we stayed in negril. we stayed at this teeny tiny resort built into the bluffs and caves overlooking the waters. it was, in fact, called the caves (and, i'd wager, still is). there were no beaches at this resort, mostly because it was built on rocky cliffs. this was fine by me as i do not do sandy beaches so well, although i definitely do water well. and besides, here is the sunset that greeted us upon our arrival:
hello, caribbean wonderland. would you mind if i kicked off my shoes, grabbed a pina colada and stayed a while?
the beauty of this place is that -- since it is rather obscenely expensive -- everything was included. when i mean everything, i mean everything: from your guided snorkle tour (into the eponymous caves, no less), to your private sunset hot tub session, to your two course breakfast, to your three course lunch, to your three course dinner, to the 23 squillion drinks you quaff between each meal. indeed. now that we're back in new york, my liver needs a vacation ... i made every effort to drink every penny that we were spending.
when i wasn't jumping off cliffs, that is. as the resort was built on the bluffs, the architects had the good foresight to include ledges, custom built for hurtling yourself from. these ranged from 10 to 20 to 30 feet off the crystal-blue waters. upon receiving the tour of the place, i peered down from the dizzying 30-foot ledge and i knew: there will be jumping.
you see i have this self-destructive impulse, which i believe is fairly common, to jump off of things. when i am in tall buildings, on rooftops, on ledges, every fiber in my body screams: JUMP, MOTHERFUCKER, JUMP! usually, i don't jump. because i would probably die. and then i would never be able to jump off of again -- a veritable Catch-22. but here! here i am presented with a 30-foot ledge overlooking a beautiful bay and i am virtually being begged to jump. i mean, it's just water. right? so. i donned my groovy billabong circa 1998 board shorts (i miss saying the words "swimming trunks") and i approached the ledge. i looked down.
people, let me tell you: 30 feet is no joke. 30 feet is some high ass shit. we're talking higher than the highest resort staffer. you think, "i am about to willfully fling myself off this ledge. why? there is no shame in not jumping." and then another much more evil and anti-darwinian part of your brain says "what's wrong, are you afraid you'll sprain your vagina? JUMP, MOTHERFUCKER!" and then, just after your wife tells you she'll kill you if she has to go home a pregnant widow, everything goes blank.
and you jump.
and, indeed, it feels glorious. granted ... it doesn't look very pretty:
a side view:
when you hit the water, every part of your body that makes impact gets an incredibly rude slap. see how my arms are flayed out? you don't want to land like that. i have massive bruises on the underside of my right arm from multiple jumps. also my ass. my white ass looks just like a blueberry pancake -- flat and shot through with little purple clouds.
anyway. they have a guy on the premises, a man of very few words, who gives the snorkle and kayak tours and checks the pool for alarming levels of red stripe-flavored urine. we took to calling him Aqua Man because he was clearly 80 percent fish. in the snorkel session, he'd skim along the bay floor, holding his breath for 50 minutes at a time as he danced with the sting rays. he took us into one of the caves, which he called the Bat Cave because, well, there were lots of bats in there, one of which almost made a canadian woman we were swimming with into Bat Lunch.
sometimes, when on dry land, Aqua Man would take a real dive off the ledge. and it was beautiful:
we asked him the secret and he said it was "easy. just jump out in a 45 degree angle over the water. don't go straight down because you'll flip onto your back." i never quite summoned the gumption to dive off the 30-footer, but i did, finally, gather up the guts to dive off the 20-foot ledge:
compared to Aqua Man i looke like a bloated goose, crash-landing after a mai thai and vicodin binge. also, when you hit the water on a head-first dive, your shoulders take the brunt of the impact. so after three of these i had a dark blue welt on my right shoulder. which nicely matched the purple constellation under my right arm. and did i mention my ass? jesus. by the end of the week, i looked like i had been to S&M camp.
we only left the grounds of the resort twice: both times for lunch. once was for jerk chicken at a place called Bourbon Beach. we got a ride from a driver named Clovis who is loosely affiliated with the resort. and reality. he only charged us $30 to drive us to lunch and back -- and $10 for him to hang out with us while we ate. how nice of him. he, awesomely, wore a superman ring on his wedding finger. why? to protect him from marriage to his girlfriend, mother to three of his five children. he also addressed all questions about my wife and her pregnancy to me. even though she was sitting right with us. he totally ignored mrs nice guy. over the course of the week we would come to conclude that jamaican men have a, uh, different sort of relationship with their women.
the second time we went off campus was to sample some of the chicken at this place:
it was, indeed, serious. but it was no bourbon beach. bourbon beach served the best jerk chicken i have ever had in my life -- spicy, tangy, herby. delicious. when we asked if we could buy a bottle of their miracle sauce they said we could ... for $20. we passed.
so, yeah. it was a good trip. we made an effort to do as little as possible: sleep, sun, swim, eat, repeat. we had the occasional strong pang of missing the kid, but we knew she was in good hands and that we would see her soon enough. the flight home was a jarring re-entry to real life: the plane was an hour late; there was turbulence; mrs nice guy barfed for the first time all week; we went into a holding pattern for an hour. we arrived close to midnight and the kid was obviously asleep. we snuck in an peeked at her.
her fat slumbering stubborn face made re-entry bearable. it was certainly the only thing i could have handled dealing with in my real new york life after a week of this: