I worked from home during the day, and we finished packing when James got home from work.
We headed out around 8pm, and got on our flight from San Diego around 10:35pm. Long flight to Charlotte, and I could not sleep. I took Melatonin and wore an eye mask but I have a hard time being on a middle seat next to someone I don't know and falling asleep.
Half asleep, we grabbed a bite of some Burger King breakfast in NC, and headed on our way to Jamaica!
We arrived in Jamaica around 10am, and when James went through customs with his camo shorts on, they made him change pants! And we had been to Mexico within 6 weeks, so we had to do a Malaria health screening (which consisted of them asking us if we felt ok). I guess this was the beginning of our adventure in Jamaica! We waited for James's work friend Reid to arrive, along with Reid's other friends. We waited a while, and the people at the airport thought James said "do you want a patti?" when he was asking if there was a patio area to sit at. So many random people kept asking us if we had asked for a patti, it was so funny. We later found out a patti is a Jamaican food.. kind of like a cross between a taco and an empanada and a croissant. We found our way to the rental car area (beware of them adding the taxes in Jamaica, and not online previously - we paid $200 over what we had expected). James got on the right side and made his way onto the left side of the road! I was a little nervous, but he did a good job. The drive from Montego Bay (or Mo Bay) was about 1.5 hours to Ocho Rios.
We met up with Reid's wife and kids at our condo, which is called Chrisanns Beach Resort. Her mom owns one of the rooms there, and we rented one from her friend. It was decorated cute and homey, had a kitchen and A/C, and the bedroom was a loft.
We walked across the street to an open air bar, and got our 1st Red Stripe beers, which didn't taste too bad! We used Jamaican money or "j" to pay for the jerk chicken and french fries we ate. We also had some "rice and peas", which is essentially rice cooked with some black beans mixed in. We didn't eat as healthy as we would have liked on this entire trip due to limited resources. (I am in dire need of getting back in the gym!) We didn't stay at a fancy resort, and the area is very poor - so we didn't have a lot of choices for food. We went shopping that night to get some food to cook for breakfast the next day though.
Everyone was pretty wiped out from their 1st day in Jamaica, so we lounged around on hammocks, played in the water, and just hung out.
We went to the vegetable market in town, which is just a parking lot with vendors, sort of like a Farmer's Market. Devana's (Reid's wife) family knows a local named Alco who they hire to help them with handyman things when they are in town - they usually stay for a couple months every summer. He picked out every vegetable and item for a dinner he was going to cook that night.
We drove over to White River/ Blue Hole in the day time while Alco prepped the food all day. It is not a big tourist attraction, but the locals are inviting more tourists in daily because they like the tips they get from helping us walk on the rocks and jump in the water. I swung from the rope and took a lot of photos. The falls and landscape were amazing. This was one of my favorite things we did on the trip. I snacked on a Quest bar while we were hanging around!
We picked up some ice cream (they had Ben & Jerry's Froyo Cherry Garcia!) from the market to keep cool with no A/C and headed home. James and I watched a movie on his laptop, and the power finally came back on around 10-11pm! Sometimes it goes out for weeks, so we got lucky! The next morning, we found out that Reid's friends (2 other families) had an A/C fire in their room overnight, and had to switch rooms! The adventures continue!
James and I headed to the Saturday Craft Market in downtown Ocho Rios. It was a big swap meet with lots of local crafts and clothing. You really get hustled here, but we found it pretty easy to get a good deal on some souvenirs. We ate lunch at a busy Burger King (I had a grilled chicken sandwich with pineapple on it), and headed over to Reggae Beach by our hotel. We paid the $6 local "Ochi" rate to get in since it was closing soon, and got to relax in the water for a bit. We just relaxed that night and packed for the trip to Negril in the morning!
Drove back to Mo Bay in the morning, to stop at Margaritaville. This place is a total tourist trap, but we had to do at least 1 right? Devana's kids really have always wanted to play in the water there, so it was fun to see them in action and have some lunch. The service was not very good, but the food was ok. I had the fish wrap with salad. The water was absolutely breathtaking though! So blue and aqua!
Then, we drove another 1.5 hours to Negril, to a small local hotel that Devana's mom's friend Angela owns - the Bar-B-Barn on 7-mile beach (which is not actually 7 miles). The water is really pretty there, and the sand is white. We swam some and enjoyed the sun and the warm water. The downside to this beach is that there are tons of other little hotels all along the strip, and the local hassling is really bad. This was one of the only places I didn't want to leave my stuff sitting out by itself, but still, the locals were pretty nice in general.
We had our free breakfast at the hotel, which was nice. Got some coffee, pineapple juice, eggs and bacon - and we swam in the ocean for most of the day. Some icky muddy river water rolled in later in the afternoon, so we got out.
A little later, we headed over to the hotel that Reid's friends chose to stay in for the Negril part of the trip. It was like a treehouse villa over some high caves. So crazy that they had no screens on the windows of the house and lots of buggies everywhere. Other than that, their place had a gorgeous view, the kids jumped off of the rocks, and we watched a nice sunset. They had a dinner prepared for us that night, and it was actually pretty good. We had some awesome ginger sauce fish, rice and peas, sauteed veggies, slaw, chicken, and potatoes. I was super full! We relaxed for a while, and headed back to our hotel to fall asleep to some more Reggae beats. :P
Had breakfast again at the hotel (I got pineapple pancakes this time!) and James drove us to the airport, through the streets of MoBay. We passed this "Cold Beer Joint" on the way, and I didn't get to take a picture of it. I kept thinking about it though, and googled it when I got home. I found this shot online that I love. It captures everything Jamaica to me - the simplicity, yet rough around the edges, mixed with splashes of fun and being alive, against a serene, tranquil ocean. So crazy to me! Love this photo!
Not good bye, as Jamaicans would say - but "See ya latah mon!"
I hope you liked my trip in review. We normally book online at a hotel with decent reviews so that we try to ensure that we will have a relaxing vacation. This time, we trusted some friends who are semi-locals, and got some killer deals on hotel prices. Instead of being stuck inside a fancy resort, we got out and lived the culture, interacted with the people, and understood the country more. We relaxed and didn't worry about dieting or working out. Now that we are back we need too, but it was a great vacation, so fun to be with a group, and we would definitely go back!
Check out my slideshow video!