Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Picture Share!


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Jamaica Mistaica

I'll start this off by saying ultimately I had a good time and it was nice to be in such warm weather during the cold winter. And I wouldn't say everything in this video is a lie, but they certainly stretch the truth.

I woke up around 5:30 AM in on the floor of my stepsister's chicago apartment to make a 8 AM flight to Montego Bay. My phone rang, and it was my brother telling me he wasn't getting on the plane in Baltimore because he couldn't find his passport. I was disappointed to say the least.

Getting on the plane wasn't difficult, but the 4 hour flight with only a can of Canada Dry and a cookie to eat was. We skipped breakfast, and now we didn't have a lunch either!

Arriving in Montego Bay holding my winter coat was surreal in itself, but the parade of tourists created quite a crowd at customs and immigration. After trying to declare prescription medication and then sent back to the end of the line when I was told I didn't need to, we were reaching our breaking point.

Finally we got out of the airport, and got on a bus. And waiting 55 minutes for the bus to leave. Then 90 minutes for the drive to the hotel! I'm starving. We made a pit stop where I paid $2 US for a bottle of coke, and was warned by my stepsister's boyfriend not to eat at any of the jerk chicken shacks on the side of the road. The bathrooms were in hospitable and my fiance was asked to "party" twice before we got back on the road again. Even a quick look out the window during this trip revealed Jamaica to be a pretty poor nation. Lots of shacks, farm animals running free... it kinda held this air of guilt over the whole week as we knew we were living much much better than these people who live for weeks on less than I make in a day.

When we finally got to the hotel I was happy to see the rest of the family waiting for us. It was a releif to know my brother's girlfriend still got on the plane and was there, and my brother would be catching a flight the next day.

My father had booked 5 rooms for our group of 9, and the resort only had 3 open, so we had to kinda cram together the first night, but it was fine after that. after all, we're here! Its warm! Its sunny! No work for a week!

Dinner wasn't being served until 7, and even though we were very hungry, we went to the open bar to drink.

From here my account of this trip will be less detailed because we pretty much started drinking fruity drinks with rum around 5 PM on sunday night and didn't sober up until saturday morning. The open bar was a rousing success.

There was a nice pool, but there was no beach. they had some sand with some water in front of it, but it was all rocks and coral and only 3 feet deep unless you went really far out.

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner were all regularly served and I don't think I've ever eaten that much pinapple in my life. Food was pretty tasty.

About Tuesday it started to sink in that there wasn't much at all to do there.
Club Ambiance had daily activities and nightly concerts by a house band. Activities were mostly lame, and we used the schedule mostly as a guide of when not to be at the pool for water aerobics. They had a "fashion show" which consisted of staff wearing stuff from the gift shop. I didn't need to come all this way to see that "Bob Marley shirt, army shorts, and no shoes" is in style. I see people wearing that stuff here! By the end of the week we figured they'd be running office chair races and "car rides"

Animals abound! Feral cats roamed the premises, and it wasn't uncommon to see 4 or 5 cats running around the roof. Also saw a lot of little lizards running around and quite a few birds. On the roads, goats and chickens were pretty much everywhere. I found a tiny hermit crab on the sidewalk that I returned to the "beach." A flyer for a nearby plantation also advertised "Get Your Picture Taken With The Ostrich" which was also beyond funny.

The house band didn't play reggae or calypso or even try. It was mostly lite rock shit. Stevie Wonder, Righteous Brothers, Bryan Adams... They even covered UB40's "Red Wine" which in itself is just a UK band doing a reggae version of a Neil Diamond song. The closed the set on the last night we were there with a cover of "Hey Jude" which we later replaced the lyrics with "Na, Na Na, No Problem! Ya mon!" music played through out the day at the bars and pool was mostly rap and pop we hear here already. I heard "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias like 6 times (including a scot singing it Karoake) and various interpretations of "It wasn't Me" and "Who Let The Dogs Out"

The singer for the guest band that played on thursday night was 72, had no teeth and asked for a round of applause for the chairs. Oh well, at least they played "One Love"

Drivers see no problem passings each other on two lane roads with blind corners, nor do they see any reason to not honk at each other constantly or drink beer while driving.

Dunn's River Falls was cool, and you can climb all the way to the top of the falls, but 4 straight days of heat, excess eating, and alcohol consumption made me wary of white water and rocks. We took a swim at the beach at the bottom. There were a lot of blind people taking the tour, which is pretty cool since they hold your hand the whole way up its totally safe for them and probably one of the best tour someone with their disability can take since its a lot of touching and really immersive.

There were signs everywhere saying "Don't talk to Jetski riders! They are not part of the tour and getting on with them will be at your own risk" and we made lots of jokes about how they're like motorcycle gangs or pirates or something. Sure enough we get into the water and a Jetski guy yells to us and my brother goes over. We'll never let him live that down. First Jetski guy he sees, he swims right over! it was pretty funny.

A shopping trip to Ocho Rios was an eye opener. my brother bought a steel drum from a vendor, and only about 200 people offered us a taxi, weed, hair braids, or a wood carving. Coming out of one shop he anxiously informed me "Tell that guy you like rum! He'll get you SMASHED!" Sure enough, the salesman was waiting with shots of overproof rum, which nearly knocked me on my ass. Sale!
There was also a lot of porcelain monkeys with giant penises and penis magnets and all sorts of tourist trinkets with a penis somewhere on it. I saw pipes carved so you smoked from a big wood cock! This was really weird because I have no idea who this shit is for since Jamaica is one of the most feircely homophobic nations on earth with chants of "Burn the Chi-Chi Man" in a lot of dancehall music. On the way back I regretted not buying the giant penis monkey. I did get a plate that has an Aunt Jemima on a mule that says "Donkey Ride Jamaica" and a lot of jerk seasonings and sauces.

The travel back to the states was much like the travel out only in reverse. Tedious and tiring. US Customs was oddly enough the quickest line we had the whole time. We could've smuggled in SO much ganja if we wanted to, they didn't even look me in the eye when I passed.

Most of the trip was pretty awesome really. Swimming, sun, hanging out with my family, it was really a great vacation. I really only talked about all the stuff above because its funny.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Picture Share!