Happy New Year! I know it’s a few days late, but since Benjamin and I have just returned to civilization from our trip to Jamaica, it’s the first chance I’ve had to say it to you.
Our trip was not exactly what I expected. I didn’t really know what to expect, so that’s not terribly surprising, but it was still quite unlike any other vacation I’ve ever taken. The whole reason we went on the trip was because Benjamin (who owns his own video production company) has a client who is developing a parcel of land in Jamaica. He asked Benjamin to come down and shoot some footage of the progress so far and I got to tag along and make a little vacay out of it. He had also invited a few friends down to ring in the new year at a huge party he’d been planning on the property.
So we arrived on Wednesday afternoon to 80 degree weather and sunny skies. Not a bad start! The landscape was beautiful, and we got to see a lot of it since we had to take a very bumpy, very scary, two hour cab ride from the Montego Bay airport to the resort where we were all staying. I prayed the entire way that my first trimester nausea wouldn’t cause me to use the barf bag I had stolen from the plane just in case. And thankfully, it didn’t. The resort was beautiful, and everything was very open and airy. Our room had no windowpanes, just wooden slats that let in the sunlight and the breeze, and the shower had no door, just a stone wall to separate it from the toilet and a saloon-style swinging door to separate that from the bedroom. Unfortunately the water pressure was so bad that being in the shower felt like someone was spitting on you from above and the toilet barely flushed.
We got to know Benjamin’s client and his group of friends/coworkers over dinner once we arrived (in one piece, thank goodness). They were great! While generally Benjamin and I like to stick to ourselves during vacation (we are not the types to sit down next to you at the bar and start chatting — we like our alone time!), the group was super nice and I really enjoyed hanging out with them.
Since I couldn’t drink the alcoholic drinks included in the all-inclusive package, I planned on not holding back when it came to the food. Unfortunately, the food was less than stellar. There were three square meals a day, and if you missed one, you were kind of out of luck. Normally, I could easily adapt to this schedule, but the pregnant lady in me was anxious that I’d be starving in between meals (and the food wasn’t really the type of thing I could put in my pocket for later), so I pretty much shoveled it in at every meal. Yuck. Not good for the delicate pregnant stomach! And, while I totally appreciate tasting local cuisine and am quite adventurous when it comes to food, almost every meal consisted of some sort of mystery meat (goat? chicken? who could tell?), chopped up (skin and bones and all) into little chunks, and “jerked” (covered in jerk seasoning and fried), a pile of slimy, overcooked (and often unidentifiable) veggies, and deep fried dough as a starch. Sometimes rice, but other than that, not a whole grain was to be found.
The strangest night, however, was the big New Year’s party on Benjamin’s client’s land. Since the spot is currently being developed, we spent a lot of time during the day hanging out with the Jamaicans who were doing the construction work. It was very interesting to meet the locals and see what the “real” Jamaica is like. Since the land is not yet a destination spot for tourists, the party turned out to be 200 – 300 Jamaicans! The 10 or so people in our group were the ONLY white people at the party (save for one or two who called Jamaica home), and I was one of only 3 or 4 white women! Talk about culture shock. Let’s just say that I stood out quite a bit with my PALE skin and WHITE sundress. While they were all very friendly and it was probably quite safe, I felt pretty out of my comfort zone. Not to mention the fact that I could barely find fresh air to breathe through all of the secondhand pot smoke (Benjamin and I were the only two people who didn’t smoke pot while we were in Jamaica). And I was the only one at the entire party not drinking alcohol. Yikes.
So, all in all, it was a bit of a weird vacation. I am happy to be home to my hot shower and good water pressure and healthy food whenever I want it. Dorothy had it right, there really is no place like home.