Paradise

When they originally asked us to join them in tropical Jamaica for their wedding, I assumed we would not go. I mean, we had a new babe and it was between the holidays and money and time and….and….and. I assumed we won’t go. Cody thought differently. ‘Yes, we’ll go. We need a trip, we’ve never done a big trip before or had our honeymoon.”

Earlier this month, we jetted of to Jamaica to witness Travis and Shannon’s union. Not before I tortured myself with a couple weeks of mama guilt leading up to our departure. So much went through my mind. I hated leaving her for five-plus days even though she was in good care with Grandma Connie and Papa Gary. They were elated to have her, but it was hard for me to leave. Of course I tortured myself on all levels. Not just the “would she be sad/fussy/scared?” thoughts but also the “what if the plane goes down” thoughts. I pondered our estate plan which we constructed just less than a year ago, contacted our law office, drafted an addendum, and wrote her a letter….just in case. I told Cody that I knew he thought I was crazy, he said “crazy about your daughter.” 🙂

Crazy, yes. Crazy in love with her and crazy selfish. As a parent, I have realized that nothing really matters unless it is for her safety, health and happiness. That is my sole purpose now. And when we consider our own mortality, we become very selfish. I want nothing more in this world that to be here. To be here for her in every capacity she needs. So I put the plans in place, just in case, and prayed for the safety of us all during our time apart. God granted us with a great experience, some R&R, and most importantly, safety for all. She adjusted seamlessly with my parents and somehow I survived with only minimal emotional bouts. We were in the definition of paradise: warm temps, sandy beaches, turquoise water, all the food and beverage we could handle. But my heart and thoughts were with her. She is my paradise, where my sun rises and sets and I was eager to be back home with her.

But the real curiosity you have is, how was Jamaica?! The warm temps were nice and the views were beautiful. We would do it differently knowing what we know now. Here’s what we learned:

  • Book your excursions right away. We took our time getting acclimated to the resort and because we were there for the wedding, our days/time wasn’t completely our own. By the time we got around to booking things to do off the resort, availability was limited and we only had one day to work with.
  • Be prepared to have everyone from the bellman to the bartender to the activities guy to the random ‘non-resort guest’ ask you if you “party” or “need kush.” We did not sample the island’s national herb, but it would have been very easy if we desired to do so.
  • The resort view is not the real view. We paid attention to the island during the bus trip to and from the airport. If you only took in the resort, you might be blind to the poverty and low living standards for Jamaican citizens. We saw huts and shelters which we had to assume were peoples’ homes. Sheets of tin and steel created walls. Many homes appeared to have dirt floors and others seemed removed of electricity or running water. They must also be faced with mold and pests given the hot and humid climate. I was surprised by the number of structures that seemed abandoned completely. Many had amazing architecture design. Of course what we saw was only what could be observed from a bus window along a stretch of one particular highway. I did notice the schools looked nice and kids of all ages wore school uniforms. Some pics below, taken from the bus seat in motion.
  • Five days is long enough. We are both glad we opted for the 4-night package rather than the seven. Of course this depends on you. For us it was long enough to be away from our home and farm obligations and certainly too long to be away from Miss Connie.
  • You can drink the water! Having traveled to Mexico before where I had to ward off dehydration, it was nice to be in a country where we did not have to worry about the water in my drinks and food and freely drink the table water.
  • It is not necessary to indulge on the all-inclusive beverage bar. 🙂 Sure, it’s free, but it’s low-rate liquor. I found it hard to enjoy the drinks because they either left the taste of cheap alcohol on my tongue, or they were too sweet. Cody told me I needed to check my alcohol snob at the door, but I am not one to drink just to drink. So no drunken experience for me, but Cody did try to take advantage of the free drinks and enjoyed a stomach ache and or a form of indigestion for at least half the trip. On this topic, if you want to drink beer, you’ll enjoy the option of Red Stripe or Red Stripe. It’s not terrible but usually comes from the tap so really aids in filling you up quickly.
  • Bartering is alive and well in the resort shops. Like something, just look at it and walk away and the price drops! Most of the shops all contained the same assortment of goods and all were willing to discount the marked prices before we even showed interest or asked.
  • The American dollar is also happily accepted. When you get out of customs, there are tellers summoning you to exchange currency. I had read up on this in advance and knew it wasn’t necessary. My guess is the staff and citizens would prefer US currency.
  • Everyone we interacted with spoke English which made it very easy for us.

We had full intentions of visiting Dunn River Falls and snorkeling our last full day on the island, but technical difficulties with our boat forced us to abandon those hopes. We got boarded and on our way in the morning and half way to our destination, we hit a fishing line. In an effort to remove it, somehow one of the motors would not restart. Despite their efforts, our guides couldn’t get it going. By this point, everyone was experiencing some form of sea sickness and were ready to be off the boat anyway. We spent the afternoon by the pool getting some Vitamin D.

The best thing we did–IMHO–is to get up early on our last day. I woke around 5:30 am and pumped and then we were on our way to the beach to watch the sunrise, collect sea shells, and take in the views and tranquility before the resort started humming.  It was truly our only real time together that was just for us during this trip. We walked along the beach for a while then went to breakfast and then hit the resort shops. We found Miss Connie a few items she just could  not have lived without. Then it was back to the room to pack and be on our way home.

Travis and Shannon had a beautiful day and lovely backdrop to their ceremony and I am glad we were able to be a part of it. Cody said we still need a honeymoon! 🙂 Sounds good, baby.

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We can’t take credit for this. Sand art we discovered during our early morning walk to the nude beach.

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Also can’t claim this. It was already written out for us, with the exception of “2015”, I added that.

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Light is just starting to come up, fisherman on their way to make a payday.

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Connected the remote shutter to my camera so we could get some pics of both of us!

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Beach yoga

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Snails

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Cody scored extra leg room and was pretty happy about it. Airplanes are just not designed for someone with his length.

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crab in shell

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Boat ride. Pre-Cody puking and pre-boat breaking down forcing us to turn around and abandon our excursion.

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