Friday, April 10, 2009

Jamaica Recap

Well, we've been back home form Jamaica for almost a week now and the time off was wonderful. Beth and I got to spend 5 days in the warm sun on the beach, and see some of the sights of Negril, Jamaica.

Day 1 was our travel day. We left Minneapolis early Monday morning, flew to Memphis, and boarded our final flight to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Once we arrived they shuffled us through customs & immigration and out to the appropriate shuttle bus for Negril. We arrived late that afternoon at The Rooms in Negril. We had a nice big room with a balcony. After settling into our room we explored the beach, and ended up finding dinner at Margaritaville. Jerk Chicken pizza & Fajitas... yum! The sun set around 6:30 and we made it back to our room, and just relaxed the rest of the evening.

Day 2 was another relaxed day around our hotel. The continental breakfast was at our hotel's outdoor restaurant: fresh watermelon & pineapple, toast, muffin, and cereal. With a heavy dose of sunscreen we ventured out to the beach for some swimming in the ocean and just relaxing in the resort's lounge chairs. Beth read some books and I enjoyed some podcasts. Lunch was found at another restaurant down the beach, Jerk Chicken & Fries with some tasty suger-cane sweetened ketchup. That afternoon we met with our contact from the tour company. Kemeasha scheduled our return trip to the airport, and scheduled a couple tours for us for the next two days. After some more relaxing on the beach, we found dinner at another place down the beach, and watched the sunset from our table.

Day 3 started like the day before... a refreshing continental breakfast and a swim in the ocean, followed by relaxing in the lounge chairs in the shade of a palm tree. We got to see them knock down a few coconuts, too! We sampled some more of the 7-mile-beach dining options for lunch. I had some more jerk chicken, and Beth a tasty grilled cheese. Mid-afternoon we were picked up for our first (smaller) tour. Palmer was our driver, and we were picked up for a shopping & dinner trip around town. We met some nice couples from Delaware and Minnesota as well. The Time Square shopping center provided some nice souvenir shopping, and was not as high-pressure as the merchants on our beach. The next stop was the local craft market. The wood carvings were fun to look at, but beyond that, not much else resembled anything hand-made. Most of the 'shops' all had the same stuff for sale. Our final stop was Rick's Cafe, known for being the best spot for watching the sunset, as it's on the westernmost tip of Jamaica. However it was too cloudy for a good sunset, but we enjoyed some excellent dinner while we watched cliff divers jump into the ocean from the cliffs surrounding Rick's cafe. Beth pampered herself with some lobster, and I had a plate of steak, chicken, and red snapper. Once the sun set, we cleared out and hopped back on our bus and made the trip back to The Rooms.

Day 4 was our last full day, and our biggest tour. We woke up bright & early and were picked up by Palmer again, along with some of the same couples from the day before, and took off for the southern area of Jamaica. Our first stop was the Black River Safari. The smooth pontoon ride and fresh air was a welcome relief after a long bumpy bus ride to get there. We were brought up and down the river and saw Crocodiles, birds, Mangrove trees and more up close. Very interesting and fun. The next stop on the bus tour was the YS falls, a natural-spring-fed waterfall in the middle of a beautiful forest area. A short ride into the woods brought us to the falls. Beth and I got to jump in, catch our breath after hitting the cold water, and swim around while our guide took photos of us with our camera. It was very fun & refreshing. We also saw people sliding by on the zipline above us, having taken the "canopy tour." After drying off and looking at our photos, we hopped back on the bus and headed to the Appleton Estate Rum tour. A short drive through narrow mountain roads brought us to the Appleton Estate Rum factory. A tasty lunch was served with chicken stew, rice, and some cool rum punch. Our stomachs filled, we were taken around the plant to see how they make the rum from the sugar cane grown nearby. We were surrounded by the smell of molasses, and got to taste the product at various stages in the process... fresh -squeezed sugar cane juice, and "wet sugar" (sugar granules & molasses). At the end of the tour I sampled some rum, and we picked up a small bottle of a rum/cream liqueur. A long bus ride back and we enjoyed some dinner at our hotel's restaurant... Rasta Pasta for Beth and some more Jerk Chicken for me. I wanted to get a good overall sampling of the famous Jamaican dish after all.

Day 5 was our last day, and the trip home. Breakfast was delicious, and we made some time to walk on the beach and enjoy the water after we packed up our stuff. We hopped on our bus (driven by our favorite tour guide Palmer again) at about 10:00, and made the trip to the airport, picking up other travelers along the way. The airport process was slow and we cut it awfully close getting onto both of our flights home, but we made it home. We were stressed and hungry after a long travel day, but were glad to be home.

As our first "big" vacation. it was wonderful. We had just enough time to be away, had some fun, relaxed a lot, and enjoyed each other's company in a new place. So did we have a good time?

"Ya, mon!"

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