Saturday, April 23, 2011

A little more Negril, Jamaica history

Fans of Negril, Jamaica know it as a sleepy city on the west part of Jamaica.  They might know it as home to many resorts including Hedonism II, Breezes, Sandals and many more.  If you know more than most about Negril you might know it was the area where infamous pirate Calico Jack Rackham was captured then sent to Port Royal where he was promptly hung!

* click on any photo to enlarge them

(Negril Craft Market - 1988)

10's of thousands of tourists know Negril as having some of the best beaches, amazing diving and beautiful cliffs that shoot up from warm Bloody Bay of the Caribbean.  Sunsets in Negril are legendary with the sun setting in the west and Negril being on the far western tip of Jamaica making a perfect recipe for natures evening light show.

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But what about some of the not so well know facts and history of Negril?  Let's explore...

Why is Bloody Bay in Negril called...Bloody Bay?  Well, the common answer is that whalers often would pull into the scenic bay and disembowel their whale catches in the late 1800's leaving the bay bloody red.   That could be it.  Other theories are Columbus' ships and the Taino/Arawak Indians engaging in a battle in the bay in 1494 or that there was a bloody sea battle waged there with the British and the Spanish.   Take a choice of any of those, but the whale theory is the strongest.

RANT WARNING:  Speaking of this "hero" Columbus who never actually even set foot in modern day America.  But he did touch down in Jamaica in 1494 where his Spaniard crew captured, enslaved and killed off most of the Arawak Indians.  They were so hard on the natives that within 50 years of landing, most of them were dead from their enslavement.  After killing off most of the natives, the Spaniards then got slaves from Africa to take their place.

Moving on...

(The 'No name bar' in the 80's)

Where did the name Negril come from?  The name for Negril has several possible competing origins.  They all stem from the original Spanish name of Punta Negrilla.  The first claims the name comes from the black cliffs on the West End of current day Negril.  The second stems from the dark color of the South Negril River that feeds from the morass - it has a natural darkened color quite different from the azure Caribbean.  The third one is from the black conger eels that used to be common in the Negril River - as well as part of the local cuisine.  And a fourth comes from the name of a tree similar to the black poplar, the negrillo.


 What's up with this battle in the 1700's?  In 1702 British Admiral Benbow sailed to Negril and regrouped his forces after a ill-fated encounter with the French and in 1818 fifty warships and 6,600 men sailed from Negril to tackle the American rebels and were put to fight the battle of New Orleans.


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