Everyone should be so lucky as to meet a Paul. I originally met Paul a few years ago in Jamaica. He was the lifeguard manager at a resort. I was there with my friend Sara and Paul had told us that if we needed a driver to take us anywhere, we could hire him. From past experience, I knew that having a friend to drive us in Jamaica is really the way to go. With a driver, you get to experience a little more authentic interaction of the culture, you don’t pay exorbitant rates just to run to the craft market, you have someone who will help keep you safe, and if you’re lucky, you end up with a Paul!
We hired Paul to take us over to Rick’s Café to watch the divers and catch the sunset. If you’ve never been to Rick’s Café you HAVE to go. It’s one of my favorite places in the world and the best place to view sunset in Jamaica and enjoy a cocktail.
Paul advised us not to order dinner there. He said since it’s a tourist attraction, they charge high prices for the food and he would take us somewhere else for dinner. After the sun set over the sea, we left Rick’s and Paul took us to a local restaurant called Sweet Spice.
Talk about one of the best meals I have ever had! I had a bowl of seafood (fish and shrimp) in broth with a side of rice and peas. It was a huge amount of food for the $10 US I think it cost. If you stick with the local foods in Jamaica instead of stuff that has to be imported, the prices are very reasonable. After leaving Jamaica that trip, I kept in touch with Paul via WhatsApp which is a free way to text, talk, and video talk for free. Actually, it’s more fair to say Paul kept in touch with me. I’m a little slow on some of the technology. But, all you need is an internet connection and you can forget about paying those international fees ever again.
My next trip to Jamaica was a year later with my hubby, who was still my boyfriend at the time. We stayed at the Grand Palladium again (I do love this resort and highly recommend it) where we got to see Paul a little bit while he was at work.
Later, I asked Paul to take us over to Rick’s for the evening and he said he was nervous about meeting my boyfriend. What if he didn’t like Paul? Well, what if he did? AND HE DID. Those two guys hit it off and we had a blast at Rick’s Café. We partook in a few Red Stripes (I prefer Light) and watched the divers followed by another incredible sunset. Paul got us back to the Palladium just in time to get to the beach party and he headed for home which is right next to a small town called Lucea.
Fast forward a couple of years and my boyfriend was now my fiancé. We had decided that we wanted to get married on the beach in Jamaica. Since Paul is not supposed to fraternize at the Grand Palladium because he works there, we decided the wedding would be at the RIU Negril so Paul could join us. Upon our arrival, Paul was waiting for us at the RIU Negril lobby. He had brought gifts for some of the wedding party and knew I had some shopping errands to run. He drove us all over Negril to get the local items that I still needed for the guest’s gift bags and even negotiated a good price on some pints of Appleton Rum for us. Paul was able to take off work for 3 days to attend the wedding and stay at the resort with us.
He also arranged for a bus to take our entire group of 30 to where else? Rick’s Café. Have I mentioned that I really like that place?
On one afternoon that it rained, Paul drove us over to see his house. We were amazed at his house–it looks just like a Jamaican beach house should. Paul was also building a villa across the road and wanted us to see. It’s going to be beautiful when it’s complete! Of course, building anything in Jamaica takes a lot longer than here, so it will be a while. It will have 4 suites that Paul hopes to rent out to vacationers.
Fast forward a couple more years to this past winter and Paul got to come visit us for a few days! In Missouri, right in the middle of the US, right after Thanksgiving while it was drab, dreary, and cold. Paul’s not used to this kind of cold and thankfully, he had a big, winter coat with him.
We picked him up from the airport, and went straight to the St. Louis Galleria so he could do some black friday shopping. From there we headed out to the Trainwreck Saloon where a number of our friends from the wedding trip came out for a welcoming Happy Hour. We stayed in St. Louis overnight, and left for our home in Columbia, Mo, the next morning. That afternoon we had fun hanging in the kitchen with Paul and our neighbors and friends. He made a delicious curry shrimp dish to go along with the turkey our neighbor had deep-fried, and we had a huge meal and excellent conversation. It was real eye-opener to hear about all the hoops Paul had to jump through to get his passport and visa to come visit and how much of his salary he had to save for his travels. Our process and travel from here are so much easier I think we take our options for granted. After dinner, the conversation turned to Jamaican music, patois, and politics. Carlie learned some patois words and thought that was really cool! She can now ask you Wah Gwaan (What’s going on)? But you’d better answer Mi deh yah (I’m here)!
The next morning, Paul got to have two new experiences of his own. It began snowing here which is the first time he’s ever seen snow other than in movies. He said that the snow is much colder than it looks in the movies. Later, my husband took him out to the shooting range where he and Paul had some fun shooting targets.
Being able to share experiences and friendship with Paul have been life changing. He’s planning to come visit us again in November if we don’t get to Jamaica first. He’s better than our friend now. We consider him family.