The travel diaries, Jamaica

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Paul and I stayed in Jamaica at the gorgeous Sandals Whitehouse Resort for our 10th anniversary. Besides my 20 minutes in Canada, it was my first time out of the country. It was Paul’s first time on an airplane. This is a picture of the island taken from our hotel window.

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The most adventurous part of the trip was simply getting there. I picked Paul up after work on a Wednesday evening. We had plans to stay at a hotel the evening before and fly direct the following morning. Our 2 hour drive to a direct flight turned into a 5 hour drive due to a snowstorm. The first half we drove snow free, the second half was downright treacherous. We had to drive through blizzard conditions the rest of the way. We saw multiple accidents, drove around jack knifed semis, and cars in the ditch. The highway was down to one unplowed lane. Every so often the snow whipped around in front of the truck so hard that our headlights would flicker off. We spent hours driving in the dark through white out conditions wondering if we were going to be able to stay on the road and oftentimes finding ourselves veering off. Nearby highways were shut down.

We drove through two feet of snow that evening in very windy conditions. When we finally got to the hotel, nothing was plowed out and we couldn’t tell which parking spaces were occupied. Management was fluttering around in a fury of flurries trying to figure out what to do. They ended up telling us to park anywhere. I had to take a picture of Paul in the snow to show what he had to drive through.

Our flight ended up being delayed the following morning, but we decided to go to the airport early anyway. Last minute Paul forgot to pack his tennis shoes, so I grabbed a pair from home and apparently grabbed the wrong ones. Just before we hit security, Paul exclaimed that I brought his old shoes, the ones that he put a screw in to hold the bottom flap together. (Cheapskates, remember?) So here we are trying desperately to get the screw out of his shoe before we hit security trying not to look suspicious. Talk about having a few screws loose!  We were really frazzled. Finally, after a 5 hour delay, we were able to fly out. We finally made it to our resort in Jamaica at 10 PM on Thursday.

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Finally we were at our resort and could relax a little. When we went, the resort was very new and in immaculate condition. The staff took very good care of the property and even raked the beach every morning. We were in paradise. We took some dance lessons, sang at the martini piano bar, went snorkeling, and spent most of our time at the beach. The staff was personable and the food was good.

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This is one of my all time favorite pictures of myself surrounded by the beauty of the island’s colorful flowers and plants. Especially since it was twenty below at home and our plants were dead, dormant and/or brown. We went in February and the temperature was absolutely perfect with highs around 80 without a lot of humidity.

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Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time to explore the culture outside of the resort. The beach was rugged outside of the resort grounds. We had to sign out of the resort before we left because at that point we were on our own and the resort was not responsible for our safety. This was a little unnerving so we didn’t stay away too long being very inexperienced travelers at the time.

Monday morning we were on our way back home. We were loaded up in a van for the hour and a half drive to the airport. Now if you are ever thinking of visiting Jamaica, let me give you a little forewarning about their roads. Our one and a half lanes at home are like two lanes for them. There are often animals and people along the road. They do not have traffic lights or stop signs as far as I am aware of, even in the city. The main roads were in very poor condition with a lot of potholes. It seems to work out for them, but was very scary for us. There was a woman that started screamed as we passed a truck up a hill and came inches from knocking a bicyclist off the hill. Made me have a new appreciation for our roads, even with the road construction.

On the trip back, we saw school children in uniforms walking to school, a man washing his clothes in a stream, and just the every day flow of how the people lived. For the most part, the people seemed to be happy. We really enjoyed our time there. It would have been nice to interact more with the people outside of the resort and learn more about their culture. If there is anything that I would recommend to a new traveler, it is to stay for a whole week if at all possible. We only had three full days to explore the island and that wasn’t enough.

I would recommend a vacation to Jamaica. It is relatively affordable. Sandals resorts are great, it is all inclusive including transportation to and from the airport. We were able to try some new fruits that we don’t have at home. I fell in love with eating papayas.  I was able to relax and reconnect with Paul in the slow pace under the warm sun. The constant reggae beat was calming. We listened to local radio stations in our room and I really miss the uniqueness of their music. If I went back, I would take some tours and immerse myself in the culture more. What a lovely place.

Then just like that our vacation was over. We went back to the hotel and picked up our truck which was parked sideways in the parking lot. We smiled through construction. We thought of the Jamaicans that have never seen snow who thought our snow looked like sand on a beach. It is amazing what a few days in the sun away from  everyday life stressors can do. But the best part of the trip was that we fell in love all over again.  

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