Monday, July 16, 2012

Jamaican Anniversary Getaway

 Looking forward to our getaway, we thought back to the last time we boarded a plane together. At the crack of dawn after our wedding reception last July, we sat crammed in coach with no leg room to stretch our cramping charlie horses; a result of 4 hours of dancing and dehydration. Even my 5-foot frame felt suffocated in that tiny seat. We were drained, sore, and SO uncomfortable. 

We remembered that time over supper just days before our departure for Jamaica for our anniversary and Sean said, "Well at least this time we'll be rested before the flight. That'll be nice."

I said, "What would be nice would be flying first class! But I better get used to it because I'll never be flying first class in my life that's for sure." 
Airfare is so expensive as it is! 

On July 5th, we met up with an airport attendant to do our self check-in and print our boarding passes. She bypassed a question on the screen that asked if we wanted to volunteer for something. 

Sean: Not unless that's volunteering to take an emergency exit seat!
Airport Angel: Emergency seat? You don't need that. Yall flyin' first class!
Both of us: Whaaa? That's not right.
Airport Angel: Yeah it says right here, first class to Atlanta and to Jamaica too. Someone either upgraded you or it's just your lucky day.

It was our lucky day!

We took our cushy seats at the front of the plane and stretched out with a smile!
We debated which snack to purchase like usual; peanut M&Ms or Pringles. But instead were served a grilled chicken salad with pecans, apples and fetta and a roasted chicken sandwich, both with fruit, sides, and a peanut butter brownie. Not what we're used to! 


We dabbed our foreheads with the warm towel like we do that all the time.

Then peered out to window to see the view of the Jamaican coast! 



When we arrived, we visited with a couple we knew would be there. They would be leaving the next day, so we had a quick bite at the buffet then hung out watching the entertainment.

Tired from a long day of travel, we headed to bed around 10:30. But I would later be catapulted out of bed at 12, air-punching the darkness to find the bathroom as quickly as possible in a strange place with trick mirrors on the closet door, dresser, and hallway. Dinner did not agree with me and the result was mighty violent at midnight.
And 1:00. 
2:00.
3:30.
4:00. 
4:47.
Or something like that.
So on. And so on. And on and on and on...

By breakfast time, I was exhausted. Still nauseous. And still heaving something toxic. 
Sean ate alone and brought me back bread.
The saga continued. He ate lunch alone. 
And brought me back bread.

By early afternoon, I was seeming to feel worse rather than better. Dehydrated, weak and aching, I had nothing left to give. I called Sean's name just as I was about to pass out in the bathroom. He covered my sweaty,shaky skin in a wet towel as I laid on the floor and the room spun like a space shuttle blasting off. 

Sean: I'm going to find some Gatorade at the gift shop.

The phone rang sometime after. I hadn't made it off the bathroom floor yet, but managed to get to the phone.

Lady: Mrs. Gray, your husband tells me you're not feeling too well.
Me: Not at all.
Lady: He wanted me to tell you that it would take a little longer getting back because the gift shop did not have Gatorade and he is taking a cab to the petro station about 10 minutes away. He just wanted me to let you know.
Me: Okay thank you.  
Ohhh @*%$!

 After failing to persuade the cab driver to go in and get the gatorade for him, Sean opened his car door to go inside. 
Cab driver: Make it quick.

He had no intentions of dawdling, that's for sure. He took the combination of American and Jamaican bills of change in a wad and scurried back outside, but the cab was not in sight. After fearing the worst for a second, he realized the driver had parked on the side. Phew!

Luckily, his venture off the resort was uneventful and he returned with 6 gatorades to force feed me. 
That's love yall.

The sickness ended up hitting him too, but not as hard. Neither of us said it out loud but we were wondering if we would end up just having to go back home or...worse...to the hospital in Jamaica.

I went to sleep that night with nothing in my system. And still no beach. I had watched Dolphin Tale, 1408... and 8 back to back episodes of Awkward

When the next morning came, it felt like a strange time warp. I had seen the same 4 walls for 36 hours without setting foot outdoors. Get. Me. Out. 
But I was able to keep down some pepto and toast and felt like a new woman. This woman was finally on vacation!! When I suited up and headed out, I realized what a toll the sickness had taken on me. My abs and back were more sore from all the contracting than ANY ab workout I'd ever done. It was unreal!

 I loved how there were trees along the beach of Negril, providing shady spots here and there. They were so pretty. 

We wandered to the end of the beach to a secluded area to explore. 



 I would have never made it without him!


 

 


 

That night for dinner, we were obviously a little leery of the resort food, not knowing exactly what we needed to stay away from. We decided to take a cab to Margaritaville. 


 

Beautiful weather!

 

 To my absolute delight, a group of guys had an informal dance-off to the music over the loud speaker on the beach just passed where we were eating in the sand. I love a good dance-off like most women love a good sale.  I was so entertained and it was one of the highlights of my trip!


 


 The resort had a beach party at night with more dancing and a live band.



I love that bottom right picture of the dad shielding his daughter from the resident booty popper on entertainment staff! Hilarious.

 
Our favorite lunches came from a man grilling jerk chicken with red beans and rice right on the beach. Delicious.

The beach vendors selling everything (beach wraps, braiding, burned reggae cd's, weed...) were obnoxious but the musicians were really good.
 
I loved when someone around us would ask for a song and we could hear on their dollar. :)

The drinks were made much stronger than other places we've been. I'd rather not smell rum for a goood long while.

The reggae band stopped by the porch of our room while I was getting ready for dinner one night. I heard Sean say, "You know any Otis Redding?"
"Yeh Mon."
"Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay?"
"Yeh Mon. Of course."

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::I left my home in Georgia.
Headed for Montego Bay::

 I loved it!

For our excursion, we took a catamaran booze cruise with 4 other couples to Ricks Cafe, one of the world's top ten bars that sits on a cliff where locals and vacationers jump into the waters below. 

 On the way, our tour captains pointed out all the gorgeous palaces and resorts on the shore.

 


 One of our favorite parts was when they pulled us up to Pirate's Cave that used to be a bar, open only one week out of the year (spring break for American's!)


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 They let us jump off and swim inside and it was breathtakingly cool! We swam through the "grotto" finding pathways and openings to follow and found a spiral staircase that led to a lookout over the cave.



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The water inside the cave was so electrically turquoise, you would have thought it was a result of lighting effects. They told us parts of Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed there, but they joked about everything so I'm not sure about that one!


But I think Hugh Hefner should definitely look into buying some real estate in Jamaica and opening that place back up!

We stopped again for 45 minutes of snorkeling. It had been several years since I'd been snorkeling in Mexico and we had such a blast! I felt like I was a miniature person swimming inside the fish tank in someone's living room. :)

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We found the old ship anchor on the ocean floor that they mentioned and it was unreal. There was also an old cannon. 
 
  
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We continued on our way down the coast and made it to Rick's Cafe. That guy in the bottom pictures did an olympic style dive from an INSANELY high platform above the cliffs. 
 


 Seany jumps!

 

 We were finally getting our appetites back and had some yummy spicy buffalo chicken dip and coca-cola.

 

Then Mr. Gray had to stretch his conversion skills to figure out an appropriate tip out of the Jamaican money we got back for change. Definitely didn't feel right leaving three 100 dollar bills for tip!

The ride back consisted of a downpour, lightening, thunder, and rum punch that left us soaking wet, freezing cold and loving life.

 
 Lee from London and Shane from Canada joined Sean to refuel.

When the beautiful weather returned the next day, we walked the opposite way down the beach to check out the shopping and scenery. I loved seeing the local children playing the most. The girl in the tree swing in that grove of trees was adorable.
 
 Pushing each other.

Finding shells in the ocean.


Dinner at the steakhouse

We enjoyed our time on the beach together. Reading...listening to live music, kayaking, snorkeling. But by the end of the trip we were homesick for our own little home. I wanted to clean house. Cook our meals. See my babies. Lay around in our own little palace.

Our cab driver on the way to the airport pointed out celebrity homes and golf courses, and we compared cultures and customs of Jamaica and America. 
We followed behind a small car in town, with a full size bed (assembled) and mattress strapped to the roof. After talking about how much more regulated traffic is in America, he said,"So in America, yall would probably get in trouble if you did that yeah?" 

We said, "No, we've seen that before. That's what we call a redneck."

"Redneck? Hmm...Redneck." he said, trying out the word.
I wonder if its been incorporated into his vocabulary yet.


The children's school


We made it to Atlanta without a problem, but had another 6 hours to kill before making it back to Memphis. We had a Chile's date to pass the time and finally boarded the plane around 10pm. 

But this hit just as we were about to take off, causing us to sit on the plane for another hour until it blew over.

I'm done. Get me home!
My wonderful little mother-in-law had flowers on the counter for us to come home to. And I wasted no time diving right back into my tornado of projects, of course.

Great to get away. Better to get back home.

Missed Yall!
The Grays


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