Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No problem, mon. Jamaica via Kira.

If I were to be really honest, it's a good thing I've waited a few weeks to write this entry. I was a little bothered by the environment in Jamaica - meaning the trash, dead animals, starving dogs, chained goats, poor ramblers, long pinky nails (if you don't know what that means, ask me) and scared-for-my-life crazy driving**. I think poor Rusty thought I hated it. And I totally didn't; it was just rougher at times than I had prepared myself for. I mean, hello, it is a third-world/developing country.

But I digress.

So, now I've been back at work and can look back on the relaxation, beauty and cultural experiences that embodied my week in Negril.

Rusty and I flew in on Monday and were whisked away from all the prodding taxi drivers by our prearranged airport transfer company, Clive's Transport Service. With Red Stripes in hand, we boarded the van for our one and a half hour private trip to the cliffs of Negril. There, we were greeted by the huge expanse of waterfront property of our Samsara Cliffs Resort. Cliffs of varying heights led down to the water. There were all kinds of cool creatures to look at and the ladders made for easy entry and exit. Rusty jumped off every tip of that resort's propery, I do believe. I stuck to the five foot jumps.

The next day, we enjoyed the sun. It was the rainy season, and we quickly learned that it stormed every day starting at 1 pm like clockwork. It always cleared out by dinnertime.

Tuesday night, we had dinner at the sister resort located on Seven Mile Beach. We walked a ways up the beach, but without the guard at the resort property to protect us, we were being approached a lot by locals selling drugs or goods. I'm a wimp; it freaked me out. (It was dark and you have to admit that may freak you out, too!)
Wednesday morning we awoke pumped as it was our Black River Deluxe Safari day! I booked this excursion to surprise Rusty, but as usual, I ended up telling him about it ahead of time. We boarded the van with Sienna from Talk of the Town Tours. This wasn't your typical cushy 'Sandals-esque' resort outing. Nope, this was a personal trip to experience the 'real' Jamaica. We drove for hours, stopped at a little shop along the way, had a flat tire in the jungle and finally arrived at a deserted beach.
Then, up comes our little fisherman boat. Our group climbed in. There were 11 of us, plus the captains standing in the back and the boat was loaded. It was so cool! We drank our Red Stripes and headed up the Black River. We spotted some crocodiles, kept moving upstream, ducked beneath a low bridge and came upon the highlight of our trip - the local rope swing watering hole. We spent several hours swimming, swinging and diving with the local children. It was amazing! (Don't worry moms, the water was fresh here and the crocs don't come that far up.) I cannot move on without saying, it was sad to me to stand on the dock to jump in, and see the bottom of the river lined with trash.

This post is getting long. I'll try to be more brief.

Next we took the boat back down the river and out to the Pelican Bar. Check this place out! It's a mile out on the ocean, built on a reef by a local fisherman. We were able to visit these awesome places that we'd never even know existed if we had stuck with the typical 'resort excursions.' I highly recommend TOTT if you visit Jamaica!

(A big shout out to our friends, the Owens, who traveled with us on the safari. Carrie and her family were such fun to spend the day with and planning the trip with them beforehand was a bonus.)

After a long ride home, we were back at our resort sipping our tropical drinks. We decided to walk down the street and check out dinner at a nearby resort, Xtabi. It was delicious and their cliffs were even more dramatic than ours. They had caves with water splashing in! The food was excellent.

Thursday was another day of sunning and then dinner at the best sunset dining spot in Negril (according to all the travel sites and reviews) - the Rockhouse. It's another hotel, a little more upscale, on the cliffs.

The walk there was scary to me. But, I'm a wimp, remember? At one point, I was cornered between a guy pushing cocaine on me from his scooter, a dead cat and a wall. It stunk, literally. But, once I had a few drinks at dinner, I was all about talking to the locals and being their BFF. Go figure.
Dinner at the Rockhouse was delightful and beautiful. Quite the romantic spot. We had the table at the edge of the open air restaurant with a clear view of the sunset. Ahh, it was nice.
I had my margaritas, which made it ultra delightful.
And then Friday, it was time to return home. Back to reality. Work and email. And back to Trip Advisor so I can start researching our next trip.

** Disclaimer: I'm not a prissy traveler. I don't need rich, luxurious things; I love to skip showers and find a bargain! I just have a case of OCD and was a tad afraid for my safety at times. There, I said it.

Note: It's because of www.tripadvisor.com that I found such a gem of a resort at a great price. Users on the site led me to Talk of the Town Tours, our dining options and our transport service. I highly recommend checking it out.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Best moment of our Jamaica trip

We're back from Jamaica mon. And it was an incredible experience. I'll capture our story on here soon, but for now, check out this video. During an excursion up Black River in a tiny fishing boat, we spent the afternoon rope swinging into the river with the local children. Ok, by 'we' I mean Rusty. (I did jump from the rickety dock; that's impressive for me.) Rusty had a great time doing flips and dives and high swings. And the best part was sharing the moment with the local kids.
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