SATURDAY we finally landed in Jamaica around 3:30pm their time, after having left our house around 1:30am our time (so we'd been traveling for approximately 12 hours at this point), had to clear customs and immigration, and then still had to take a 2 hour shuttle ride to the resort. and THEN we still had to check in, get to our room, and find our way around the place in order to EAT (which we basically didn't get to do all day due to funky travel times and LONG flights). It gets dark by 7pm in Jamaica, so we had to wait until Sunday to get a real clear idea of what the resort looked like and what our views would be.
SUNDAY we slept in until about 9:30am. We were EXHAUSTED from our travels. We spent most of the day wandering around trying to get a feel for the layout of the two locations (Manor side, which is where our villa was, and the Riviera side... you take a shuttle bus between the two, which are across the street from each other). We spent quite a bit of time in the pool as well, sipping at drinks from the pool bar, meeting other couples, etc.
MONDAY we signed up to take a glass bottomed boat out to go snorkeling. They take you out and "dock" up to WWII mine sweeper sunk below the surface, with a nearby reef. Dan jumped into the water and had no problem getting the hang of using the snorkel gear. I, on the other hand, had a terrible time trying to convince my body that even though my face was under water, I'd still be able to breath. I think it took me about 7 tries of putting my face in the water before I could actually take in a breath without panicking and lifting my face up instead. LOL! For the first few minutes, I was breathing very quickly, still struggling to relax. Everytime I'd feel the water lapping up against my face while I had my face in the water, my gut reaction was to lift my face back up to breathe! I eventually got things under control and REALLY enjoyed puttering around looking at little fishes and other sea life. Nothing spectacularly colored along the reefs, but still neat to look at. We didn't have a waterproof disposable camera yet at this point, so no pictures of the minesweeper, unfortunately. I got extremely nauseous on the boat ride back to the resort and decided that one round of snorkeling was plenty for me! Later in the day Monday, we wandered over to the climbing wall and each took a turn climbing up. Dan went up quite quickly. I had more difficulty (shorter arms and legs, and not as strong!!), but made it to the top. The pictures of Dan are blurry because the camera lense kept fogging up in the humidity!! The lense had finally heated enough that it was no longer foggy for my turn up the wall. After dinner that night, we attended a show where they hosted a "couples game show" which was quite hilarious! and THEN we found our way to one of the piano bars for a sing-a-long. FUN TIMES!
TUESDAY we had signed up for tour where you ride on a 65ft Catamaran (sp?), which would take you snorkeling, and then take you to Dunns River Falls to climb the waterfall. We had paid for this tour BEFORE I got nauseous beyong belief on the boat the day before so I was very nervous about doing any more activities involving boats. I ended up buying some very over-priced Dramamine from the gift shop, which worked GREAT. They motored us out to a totally different reef than the one we'd snorkeled at the day before. This time we had a waterproof disposable camera, so we took a few pictures. Nothing fancy, nothing high quality, but proof that we went snorkeling at least!! I had no problems sticking my face in the water and getting to business this time around. After about 30minutes, they called us back to the boat, and then continued on to Dunns River Falls. At the falls, you put on your water shoes (which you can either buy or rent...), strip down to your swimsuit, tie back your hair, and stand with your assigned group. Each group has a guide that leads you up the waterfall, and takes pictures and movie footage of the group along the way. Again, we used the waterproof disposable camera, so the pictures aren't that great, but better than nothing! It took about 45 minutes to climb the waterfall (wouldn't have taken that long, except they stop you at different places along the way and pose each couple for pictures and video footage). At the top, you can buy a DVD of your group climbing the falls for outrageous amounts of money ($40!), but we opted to go ahead and do it since it was sort of a once in a lifetime opportunity to climb a waterfall and have video footage of it! After we were all back on the boat, they motored us out pretty far, then put up the sails and sailed us back to the resort. The whole way back in, they've got the music cranked up, people were dancing, food and alcohol were being served. We quickly understood why the tour was nicknamed "The Booze Cruise" or "The Party Boat". LOL! It was TONS of fun, and thanks to the Dramamine, I didn't get the slightest bit sick!! We saw a Raggae band play that night, but I was miserably tired (side effects from the Dramamine) and we ended up calling it an early night.
WEDNESDAY we puttered around the pool inbetween bouts of rain. I think this was the day we played Bingo by the pool, but it might have been Tuesday (they have daytime activities scheduled, weather permitting, and you get points for participating, and whoever accumulates the most points for the week ends up winning some sort of prize. We never really sought out the daytime activities, we just happened to be in that pool when they brought out the Bingo cards!). I WON the first of three rounds. I had to have a "picture frame" BINGO. I won two cheesy sandal necklaces (skinny leather strap, with leather sandals hanging down), but it was fun to win!! Wednesday afternoon and evening POURED like you wouldn't believe. Just poured and poured and poured. We ended up just hanging out in our room reading and napping most of the afternoon. It was soooo LOUD from how hard the rain was coming down. Dan ended up deciding to go swimming anyway in our semi-private pool, so we tried to take some pictures to show just how hard it was raining, but the pictures don't do the rain justice. We were supposed to have our complimentary photo session in the afternoon, but we ended up calling and rescheduling for Thursday instead. There was supposed to be a big street fair and carnival outdoors, along with a buffet, but the street fair and carnival got canceled, and the buffet got moved into the covered pavillion area. Even with an umbrella, we got pretty soaked heading over there! We sat next to a neat couple named Melissa and Brad (I took a picture of them), and after the rain finally subsided around 10pm, we headed back to their room for a drink, and then wandered over to do some more sing-a-long stuff at the piano bar.
THURSDAY we had signed up for a tour to do ziplines through the rain forest canopy. I KNEW I would be terrified upon arrival, but also knew that I really wanted to do it, and would be glad of the experience after the fact. We had to be ready to leave by 8:10am. The tour bus picked us up, then we headed to another hotel/resort to pick up a few more couples, and then headed out. To get to the area where you get your gear and start the "nature walk" portion of the tour to get to the first zipline, we had to drive along this very narrow, terribly maintained, steep, and windy road. Crumbling houses lined the street, many just feet from the road. LOTS of little kids walking goats... I didn't take my good camera for fear it would get damaged or dropped or something, so we only had the disposable camera, and I didn't have many pictures left, but I would have liked to have taken a picture of some of the houses we saw, and the adorable little children with their goats, just as a reminder to myself about how blessed I am in life, and a lesson to my children that they really don't have it all that bad! I was excited getting ready that morning, and I was excited on the bus ride, and I was excited getting my gear on, and I was excited on the nature walk to the first platform, but stepping onto that first platform, I suddenly panicked. I was shaking like a leaf (my hands were quivering rather violently), my chin was quivering as I was fighting back tears of panic, and tears were streaming down my face. Dan tells people I was sobbing, but to me, sobbing is very loud crying, and I wasn't making a sound!!! Except maybe a strangled, "I think I just changed my mind!!" ha ha! Patrick, our main guide on the zipline tour, was AMAZING. He was very calm and gentle and reminded me to take some deep breaths, assured me I'd be okay, hooked me to the line, and sent me on my way. It was seriously over before I knew what hit me, and it had never once occurred to me to look down, or around me, as I zipped along. I was just focused on paying attention to where the other platform was and reminding myself how to "brake" when they told me to. LOL After they unhooked me from the first line, there was such a RUSH of satisfaction that I'd done it, and I was supercharged to hit the 2nd line. Until I realized that it was almost completely STRAIGHT DOWN! I will admit to being scared at that point, but the adrenaline rush from the first line was still pumping through me and the tears had stopped. They sent me down nice and slow, thankfully. The people who weren't seemingly nervous got DROPPED down the line and stopped with inches to spare. LOL After that, I had a BLAST and would do it again in a heartbeat. One of the lines WAS straight down and they asked me if I wanted them to go regular speed or slow me down and I opted for regular speed. I was so proud of myself for setting out to do something that I knew would scare me, but also for enjoying the heck out of myself WHILE I was doing it, and not just afterwards once I was safely back on the ground! The 9th and final line was 600ft long and you really pick up some speed while you're going. It was AWESOME! I would LOVE to get to do it again, and take more time to enjoy the surroundings (and to take my good camera, it would have been fine, and I could have been taking neat pictures from the platforms and along the nature walk portions). They do take pictures of you along the way with a nice camera, and you can buy the pics for $25, so we went ahead and bought the pictures because we knew the ones from the disposable camera were going to be junky... When we got back to the resort, we spent about 30 minutes in the pool before it started raining again. It was still raining at the time of our photo session, but we showed up anyway, figuring we may as well get rainy day pics since it would be representative of what our weather was! The photographer had us wait about a half hour, at which point, the rain stopped and she rushed us outside to do some poses. We bought five of the pictures she took (PRICEY as heck, but because we were either out in the rain, or hanging out in the pool, or on tours where we didn't want to lose or ruin the camera, we truly didn't have many pictures of ourselves, so we wanted to be sure and come home with SOME pictures of the two of us together!).
FRIDAY we purposely got up early because we had heard it was supposed to be nice and sunny for the morning and we wanted to get every last bit of sun that we could. We were waiting at the door at 7:30am when they start breakfast, and were out in the pool by 8:15am at the latest. It was sunny and hot and amazing!!!!!!!!!! The couple we met on the bus ride from the airport and had hung out with here and there through the out week showed up at the pool not too long behind us, so we all hung out and visited for about 4 hours before the rain started coming in again. We headed inside for lunch together, then headed back outside to sit under the little covered area to visit and read and relax some more. Eventually the rain picked up enough that it was blowing in under the covered area and we called it quits and headed to our own rooms for awhile. There was a "Soon Come Back" Farewell dinner with a Fire Breather for entertainment afterwards. I think that all ended around 8:30/9pm or so. We had to be packed and ready to start checking out at 6:30am the next morning, so we went straight back to our room to pack as much as we could the night before and to get to bed early so we'd be rested for a LONG day of travel the next day.
SATURDAY we were on the shuttle to the airport by 7:15am. We arrived at the airport around 9:15am, breezed through security, ate Dominos pizza for breakfast (we'd left the resort before breakfast was served so we were starving and pizza was the only thing we could find at the airport that was near our gate), then waited for them to start boarding the plane. I'd taken a Dramamine again so as to avoid getting sick on the shuttle ride, or the airplane ride. I was so groggy from the Dramamine, that I seriously fell asleep once I got on the plane and slept right through take-off! I NEVER sleep on planes (too uncomfortable), but dozed off and on quite a lot throughout or travel home, which was a major blessing, because it was a LONG LONG day of traveling. We landed around 8:30pm, got our bags, took the shuttle to the place we parked Dan's truck, then headed home to get the kids. It was just shy of 10pm as we pulled in to get them and they came FLYING out of the house to greet us. It was the perfect end to a wonderful vacation!
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