Excerpt from TravelMag.co.uk:
It takes two minutes for the taxi driver, Jerry, to offer me drugs. We have been in Jamaica for twenty minutes. We arrive at our hotel, an all-inclusive hotel in Montego Bay, which pretty much means sub par food, beach access, and all the Red Stripe you can drink. With Red Stripe in hand, and Bob Marley playing all around us, we tour the grounds in search of the mini-golf course only to find that the mini golf has not been played since Arnold Palmer was still winning majors. Instead we elect to have a couple more Red Stripes and some of Jamaica’s famous jerked chicken.
It is quickly apparent that the people who come to Jamaica do not leave the resort. We go against the grain and venture out to Gloucester Avenue, the local strip, where we find our first Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville, a deserted bar and restaurant with incredible views, Bob Marley music, and strong Margaritas. After, a look at the menu at Marguerites (a restaurant next door), two more propositions for drugs, and a move on to The Twisted Kilt, a pub that serves everything from local dishes to pizza as well as Margaritas and Red Stripes. Both are consumed liberally. The Bobsled Café is a bar based on the John Candy movie Cool Runnings. The movie runs continuously inside, outside we consume Red Stripes, vodka, and watch a dance party break out on the streets. Next store is another bar with no name that we just call The Rasta Bar; a small room upstairs playing Bob Marley music, where you are offered many drugs and given a surprised look when settling on Red Stripe. Across the street at The Blue Beat, a blues bar that advertises live music we are disappointed to see that the live music is only a concert shot on a movie screen. We consume one glass of champagne, wonder where all the people are, and call it a night.
Apparently jerked chicken spices and forty-seven Red Stripes do not sit well because it takes a full two hours before I am able to move the next morning. Once ready, we head to rafting on the Martha Brae River. An hour and a half jaunt led by a local known as a raft captain (his actual name was Cleve); it’s a time to sit back and enjoy the scenery, with Red Stripe in hand. Run out of Red Stripe? No problem mon! There are many locals along the way that will come out into the river to offer refills.
Back at the hotel, drinking a Red Stripe at a tiki bar on the beach, it’s a cool 72 degrees, not exactly lay out and fry weather. We decide to leave again, this time road tripping to Negril. We hire a taxi driver named Francis. There are three things you need to know about Francis, first he keeps a bible in the back seat of his taxi, second, he listens to gospel music (this is the only place where Bob Marley is not playing in Jamaica), and finally, each girl that he comes in contact with he will hit on relentlessly, bordering on harassment. We stop at a local bar/restaurant along the way called the Travel Halt. We all order Red Stripes and relax in an open space, in front of a gift shop. First stop in Negril is Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. A quick Margarita at the tiki bar on the beach, four separate drug dealers offering dreams and highs, a walk on seven mile beach, a Red Stripe, two listens to “Jammin”, and we are off to our next stop, Rick’s Café. We watch the sunset, people jumping off a cliff into the ocean, have several Red Stripes and then are back in the car with Francis, heading back to Montego Bay.
READ the full Travel Narrative at TravelMag.co.uk
David S. Grant is the author of BLOOD: The New Red. Follow David on Twitter: david_s_grant