(originally published on March 29, 2013)
So far, I've spent every birthday of my 40s in Jamaica. Its become a goal now to keep this tradition going -- although I've widened the circle to include any warm, Caribbean island.
This year, we celebrated on the awesome, word-of-mouth tour of Negril bars, the One Love Bus Bar Crawl. The tour is free and you make reservations by emailing the driver, Lenbert, directly. (NOTE: Make sure you tip the man well when the tour ends!) He picked us up at the designated time at our resort in this super fun rasta-colored bus. We then picked up about 35 like-minded and fun-loving people, most having to stand in the aisles, as seating is limited. No one cared though. We were all there to have fun!
Our first stop was Sunset After Dark.
Inside was great open space, friendly people ...
... the most awesome Bob Marley mural in all of Jamaica ...
... and a deck with an incredible view! We watched pelicans diving for their food as we enjoyed our first Red Stripes of the afternoon.
Our next stop was a short distance down the road, Mi Yard.
The people here were so gracious! They brought out trays of Jamaican specialties for us to try. I, of course, gobbled up everything -- the fried festival (Jamaican fried dough) and escovitch (fish) were delicious!
Mi Yard is right across the street from the ocean and the Love Boat bar.
When it was time to scramble back on the bus for our next destination, the Mr. and I sat in the front. Lenbert was blaring Fly Robin Fly, which is now in heavy rotation on my playlist and, is on right now as I write this.
The Mr. took the first position shotgun and I sat behind him. I have the whole thing on video and can't wait to get that together for you all to see. At this point, I was thinking, "this is the best birthday ever!"
Our third stop was On the Rocks.
Let me take a moment here to share a travel tip about the tour. Bathrooms. Not always available and when they are, not always fully equipped. So, use one when you see it (a little mantra my mom taught me) and bring along a packet or two of Kleenex and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Toilet paper and a working sink were rare.
The DJ booth here was really fun. And although you can't see it in these photos, the bar is right on the water and there is a tiny beach there that was filled with sea glass. And a dead puffer fish. If you've been following Juniper Disco closely, you know how fascinated I am by things that wash up from the sea.
There appeared to be some rules here at On the Rocks. The "at the bar" part cracks me up.
Most of us tried to finish up our drinks before we got on the bus until Lenbert said, "You can drink on the bus. This is Jamaica." So funny how conditioned we are to follow the rules from back home. Notice how quickly I acclimated.
Our next stop was the No Limit Bar.
Again there seemed to be a rule here, but it was a little more generalized than the last bar.
In the back there is a small outdoor space. And a PARROT. Lenbert told us that farmers shoot these birds because they like to eat the ganja seeds. I bet they do.
After this we went to a restaurant/bar, called Choices, where a huge spread of Jamaican food was waiting for us (for $5). Sadly, I only took video of this place and no still shots.
Our sixth bar was a place I had long been curious about, having seen it from both the road and the water side. Xtabi is right on the cliffs and had some really fun things to explore -- gorgeous views and caves right on the ocean.
I have some great video of this as well -- including our descent into the caves and the amazing things we found there!
By this time, it was getting rather close to sunset so we headed to a bar just past the oh-so-famous Rick's Cafe (of cliff-jumping activities from last year) to a much more rustic, agriculturally enhanced bar, Sir D's Lookout.
Nothing more really than a few wooden boards on a cliff!
The farther point with the three trees on it is where Rick's is.
If so inclined, you could climb down to the water.
And the views of the sunset were really spectacular!
We were told that we should expect to visit six or seven bars during our trip and that the roster changes every time. Lenbert was quite generous that night and took us to one last bar, Bella Donna's, where we were each greeted with a warm hug.
We enjoyed one more Red Stripe and a slice each of some awesome pizza!
And, since I can't really end a post on Jamaica with a photo of pizza, here's one of Bob Marley instead.
The drive back to the resort was pretty fun, with all of us singing at the top of our lungs and feeling pretty good about our afternoon together. Remember, tip Lenbert well when you leave the bus!
To reserve your spot on the One Love Bus, email Lenbert Williams at email@example.com.