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Sunset at Rick’s Cafe, Negril, Jamaica

Rick’s Cafe, in Negril, is one of the best places to watch the sun set in Jamaica. It’s an event I always look forward to see and I’ve done so on many occasions. Each time, the colors with which the sun paints the clouds as it falls behind the horizon look different, deeper and more intense – purple, orange, blue.

Boats getting into position, waiting for the sun to set

Boats getting into position, waiting for the sun to set

Sunset at Rick's Cafe

Sunset at Rick’s Cafe 

Sunset at Rick's Cafe

Sunset at Rick’s Cafe

Sunset at Rick's Cafe

Sunset at Rick’s Cafe

Sunset at Rick's Cafe

Sunset at Rick’s Cafe

This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website!

Rick’s Cafe, Negril Jamaica

Rick’s Cafe has been a fixture in Negril’s West End since 1974. That’s when Richard Hershman, after whom the bar is named, decided to put a bar on a slice of land with a beautiful cove. Rick’s Cafe was the first establishment of its type in the West End and soon became the place where mostly visitors meet, drink and watch the spectacular sunset for which Rick’s Cafe is now famous.

When we arrived at Rick’s Cafe just after 1:00 p.m., only a few tables were occupied. By the time we finished our lunch and had a few drinks, the place was crawling with people. Most came to watch the divers —  local guys who began taking headers off the cliffs and performing acrobatics at Rick’s as a way to make some money. I was surprised to see that visitors are now cliff jumping as it can be very dangerous for the inexperienced and especially for anyone who’s been drinking. I wasn’t close to the jump area or watching those who did to see if they had had anything to drink prior to jumping. To their credit, one of the lifeguard/divers did warn people loudly not to try a hand walking stunt as it could be dangerous.

If some come to watch the divers, the overwhelming majority visit Rick’s Cafe to watch the sunset. And it’s breathtaking. It’s always amazing to watch how quickly the sun seems to drop behind the horizon. I’ve promised myself that the next time I’m at Rick’s Cafe, I’ll just sit and watch the sun set instead of catching glimpses of it between shots.

Once the sun sets, the house reggae band takes over the stage and those who want to, can dance or just vibe to the music. Rick’s Cafe is available for weddings, reunions and corporate retreats for up to 300 people.

Rick's Cafe's cove

Rick’s cove

Seeing Rick’s now, it’s hard to remember what it looked like back in the early days. Harder still to imagine that this bar has been destroyed by hurricane twice (Gilbert, 1988 and Ivan, 2004) and rebuilt, bigger each time.

Nighttime at Rick's Cafe

Nighttime at Rick’s Cafe

Getting to Rick’s Cafe

Rick’s Cafe is located in the West End of Negril, about an hour’s drive from Montego Bay. Open daily it serves typical seaside and bar fare. In addition to beer, it also serves drinks with suggestive names like Sex with Rick, which is recommended for women and Front End Lifter (for men) 876-957-0380. No entry fee.

The Poinsettia

Few flowering plants say Christmas (or December) the way poinsettias do. I found this beautiful one a few weeks ago at Devon House in Kingston.

Poinsettia, maynefoto

Pointsettia, maynefoto

The Jamaican poet, Claude McKay, wrote the following poem, Flame Heart, in praise of the poinsettia. It sums up some of my feelings since I returned home — there’s much that I’ve forgotten about this place but I haven’t forgotten the poinsettia. Now, in addition to the traditional red, there are white, pink, variegated ones.

Poinsettia, maynefoto

Poinsettia, maynefoto

Flame Heart

So much have I forgotten in ten years,

So much in ten brief years! I have forgot

What time the purple apples come to juice,

And what month brings the shy forget-me-not.

I have forgot the special, startling season

Of the pimento’s flowering and fruiting;

What time of year the ground doves brown the fields

And fill the noonday with their curious fluting.

I have forgotten much, but still remember

The poinsettia’s red, blood-red in warm December.


I still recall the honey-fever grass,

But cannot recollect the high days when

We rooted them out of the ping-wing path

To stop the mad bees in the rabbit pen.

I often try to think in what sweet month

The languid painted ladies used to dapple

The yellow by-road mazing from the main,

Sweet with the golden threads of the rose-apple.

I have forgotten—strange—but quite remember

The poinsettia’s red, blood-red in warm December.


What weeks, what months, what time of the mild year

We cheated school to have our fling at tops?

What days our wine-thrilled bodies pulsed with joy

Feasting upon blackberries in the copse?

Oh some I know! I have embalmed the days,

Even the sacred moments when we played,

All innocent of passion, uncorrupt,

At noon and evening in the flame-heart’s shade.

We were so happy, happy, I remember,

Beneath the poinsettia’s red in warm December.

December 26th is Boxing Day

In Jamaica as well as several former British colonies, December 26th is known as Boxing Day. I celebrated Boxing Day for many years before I heard an explanation of its origins. Surprisingly, it isn’t about boxing.

According to the story, Boxing Day got its name from the practice by wealthy British landowners from the Middle Ages of giving their servants, who had to work on Christmas Day, boxes of leftover food and gifts on the day after Christmas. I’m not sure if that tradition was exported to Jamaica during slavery — more than likely it did — but we inherited Boxing Day, which is also a public holiday.

Here, Boxing Day is an extension of joy and revelry of Christmas. Since Christmas Day this year fell on a Sunday, Christmas will be observed on Monday and Boxing Day will be pushed to Tuesday, December 27th.

On Boxing Day, the beaches are crowded, people go from house to house visiting family and friends and sharing Christmas cheer. Typically, large amounts of fruit cake, sorrel, rum, beer, goat soup, curried goat and ham are consumed.

Scene from Pantomime, image from the Internet

Scene from Pantomime, image from the Internet

Boxing Day here is also the day when Pantomime, a tradition 70 years old, opens. Pantomime, which was also inherited from Britain, has been totally Jamaicanized and incorporates local folklore, culture and everyday issues.

So, in the true spirit of Boxing Day, I’m off to visit a few friends. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the beach.

Happy Boxing Day!