A grueling but exhilarating day!
01/07/2012 - 01/07/2012 77 °F
We were up at 3 am, an ungodly hour, especially on a Saturday, but our flight left Cedar Rapids at 6, so what are ya gonna do? Changed planes in Dallas. American Airlines took good care of Sharon, providing wheelchair assistance all the way through the Montego Bay airport. In fact, she and Jeanne got to skip the huge customs line because of her special status! Cindy and I sweated it out, waiting our turn. And I mean sweat! Jamaica is blessed with year-round summer, but that appears to include humidity.
No worries - as they say down here, "it's OK, mon!" I don't know if they really, truly say that or if it's just something they do for the tourists, but they seem to have the typical laid back, no rush sort of Caribbean approach to life down here. And yes, there is a Jimmy Buffett's bar everywhere in the world, even Montego Bay.
A VERY long shuttle bus ride to our hotel. Thankfully it was air-conditioned, and our driver provided a lot of interesting commentary about Jamaica and the sites we were seeing along the way. It was a full two-hour drive. They drive slowly down here, and on the left side of the road, thanks to the remnants of their British colonial days. Our driver pointed out that, despite having won their independence in 1962, Jamaicans are still part of the British Commonwealth, and the Queen is technically their head of state. In fact, Prince Harry will be visiting here in March.
Grinding poverty exists everywhere except the opulent resorts. It makes you feel quite guilty, whizzing along in your air-conditioned comfort while everyone else you see is so poor.
We made a pit stop at a local craft shop / bar - they have a deal with the shuttle bus, and make a bit of money when we stopped. Sharon modeled a hat for me.
Here, less than an hour in the country, I was offered my first "smoke" by one of the local "herbal remedy" salesmen. Later, while sitting under a near-full moon on the beach, we regularly got blasted with the unmistakable odor of marijuana, smoked by someone nearby. We joked that we didn't need to try the stuff ourselves - just breathing in Jamaica is apparently all that's needed!
Finally we arrived, and our rooms were lovely and welcoming. Fourth floor, ocean view. French doors lead to a large balcony overlooking the property. Our first mission was finding food - we ended up with stone oven pizza, which was delicious. Can't wait to see this place in daylight - by night it is stunning. Soft, sultry mood lighting all over, a steel-drum band playing somewhere, filling the air with the proper Caribbean ambiance. The huge pools are lit from underneath, casting a delightful aquamarine glow everywhere. As mentioned, we sat awhile on the beach, enjoying our unlimited drink privileges (Sharon found a stand that serves unlimited french fries, and a Diet Coke machine nearby, so she's happy. She is a HUGE diet Coke fan.
We have the good fortune of staying here while the moon turns full, casting a silvery glow over the sea. Just gorgeous.
Our long day caught up with us, and the ladies are now in bed. I'm in the lobby, the only place with high-speed wi-fi. No doors anywhere - everything open air and lovely. By the way, Jamaica is one hour ahead of Iowa time. Same time zone as the eastern US.
Take care everyone. We've finally arrived - four days of laziness awaits....