Disclaimer: Everyone that I’ve talked to since our return from Jamaica has listened to my story and then said, “So we shouldn’t go to Jamaica?” That’s not at all what I’m saying. We had bad weather. We had delayed flights. We were in the small minority of people sans a tat. It was the first time that Leah and I had left Jack for an extended period of time, so we had all that to deal with. Still I had a great time and I would go back to Jamaica. I’d encourage all of you to go to Jamaica. There, on with a quick report.
At 3:50AM on Tuesday, three separate alarms sounded in our bedroom. My wristwatch, cell phone, and radio alarm were all set. I wanted time to get ready, double check that we packed every thing, and give Leah’s dad – who was nice enough to be at our house at 5:15 to see us off and keep Jack that morning - last minute instructions on how to use the TV.
At 5:30 AM, I, metaphorically speaking, ripped off the band-aid by rushing Leah to the car before she could wake up enough to feel bad about leaving Jack for 6 days. We were in the car and on the way to the airport.
Because there wasn’t any traffic that early, we were at the airport at 5:54 AM. We decided to use Air Valet as our anniversary present to each other. I hope that didn’t void my “One Night of Fun” coupon. I should have read the fine print before agreeing to use the valet. Too late now. We were at the Delta counter at 5:56. At 5:59, we were all checked in and I felt kind of like a dork for being that early and that prepared. I can’t begin to imagine what Leah was thinking. We sat and watched a couple make-out on the airport bench, and then Karly and Brandon rolled in about 15 – 20 minutes later. They’re so much cooler than me.
The flight from Birmingham to Atlanta was, as always, uneventful and refreshment free. I hate that flight. And I feel like the time change robs me of an hour of my life. We were only in ATL long enough to make a couple of phone calls, spend more than we should at the snack shop, and see some Tampa Bay Buccaneer cheerleaders while they stretched and waited for their flight to Honolulu. Unlike the married Delta workers, I didn’t chat them up or ask if they had boyfriends. I just stared at them, like a little kid in a candy store – or a dirty old man. Whichever. Then we were on the plane and on our way to SUNNY JAMAICA.
Or maybe not.
That little girl from The Crow that said, “It can’t rain all the time”, I bet she’s never been to Jamaica in May. “You don’t come to Jamaica in May”, said the kind man that took our bags to the bus. After playing an exhausting game of “here-a-tip, there-a-tip, everywhere-a-tip-tip” we got on the bus. Our driver, Malik, pointed out some Montego Bay attractions, like the Hip Strip and the Cool Runnings bar. Within 10 minutes we were out of the city and on the road to Negril. “That clock was meant for St. Lucia, but it ended up in the city of Lucea instead”, Malik offered about 45 minutes in to the trip. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I appreciated the effort.
About an hour in to the drive, we pulled over for a stretch break. And a potty break. And a Red Stripe. Me, I’ll eat local cuisine off a grill made from an old oil drum and a stolen section of fencing, so I bought some jerk chicken from the little shack next to the place. Good eats. I got another Red Stripe and got back on the bus. Malik pointed out Sandy Beach (any guesses why it’s called that?) and told us what color uniforms the boys and girls wore at the local schools. Boys always wear “kahh-key”. I liked Malik, and I think that gave him $10 for the effort. I may have, inadvertently, slipped him the reciept from the ATL snack shop, though.
The check-in at Couples couldn’t have been easier. Herbert passed out cold towels and gave some knucks instead of a handshake. Some women gave Karly and Leah the room keys and some other stuff that we summarily ignored, and we were off to the rooms. Christopher took our bags to room “A, tree, oh, SEVEN”. He showed us around and then stood there. Sorry Christopher, my brochure said that you could be fired for accepting a gratuity. I couldn’t live with myself if you ended up on the streets selling mangos. Out you go.
Did I mention that it was overcast or sprinkling rain? It was. So, what do you do when it’s overcast or sprinkling rain? You participate in activities at the swim up bar. We were not alone at the bar, and it didn’t take long for someone that had been there a while to ask if we had tried the Bob Marley. I quickly lied and said, “Yes”. The man either didn’t believe me or didn’t care because within a couple of minutes there was a little martini glass filled with a layer of red drink, a layer of green drink, and a layer of yellow drink. Quite interesting, really, but you don’t just get to look at it. You’re supposed to suck it through a straw, which Brandon did. I shot mine. That red stuff – Aftershock. Tasty, but I went back to the Red Stripe.
The rain stopped but the clouds stayed behind. There was no beautiful sunset on night one (or two, three, four, or five). No single day was a total washout, but the only rain-free day was Saturday. Leah and I, somehow, managed to get a little sunburned.
Let’s see, what else…lots – I MEAN LOTS – of tattoos. Wow. I never thought that I was in the minority of people when it came to tattoos, but from looking around Couples, there are a lot more people with a tattoo than there are without. Some of the tattoos almost looked homemade, like the guy with KAK on his left chest. It looked like he did that with a wood-burning tool in third grade. Or Freddy Kruger was the tattoo artist. One or the other.
I’m going to stop about the actual trip, because I’m working on a Jamaica v. Turks & Caicos comparison article that will come out in a couple of days. It will have more details about the island; it’s music, drink, food, and funtivities.
The flight back was delayed for 90 minutes due to a thunderstorm over Montego Bay. We were supposed to leave at 3:40, instead we left at 5:10. Well over half of the people missed their connecting flights in Atlanta and most had to wait until the next morning to fly home. If they didn’t miss their flight home because the flight to Atlanta was late, they missed it because a set of golf clubs got lodged in the baggage conveyor and not a single piece of luggage came out of the chute for about 10 minutes. Aggravating.
We were supposed to be in Atlanta for almost four hors, but because of the various delays and baggage malfunctions, we were only there long enough to go through immigration and customs, security screening once again, get on the train to the correct concourse, go to Chili’s and get an order to go, and then go to the gate. It was quite a rush. I hardly had time to forget my credit card on the counter at Chili’s.
That’s right. In the rush to get to the gate, either left it lying on the bar at Chili’s or dropped in on the floor when I went to put it back in my pocket. I had our carry on bag, the bag of food, and my drink in my hands and I simply lost my card. It was used twice Sunday night at two different gas stations, and according to the issuer, has been denied at least three times since Monday morning. Nice.
Still, given all that happened or, in the case of sunshine, didn’t happen, I’d go back to Jamaica today. It’s a beautiful island with wonderful people and food. And rain in May.
A big thank you to Brandon and Karly for inviting us to join them on their third trip to Negril. Their other two trips were also in May, but it didn’t rain. We were just unlucky this time. Also, a belated happy 8th anniversary to you!