walking over, Kenneil came up to us.
"What's this I've been hearing? you guys are leaving already?", He asked.
"Unfortunately.. but we're going to have lunch first. Want to join us?" I asked
Kenneil agreed to take a short break from the DJ booth and we all headed over to a table together.
I'll let Markus take it from there....
05-23-2011, 03:15 AM
Ever since the relationship between me and Daisy began I have really enjoyed how she continuously adds a different perspective to my way of seeing the world. She is never out of surprising, intriguing and sometimes quirky attitudes in perception. She often develops ideas in her quest to tackle this thing called life, which she holds on to for a certain amount of time.
Then, when she has had her fill of seeing or doing things a certain way, she suddenly has a NEW idea that will determine the flavor of the next few months or sometime years. It's never boring.
This whole vacation is just one example. As we described earlier, we had absolutely no opportunity or means to travel in the way of a vacation during the first near-decade of our marriage.
Since we made our first short trip to Mexico, less then 12 months ago, We stuffed three 4-5 day trips under our belt, the last one being this much anticipated 6 day Jamaica trip. The big idea is to travel as much as possible during our limited time on earth.
This bigger idea is then refined. This belongs the rule that we must SPLIT UP our stay between Hotels so that perceived length of the trip is extended..
“I can't believe we've only been here for three days. It feels like much longer and now that we are going to a new Hotel, it's like there is a whole other vacation ahead of us!”she kept saying. I have to smile.
We had already signed out with the front desk and had received permission to enjoy the Hotel Grounds for as long as necessary today. I was rather hungry and very relieved that the coming lunch buffet was not yet off-limits.
At the beach we found Hillary and Earl Grey. A bearded Jamaican was talking to them and waved me over. At first I thought it was Mischief Rasta, whose story, I now realize, we never told. Maybe that's for the better, since he is just a very irritating individual. I couldn't hide and pretend I hadn't seen, so I walked closer and realized to my great relief that it was Greeny from the English Rose who was talking to them.
Hillary: “Hi Markus, Greeny is just telling that he wants to have a concert at his bar tonight, just for us. What do you think?”
Me: ”That sounds splendid”
Hillary: “Really? So you would want to go then? we were on the fence.”
Me: “I would be honored, Greeny!”
Hillary: “Ok, Greeny, we'll go. But you're gonna have to come down with the prices for us. We are just spending way to much money at your shack.”
Greeny: “I'll do that for you. But you will come? I have to know, since I have to tell my band members.”
We promised our attendance and Greeny promised us $200 JA Red Stripes.
Lunch was served soon. We headed over to the buffet one last time and ran into Keneill. He like most people was very surprised to hear we would be leaving already. So we invited him to have lunch with us, which he accepted.
We sat down at a big round table and Kenneil lounged in on of the reed chairs across from me with one arm slung over the back of the chair. He has the demeanor of a boy-band rock-star mixed with a splash of class clown. He is very confident but at the same time you can just feel how he is constantly struggling to reach his full potential. He told us about all the hotels he has worked at and gigged for. Customer service, dancing, singing, teaching entertaining and then back to being a clerk in the gift shop. You can clearly see, he has much bigger dreams and he's very talented.
That's why you all have to help out. Here are two you tube links for the Music-videos Keneil and his friends have put together in Negril. It's great stuff! Some views would make a difference for him and don't forget to click the “Like”-button if you like it. ;)
and here is another one.
While we were sitting there talking, we observed some more incredibly rude tourist behaviour. We had been there talking together for no more than 20 Minutes, when one of the German Lady tourists walked by and sneered: “Nice long lunch break you got there Keneill. Wish I could do that at MY job.” (Some people are just sad and bitter!)
We figured we better keep Keneill out of trouble and said our good-byes.
05-23-2011, 03:21 AM
One more piece of business had to be taken care off. Daisy had been eyeing a beautiful butterfly, that Courtney at the beach had cut from a solid chunk of Cypress with nothing but a box cutter knife.
At 35 dollars it was a little more than we usually spend on a souvenir, especially since we already had to get an enormous amount of gifts to bring home for co-workers and friends. But when Daisy really wants something, which is extremely rare anyways, it isn't worth saving the money. I couldn't spend it on anything else to make her more happy anyways.
So when we went back to the beach and Daisy gazed at the thing again I finally whispered in her ear: “Just buy it!... ” Really, what are 30 something Dollars gonna do either way in the states?
Courtney gave us a discount because Daisy had been coming by every day to touch it longingly. He dated and signed the butterfly in front of us. His skill with the knife is really something to behold. Daisy told him she would treasure it always.
Ralston, was sitting at the beach with a friend of his, a tug-boat Capt. from Brooklyn and a man of few words. They joined us and as we were standing together at the beach it really felt like we were going to leave a family behind here.
We talked a while longer and were genuinely sad when it was time to leave Hotel Number 42.
Before that could happen I needed to get some more money. I left Daisy in the lobby with a Tayshaun, a rep ready to sell Daisy her next year's vacation, while I made off on foot towards the ATM at time-Square.
The weather was incredibly hot and sweat was pouring down my face as I walked down the dusty shoulder of the road. At every driveway small groups of cab drivers waited and offered their services. I could now handle that situation much more easily and no longer felt like I owed any but the most eager fellows a lengthy conversation. There seemed to be an understanding within myself now, that I had earned the right to walk this strip of road and previously cumbersome situations could now be handled with a wave and friendly “Ya-Mon! Everything Irie!”
Occasionally I jumped a bit when a car came too close during a passing maneuver, or when a motorcycle pulled up to offer me a ride beeping loudly. But all-in-all this was a piece of cake now.
Time Square looked like a boring strip-mall in Palm Beach. The Parking lot seemed to be expecting an onslaught of a hundred cars, but no one was really there. The stores offer the same wanna-be-multi-culti crap you can find at Pier-1 Import. Sort of an exotic identity for sale. Not sure why anyone would want to buy a $20,000 1-ton wooden Giraffe from Nairobi on a vacation in Jamaica.
What is worse ,the one useful item, the ATM was not working according to the bored store-clerks was never really reliable. So I turned about and walked back the Hotel.
When I got back, our vacation for next year was in full planning. All that was needed was my approval and signature to make us Pineapple Perks Members and receive our next hotel rate at a great discount.
This was definitely more expensive than the butterfly, but the wife wants, what the wife wants. :) 3 more days at the pineapple booked for next April and it was – of course – all Refundable. Plus we got a free bottle of rum for the road.
Before going to the Coco La Palm we had to make a detour to Scotia Bank downtown Negril.
Daisy and the cab driver waited inside the car while I struggled with my first Jamaican ATM- experience. I still have not found out how to take JA out from a US account. Maybe I was just to hesitant to type in a huge numeric amount, but no money would come forth unless I chose to extract US-currency. That was easy as pie however.
The cab drove us the short distance down Norman-Manley Blvd. We thanked the man for his patience with us and entered the lobby, to our new home....
05-23-2011, 03:36 AM
I was still holding my new carved butterfly signed by Courtney in my hands when we pulled up to the Coco La Palm hotel. We spilled out of the cab and paid the taxi driver for the ride.
The lobby had a colorful Jamaican mural, and the receptionist was wearing a bright yellow shirt and was in the middle of talking with a customer on the phone. We waited a moment and gazed around at our new surroundings. We could hear the sound of water trickling from a big fountain in the distance.
"Hi!" the Receptionist greeted us with a big smile. "Welcome to Coco La Palm!"
We gave her our last name and she went into the backroom to check her files. She came back and spread the paperwork onto the table for us to sign.
"We're excited to be here... we've heard a lot of great things about this hotel" I said
"Is this your first time in Jamaica?", She asked.
"Yes, we're celebrating our upcoming 9 year wedding anniversary", I told her happily
"Congratulations!!", She said. She shuffled the papers a bit and pulled out a slip of paper that she placed on top of the forms. "Well,you'll be happy to know that you have a free complimentary upgrade to your room."
I was so excited that I whipped out my camera and took a picture of it. She watched me with amusement. (We could only afford the most discounted rate which only guaranteed a bed to sleep in... so I figured we'd be stored in the maids quarters or something. I was really okay with that.... So this was a big deal!)
"Here are the keys and your towel cards. You'll be staying in room 536", She continued. "...That's the honeymoon suite"
THE HONEYMOON SUITE?! I froze. At first I thought she was joking with us. Then I realized by her expression that she was totally serious.. Markus and I looked at eachother in shock.
"Wow, I-thank you.. that's... amazing!" I managed to stutter out.
The concierge came up from behind to take our bags and show us our room.
I was still in a bit of a daze as we navigated through the lush surroundings of the hotel. I could see kids splashing in a pool through the palm trees and a hot tub nestled in the foilage. Everything was white with murals painted on the walls. The rooms seemed to be named after different Jamaican birds.
05-23-2011, 03:43 AM
We reached our door and Markus used our keys to open the door.
There was a loft-like narrow staircase leading us up to our private room.
When I saw the room, I nearly fell over. There MUST be a mistake here...
I looked over at the man that was putting our bags down and expected him to say
"Ooops.. sorry, wrong room. My bad" but he didn't. Instead he pointed out the fridge and the coffee machine to us..
The room was stunning.. large wooden ceilings.. big windows.. massive poster bed..So amazing!!
"The doors lead out to the balcony with a view of the ocean, there is a walk in closet in the bathroom and a Jacuzzi" he continued
We just gazed at him speechless in shock. He laughed at our expressions. "Well, if you need anything you can just call the front desk... enjoy your stay at the Coco La Palm", He said with a smile.
we tipped him and he head back down the stairs.
We stood there frozen in place for a second.
"Oh my god...", I whispered. "Am I dreaming right now?"
Markus started laughing "I... can't- I can't BELIEVE this!!!..."
Then we started running around like little kids checking everything out...
Markus swung open the balcony doors and took in the view. "Honey.. this is... look at this!!!"
We stood there taking it all in.. the sound of the surf, the view of the beach through the almond trees.. the soft breeze..the sound of reggae music from the downstairs bar... It all felt very surreal. I had tears in my eyes that I kept brushing away with the back of my hand so Markus wouldn't see. They were happy tears, but I will still embarrassed.
It's just that we couldn't afford a honeymoon when we first got married. Our entire wedding cost 500$ - which was a lot for two kids right after their college graduation. We had to go back to work a few days later. We always said "Someday we'll have that honeymoon.". So naturally we had never experienced staying in a room like this before. This was all new to us.
Now 9 years later we finally made it to Jamaica..in a honeymoon suite with a view of the most beautiful beach we'd ever seen in our life...
05-23-2011, 03:44 AM
I went into the bathroom to check out the Jacuzzi..
and I peered through the slits in the bathroom window to see a view of the pool below
"This is incredible.." I whispered. I felt like we didn't deserve this.
I joined Markus in the bedroom. I watched him collapse onto the big bed with a huge smile and I fell next to him.
we both gazed up at the swirling ceiling fan...
This marked the half-way point of our vacation.. instead of going with the glass half-empty theory, I saw it as half full. we still had another three days in Jamaica spread out in front of us. I felt blessed to be able to experience as much as we had already in the past few days.
“Want to go explore the grounds?”, Markus asked
To be continued...
Love your writing! Thanks for taking us along!
05-23-2011, 06:49 AM
Nice place Coco - we really enjoyed our visit there. Every year we go back to Negril my hubbie makes a point to drop by and say hello to Stevo, Charlton and Andrew. Looking forward to the next installment.
05-23-2011, 09:03 AM
I love your writing and pictures, and am really enjoying going along with ya'll vicariously. And you are right, he is a very talented singer, and loved those two songs and "liked" them too. :)
And I'm so happy for ya'll that you got that wonderful upgrade!
05-23-2011, 09:05 AM
Wow! That is fantastic! I'm so happy that you got the honeymoon suite at Coco. Yes, you do deserve it! I'm amazed that you two have been married for almost 10 years. Would think you were newlyweds! As always, looking forward to more.
05-23-2011, 09:39 AM
wow--what a great story. It is the best thing in the world when you are given something (HONEYMOON SUITE!!) when you are not expecting it. I am so glad they gave you that room, you are both so deserving of it. And it is gorgeous!
Loved Coco - stayed there in March celebrating our 34th anniversary. By the pictures, it looks like you were in the room right above ours. Fell in love with Negril; returning in Nov splitting our stay between the beach and the cliffs.
Anxiously awaiting your next report (with pictures) please.
05-23-2011, 09:54 AM
Finally just one bed instead of two at GP. Now the REAL fun begins, lol.
05-23-2011, 10:03 AM
Wonderful report! I've never stayed at Grand Pineapple, but I love Coco La Palm! It's so great that they gave you the honeymoon suite!!!!
05-23-2011, 10:24 AM
there are many great places to stay in negril,but we think coco is one of the best! (great location,really nice people working there as you found out.) you may want to re-think grand pineapple and try someplace different. we try to stay at someplace different each time we go and we haven't been disappointed yet. look at negrilonestop for a good map of the hotels in negril with pics/prices etc. you may want to look at the cliffs next time too, it's a bit more relaxed than the beach.
05-23-2011, 10:54 AM
We go there every year, I can't say enough good stuff about coco and the staff!
05-23-2011, 11:20 AM
I remember the first time I had to get JA's or even the first time anywhere that I did a balance check and it made me feel rich (when I really on had hundreds of dollars). That parts fun/funny but the whole idea of typing in 8800 dollars if i want 100 is a little daunting. Lucky I know if its wrong I dont have that kinda US cash any way :)
05-23-2011, 11:50 AM
Awesome!!! Enjoy CLLP! We loved it when we stayed there in 2007. Razzl
05-23-2011, 12:00 PM
I have really enjoyed reading your trip reports. You guys are a great inspiration!!!! I just love how the universe finally provided you with your Honeymoon suite! We make our trips to Negril in April as well. And I am hoping for a November 2011 trip. Maybe one day our paths will cross!
05-23-2011, 01:25 PM
I cant wait to hear more about Honeymoon Suite and CLP. Thats our room for our upcoming trip in July!!
05-23-2011, 02:01 PM
Loving this especially because our first trip to CCLP is in December.
05-23-2011, 04:23 PM
Oh ya CoCo LaPalm Jim and I LOVE that place! So happy you got such a GREAT up-grade, and your butterfly!
05-23-2011, 07:24 PM
Ok.. I feel like a broken record... AWESOME reporting you two... Looking forward to more Coco review..:):)
05-23-2011, 08:36 PM
Nicest pool in Negril! Stayed there last august and spent a lot of time in that pool.
05-23-2011, 08:44 PM
Your report is so memorable... we had the same thing happen at CCLP, booked a less expensive room, and upgraded to the unit right below yours. Absolutely perfect. Can not wait to return. We have been to Negril 4 times, and CCLP is on top of the list.
05-24-2011, 12:14 AM
You two deserved the Honeymoon suite....Enjoy your writings.
So you already booked for next year???? Give you two two something to look forward..
as they say "soon come".......
05-24-2011, 08:16 AM
Awesome upgrade! And really great place! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it, that's my home away from home now.
05-24-2011, 09:08 AM
How wonderful for you both! Thank you so much, again, for your report/pictures....love it!
05-24-2011, 10:06 AM
Now that's karma at it's best....no one deserves a beautiful upgrade more than you guys and no one would have appreciated more! Ahhhhhhhhhh....I just feel so happy and relaxed after reading your posts :-)
05-24-2011, 10:38 AM
I must be getting far to sentimental in my old age....lol, of course, I was wiping my eyes with you Clarity... ;)
What a lovely surprise....thanks for taking the time to continue your report for us. Now...it's just like you arrived in Jamaica all over again, except you are that much wiser!
05-24-2011, 12:26 PM
[QUOTE=Sprat;2325]I must be getting far to sentimental in my old age....lol, of course, I was wiping my eyes with you Clarity... ;)
Yes Sprat I did the same thing!!!!!!
Daisy and Marcus, thank you so much for taking the time to write and post............your pictures are just breath taking!!!!!!!
Keep it up!!!!!!!!!!!! Hurry can't wait for the next one.....................
Biggs of the week
05-24-2011, 01:20 PM
Welcome to the negrilaholics meeting.Hi my name is Biggs and I have a problem with Negril.I can't seem to get enough
05-24-2011, 01:29 PM
I shed a tear also, Sprat! Clarity has a knack for making me bawl.
05-24-2011, 11:02 PM
I am really loving your trip reports! Can't wait for more.
05-24-2011, 11:13 PM
You should do this for a living. Your name says it all. Great work.
05-25-2011, 02:05 PM
Clarity, your trip reports are fantastic! I am a long time CCLP guest, we honeymooned there in 2002 and have been back nearly every year since...sometimes twice. I have a question on your photos....what are you using to enhance the brightness? They are brilliant photos! My last trip in 2008 we stayed in the unit right under the honeymoon suite as we had our 4 children with us.
05-25-2011, 11:10 PM
Thanks everyone for your kind comments! I wouldn't have known about the CCLP if it weren't for you guys steering us in the right direction. It was obviously the right choice for us and a wonderful experience. All of your advice leading up to this trip has been so invaluable. So thank you!
We're having a lot of fun re-living our vacation and taking everyone along. I just wish we had more time during the week, work has been so hectic. I work at an art college and it's the last week of the spring semester. a truly Insane time.
booger - Thanks! I wish there was a way to get paid to go on endless vacations and write trip reports all day long. I would definitely do it for a living! Where do I sign up?:D I've been enjoying your Trip Report too, I'm look forward to reading about your Day 4 at Catcha! Now I'm really thinking of doing similar split between hotels on our next trip, Catcha Falling Star sounds wonderful.
Janisinsc - how cool! You're going to LOVE the honeymoon suite! It's truly beautiful! You're not going to want to leave!
Carribbeansoul - Thank you for the compliment on our pics. You asked about how I enhanced the brightness of the photos
Here's the secret ;) It's really easy, just two clicks.
Open up photoshop. Click on "Duplicate layer" - then go to the Layer options and choose "Soft light" - and well, that's really it. This will bring out the colors and depth of any photograph. It's a great feature.
Markus is in the middle of a big programming job, but I'll have some free time later tonight to post a little more of Day 4.
05-26-2011, 03:46 AM
(update on next page)
05-26-2011, 03:47 AM
We decided to unpack our bags later and explore the grounds first.
Coco La Palm is beautiful and in a different way than Grand Pineapple. Coco has white pristine curved bungalow-style structures covered with painted murals. Every room seemed to have balcony views and the pools surrounded by palm trees. I saw a lot more birds around us... no peacocks, but a lot of wildlife fluttered in the trees overhead. There was a lot more staff. They were all very professional but had large welcoming smiles.
Everyone that walked by us on the pathway seemed happy. Children darted by us laughing with their parents following behind with a relaxed swagger. There were definitely more families here. Grand Pineapple had a larger amount of European guests. This hotel had a lot more American and Canadian guests. That was my first observation.
We headed over to the bar area and slid down into the seats to see the menu. All the prices were very reasonable and it was happy hour. (2 for 1 drinks!)
We ordered two Dirty Bananas from the bartender named Vernon.
He was really good at what he did with a witty sense of humor. I noticed all the guests were calling him by name “Hey Vernon! Another round of Red Stripes please” There was a lot of activity and groups of people clustered together talking.
For a moment we were sitting by ourselves and I missed our British friends at the Grand Pineapple. It's hard moving over to a new hotel especially after making friends there. It's like starting all over again as newbies.
We weren't alone for long,
“First day at the Coco la Palm?” A friendly guy sitting with his wife asked.
“Yeah, we just arrived an hour ago, but we've been in Jamaica for 3 days so far...” I said
We found out that he had just arrived earlier that day too and he flew in from Canada. He comes to visit CCLP every year.
He and his wife introduced us to his other friends from Canada that were sitting at the bar across from us. They all waved to us. A cool bunch of people.
We chatted for a while and ordered another round of Dirty Bananas. They were delicious! Vernon knows how to make a killer Dirty Banana. I felt ourselves relaxing into our new environment. We were beginning to feel at home. Coco has a subtle charm to it, It's very chill and laid back with a touch of luxury mixed in.
05-26-2011, 03:48 AM
The sun was beginning to set, but at the same time dark ominous storm clouds were moving in overhead. It was an oddly beautiful combination.
The threatening skies mixed with warmth of the setting sun. It was an utterly unique sunset..the wind picked up and swirled around us. We stood on the shore and took it all in.
Sunsets in Jamaica are bittersweet. They're beautiful but represent the end of another day. It's a time to reflect and contemplate life. It means another perfect 24 hours in Negril has already passed and a feeling of gratefulness for being there washes over you. It's a calm period where everyone comes out from where ever they were previously and observes the setting sun on the beach.. sometimes in silence.. holding hands with each other or taking snapshots.
The beach in front of Coco la Palm is massive the expansive stretch of water lapped in front of us invitingly. I couldn't wait to experience it during the day.
When the sun disappeared entirely over the horizon we head over to the hotel Restaurant for dinner. I planned on having dinner in other places in Negil during our stay but we figured we'd check out the restaurant there first. It was getting dark and starting to rain.
I ordered the shrimp scampi and Markus had a chicken dish. The wait was pretty long. I finished off the bread appetizer and we waited another 45 minutes.
In the meantime, a kitten rubbed up against Markus's leg. He leaned down and gave it a piece of bread.
“He's going to tell his friends you know..”I warned.
Sure enough, Markus was surrounded by kitties within minutes. He was like “the Cat whisperer”, they nestled below his chair waiting for him to drop some more and weaved around his legs. They were all so tiny and their small meows were adorable. I was worried that the staff would yell at us and shoo them away but they didn't seem to mind.
The kittens reminded me of our own cats waiting for us at home and for a moment I missed them.
When our dinner arrived, it was absolutely delicious and we devoured it. We sat there content with full stomachs. Rain was pouring down but I didn't mind. we were dry and warm under the cover of a big umbrella. We could see the darkening beach in the distance and hear the gentle waves.
Our new Canadian friends were sitting at a table behind us and waved. A band started to play. There was a beach party tonight at the Coco La Palm despite the rain. I probably could have easily sat there all night drinking dirty banana's and listening to the live music all night.
But then I remembered “The English Rose” and Greenie's live band playing at 8:00. They were putting on a special show for us and our British friends from the Grand Pineapple would be waiting.
It was 7:55!!.
“lets get our check, we have to go!” I said urgently. It's easy to get caught up in a moment in Negril and lose track of time.
Our check arrived and it made us realize that we would have to eat elsewhere for the rest of our stay to remain within our budget but it was nice enjoying the hotel restaurant for one night.
Markus signed the bill with our room number and we dashed off back to our hotel to get changed and ready to head off for our night out...
I'll let Markus take it from here tomorrow...
05-26-2011, 05:36 AM
Gotta get me some of that! Going once a year for 2 weeks is just is not enough! These trip reports get my mojo going and I start planning and more like conniving on how can I get back sooner. Oh well, at least this makes for a good start to another day back here.
05-26-2011, 07:56 AM
Just love getting up in the morning and seeing more of your trip report. I had to put my trip on hold this year, so I really appreciate it. Clarity and Markus, I know you mentioned somewhere, and hate to repeat the question, but what kind of camera are you using? Your photos are stunning.
05-26-2011, 10:18 AM
the dirty banana on the right looks bigger ... not fair!
05-26-2011, 10:48 AM
05-26-2011, 11:35 AM
ahh. so nice to hear more and escape into your photos and story. It relaxes me and makes me melt, just like a JA sunset. I am thinking about doing coco for a future trip--I like staying on the beach and have tried many spots but always like checking out a new place. Plus their prices are good and no one has ever had anything negative to say about the place--only glowing reviews.
05-27-2011, 03:25 PM
I'm sitting in my room at CCLP right now enjoying your trip report. Our first time staying here was in February, and on that trip we were upgraded to that same room. It was beautiful. I can absolutely relate to the excitement of been given that luxury. We were like little kids in Disney when we saw our room. We have a baby, so we were a little concerned about the steps and balcony, but we were not going to complain! Thanks for taking me back!
05-28-2011, 07:06 AM
Loving this will be at Coco in 27 days
05-28-2011, 06:58 PM
Encore just for you guys!
06-08-2011, 01:58 PM
Is it over? Did I miss the end?
06-08-2011, 02:43 PM
No, Clarity is just still on Jamaica time ..... Clarity, are you out there????
06-08-2011, 03:26 PM
Thanks gerry - I been searchin', so long searchin' :-)
06-08-2011, 03:42 PM
You will love Coco La Palm. My favorite place on the beach. Best Dirty Banana around. Be sure to have the Coco Melt for lunch one day. Walking the beach is just a wonderful experience as well... enjoy!
06-08-2011, 05:08 PM
You guys crack me up! ;) Yes I'm still here and you didn't miss the end. haha.. Day 4 isn't even finished yet. You know we're slow as snails.
Right now I'm just waiting on Hubby-Man. We've been tag-teaming our way through this trip report and He's next up to the bat.
He's been really busy with a huge new programming job though and I was in New York for a while visiting my family.
I'll give him a poke.
Update coming soon :o
06-08-2011, 09:41 PM
I'm on pins and needles anticipating! :)
06-09-2011, 07:20 AM
I'm thinking about booking Coco this trip, can't wait to hear the rest!!! :)
You guys crack me up! ;)
I'll give him a poke.
Update coming soon :o
Can you make it a quickie poke? lol
06-09-2011, 02:10 PM
06-15-2011, 02:01 AM
06-15-2011, 02:04 AM
I'm sorry it's taking so long to finish this trip report. After a while regular life catches up with you. Your friends don't want to hear anymore, that you are “supposedly” sitting home writing about your last vacation and you have to pass up a night on the town. Eventually you have to fit other things in. Then it keeps getting harder to remember what really happened and how it made you feel, so getting to the end of the report is a really hard.
Well, so I will try my best for another installment. But it might be slightly faded.
The night in question was however one of the most memorable of any vacation.
Earlier someone had predicted: “Rain will fall.”and so it had. It was a quick shower that dumped a half an inch of water in minutes. The wild life had an instantaneous response to the event. The birds seemed to sing louder and there was more of them. Swifts darted through the air in swarms so big, they looked like a cloud of insects in the sky. Everywhere life seemed to be teaming with activity and excitement.
When the short showers, that had sprayed the balcony every few minutes, grew less frequent, we hurried over to the bar. The bartender Vernon, was a tall guy with serious skills. We tried out the Dirty Bananas and observed the beautiful sunset.
The rain began to pour again during dinner. It's easy to forget the time on vacation , where it seems less of a real institution than on a working day. With only five minutes left before we were supposed to be at the English Rose, we stormed into the lobby to ask to have a cab called.
Two minutes later we meet cab driver Tall Man, as he pulls up in his van to pick us up. He never heard of the English rose before, so we scanned the side of the road in the half dark evening light, looking for a familiar fence as we speed down Norman-Manley. Finally the familiar vegetarian restaurant next door comes into view.
Our British friends are already on sight. Big hello's, hugs and ado. We are also introduced to a new member of our posse, an elderly British farmer, who as I later learn, has traveled the world more than anyone I know - mostly in pursuit of romantic services, he proclaimed, with some pride in his libido.
The music is good (still from the stereo) and the beers are tasty. The rain is still off and on and so we shuffle back and forth from the outdoor tables to the crowded interior of the shack. Greeny fidgets with a cell-phone and keeps running to the street to peer southwards. “My band members come soon. They play at Ricks Cafe. They will be here soon! They won't let me down”, he ensures us, then he sticks a hand out and gives a worried look to the sky. One of his steel drums are outside under a tarp, the other one is sheltered in the shack.
We are all eager to see Ikey at this point, mostly because he had found a firm place in our hearts, when we first met him. But Daisy had also wanted to buy a Bob Marley shirt from him. She knew he had to advance the money to get it for her and the whole day it had weighed on her conscience. So we asked Greeny to get him.
Oh what a joy when he came around the corner. We hugged and pointed at the sky and said: 'Oh what a night!!' and 'How beautiful!' and such. He had been the middle of cooking dinner so he asked us back to his house.
It was really dark by now. Ikey walked ahead of us dramatically kicking every stone or stick out of the way turning around every few feet making sure no-one had tripped.
His shack has no lock, just a few bricks with wooden boards across standing in for a staircase. Inside is not much to protect. Basically a sink, a fridge, a wooden crate for a seat, a stove and a few mostly empty shelves. There is a photo in a frames, but this man is certainly not burden down by earthly possessions.
From behind a curtain sectioning off an area for storage, he pulled out two really tasteful and well designed Bob Marley shirts to choose from. The image on the front is in Color, the one in the back black and white.
Daisy was ecstatic and chose one immediately. She handed Ikey quite a bit more than he had ask for the merchandise, which made Ikey look extremely concerned. So he disappeared behind his curtain again and reappeared with three beautiful necklaces, that looked outside our price range.
“Which one do you like?”, he asked. Daisy let them nervously glide through her hands but can't make up her mind. Finally Ikey says: “This is the best one.” He separates a beautiful green gem necklace from the bunch and holds it to her neck. “This is my present for you! No money, please don't give me more money!” Daisy tries to protest, but to no avail. Damn it is really hard to do something for Ikey without him doing something back for you right away.
Ikeys stew was beginning to rattle the lid and we could see he was eager to get back to his cooking, without an audience. So we thank him and he promises to join us later.
Outside the Britts are in a jolly mood, but almost ready to leave. Finally a car pulled up and Greeny let out a deep sigh. “See, I told you they would come!”
A seriously exhausted looking bass player, drummer and guitarist exit the vehicle, dragging out a whole truck load of equipment with them. The rain is graciously letting up in time. The new arrivals take a smoke-break and a beer first, before they set up the whole big jumble of equipment.
As they were setting up behind him, while the slightest drizzle was still falling from the sky, Greeny's drum sticks tentatively tried out the steel. It sounded somewhat out of tune, but as the sounds mixed and began to melt together - joined by first the snare and bass drum, then by the bass and finally the guitar - tuning no longer seemed to have any meaning. Greeny's touch was so precise, his control over the instrument so fantastic, that he pulled at your soul with the rising and falling of the notes of this first slow tempo song.
The tiny crowed applauded, me up front with special enthusiasm. The band did not wait for the crowds reaction to taper and transitioned straight in to the next hi-tempo number. I am not sure which song it was. I heard it before and it wasn't reggae either, but rather a hippie-era Rock song. I was amazed at the range of styles these four guys with only half their equipment could tickle out of their instruments.
06-15-2011, 02:07 AM
Behind the wire mesh fence, a few people who had been on their way down Norman-Manley stopped, and peer in through the wire, amazed at the unexpected on-goings. One by one they dared to round the fence and our little crowd at the English Rose was slowly growing in number.
Ikey too seemed to have finished with his stew and appeared from the dark backyard, dancing and JB in hand.
The new additions to our group included two guys from Germany, Andreas and Klaus. Daisy waved me over, excited to have produced some fellow Country men of mine.
This is a typical situation and a probably already a well known fact, yet to advise all readers: It can be generalized that the one thing, that is least exciting to a German abroad …. is another German! We already know each other and the reason that we are not in Germany is to escape our own boring stink.:p So while you are free to introduce any German to any other German with out having to expect a horrible disaster, you should also not expect too much excitement from the encounter either.
These guys were really sweet though. They seemed to have taken a very off-road approach to their Jamaica travel and had interesting stories to tell, so it was not altogether unpleasant.
06-15-2011, 02:08 AM
A friendly Jamaican man and his young daughter had also joined us. The father was going from person to person showing his kid asking everyone, if she wasn't the prettiest thing in the world. First I was a little put off by that, but it really seemed utterly harmless, so I finally took it at face value. He was just genuinely a proud father!
Daisy in the meantime was running around showing everyone the T-shirt she had bought from Ikey. At that Ikey pulled me away from the crowd and pointed to her. He had tears in his eyes as he pointed out:”Look! She is helping me. She is trying for others to buy my T-shirts! One-Love man, One-Love!” He was buzzed from his JB which intensifies emotions, none-the-less I was really touched by how small a gesture, which could be interpreted in more than one way, could stir him so deeply.
The crowd grew constantly or rather, it was a coming and going. Two ladies from Belgium where in a deep discussion with Daisy when I found her again. Next to them was a young Jamaican fellow dressed in the latest fashion and laden with a golden chain. He was short but very handsome and gave off an air of someone you ought to pay attention to.
He zoned in on the Belgium girls, particularly the blond one, who towered above him by a good two heads. They made a funny picture together and his flirtatious advances were so exaggerated that they were obviously full of jest. The girl, flattered at the advance and the three or four proposals for marriage, took it semi-serious and was not 100% sure how to react. So she flung questions at him like: “Who will bring home the bacon?”, “Who will take care of the kids” or “Will you be the one taking out the garbage?” which he answered with the most comical slew of responses, indicating that his job was to make her happy in bed and that's that.
Later he told me that really he was working very very hard in several jobs and considered his diverse talents, ranging from plumber to sous-chef, as his greatest assets over his libido. He was also far older than any of us had guessed, which he proved by producing his picture ID. He was also networking like a whirlwind. Unfortunately I lost the piece of paper with his cousins phone-number, through which I was to contact him until he had more suitable means of communication. There are so many reason to come back to Negril. :)
The whole time Greeny and his friends had been playing. Several times Greeny's ability to create crescendos and control the volume and character of the notes pounded out of the two steel barrels had amazed me so much, that I stopped mid-sentence to listen.
Finally it was over. The band and the Britts were tired. The Germans had to get up early the next morning to meet with some Rasta-Man in the mountains. So we sipped our last beers and said our good-byes. We hugged Greeny and Ikey tightly. It was an amazing feeling of connection that had formed in our two encounters time. If we lived in Negril, I have no doubt, we would be the best of friends.
Daisy and Greeny
Despite the dulling effect of the alcohol it really hurt, when we turned around the corner and began to march down Norman Manley boulevard.
06-15-2011, 02:10 AM
We sadly left our British friends at our old abode. Daisy by this time had a solid second wind under her wings and pulled me towards the crowded entrance of Alfreds. Cigarette vendors and cab driver immediately swarmed in on us, again indicating that this must be the place to be. Despite us obviously having already arrived at our destination they would not let up and offered to drive us to our Hotel for free...no idea how that makes sense???
Finally we reached a heavy iron gate, massive enough to protect a prison or Langley. To aggravate concern the cashier was sitting behind a massive window of bullet proof glass.
When we handed over our ten dollars cover charge and passed beyond the fence, with the cab drivers and cigarette vendors reaching through the bars of the fence as if to grab us, I felt like I was crossing the border between East Germany to West Germany. What's up with that? ...Maybe I was just very drunk.
50 yards further, passed several buildings containing lavatories and stuff, Alfred was pumping with bright light and grinding bodies. An amazing amalgamation of people from all over the world was pooled together here. Styles ranged from soulful-hippie to Jersey shore tough guys. Conservatively dressed people, clad as if they just hopped off a luxury cruise liner, mingled with couples, that would would have won any Pimps and Ho's costume competition in the attire presented.
The large stage with a singer is raised from the beach. Over the surrounding fence one could see cigarette vendors balancing on what-ever it was they used to prop themselves up over the obstacle. Clear bags on their heads showed their merchandise and they kept haphazardly waving at people to come over, somewhat like half animated anemones in the current, obviously tired from a long days work already. One of the vendors had flickering christmas lights attached to his bag of cigarettes. He emerged slowly over the fence as though he was a floating alien spaceship beckoning smokers to come to him.
We stripped our shoes off our feet and threw them on the pile next to the stage, trusting they could be found again. When the next song came on, it was Berres Hammond “I feel Good”. We looked at each other in disbelief. Then the urge to swing the hips became irresistible. We slowly approached each other and finally fell into a melted oneness to the sound of the music. Everything else disappeared and I can say with some confidence that I was the most contented and happy human being on this planet at that moment. It was like getting married all over again. I hope she felt the same :).
“I feel good” was the last song in the bands set. The DJ put on some horrific dance-floor-techno and the dancing crowd moved all at once towards the bar. Only the Jersey-shore looking dudes and dudettes found this the new music more enticing and replaced the dancers on the beach with a grunting, fist-pumping and mechanically grinding mob.
At the bar, two bartenders strained to fill the orders. A white-haired lady with a serious expression, who appeared have been installed as a human register, taking down every transaction in a large ledger, was making change for the servers. We ordered two red stripes, whipping out our funds save the cab fair and sat down at a table on the beach.
To the left of us a group of morbidly overweight girls were hitting on a muscular Jamaican. The the central girls seat of her jeans read “booty” while the section of her shirt covering her breasts proclaimed “delicious”. While she ground the air in front of his face, her girlfriends where cheering the poor man on to “Slap that Booty!”, which he did a few times with some bewilderment more then enthusiasm.
Lacking funds for another beer we finally called it a night and made for the exit.
On the way out a nice young fellow offered us his taxi service, which we unwittingly excepted.
Once we passed the gate we realized our mistake, as the cab drivers from earlier swarmed all around us. The situation got heated and there was a lot of yelling and botheration. Especially the guy who had offered to drive us for free earlier was getting aggravated and claimed that we had promised to be his patrons (for free at that). The whole scene didn't make any sense and we were very happy to finally managed to squeeze by and into the SUV of the our young cab driver, who said in disbelief: “That ridiculous man acts, as if you married to him.”
IN minutes we were at the CCLP and happily passed by the security guard to our room.
The fun night did not end here, we went back out.. but It's getting late. I will leave that for another night to write about.
Love! Thanks for still reading.
And Sweetness, I heard you are going for your next reach very soon. You know what to do!: Have an Amazing time and if you visit the English Rose, Please Get us Greeny's mailing address :).
06-15-2011, 02:47 AM
good stuff. I can so picture that scene in front of Alfreds ..... how many more days at CoCo at this point?
06-15-2011, 03:09 AM
2 more days at the CCLP to go! believe it or not, We're almost finished with our trip report! :)
06-15-2011, 03:29 AM
Alfreds!!! Many years ago we stayed at Alfreds, in the room next to the stage that faces the beach through the wooden fencing. The story is too long to tell on this wonderful trip report, but enough to say that the first night the band started up, everything in our room vibrated that much, we had to move the breakables onto the bed before we went out. The only way we could talk to each other was to put mouth to ear and scream!!!! We only made it four nights and had to re-locate, but the memory lingers. Loving your work Hubby-man, there is as much colour in your word as there is in your photo's.
06-15-2011, 06:08 AM
Excellent! once again, Hubbyman. I love your words...especially "botheration" Describes that situation at Alfreds perfectly.
I know it's hard to keep the inspiration to write this long after your trip, and it is truly appreciated.
06-15-2011, 06:45 AM
Really great stuff...8 days and a wake up until Coco La Palm...I can't wait!
06-15-2011, 07:49 AM
Even after your disclaimer of time, reality of life and faded memories, your report picked me right back up and I felt as if no time had even passed since the last installment!
We are here, no worries mon.....take your time
We will still love every minute of your words, stories, pictures and emotions
It just amazes me how you capture exactly what I remember some of these experiences being like for me my first trip and that was 12 years ago!
Thanks as always for sharing this with us!
06-15-2011, 08:14 AM
This trip report is priceless. I'm sad that there are only 2 days left. Your memory seems as fresh as day 1. Laughed out loud at the story/photo of the young Jamaican man and woman from Belgium. Thanks so much! Great start to my morning.
06-15-2011, 09:09 AM
Wonderful! Your writing is a pleasure to read - you really should put your text together in a book with your photos. I know everybody is electronic these days but some things are nice to hold and enjoy. Glad that your first (and certainly not your last) trip to Jamaica was so wonderful. When you can, walk across the street from Coco La Palm and look for Jennifer James @ Green Leaf Cabins. That is a totally different experience but for me it was like having my own "little cottage in Negril." It is very affordable and down to earth. That place will always be home away from home. Even when I am not staying there, I still stop by to chat with the family. :D
06-15-2011, 12:38 PM
Oh how I love your reports.....best ever......for real. Yep Marcus, I will be in rapture in just over a week and you can count on me stoppin in at the Rose to meet Greeney. I will get the name he prefers for mail. In Negril, there is not mail delivery. You have to "check" the postoffice to see if you have any mail in your name. And I will tell him to check in once in a while to see if he has any mail. Another option: If you want to write up something and email it to me, I would be glad to deliver along with maybe a pint of J&B as a gift? Private message me if I can do this for you guys - it would be my pleasure!!!!!!
Can't wait for future installments.....of your trip. Bless you both - we have all fallen in love w/you guys!
06-15-2011, 12:42 PM
Oh I thought of another idea. If you want, I can print out some of your pictures like the one of Daisy and Greeny and give them to him too. Only with your permission of course. Of the band too....just let me know.
06-27-2011, 02:31 PM
So Clarity - How is it that you have the two highest viewed posts on the Board?? Did you notice that?
06-27-2011, 07:44 PM
Just like the Soprano's
Time to move on
06-27-2011, 08:06 PM
Negrilbound - actually there is an ending.
Yesterday I posted my final update
06-27-2011, 08:09 PM
06-27-2011, 08:10 PM
I don't share Negrilbound's sentiments. I want it to go on and on. What about the late late night after getting back from Alfreds--going out again? And the day you left? oh I am crestfallen if that last post was really it.
06-27-2011, 08:27 PM
"no offense" but WTF negrilbound? Seriously.....but whatver, I guess you are entitled to your opinion (even if you are the only one that has that opinion)
Clarity, please dont let the view of ONE person (clearly the minority) make you believe that ALL the rest of us are not still interested in your trip report....afterall that is basically why we are all here, to share our stories of Negril
And not only are you doing that, but yours is one of the best I have read and after 2 months you still have most (if not all) hanging on every word and still waiting for and wanting more.
Clarity, please keep writing, please keep sharing..... if a certain person is not interested, they dont have to click on it and read it....but they also shouldnt ruin it for everyone else who is interested, excited and waiting for more.
I am with irieworld....I could and would read this report forever if you kept writing it!
06-27-2011, 08:34 PM
Clarity I loved your report. You and Hubby are the cutest couple and quite entertaining!!!!
06-27-2011, 09:00 PM
Clarity and Hubbi-man, we all enjoy every aingle word of your reports!
We embrace your efforts.
Much love and blessings to you both! You guys rock!
07-01-2011, 11:26 AM
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