Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jamaica Day 2

... today was well awesome. It's hard to believe we've only been here 1.5 days; it feels longer, but in a good way. This place is so welcoming. I'm often uncomfortable with new people/places and I won't say I'm much more than a wallflower here, but we've met some really great people and the staff just brings you out of your shell no matter who you are. It's special. So what did we do today ? So So Much! Lets break it down:
First and foremost - I woke up to coffee already set up on our outside patio but our wonderful Butler Kendrick. Can you say heaven ? Coffee delivered to my door where I can sit and listen to the waves? OMG and the coffee is good here - really good. Its a Jamaican blend and OMG I want it at home. For those of you who really know me you know I'm a coffee snob and a total Dunkin girl, but this could seriously compete... especially when it's brought to my door.

We then ordered room service while we read our dive books - yes homework during vacation - don't ask me what we are thinking. Once breakfast was ready we promptly headed over to our scuba diving lesson at 8:30. Why we read even part of the book I'm not sure, because he gave us the answers to the test... literally. We then proceeded to get in the pool --- the rest needs some backdrop.

Ok, here goes - I can't hold my breath under water - never have been able to - never will be able to. I have to pinch my nose. Yes I know I'm old and should be able to do this, but no dice. It's actually one of my worst fears and I asked about 15 times yesterday if it would be a problem and I was promised no- the face mask covers your nose - all good. Well, not all good - not even by a long shot.

We get in the pool and he teaches us some basics, then we get to the "Clear your mask skill" where basically he puts water in your mask and you have to get it out. Enter me so close to a panic attack I was fighting back tears. He was nice though and the class was just me, Jack and one other girl so it wasn't as embarrassing - although the guys in the bleachers doing something else were sure to get a good laugh out of the girl who can't hold her breath. The instructor was nice and walked me through it several times and I mean SEVERAL. He finally got me where I could do it enough but it was terrifying. I mean terrifying. I was so glad when he moved on. However, it shook my confidence in this "diving" thing pretty deeply.

Some of the other moves involved removing your breathing device under water and putting it back -- saving a buddy with no air, etc... None of which gave me warm fuzzies. So then it's time to get on the boat and go out to the ocean. I had bought an underwater camera for this, but realized I was going to need to concentrate on breathing and staying alive, so it stayed on the boat.... I however jumped willingly to the depths of the ocean so I could pretend to be a fish and swim along the bottom.

A few minutes into the dive I realized that Jack is nowhere to be found. The instructor obviously knew I was the weak link of the group and he stayed with me the entire time and he was basically my "diving buddy" but when I couldn't find Jack - he saw my distress and motioned to me that Jack was ok and for us to keep going. This made me feel better and we continued the dive. As you dive you have to equalize the air in your mask so that your ears adjust - imagine popping them on an airplane - well throughout the dive I struggled with this; he had to stop several times and help me equalize. I do have to give the instructor credit - he recognized me and wanted me to have a good time despite my weakness and fear. He held my hand and showed me the wonder of the ocean - he helped me to enjoy it despite the imminent fear of death.

The fish were smaller than I imagined, probably because of where we were. They reminded me of aquarium fish - the coral was unique and pretty. He did some neat tricks with the water and blowing bubbles, showed us some unique fish and sea life and generally kept us safe. The other girl in the class had her husband, an experienced diver, with her so she was with us, but he was able to focus a good bit on me. I have to say I'm not sure I could have done it otherwise.

We came back to the surface and finally I found out what happened with Jack - he didn't get to dive. His mustache was allowing water in the mask :( He will go back tomorrow and I imagine he will love it. The class requires 2 dives for the certification so Mr. Instructor had me back in the water to go back down. We made it maybe 10 feet, but I could not get my ears to equalize and he had said something about swapping breathers at the bottom of the ocean for my training, which didn't enthuse me at all ... so I gave the signal to go back up. I told him I was done for the day and we got back on the boat and headed to pick up the more experienced divers who dived some ways away.

Tomorrow Jack will dive again and he will love it - of this I have no doubt. I will let him have this hobby, it simply isn't for me. However, I'm proud of myself. I faced maybe my biggest fear and while I can't say I tackled it -- I did it! So Yay Me! I could go back and 2 the second dive and be "certified" but, no - I'll take this victory for what it is and let it sit deep in my soul. Meanwhile hopefully we can get at least some of the money back given I didn't do the 2nd dive and am not getting certified. If not - ah well, I still win.

After our diving adventure we came back to the room - got showers (BTW Scuba mask + pool water + ocean water = screwed up hair) and headed out for a bite to eat. By this time it was almost 2:30 and most places are closing for lunch, but we asked this one staff member and she told us to come with her to the Sundown restaurant. I thought we were under dressed for it, but she insisted we were not.

I'm so glad we followed her advice. It was really nice and we were the only customers. I had this mango lemonade which was great, a fabulous salad and Jerk chicken. The food here overall has been fantastic.

After lunch we wondered around, bought some things at the local merchants they allowed to set up on the walk ways, and headed back to the room. Where we enjoyed our pool and relaxed. Jack then took a nap and I got out the camera. The wife of the couple next door just got a Sony and we chatted about cameras and enjoyed some good conversation. It was nice to play with the macro and I also got some good sunset pictures (I hope). Once I got back to the room we relaxed a bit more and then got dressed for dinner.

We got dressed up for dinner - I wore my new black cocktail dress - and headed to the Japanese Hibachi Grill. This is the best Hibachi I have ever had. Not necessarily the cook because this guy sung in a joking manner, which was funny, but he didn't do all the fancy throwing etc. However, his food - OMG - his food was out of this world good. Seasoned just right. It was ALOT of food, but it was so delicious. However, the best part of the night was our dinner companions. A gentleman named Smurf (yes Smurf) and Tatiana. They are newly married and were really fun to have dinner with. He is a music director for artist in Atlanta and she is a professional dancer. They met touring the world with various artist shows. It was really fun chatting with them and such a small world to find another GA couple here in Jamaica.

After dinner we headed out and were going back to the room, but we heard music, good music. They had a party on the lawn with a fabulous singer so we hung out, danced and listened. Please note it was apparently a white apparel party and I was in all black -- I danced anyway :) It was a nice cap to an already great day.

Once that was over we meandered back ot the room; stopping to get a cup of coffee and sit by the fire. Our butler outdid himself once we got back to the room. There was music, a strobe light (like in a disco, but colored), flowers on the bed and pillows in swan and hearts. We also had chocolate covered strawberries... it was really nice and thoughtful of him.

I'm sitting here now looking at the flowers -- we moved them to the dresser and enjoying the room. It's an amazing adventure so far. Tomorrow is a relaxation day and I am looking forward to having a quiet - sleep in - morning.

Til tomorrow blogland - sleep well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Jamaica Day 1

Today we left Augusta on an adventure. We have been married 12 years this week; together 15 and we have never taken a vacation where you just rested and relaxed. That is until now; we are taking a few days at the Sandals - Negril resort in Jamaica. It is an all inclusive resort tailored for couples and so far we love it, but let me back up - you know how I like to catalog the journey.

We got up this morning at 4:45 AM - yes AM - and headed to the airport. We were promptly upgraded to first class, which was a first for me. It was a short 30 minute flight to Atlanta, but having the nice seat with the drinks served was pretty cool. We then got to Atlanta and made our way to the gate for the Jamaica connection; everything today flight wise was flawless. No delays; no astronomical layovers, just perfect.

Once we arrived in Jamaica we went through customs and went to the Sandals lounge where they take your bags and promptly and you wait for the shuttle. We only had to wait about 10 or 15 minutes and we were on our way. The drive to the resort was about an hour and a half and it was sad. There is obvious abject poverty in this nation; with people living in shanties and trash in the streets. For such a beautiful place with such a tourism economy it made me sad to see this level of poverty. Hopefully our tourism money at least gets some what back to them in some way... I had been told, but still sad to see it first hand. I didn't even get my camera out for the drive over - this is not something I want to remember in pictures; at least not at this point.

We arrived at the resort; tipped the driver and were promplty spoiled rotten. Fresh lemon towels to wipe our faces with - escorted to the private check in area where we meet our butler. Yes, a butler - we figured if you are going on a second honeymoon then do it right. He walked us around the property and escorted us to our room. I felt sorry for him as he insisted on carrying my Kelly bag with the camera equipment; that thing weighs 40+ pounds and it's hot in Jamaica!

Anyway, he brought us to our room where we had cheese/crackers and got the highlights spill. Our room has a pool entrance and you can see the ocean fro the double doors.... Four poster bed with living area ... whirlpool bath tub, stand up shower, gorgeous tile, just breathtakingly beautiful and decadent.

After settling in for a minute we walked down to the bistro for a quick bite. It was ok - the waitress was obviously having a day, but we enjoyed it never the less. The egrets are like pigeons here; they come right up to the table. In case you don't know those are the white birds with yellow beaks you see in the marshlands of S. GA/ Florida. They are my favorite birds; so beautiful and graceful. It was cool to see them up close and I wish I would have had my camera with me -- I have a feeling I will see them again tomorrow.

We then headed down to confirm our diving lesson for tomorrow. Jack wants to learn to scuba dive and I'm going along for the ride - he's done enough I want to do over the years. We went ahead and paid the fee so we will be certified and can dive anywhere. If you are going to do it - do it. I must admit I'm slightly terrified, I'm not a "water" person generally, but hey. We will have fun.

Once all signed up we came back to the room for some much needed rest. We then got up and went to the seafood restaurant; or let me correct that. Our butler came and got us and escorted us to the restaurant. Its kinda nice; he took our drink orders so we didn't wait and made sure we were good to go. Its funny - we really don't drink alot. I ordered a cocktail but Jack ordered a virgin daquiri; the wait staff was trying not to laugh at us. Ah well...
This restaurant is right on the beach; the waves were within 10 feet. The food was so good and just the right portions. It was peaceful and could have been romantic, but we are both tired so peaceful was the mood we let it set. I really did enjoy it though; the waiters were funny and the setting ideal.

We then went for a walk around; saw a brave crab who had wondered up to the bar area. He was huge; again a moment I wish I had my camera, but today was nice just to be without it... tomorrow or the next I'll get it out.

We came back sat in the pool area of our room for a bit then I got a bath in the whirlpool tub - I think it should be called the mini pool; it was so relaxing. Now I'm about to start reading the dive book for tomorrow before I go to sleep. Have to be over there before 8:30 :(

Good night blogland - hope you are enjoying your day - I know we are.

Jamaica Day 2 and Part of 3

I'm relaxed - I mean really relaxed and it feels amazing.  Yesterday after the post they showed us a new room and I was really undecided...