“Here in Jamaica, there is no such thing as a problem…” our tour guide informed us.  “There are no problems, just situations.”

As I finished my third Red Stripe beer and tossed the bottle in the recycle bin, and looked out over the sun setting on the ocean behind my wife I, I thought to myself ‘this is my kinda place’.

 

We originally had this idea that after we got married in September, we’d spend a two week long honeymoon in Hawaii.  We’d travel around the islands, see volcanoes, lay on black sand beaches and eat pineapples right off the tree.  Then we got deep into our wedding planning. And work stuff happened.  And suddenly we had no time to plan any kind of a honeymoon.

We thought about just winging it.  Buying plane tickets and booking the rest of it when we got there.  That plan had some appeal. What is more romantic and adventurous than just showing up on a tropical island with only a suitcase full of clothes and two weeks of possibilities.

But when the stresses that come with a wedding; out of town guests and seating charts and relatives who have last minute meltdowns…  Well, sometimes you need play it safe.    Because while jaunting off to a tropical island with no itinerary is exciting, there’s something to be said for not having yet another thing to worry about.  So yeah, we played it safe.  At least for the first part of our honeymoon. So we booked a week long stay at Sandals in Jamaica and went back to our wedding planning madness.

And after the wedding was all wrapped up we found ourselves on a beach in the middle of a small and not so exciting resort drinking fruity frozen drinks out of plastic cups.  It wasn’t exactly what I had pictured a luxury resort being like.  But sitting there, watching the clear Caribbean waters wash up on the sand and polishing off my third cocktail of the morning, I didn’t really have much to complain about.

Rather than give you the play-by-play of the entire weekend, I thought better to spare you that and instead offer up a list of things I learned in Jamaica that might help you should ever decide to visit.  And you should. Jamaica is a beautiful place with a friendly and culturally rich people who are waiting for you to come see their island:

  1. We are not resort people.  You might be and that’s okay, but we are not.  It was nice for the first day or two, but after that we were ready to scale the walls to escape.   Some people may think and all-inclusive resort is relaxing, to me it felt like a prison with frozen drinks.
  2. Eat the food the local food.  The food at the resort was okay, but when I’m in Jamaica I don’t want eat Thai food.  I want Jerk chicken and patties and rice and peas.   Luckily we got out of the resort enough to actually try some of the real stuff.  Here’s a tip, if you’re in Montego Bay, ask someone to take you to Scotchies.  You won’t regret it.
  3. Speaking of Montego Bay, don’t stay there.  After doing a day trip to Negril, we say how much more it had to offer.
  4. Speaking of Negril.  If you don’t watch the sun set from the cliffs of Negril, you didn’t get out enough.  Stop at one of the many bars and watch (or join) the cliff divers and enjoy some Red Stripes as you watch the sun disappear into the sea. (Rick’s Cafe is a good place to start)
  5. Get Jamaican dollars and use those.  American dollars are great for tips, but if you’re buying stuff, use the local currency or a credit card.  You won’t get taken on the exchange rate that way.
  6. Buy a REAL wood carving.  You’ll see all kinds of street dealers and souvenir shops selling wood carvings.  Pass those up and go to a shop that makes them in house.  You’ll get a legitimate carving hand crafted by a true artist, not some phony piece of junk that came from China.
  7. Enjoy the mountains.   Whether you’re a hiker, a mountain biker or just someone who’s looking for an adventure, you’ll find it in the Blue Mountains.  Rising up about 7000ft from sea level, it’s where they grow the famous Blue Mountain coffee.  Hire a guide service to take you up there and you’ll likely get to see a coffee plantation, citrus groves and the occasional exotic bird and herd of goats.  Plus, you’ll probably get some pretty spectacular views at the top.
  8. Talk to the people.  You’ll be surprised at how friendly and warm the people of Jamaica are.  They love telling you all about their culture, their island and even about their personal lives.  It’s humbling to see how happy and content these people are, especially considering the hardships many of them have had to face in their lifetime (Jamaica is one of the most impoverished countries in the western hemisphere.  The average Jamaican earns about 1/20th  of what the average American earns).
  9. Margaritaville.  Ok, this isn’t Key West, but there’s still a place here called Margaritaville.  If you’re feeling a little homesick or if you’re just looking for a way to waste an entire day drinking and playing in the water, this is a good spot.  Imagine a sports bar with open walls facing the ocean.  Then imagine it has a giant slide that takes you right from the bar into the ocean where there are giant water toys waiting to be jumped on.  It’s like a Caribbean Chuckie Cheese in the water (and no kids!).

 

With so many places to still see, I doubt I’ll be seeing Jamaica again very soon.  But despite being marooned at the Frozen Drink Clink (aka Sandals),  it’s on my short list of places to see again.

 

Pictures!

Scotchies! It may not look like much, but it was the best food we had in country.

 

Jerk chicken, jerk pork, peas and rice and the ever present Red Stripe

 

NOM NOM NOM!

Chilin' with "Dr. Quality". The man who made my little skeleton wood carving and taught me the fine art of haggling with his wife!

The wife enjoying the sunset in Negril

 

One last beer before the sun dips away...

 

On a coffee plantation on top of the Blue Mountains

Coffee beans!! (Yes, I ate one - it tasted like coffee)

 

Margaritaville!!

 

Last night on the resort. So sick of fruity cocktails and Red Stripe so I switched to straight scotch. It was a good choice. My wife was still enjoying them though...

 

 

But we aren’t done yet!   Next up, Honeymoon Part Deux: The Southwest Tour.   I’ll tell you all about the second leg of our honeymoon as we traveled through Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Sedona!   Till then, happy trails!

 

 

 

 

 

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