Yesterday was our first official day in Jamaica. The vacation started off a little rocky in Little Rock, when after boarding the airplane at 5:15 a.m., we were still sitting on the runway in the hot plane at 6:30 a.m. We were told an air traffic control tower had lost power in Atlanta, so we’d have to wait until about 12:30 p.m. for take off. Shortly there after the pilot came back on and told us good news … take off would be in 4 minutes.
We landed in Atlanta with about an hour to spare before our flight to Montego Bay. We decided that even though it was early, we’d grab lunch. We opted for burritos at Adobe at 10:00 a.m. It was a good decision, as the next time we had a chance to eat was around 7:30 p.m. at the resort.
Landing in Jamaica was easier than I thought it would be. Compared to U.S. Customs, clearing customs was a breeze. Minus standing in a hot airport with a bunch of other people who were all just as eager as us to start our vacation.
When we finally board the JLT Bus to head to the resort, we learned first hand about the Jamaican culture not being show about asking for tips. Of course, we weren’t prepared, so we didn’t tip the man who put our luggage on the bus.
Our bus drive kindly told the group as we drove off that, “Here we drive on the left side. The right side is suicide.” Then it all made sense why the bus we were boarding boarded on the left, as opposed to the right.
Jamaica is a country of extremes. It is very easy to see during the 2 hour bus ride from the airport to Ocho Rios, where we are staying at The Jewel Dunn River Resort. On the left side of the road, near the beaches, are resorts all along the coast. When you get to a public beach, you see the vendors selling out of their cars and out of make-shift tents. On the right side of the road there were lots of shacks and areas where it was obvious poverty abounds. In between these areas where places where nice apartments, mini-mansions, and large houses were built.
We learned today, while talking to the lady who sells diving trips, that poverty is very high in Jamaica. So is illiteracy. Minimum wage laws here are not by the hour, but instead, by the week at 4000JD a week, for a 6 day work week. (It is important to note that 1JD equates to an average of $89USD). I suppose it makes sense why Jamaicans are not shy about asking for tips for any service offered.
When we arrived at the resort yesterday we were treated like royalty. They took our bags, and then we sat down as a group. We were given cold towels to put around our necks, and given the “jewel of the day” (a delicious fruit punch adult beverage of sorts). Since our room was not ready, Brandon and I walked around and toured the resort. It’s a beautiful place. I feel a bit guilty knowing I’m living a life a luxury, while so many in this country are not. It’s a surreal feeling for me. Takes me back to when I lived in Puebla, Mexico — except there, I lived like a local, in a small community.
After getting to our room, we decided to take a nap until 7:00. We were both truly exhausted from a full day of travel. After 7:00, we headed down to the dinner on the desk. It was held in honor of Jamaican Independence Day, a public holiday here. We were treated to a buffet of different delicious foods and beverages. My favorite were the roasted sweet potatoes and then a delicious coconut dessert.
During dinner they featured a “dive in movie” about Bob Marley. Now I know where the idea for the theme some, “Come to Jamaica and feel all right” came from.
Following dinner, Brandon and I took a lovely and romantic stroll along the beach. Then we decided to go swimming in the piano bar pool for a bit. It was quite relaxing under a cloudy sky, where the stars opted to peak out at random moments.
One of the things we noticed as we strolled along the property were the number of cats. There were tons of them (about 7 or 8). Most of them were not friendly. But as I lounged beside the pool, I found a little black cat who was quite friendly. He spent a good deal of time in my lap, begging for lots of love (especially in the form of head rubs).
Following an evening at the pool, we headed over to a hammock, where we enjoyed laying out for a few moments. But exhaustion got the best of us, and by 10:00 were were in bed for the night.
This morning started with a breakfast of unique foods — including a fruit type substance that looked like eggs, but tasted like fruit. I later had this fruit (??Akee) on my pizza at mid-day snack. From breakfast we headed over to the pier, where a man shared a bagel with us, so we could feed the fish below. There were so many with beautiful colors and stripes. I think that has been one of my favorite hobbies. We repeated it again after lunch (this time I borrowed some bread from the buffet for the fish) and then again after mid-day snack (they enjoyed the crust of my pizza — or at least, I hope they did. They actually opted not to show the last time).
The best part of today for me though has been laying the Caribbean Sea, just enjoying the waves, the sound of the ocean, and relaxing with Brandon. It is truly beautiful. The sand is softer than sand I’ve been on at other beaches. The water is bluer than any water I have seen. The colors are just breath taking. I could stand staring out at the ocean for hours.
While we were lounging on the beach, we noticed one of the lifeguards carrying this handful of orange/yellow colored fruits. I happened to ask what they were, and he gave us one. They were coconuts — too shy to be totally developed, but just right to enjoy their delicious milk. A few minutes later he returned with a knife and a straw. He cut ours open, put our straw in, and we sipped on the delicious beverage from mother nature. It was truly a nice gesture on his part, and a truly amazing experience on ours.
As I type this, we are waiting for our reservation at Jade Samarui. We’ve been told it’s well worth the wait.
Oh…Brandon will be upset if I don’t tell you the one thing he wanted me to put in today’s blog. While swimming in the sea today, I almost had a heart attack. Turned out the little green thing I thought was a sea snake swimming by was actually just a piece of grass. But I screamed and screamed like a little girl. He laughed and laughed.
Well, that’s enough for today. Off to dinner and then to a romantic evening with the love of my life!