Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jamaica - A Second Honeymoon

In May 2014, I turn the big four oh and Jay and I celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss. For Jay's 40th in 2010, we  hit Vegas. It was great fun and the plan since then has been Jamaica when mine came around.

We planned to do an all inclusive for the first time ever. It really was a second honeymoon. Given that we went to Disney World for our first, I think it was appropriate that we hit an adult only resort that had food we so wouldn't have eaten back then. We ate at McDonald's on our first honeymoon.  More than once. Our tastes?  They have matured. I am not sure we have so much but hey, a least something has matured.

We ended up in Ocho Rios at the Sandals Grande Riviera.  Naturally they have photographers wandering the resort always ready to pose you in laughable style.  You will see what I am talking about later. The one above is one of my favourites.  Of course we got suckered in and bought them all. We got a free bottle of rum out of the deal so at least there is that.

After dinner, on our first full day, we found the gym and did some weights. We like working out, so while on a vacation with no obligations, responsibilities or well, you know, kids, we thought we would try to fit it in.  The next day, we noticed there was a circuit class at 2pm and thought we would check it out.

Enter Adrian, a Jamaican ex-military man turned personal trainer. That circuit class? It started with 20 burpees and finished with us drenched in sweat and gasping for air.  In other words, awesome.  All 30 min (because we may have perished if we had gone any longer).
We tried the power walk the next morning and Adrian showed up again. Holy hills batman.  Power was an understatement.  We then hit every morning class we could for the rest of the week and Adrian did not disappoint. We felt far less guilty about the pina coladas and Bob Marley's we consumed in copious amounts the rest of each day. We were gone 7 days and worked out 6 of them.  I call that a win.
As you can see, the scenery was horrid.  It was so hard to lay on the comfy beach chairs (with cushions!) and stare at this in the gorgeous thirty degree heat, I tell you.  It's a tough life.
After our days on the beach or by the pool, we would head back to our room and get dressed up for dinner. I wore every summery dress I own. Some of them, for the first time because well if you are familiar with SK, you know that summer is a state of mind rather than a season most years.  
It was fun and the food, as I mentioned was quite elegant. The restaurants were all themed, Italian, Caribbean, Chinese, Japanese teppanyaki (cooked by a Jamaican chef, now that was quite the experience), French and seafood galore.  It was all delicious. 
I was very worried about coming home sporting ten extra pounds. But this resort, and I don't know about other all inclusives, didn't have food everywhere. There was one breakfast buffet that was comprehensive and delicious.  There were only a few places for lunch, one being a really good buffet that was new each day and only a couple of places to get snacks. The snacks were very limited.   Nachos. We did that twice, then enough. 
At lunch we would cart some fruit, buns and cold cuts (the salami, oh damn that was good stuff - remember Klinger from Mash, I was channeling him) back to our room fridge for a snack while we got ready for dinner.  And we also packed a lunch for the plane by doing that - the two and half hour delay on the tarmac?  We were one of the few with enough food.  Never mind that the cold cuts had been out of the fridge for the better part of 6 hours by that point. We hadn't gotten sick yet, we had to live on the edge a bit.
The resort included tons of water sports and shuffle board. We played a game of shuffle board daily and discovered we are not very good at it. We did get mildly better as the week progressed but we think that may have been because we were playing at night most of the time. We likely just couldn't see properly and assumed we were getting better.
We did stand up paddle boarding once and kayaked once too. But it was pretty rough out on the ocean most days so it wasn't always available. Besides, it was hard to lift our butts off of the previously mentioned beach chairs. And it was really hard to hold a drink on the paddle board. I should know, I tried.  Kidding, but I did consider it.
We did two off resort tours. The first was a "Challenge" and by that they mean uphill on bike.  Um.  We live on the Prairies. He asked us if we wanted the easy or hard bike ride. When I got off my bike to push the damn thing because it was faster than riding it, I asked if this was the easy one.  He said yes.  It was a challenge all right.  It was fine, we liked it but it was hard. The concierge who booked it didn't warn us. Maybe we look super fit?  I feel for the next couple that unknowingly sign up for this!  May they rest in peace on that Jamaican hillside.
After the bike ride, we climbed a water fall. This consisted of the guide telling us where to stand to get as wet as possible while he took pictures with my camera.
That drink is the Bob Marley. Like his hat, you know?  I actually saw several locals wearing those hats.  I was wondering if it was for real or for the tourists. Much like the typical Jamaican expressions you hear, No problem, mon, Hey mon and my lady.  They actually did use them.  On the resort anyway which could be a complete fabrication, who knows.

Like most Caribbean countries, the poverty off the resort is quite astounding.  There were corrugated tin communities scattered here and there along the highway from the airport to the resort.  You hear about it but until you see it with your own eyes, it's not as close to home.  We really pondered if our coming and spending money at the resort was helping or making it worse. I know the resort employs many but do they get paid adequately? And the resort is not locally owned, you can bet your bottom dollar on that. 
I will also never complain about a pot hole again.  We have no idea what pot holes are.  Seriously.  We get one and we are all, can't the city fix that, I have to slow down once on my 15 min drive to work.  In Jamaica, you have to slow down once every 200 meters and swerve into the oncoming lane lest you leave half your car behind in one of the many ruts, holes are ridges that riddle the road generously.  I repeat, we have no idea.
This country is gorgeous. I really wish I could have gotten more photos off the resort but we were either in a bus swerving around holes that could fit a smart car or on a bike, zip line or river tube.  Trust me, it's beautiful, lush and amazing.
The people are also so warm and full of humour.  Again, I am not sure if that is a resort only situation since we didn't venture out unless on a resort sanctioned tour.  Regardless, they were lovely people and we felt a bit weird being served hand and foot. Sandals does not allow tipping which makes it even more amazing. I could not do that, I promise you.  Lazy North Americans eating and drinking and expecting me to serve them hand and foot?  Hell no.
The second tour we did involved riding a tube down a pretty tame river. It was refreshingly cool and shady and incredibly beautiful. I really needed a water proof camera.  Maybe for next time.
Then we did our first zip line ever.  It was a short, not very high, route because well, we have never done it before. It was perfect.
We both agree that there will be more zip lining in our future.
We splurged for a massage up in that hut on the hill with an ocean view and better yet, the ocean breeze.  It was worth every penny.
We also had a photo session booked for us when we arrived and we decided what the heck. We haven't done many photos just the two of us.  It was fun and we bought them all.  Naturally the shoot is free (cough cough included in the generous resort fees) but the photos are not.  We caved and bought them all, in electronic form.
Some are cute. Lots are of us kissing.  Why?  I don't look good kissing.  Does anyone look good kissing?
That one is okay. I guess it shows that we still like each other, even after twenty years together
This one could be titled, "White man (and woman) can jump" but I assure you it is more aptly titled, "Jamaican photographer works photographic magic to make ridiculously uncoordinated white people look good".  I promise you, I cannot jump that high in runners let alone wedges that I nearly roll my ankle on regularly while I walk on flat ground.
Which reminds of the time I fell in a bush.  Yes, in a bush.  No, I was not drunk. I wish I had been.  We were just leaving our room to head over to the chocolate buffet (unrelated: why was this buffet not a nightly occurrence?) and I was wearing wedges, not the ones pictured above, but another pair. Jay and I were chatting about something, I don't remember what now, and all of a sudden I am saying, "I am falling.  Into the bush." I rolled my ankle off the stupid wedge and into the stupid bush or hedge or lethal weapon to no one but Kami, freshly trimmed I might add.  I am still pouring peroxide on the cut that ensued because the bush (weapon) was clearly poisonous and now my cut is infected.
Oh and did I mention that at the exact moment I fell into the bush, a couple that had been on the tour with us all afternoon walked by?
Because Murphy is a total asshole.

Oh yeah, and at one point I had to explain to the photographer that I was too white to do what he was demonstrating without looking like, well, a total white person with all her rhythm housed in a hair on her left ankle.  He laughed. I meant it as a compliment. Damn those Jamaicans have rhythm, sass or whatever you want to call it.  Related: I would settle for being able to walk on wedges without falling into a bush.
And I will sum up the trip with this picture:

 It's better than the one I saw in the photo shop of a guy laying on the beach looking like he is eating his girlfriend whole. I wish I were kidding.

No problem, mon.


Ashley said...

So glad you had fun and I LOVE that you were active on vacation!!!!

ps. Happy birthday and wedding anniversary!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Looks like a fantastic second honeymoon! Love all the photos. Sorry about your ankle and infection, but it sounds like the rest of you vacation was amazing. We did Fiji for our second honeymoon (10 years) and I'm planning our 20th (in 5 years' time) ... Jamaica is now on my list of places to check out!!

Angella said...


You guys are the cutest, by the way. :)