We moved gingerly and in a straight line down the dusty dirt road. Cars and bikes whizzed by blowing hot smoke at our calves. The sun pulsed down upon us like a stage spotlight, highlighting our every move as we were hassled mercilessly by men on the street.
"Come get some juice!"
A man in a red shirt was waving to us from the side of the road. I could barely make out a sign that read fresh juice. We hesitated, then continued walking.
"Come on over. I've got cold juice." He beckoned once more.
This time we stopped and made our way over to discover a beautiful gem in Negril.
Before I arrived, I envisioned myself sipping freshly blended juice, drinking raw coconut water and eating ital food by the beach. I pictured rastas with shining skin and gorgeous locks. I heard the songs of Bob Marley and knew I would have a soul stirring great time.
The reality of modern Negril :
-There were no rastas
-We couldn't find any ital food
-American fast food chains were everywhere
-Negril was an impoverished, underdeveloped city ravaged by crime
Just as we had given up all hope of making any meaningful connections and having any positive exchanges, we found the One Love Juice Cafe, or rather, it found us.
Towards the little stall and the man in the red shirt we crept. I ordered a simple carrot and cucumber juice with raw sugar cane.
The owner, an easygoing man named Michael sat down with us, as did two of his friends. It would be another three hours before we got up.
Michael, born and raised in England, lived in New York for twenty years, and had just moved back to his native Jamaica to open his juice bar, the only juice bar as it would turn out in Negril. It was his first week in business and his goal was a mighty one- to bring health and vitality back to Negril.
Talking to Michael and his friends, we learned about the medicinal properties of sugar cane, a powerful source of natural chlorophyl. We talked sea moss and meditation. We talked about the diabetes and cancer epidemics that are currently plaguing Jamaica. We talked about the poverty, crime and helplessness.
I got a backstage tour of Michael's juice factory. It was inspiring to see how driven and passionate he was about wellness and healing. He distilled his own water. Had elaborate juicers and extractors. Michael was a man with a mission.
We left for our modest eco-resort on Green Island after the sun set. We left with new friends and new understandings. I finally got my fresh juice.
If you find yourself in Negril, you must make your way to see Michael at the One Love Juice Cafe next to the Corner Bar in Negril's West End. It is well worth the trek. If you are on your way to Rick's Cafe or the Lighthouse you'll pass it on the way.