I woke up around 7 am this morning, waddled out to the kitchen for some water, and nearly jumped out of my pajamas when I saw what was outside–gray. Nothing but gray. Gray clouds in a gray sky over a sleepy gray city that had yet to caffeine up for the day. The gray was so startling because I had just returned from a land of cool blues, lush greens, playful yellows, and sultry pinks. That’s what five days in Montego Bay, Jamaica will do to you–the colors will put you in touch with good feelings you didn’t even know you had.
Jamaica was the eleventh country I got to check off my globetrotting to-do list, and this trip also marked the very first time I celebrated a birthday outside of the United States. Jamaica was a dream come true–since returning from Cuba in June 2003, I had fantasized about the lazy, luxurious Caribbean paradise trip–a trip where I would pay a lot of money to do as little as possible. Mike and I didn’t want a Sandals or a Beaches or anything that felt large, manufactured, or too American. We wanted a small, quiet, beautiful, and simple place to park it for five days and decompress. And who wouldn’t want to park it at a place that looks like this?
I am proud to say I didn’t do a damn thing on this vacation. I napped, gazed, snoozed, pondered, daydreamed, and napped some more while the Caribbean Sea lapped at my very white feet. My day consisted of:
1. Getting up for Breakfast.
2. Discussing over Breakfast whether we wanted to do the Pool, Beach, or Hot Tub first.
3. Following up on our Discussion With a Course of Action and then Changing that Course of Action last minute simply because we could.
4. Returning from said Hot Tub, Beach, or Pool for 4 pm teatime.
5. Discussing over Tea, Cookies, and Finger Sandwiches what to do that Evening. Often times, what we wanted to do involved Red Stripe.
Or sometimes what we did involved a beach ball…
But whatever we did, it involved sunshine, and lots of it.
To be fair, we did get a filtered flavor of the country and its people. We stayed at Coyaba, an absolutely beautiful, clean, just-as-close-to-perfect-as-you-can-get-four-star hotel. Coyaba is small, only 50 rooms, and has all the perks of a resort without feeling like a resort. Our fellow guests hailed from Austria, Germany, England, and, interestingly, New Jersey (plus a very nasal-voiced family from Chicago). I got hooked on the 4 o’clock teatime while there, so today, my first full day back in Estados Unidos, my body not only suffered from color shock, but also late-afternoon sugar shock (LASS for short), a devastating condition that can wreak havoc upon vulnerable office workers.
It was hard to remember the office when embraced by Eden. I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but our little resort bubble was unbelievable. It was interesting to imagine what Jamaica looked like before the British, before African slave ships, before lazy American tourists. But here is a very small sliver of the Jamaica we saw. At first, I attempted to channel Georgia O’Keefe:
But I quickly realized my limits, and just decided to be the point-and-shoot American tourist.
The uneven, somewhat paved roads were also interesting…people selling baskets of mangos from the hoods of some very old beat up cars, dilapidated buildings nestled at the foot of the green, jagged mountains, cruise ships parked out at sea, motionless and aloof, like prissy dogs. You can’t see the cruise ship in this photo, but here’s what downtown Montego Bay looked like on a Thursday afternoon as tchotchke-starved cruise ship passengers panic-shopped during their stop at port.
But overall, this is how I felt about being in Jamaica for my 34th birthday…
And, finally, here’s Anna, thinking about the next family vacation. We’re hoping to eat our way across Belguim next year. Fortunately for us, Belgium is a small country.