By Yvonne Blackwood~
In the movie, Casablanca, Rick’s Café is the place where people trying to escape the Nazis pour in to have a drink or two, and wait, hoping to receive exit visas to America. There is a modern-day Rick’s Café at Negril, on the western shores of Jamaica. Standing on a protruding craggy cliff that overlooks the Caribbean Sea, Rick’s Cafe is a place where tourists hangout, have a drink or two, and wait to watch the sun go down.
The sunset at Rick’s Café is one of the most spectacular you can see anywhere if the clouds do not decide to foil your thrill. The first time I experienced the sunset at Rick’s, I stood there in awe for a while. The sun, a magnificent orangey-red ball, had positioned itself directly to the west of the café, and hovered above the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Then as if on cue, at about 6:30, it began to descend, slowly, methodically. In about thirty minutes the orangey-red ball appeared to hit the water, and was immediately chopped in two! Long fingers of red-orange light illuminated the now dark, mysterious sea. Bit by bit the light dissipated until there was nothing left. I just stood there at the rails of the café, looking out to sea, wondering, what happened here?
I qualified my earlier statement with the words “…if the clouds do not decide to foil your thrill,” because on my second visit to Rick’s things did not go as expected. It was a beautiful warm evening in May. The café was jamming. People jostled to claim prime spots to watch the sunset; after all, many had come just for the thrill of it. I found the perfect spot, planted myself there, and waited with great anticipation to watch every detail, and every movement of the descending sun. Things were going great; the orangey-red ball kept moving westward. But halfway into the procedure a dark cloud that had been slowly creeping toward the sun extended its tentacles and covered the amazing orange-red globe. I was livid! “Move over, move over,” I kept saying in my mind. By the time the cloud moved on, the sun had lost its lustre. The resulting sunset was pale in comparison to the one I had seen the first time.
There is another interesting object a stone’s throw from Rick’s Café-The Negril Lighthouse.
It stands majestically on the rocks. Built in 1894, it rises 66 feet high. The top of the lighthouse has a traditional lantern, which emits the protective flashes of light. Originally, the lantern was powered by gas, then changed to acetylene, then solar energy. The lighthouse is unique in that it was one of the first ones to be constructed from concrete. It contains a gallery at the top of the tower and tours are conducted up the 103 stairs so that you can experience an incredible bird’s-eye view of the coast.
Which is your favourite lighthouse?