World Travels...Jamaica 2011

For our 10 year anniversary, we planned a trip to Jamaica.  And.it.was.AWESOME.  Again, this one is directly copied and pasted.  I am not responsible for what I said.

March 26-- 
We left for STL about 3 pm.  It was FREEZING!  We drove through a snowstorm all the way there.  Luke was in shorts and I was in leggings and flip flops!  ACK! We drove about 45mph half the way there.  We met Ashley and Dusty at Target to let Ash take my Shyann Belle for the week.  She didn’t seem to care; she was ready to go on another car ride.  We shopped in Target, running through the parking lot in our nearly bare feet.  We had to stop at Home Depot to get Dusty an extra key for my car.  As we were coming out some guy threw a snowball at me for wearing flip flops! Little did he know we were going to Jamaica :D  We headed downtown to the Old Spaghetti Factory and then settled into Dusty’s place for the night to warm up.  Ashley text me to let me know Shy was doing just fine there.  Waking up at 5am tomorrow to get to the airport! WOOHOO! 

March 27--

Just the resort being awesome.
We woke up at 515am after practically no sleep and got to the airport at 6am and checked in without any problems.  My bracelet did try to set off the metal detector.  We were on a Frontier plane, so we had Chocolate the Moose riding with us.  We got on our plane at 745am, waited to de-ice.  The de-icer man looked like something from the Twilight Zone, one of those creatures from the scary plane episode, with his ski mask and gas mask over it.  As the plane started to taxi off, it made this awful ratchety sound until right as we lifted off.  The crew didn’t seem fazed by it so I guessed we were alright. ;)  It was mostly clouds over land, though you could see where the snow had stopped in Illinois.  Our plane had little TV’s in the back of the seats and I have to say that I was a nerd and mostly watched the live map channel and followed our flight.  We flew about 555mph at 40711 + feet in the air.  We flew along the Florida coast line and got to pass over the Florida Keys, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands.  We landed in Montego bay at 1145am and got through customs just fine.  We were sent to our resort meeting place, and got a free beverage while waiting on the rest of the people to get there and load up on the bus.  The driver was CRAZY!  Ha!  They drive on the left side of the road, so people passing on the “wrong side” to us, was pretty scary!  He told us of all the attractions on the way during our 1.5 hour drive along the coast line.  Mountains were on the right, sand and surf on the left. We saw everything from slums, to resorts, condos, villas, shopping towns, and fishing villages.  One guy on the bus had to pee pretty bad and made quite the big deal about it so we ended up stopping and everyone else decided to go too.  We saw some cool things like a huge oil tanker from Panama, limestone quarries, sugar cane farms and the cruise ship dock.  There wasn’t one there at the time though. :(  We made it to Couples Tower Isle safely, regardless of the insane driving at about 3 ish.  We got checked in, and taken to our room.  The view was spectacular! We could literally jump out our balcony and land in the pool next to the swim up bar.  Directly behind that was all ocean.  We changed and ran straight to the beach.  After that we made our reservations for the week and went back to the room to get ready to go to the Verandah Restaurant.  This was “casual” dining and even though, it ended up being some amazing 5 course meal!  All the portions were tiny compared to oversized American foods.  The appetizers were Mushroom and onion leek fritters and pimento smoked marlin.  Next came the red pea soup which I was in love with and hope to find some at home.  Of course I loved our salad.  For dinner, Luke got the catch of the day—grilled snapper with plantain and lime sauce.  Mine was the curry veggies in some kind of curry cream sauce.  Dessert for me was a sorbet sampler, and Luke got the coffee bread pudding.  I have to say, that this was BETTER than Matt’s Steakhouse bread pudding.  WAY.BETTER.  If this was just “casual”, then the bar is set pretty high for the rest of the week (It didn’t disappoint).  After dinner we hit up the hot tub, not so hot :/ , so we settled in for the night.  The balcony doors were wide open, and the ocean breeze was blowing in.  Listening to the waves crash on the shore is about the most relaxing sound ever.

We were woken up at 615am.  Someone turned the sun on!  Since we slept all night with the balcony doors open, the curtains were open too!  We tried to get another hour of sleep and then got up and headed to the beach for the day.  We decided to just get juice at breakfast and ended up with a plate full of treats from the buffet.  Then we parked ourselves right on the beach and tanned and swam.  We watched little sand crabs digging their holes and toss sand around.  The local shell guy floated in on his surfboard and tried to get some business.  We moseyed over to the patio grill to have lunch, and then went to try to book a fishing trip for later on in the week.  Right now, lying on the beach was all either of us wanted to do.  Nothing like laying out at 8am to tan and not be too cold, or too hot, or sweat. :)  While laying out, we were approached by the paparazzi.  Apparently they have complimentary photo service, where the photographer runs around taking random photos, and dinner photos of you and at the end of your stay you can choose some pictures to take home.  He snapped some pics of us on the beach, and then later caught me taking photos.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  I ended up falling asleep for about a 20 minute nap on the beach.  We came back to the room while Luke showered and I took a much needed nap at about 330pm.  I was awoken at around 430 by one of the staff bringing a bottle of champagne and cookies to the room.  He knocked and came in and I was in bed sleeping.  He told me “don worry, mon.  I will put dis here, you rest”. Then he left.  I got up to tell Lucas, and then ended up just getting ready for the evening.  Dinner tonight was the beach party luau, so we got ourselves ready and headed down to the beach where all the chairs were set up.  We picked a spot closest to the waves, and then dined on some yummy food!  There were shrimp skewers (yummo!), braised oxtail (it was like roast beef!) corn on the cob (we think boiled in brown sugar or sugar cane), salads, pastas, and desserts of all kinds.  The steel band started playing but we ended up wandering over to the vendors and let them talk us into buying from them.  :)  We got a painting for our bedroom, which is too large for our bags so I think we have to ship it home.  I also got a scrapbook for me.  It’s covered in banana leaves and it’s SO PRETTY.  We came back to the room to sit on the balcony and listen to the steel pan band.  Little did we know there were fire breathers and limbo and dancers down there entertaining everyone.  Luke did go back down there to get a plate of midnight snack, but I was too sleepy to wait up.

From Balcony, my beach!

March 29—
Ordered breakfast in bed just to say we did.  We got coffee, tea, fruits, and juice.  The coffee here is amazing.  They call it Blue Mountain Coffee…it’s very expensive!  Today we ended up going on the glass bottom boat tour.  We found out yesterday that since we stalled in getting refreshed on our scuba diving, they were going to charge us $100 extra to take a silly refresher course, so we chose to just not dive at all on this trip.  We decided this was okay, since relaxing on the beach sounded like tons of fun anyway.   After going on the glass bottom boat, we ended up being relieved that we aren’t going diving.  Sure the diving would be fun, but there wasn’t much color there and the reefs are really damaged from the hurricanes.  The tour was really fun, we went all along the coast up towards Ocho Rios.  We saw a shipwreck along the way, and even spotted an Eagle Ray!  We got to see all sorts of villas and resorts, including Mick Jagger’s beach house “allegedly”.  We didn’t go all the way up to Ocho Rios, but we were able to see the cruise ship docked there.  It towered over a 20 story building in front of it!  We saw Reggae Beach, and some other private beaches and some beautiful scenery.  When we got back, we took off to the beach.  We decided to go wind-sailing so we strapped on our life jackets and got in line.  It’s a small catamaran that you hold onto the straps of the netting and let the pilot steer.  It was all wind powered, and I got the wet side first!  I was SOAKED in about 2 seconds!  I couldn’t even see what was in front of me because I was getting pummeled with water!  Luke was trying to get me to see the jumping fish and I yelled “I CAN’T SEE NUFFIN!” We went waaay out, and then the watersports guy switched sides, and then Luke got to get wet.  I think the watersports guy was trying to get him back for me, because he tilted the catamaran way up high.  So high I started sliding down towards Lucas whose back was by then touching the water.  I was practically standing up!  Then the watersports guy made a really sharp turn in, to get him one last time.  That was so much fun!  While on the beach, we had gone for a swim.  I got out there after Luke, and when I got to him he said “OMG, I think I stepped on a brain coral!”  A few seconds later he yelled “OH WATCH OUT!” I ducked and started to take off in a panic, and he said “whoa that was a big wave”.  I yelled “Don’t scare me like that! I thought it was a shark!”  The couple in the water near us started giggling like crazy.  Luke was getting a pretty big kick out of it too!  I couldn’t stop laughing at all for a solid 5 minutes.  On the way back to the room, Luke HAD to buy a hat made of palm leaf “for the fishing trip” he says.  It looks pretty touristy to me.  I picked up a treat for someone, and we went up to get ready for dinner.  Tonight was 1 of our 2 private dinners we set up.  We got to the desk and sat outside of the lobby at about 6ish and waited to be taken to our table.  We were taken to the beach, to find 3 tables set up along the beach, all with a candle lit path to the table.  We were in the middle, but the other tables were far away that it still felt private.  Besides, no one else was there til towards the end so it made it better.  We were given our own personal menu with our names on it, and introduced to our personal waiter Adrian.  He was very fun, and talked to us a lot about his culture.  He kept saying “respect” after we would thank him, and he told us that means  “you are welcome” and basically, you respected me and I respect you for that.  Then I taught him “right on” and he loved it and used it all night!  We got Cajun chicken slivers for appetizer, cream of sweet potato and ginger soup, SURF AND TURF for dinner, and an assortment of desserts.  Afterwards we took off to the room to enjoy the night view from our balcony.  We spent as much time on the balcony as we did the beach all week.
Private dinner on the beach...I'm not leaving.

March 30—
Ocho Rios
We were up at 715am, had breakfast and went downstairs to get on the bus for the shopping trip in Ocho Rios.  We grabbed some cash in hopes to find a jerk stand.  Chevon, one of the waiters that came around to us on the beach, says “If you find a man jerking on the street, das some good pork”.  We took off to Ocho Rios, and checked out a couple shops before looking for pork.  We were immediately hounded by vendors and we ended up having to politely decline going into many shops.  Luke found it very funny and said he’d never seen me skip so many shops before in his life!  We ventured out of the Taj Mahal shopping center and headed farther into town.  They got even crazier there trying to get us to buy things, or listen to them or give money.  As we were walking, there were about 34890234 cops patrolling the area, and probably some undercover cops too. :O  We found the place we were looking for and we sat down at a table in his “alleyway” restaurant for a plate of jerk chicken and red beans and rice.  Even sitting there, we got bombarded by a couple of people selling things.  We decided to walk the other way towards the cruise ship pier in hopes to see one.  We didn’t so we went back into the Taj Mahal and decided on getting some gifts.  After that, we went to wait on the bus driver to come back, and watched a steel pan band play, and some girl dressed up in Jamaican garb, complete with a giant fake booty, dancing to their music.  When we got back we ran straight to the beach to catch up on laying around.  We laid out a while, swam a few laps in the ocean and then went back up to get ready for our Thai Asian dinner at Bayside.  We got there a little bit early to enjoy the sunset.  This nights meal had a shared appetizer for once, it was a sampler of yummy things like lamb kebobs, spring rolls, shrimp wonton, tempura veggies and chicken wings.  Then we got the two different soups and salads which were awesome (I  think really I could live off of soup and salad).  I got the curry duck and jasmine rice, and Luke got something with a really weird name but it had squid, shrimp, and Asian veggies.  Dessert, well dessert was amazing.  I took a chance on ordering the steamed chocolate pudding because I really just don’t like chocolate pudding.  I’m so glad I did.  It was like a cup of pudding, covered in chocolate ganache, and swimming in caramel ginger sauce.  When I cut into it though, it was nothing like pudding.  Instead, it was like just-cooked-for-two-minutes brownie batter.  I was pretty much in heaven.  Luke had the orange semolina slice, it was like cake drowned in orange liqueur with a bunch of island fruits!  Afterwards, we tried the hot tub one more time.  It was still not hot, so we jumped in the ocean for a night swim.

March 31—
Woke up at 630am and decided to head right on down to the beach.  We got coffees, and pulled our chairs right to the edge of the waves and sat there for the next 9 hours.  When we first got there, we saw this bird stuck in a statue like trance.  After watching him a bit, we figured out he was stalking crab for his meals.  He would walk in the slowest of slow motion towards a hole he had spotted, and he caught one!  Then he found another hole but he scared the crab back down in his hole.  That stupid bird stood there for over an hour staking out that hole waiting on the crab to come out to no avail.  I tried to tell him there were other crabs running all over the beach, but he was adamant that he needed to have THAT crab.  I don’t have that kind of patience for my food!  He ended up getting scared off by some people coming by and flew off.  Then we took off looking for seashells.  We didn’t find much but I did get a cup full of sand for home, and some sea glass, and a few broken or very tiny shells.  It started to rain, and we watched everyone scatter.  It only lasted a few minutes, and it wasn’t even a heavy rain.  We took a lunch break and we found the veggie bar was serving fresh coconut water.  That was the closest to a drink served out of a coconut that I got.  We chatted with Chevon quite a bit about the Jamaican culture.  At lunch we finally met Janessa and her husband who I had met over FB planning to be here at the same time.  Plan to meet up some time tomorrow.  I stopped at the front desk to ask about shipping my painting, and while the girl was getting FedEx on the line, she was mumbling something I couldn’t understand.  Another gal came up laughing and asked if I understood what she said.  I said no, and I was told she was telling off the operator.   It would cost me $60 to ship it, plus I needed the artist info to clear it through customs, but the girl told me that I could take it off the wood frame and roll it and get it home that way.  We came back to the room at 430 and got all fancied up for 8 rivers, the fanciest of the restaurants! And we didn't even get any pictures of that! :( We chose not to do the catamaran cruise, because we wouldn’t have gotten back in time to get ready, and it had gone the same way as the glass bottom boat so we’d seen everything.  We got to 8 rivers and met Garfield, not the cat, our waiter.  He was pretty fun.  Luke got scallops and I got a sampler appetizer.  It had hummus, tomato basil dip, corn salsa and sweet potato chips.  Pretty much right up my alley.  We had lobster bisque soup, but Garfield tricked us.  He sat our bowls down, and there was just the spice and the croutons in the bowls and he told us to enjoy our soup.  We both looked into the bowls disappointed, and he then walked right over and laughed saying “Just kidding! Here’s your soup!” and poured the bisque in our bowls.  HA!  Totally loved the salad with the lime and honey dressing.  Then we got sorbet to clean our palates.  That was different!  I really liked my Cornish hen, and Luke loved his Snook fillet.  Dessert was good, but I wasn’t too pleased with the sneaky banana in mine.  He had some really delicious caramel custard though!  We pretty much went to bed after that since we had gotten up with the sun today. 

April 1—
Woke up at 545am to get some sunrise photos.  There was one other couple out there, so we got our coffee and lots of pictures and stayed right there.  I found a few more shells.  We ate breakfast and then took photos of 8 rivers since we forgot the camera last night.  I also took some shots of the piano bar, even though it was closed.  It was really pretty in there but we never went in.  Most every time we walked by there was bad karaoke going on ;) .  We went back to soak up our friend the Sun, and our bird buddy was back again stalking crabs.  Luke decided we needed to take off from our chairs and run into the ocean and dive in.  I didn’t but he sure looked funny!  We raced each other out towards Bayside and back.  When I was back in my chair resting from that workout, a cute little crab came right up to my chair and let me take his picture really close.  He told me his name was Henry and that I needed to watch and see how awesome he was at throwing the sand out of his hole that gets raked into it each day.  So I watched him politely.  He was very good!  Later on, we saw a couple who had gotten married getting their beach photos, so I took a photo of them. AWWW!  It started to rain again, so we went to the gift shop to finish our shopping.  After we loaded up, we went back to the beach and sat with Janessa and Lee for a few minutes and talked about going over to Tower Isle, to tour it after all the nakeds were gone.  We didn’t have enough time before needing to head up to the room for my getting ready purposes.  Before heading up though, we found out that the other guy that had planned to deep sea fish with us backed out.  Lucas was very sad.  He did say he’d probably try the local fisherman which was a lot cheaper anyway.  We finished getting ready for our second private dinner, and we chose to go barefoot and really casual.  We got down to the lobby to wait on our private dinner, and were lead to the beach to find a MASSIVE candle lit heart shape around our table to make it extra special (I found out later on Luke had a couple more surprises up his sleeve).  While standing there, me clapping and being silly about a heart shape, a couple came by and took a photo of it.  The husband turned around and said, “We got a private dinner the other day but we didn’t get THAT!” and the woman covered and said, “Well you know, different people have different styles”.  As the other couple walked and way she whispered “oooh they are jealous!” and laughed.  We took off our shoes, and met our waiter Armanda.   He looked just like a young Eddie Murphy if you ask me.  We were the only ones out there this time.  We had a champagne toast to our 10 year anniversary and because we had been there once before, we were allowed to tweak our menu and added salad.  So because it was lobster night, Armanda brought us 3 different types of lobster to have at our meal, which was surf surf surf and turf, I guess.  We had so much lobster we didn’t have room for the steak!  We were able to pick our favorite desserts from the week, and I got that yummy pudding at Bayside, and Luke picked the caramel custard.  They gave us a free bottle of the resort private label of wine, and I decided I needed to take that back home.  We decided to take the rest of the champagne to the room so Armanda offered to take it up there for us.  I had to pee, and I asked Luke to get me the famous Bob Marley shot, everyone talks about.  So I tried it out when I got back…not the best, certainly not the worst thing I’ve had.  We walked up to our room, Armanda right behind, and Luke opened the door.  I walked in to find flower petals ALL OVER the floor and the bed, and candles lit, and the turn down service lady had some super cheesy music on, ha-ha!  The bed had the cute kissing swans I forgot to get a picture of the first day, plus a heart shape out of the towels.  Armanda said “Oh my goodness look at this!” while I said “Lucas what the crap is this! What did you do!  You did this!?” He just grinned and said, “Well. It’s for our anniversary!”

April 2—
Up early at 6am again to lay out.  I wanted as much time with the sun as possible.  Luke ended up being able to go out with a local fisherman and about 9am this giant Jamaican showed up in a super skinny long boat and took off with him.  I have to admit I was a bit scared for him but he came back in one piece 3 hours later.  While he was gone Janessa came to hang out while her husband was diving.  When Luke got back he hadn’t caught anything but he had a really good time anyway.  They went over to White River to get fuel for the boat, and that meant leaving Luke alone for a few minutes.  He told him, don’t be worried and if anyone comes to talk to you just put your head down and say I’m ok.  So this got Luke a bit nervous, and they pulled in and stopped in front of a fishing village, which was just a bunch of houses made of concrete block, with thin tin roofs.  The fisherman, Gali, talked to a man and then went on to get gas.  Lucas quickly realized that the man was guarding him so he relaxed a bit, and Gali came back.  They then took off to the sea.  They were about 4-5 miles from the shore, and Gali kept testing Luke, asking did he know where the hotel was from there.  Luke pointed right at it, and said he was no dummy.  If something happened out there, he already had a backup plan.  Gali kept telling Lucas, “you a smart man”  The waves were about 12 feet high, high enough that when they were in the valley of the swell all he could see was ocean and no land.  He had a blast! Gali told him lots of stories, and Luke got a better understanding about how things run there.  Most of the stories, Luke had a hard time understanding his dialect though.  Even though he didn’t get any fish, he had a great time!  We went to eat lunch and Luke got me some cool shells, a couple of sand dollars that were huge, and two queen shells.  They are beautiful!  We decided it was probably best to come back and pack before dinner, since we had to have our bags ready at 615am.  We packed pretty much everything up, and got ready for our pool party dinner.  We went down, and it was a taste of international cuisine.  The entire patio restaurant was filled with food, and they used the patio grill as the room for all the desserts!  There were more vendors there, but they couldn’t persuade me into cigars or expensive jewelry this time! :D  We stuffed ourselves full and I went to the photo shop and picked out some photos I wanted to bring home, and I was able to get 5 with a wooden photo frame to go with it.  We saw Janessa and Lee for a few minutes, and then went back up to our room.  We decided we needed one last swim before leaving so we were getting up at 545am to run down for a swim and enjoy the gorgeous sunrise we had fallen in love with.  I did the last second packing, and left out only our clothes we needed for the next day.

April 3—
We got up at 545am, set our bags out, put on our suits and took off after making a coffee.  We swam for about 20 minutes, took our sad face pictures and ran back up to get ready.  We were down at the lobby at 7 and had time to grab a little bit to eat before leaving.  The fruit and pastry part was the only thing open, so not much to fill up on.  We got on our bus about 730 and took off to Montego Bay.  We got there about 930 and had to wait til 945 for our ticket counter to open up.  We got through to security and silly me, thinking about last time we took a bottle home it got shattered and made our clothes smell, had put the wine in my carry on.  Of course she took it, and I told her “That’s fine, you are just tossing away my memory, but do what you have to do”  I tried not to pout too much since it was my fault.  I’m sure if I tried to give her some dollars, she’d have let me keep it but it was too late.  We found out gate and then played around in the duty free shops, before finding Margaritaville for lunch.  It was overpriced and not so good for me but I did write my name on the railing like everyone else did.  We went and waited to get on our plane.  We had Carmen the Parrot this time on our plane.  We took off about 10 minutes earlier than scheduled at 1235.  We watched Jamaica disappear out the window and headed over Cuba.  We then flew over Miami, and cut across Florida, and ended up over Valdosta, GA and all I could think about was Fried Green Tomatoes.  “Ruth invited Idgie to the weddin', but Idgie never did write back. No, but she did drive all night to Valdosta, Georgia, to watch from afar. And she swore she'd never see Ruth again.”    :)  We flew over Alabama, Tennessee, and Illinois before seeing our pretty little STL city in the window.  It didn’t look as big from up there!  We had a pretty rough landing, only because of the strong crosswinds.  When we touched down at about 425, it felt like we were going to turn sideways!  Either way, we made it back in to the country, only for them to take forever in customs and they had to take Luke’s beloved palm hat.  They said because it COULD carry parasites, but he was heartbroken by then.  We got through customs and waited for days for Ashley to figure out where we were.  The airline sent her to the wrong place, and then she was in the wrong terminal looking for us.  We finally found her, and Shy didn’t recognize us for half a second, then it was all over.   She wouldn’t stay off us!  We crammed our suitcases in, and got to my car after many U-turns and parking garage circles. We took off for home, and made it to Rolla at 8pm.  I’d like to say we crashed right then and  there, but I had to go grocery shopping since I had cleaned out the kitchen before leaving.  I finally crawled into my own bed at 10pm.  Who knew laying on the beach for 7 days would be so exhausting!?

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