Negril’s 7 Mile Beach… here today, gone tomorrow… or not…

About a year ago, I did a post speaking to beach erosion in Negril.  Read it here.  That post had pictures of a severely eroded shoreline right by Negril Tree House Resort, Negril, Jamaica.  I took those pics April 2013.  In March 2014 we returned to Negril Tree House resort and I noticed something different.  Where water once lapped up against the bar, there was solid at least 25 feet of powdery, white, gorgeous Negril sand.  The beach appeared to have magically extended.  Naturally, I started to ask questions of the staff.

“De sea did tek it weh, and it gi we back now”.

“A so it go enuh…give and take”.

So there was no addition of sand?  No one came and dumped sand here to reconstruct the beach?”

*laughing* “Noooo, Man…a so it go.  It just come back so.”

There’s the bar in the back ground…see how much sand now between bar and sea

That low concrete ridge is where the sea used to lap up against…only glorious sand now

No sea encroaching here anymore….at least a brand new 25′ of white sand

Ok, then.  I really want to understand what is happening here.  This last week, Negril has been very topical in the news. This commentary in the Sunday Gleaner of May 5 gives a useful summary and perspective I think.

And you know my  love-affair with that piece of Paradise that was simply gifted by God to us. We didn’t have to buy it. We didn’t have to make it.  All we are asked to do is two things: enjoy it and take care of it.

I already enjoy it. Please help me understand what is happening so I can do my part to take care of it.

about how we treat Jamaica

This is a very difficult post to make.  My island, Jamaica, is one of the most beautiful places on Earth…from the gorgeous, magical seven mile stretch in Negril, to the hills of St. Andrew and Portland.  But let’s go back to Negril…
I have been going to Negril at least twice per year since the birth of Miss World. It remains my absolutely favourite place in the world.  I lie on the beach and people watch.  The water is always calm.  It’s blue and gorgeous.  It is shallow for yards out.  There is never ever any loud music to intrude on my thoughts.  All I need is my rum, a glass, and a bucket of ice.  Vendors go past offering everything from weed, to fruit, to juices, to pastry to music for sale.  But they are never pushy.  And it’s all part of the magic that is Negril.  And then in the late evening, it all comes together in a perfect finale: the Negril Sunset.  I dare you to find another to rival it.
We always, always, always stay at Negril Treehouse. yup, the same property where Stella got her groove back…or at least, where they filmed the pool scene in the movie of the same name. 
View from my room at Negril Treehouse
Yes, this is shameless plug for this facility, and no they aren’t paying me for it.  It’s owner managed and you feel Gail’s presence everywhere all the time.  Sure, it’s an older property, but the gardens are beautiful and authentically Jamaican, and the rooms are clean with all the basics: bathroom, hot water, beds, cable TV and AC.  And it is right on the 7 mile stretch.  An added bonus is the fact that included in the reasonable rates is a top notch full breakfast inclusive of Jamaican favourites, fresh fruit and awesome coffee all served by friendly, attentive staff.
Repeated stays over the years have afforded me the opportunity to observe the receding coast line.  Yes…once upon a time, there was sand between the beach bar and the water line.  Now the sea laps up quite aggressively against the bar.  
The sea lapping at the bar at Negril Treehouse
Sure it’s picturesque sitting in the bar sipping on your rum looking down into the gorgeous sea, knowing what it was before, and extrapolating forward, well, it’s just plain scary.
See the damaged wall from increasing battering from the sea
Close up of the damaged wall
(Futile?) efforts to halt the march of time…
So where do we go from here?  Perhaps it’s time for me to get active in conservation efforts for what it’s worth.  That 7 mile stretch was given to Jamaica by God.  We didn’t have to create it, we didn’t have to buy it.  All we are asked to do is to take care of it: don’t dump raw sewerage in the seas, protect the reefs, don’t eat parrot fish (OMG!), don’t steal sand!  …and that’s another story altogether…the sand stealing, I mean.  We continue to abuse nature’s gifts to this island: tearing down forests for the rapidly growing charcoal trade (Haiti: here we come!), creating garbage dumps any and everywhere and clogging our gullies.

The same “doan cyah” mentality is evident in how we treat our heritage sites…Port Royal, Three Finger Jack monument in St Thomas, that Columbus site in St. Ann, Lovers Leap and Fort Charlotte to name a few are run down and unimpressive. 

Fort Charlotte in Lucea…a potential moneymaker in ruin!

Fort Charlotte in Lucea

They represent potential money earners for the communities within which they exist and for Jamaica as a whole.  I’ve been on a quite a few glossily presented (pricey) tours overseas that lack half the authenticity and wow factor that our own history offers us.  To be fair though, I saw adverts last week for private persons to take over the management of specific heritage sites.  That’s a win-win approach. 

It makes me sad and scared at the same time.