It’s been almost a week since returning home from Jamaica and I’m still wishing I was back on the island.  From the beautiful views and relaxation to the adrenaline inducing activities and new experiences, everything was covered.  And that doesn’t even include the people.  People that genuinely seemed to live the ‘One Love’ philosophy and look at life with an ever-present ‘Irie’ filter.  People that hold Respect in the highest regard.  We really did see more smiles than any other expression combined. The people of Jamaica are treasures.

Day 1:  Our trip began at 3:00am.  The early morning wake up call was worth it when we had our toes in the sand 12 hours later.  That first day was full of exploring the resort and the beach.  We were welcomed with an amazing sunset.  We had indeed made it to the paradise that is Jamaica.

Discovering Scuba and the Beach

Day 2 began with a Discover Scuba course.  Jalyn and Jason were super excited, I was less sure.  After a quick video, we made our way to the pool.  Getting all the gear on and getting into the pool was the easy part.  Going under the water (even just in the pool) and taking that first breath with the regulator was awesome.  We went through skills such as adjusting buoyancy, finding and returning your regulator, checking air gauges, and using the rescue breather.  I did pretty well with all of those.  The one that had my anxiety spiking was letting water into your mask and then purging the water, all while still under the water.  Yeah, that one I never really got the hang of.  Thankfully, it wasn’t necessary to fully master that one in this course.

Jason and Jalyn had such a good experience in the pool, they decided to go ahead and get scuba certified while we were there.  I initially thought I’d do the same, but anxiety and the rush of getting it all done in 2 days, had me bowing out.  Cole also decided he’d like to scuba, so I graciously said I’d pass on getting certified at the resort so Cole would have someone to get certified with back at home. 😉

We spent the rest of the day taking advantage of the water sports (paddle boarding, kayaking, and snorkeling).  The snorkeling was really neat and let me get my toes wet before doing our scuba dive tomorrow.  I had never experienced water so clear with such great fish/reefs.  We even caught sight of a reef shark.

More Scuba

Day 3 was spent with a morning on the beach.  Rains moved in around lunch and our familiarity dive took place under cloud cover.  Once on the boat, we got our equipment ready and slid into our dive vests.  Goodness, all that gear is heavy out of the water!  Walking in fins, with the extra equipment weight and masks on was tricky.  And not the most graceful.  Jumping into the ocean was another thing that had me stressed.  I had all sorts of  ‘worst case scenarios’ running through my brain.  Of course, the thing that did happen – losing a fin as I jumped – wasn’t one of my scenarios, but was an easy fix.

Going underwater in the ocean and taking that first breath with the regulator was unforgettable.  We started our decent and made our way into a whole new world.  I didn’t have the easiest time equalizing the pressure in my ears, but still managed to be blown away by my surroundings.

Our first dive was spent following our dive master ‘Norman’ as he guided us down to a depth of about 25 ft.  During our dive, it started raining.  Hearing the rain from 25 ft down was cool, thought it took us a while to figure out what the sound even was.  The rain made it somewhat dark so we didn’t see too many fish but the experience was amazing.

We made our way back up to the surface so Jason and Jalyn could continue with the certification process – getting back in the boat to remove and put their gear back on.  Grandma and I were able to just float and hang out while we waited.  The boys got back into the water and we got to go down again.  This time, the guys went down 20 ft and practiced more skills, including the dreaded ‘fill the mask and then purge it all while under water’.  As Grandma and I swam around and watched them complete their skills, I was sure I made the right decision in waiting to do my certification at a later date.  Getting under the water was enough for this trip!

One of our favorite things was the sunset photo shoot.  Our photographer, Jesuith, did a great job of getting real smiles out of the boys and delivering a picture perfect sunset for us.

Excursion Day

Day 4 was Excursion Day.  The bus ride to the starting point took us through some of the small towns and hills of Jamaica.  We learned more about the culture, dialect, and people. The lesson in Patois was very interesting.  Our favorites are:  ‘wah gwaan’ (what’s going on), ‘yah mon’ (yes, ok), ‘irie’ (alright),  and ‘tanks’ (thanks).

Our first adventure was zip-lining.  The first 2 routes went smoothly, with the guides smiling and lessening our nerves with their jokes and easy-going personalities.  We didn’t even have to worry about breaking!  (another big anxiety point) As we started getting set up for route 3, we got to witness the craziness of nature, as a tree broke and branches fell on the line.  One of our guides went out to clear the line, calling out for a pocket knife and machete.  He pulled himself back to the platform to wait on supplies when the rest of the tree came crashing down.  The line didn’t break but we weren’t going on it.  That left us in a bit of a dilemma.  How were we going to get back down?  The guides joked that we were going to have to pull ourselves back up the previous zip lines.  Fun fun!

We ended up adding a bit of a hike to our excursion – hiking down an impromptu trail.  Our guides were awesome, keeping the mood light and helping us all get safely down to a landing point.  Once there, we took a quick ride down the river, got out, and made our way up to the rest of the zip line routes.  We completed those with a sense of accomplishment and then finished tubing the river.  The rain made the river brown but it flowed well.  The guides made sure debris didn’t’ interfere with the boys ability to do the rope swing.

   rope swing

Lunch was jerk chicken, festival (like a corn fritter), and Red Stripe (punch for the kids).  Then on to our final adventure of the day, horseback riding.  Since I couldn’t even remember the last time I rode a horse, I was counting on the horses being gentle and used to the routine, the guides being helpful and patient, and my own ability to not fall off.  All of my expectations were met and we had a great time on the horses, even when they went for a swim.

The night concluded with a performance by a steel drum ensemble.  Wow!  They were fun, entertaining, and they could move as well as they could play.

Jamaica Days

Day 5 was Cabana day. After a relaxed morning with mimosas and pampering, the guys went on their last certification dive, Cole and Grandma water skied/waked boarded, and Mimi and I lounged.  Not to be too lazy, we went parasailing. The rain came in soon after lunch, so the afternoon was spent playing cards in the cabana.   Jason and I snuck away for an evening at Rick’s Cafe (no cliff diving for us).  The rain had kept the crowds away, so that was nice, but it also kept our sunset away, which was a bummer.

                                                                                                     

Day 6 was our last full day.  Jason, Jalyn, and Grandma went on a free dive while Mimi, Cole, and I snorkeled.   The guys took their certification test and finished the day as Certified Open Water Divers. As we left for dinner that evening, the server asked if we were going to watch the race.  We rushed to one of the pool bars with a TV and made it just in time to watch Usain win Gold in the 100m.  The energy and excitement in the resort as a result was palpable.  It was a highlight.  The Jamaican people were so proud – it was awesome to be in the country during that win.   Our last night on the beach had lots of sad faces, but another beautiful sunset, so it evened out.

Our final day included a lot of goodbyes.  Goodbye to the beach, to the bar and our favorite bartender O’Neill, to the pool and the water park.  More goodbyes to the room and amenities we had been spoiled by during the week.  And a final goodbye to Beaches Negril as the bus took us away to the airport.

Lickkle more, Jamaica.  We’ll see you again soon.

Beaches Bench

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