Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jenny, Seth and I have been at the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites since midday on Saturday, August 13. We came here on a Costco all-inclusive package deal and it has been absolutely wonderful.
Although I was concerned that we would be sharing one room, it has two beds and one fold out couch that Seth appropriated and finds very comfortable.
The food is delicious. We eat in the buffet for breakfast and lunch and then go to a specialty restaurant onsite for dinner. Room service is available 24 hours a day and all drinks are free. We haven’t had occasion to use room service but Seth has definitely although moderately enjoyed the drinks. Even Jenny and I broke down and had a glass of white wine with one spectacular dinner.
Both Jenny and Seth are enjoying the jerk chicken, jerk fish, and other Jamaican specialties. I’ve stuck to more sedate fare. Their meat- beef, lamb, pork, chicken- as well as the other foods are very good.
We’ve eaten at the Steakhouse, a Japanese restaurant, and the Casbah gourmet restaurant. Tonight (Wednesday) it’s going to be Mediterranean. We also had other choices: Italian, Mexican and one other that eludes me at the moment.
Our deck overlooks the lazy pool, the infinity pool and the ocean. Ah, the ocean- the temperature is just right, not so warm and not cool at all. There are man-made reefs where I’ve been able to snorkel and watch fish. There has always been quite a breeze, which keeps the temperature pleasant- about 87. The landscaping is lovely, palm trees and all sorts of flowering bushes and plants.
On Sunday we spent a lot of time on the beach. Seth and I swam and then stood and chatted for an hour or more. Unfortunately, my sunscreen wore off and I have been suffering with a really painful sunburn on my shoulders. I do have a cover up that I got from Lands End for swimming and so I now use that- in addition to copious amounts of sunscreen.
The sunsets have been spectacular. I’ve had difficulty with Facebook on my phone but I’ll post more photos as soon as I can.
The exchange rate is 127 USJ = $1 US. However, until this point we have had no need to pay for anything. Tipping is not allowed. That’s too bad because every person working here has been very pleasant, competent, responsive, and possessing a nice sense of humor.
The people we’ve met who are here on vacation have been very pleasant- and we have run into one lovely couple more than three times now. They are here for a destination wedding with 57 other guests! Apparently Expedia offers destination wedding travel.
We’ve been told (by the tennis ace who sat and ate with us during lunch yesterday) that most of the people vacationing here are from the States and Canada. This morning, a gregarious man in an LA hat introduced himself- and later Seth worked out with him in the gym. Clarence and his wife Grace were actually from Ontario now, although they were both born here.
People watching is a lot of fun- all sorts of families, all sorts of body shapes (and it’s easy to tell the American women from other nationalities because we tend for forgo bikinis while others are happy to let everything hang out with no false modesty or concern).
On Monday, Jenny and Seth did a Canopy Tour that involved zip lining and loved it. Not quite as adventurous, I went on a 4×4 safari tour, where I learned a great deal about Jamaica. Here in no particular order:
The Jamaicans speak Patois. My guide Richard the great! taught us (the honeymoon couple from North Carolina and the elderly Indian widower from Trinidad) “hey, mon” for yes- “she looks trash and ready” for a woman nicely dressed- or “he looks wickeeed” for a man nicely dressed.” A woman who is 200+ pounds is called a “fluffy mama” and is much appreciated by and very desirable to Jamaican men.
Richard said that getting independence from Great Britain was a terrible thing- everything tanked, British businesses left, there was great unemployment and poverty that they are still working their way back.
He told us about a slave revolution only 10 years before Great Britain emancipated all slaves.
He showed us plants- the sensitive plant that closes two leaves at a time when you touch it- that the slavers planted because they could use the plants to track runaway slaves.
There is another plant that is a natural Viagra and one that helps women with menstrual cramps.
Jamaicans bury their dead in a concrete-lined plot and the coffin is then encased in concrete and something else to keep the groundwater pure.
Tourism is the major industry, followed by sugar. Once marijuana is completely legalized, that crop will be the major industry.
Right now it is legal to have 2 ounces of weed. He said there are plans to put weed dispensing machines in the airport!
Richard told us that he would like to move to the US to work and, once there, there are three things he definitely needs to have: a. chili, b. all sorts of pies (since Jamaican pastries don’t include pies, and c. venison. I guess those are fine goals.
We went to a church that used to be a slave hospital. Some of the original wooden pews are still standing. He had us sit in them to discover that they are constructed in such a way that it forces you to sit up straight. He says that anyone who tends to fall asleep in church is now seated there!
We went off road, which was incredibly bumpy. That took us to a river with many waterfalls racing water over the narrow bridge (there was quite a thunderstorm on Sunday night).
We saw a mongoose crossing the road, an animal that looks like a Brahmin bull, and what Richard called “Jamaican reindeer” which were both domesticated and wild goats.
Richard pointed out mountains and named one “Butt Crack Mountain.” It does look like that and was titled by a guest, so the tour guides have called it that ever since.
We have met our housecleaner/maid Candace. Seth spent an hour chatting with her a few days ago and at night she now puts mints on both of his pillows (Jenny and I get one!) She is lovely and gracious. Today she told me that she has 6 children at home, two of her own and four of a deceased sister’s. She said that she likes working here. She did get into some small trouble being in our room for so long during that chat with Seth, however.
It has been lovely being here with my two children on this first family vacation in over 20 years.
Seth is missing his girlfriend and her 4-year old son, and vice versa. The little boy, upon learning that Seth was gone, plaintively asked:” Then who is going to play with me?”
I’m sure that there is much more to tell you, but the balmy breeze and humidity on the deck are dulling my senses. Yes, a great place to have a restful vacation!