We got up very early Friday morning and drove over to Matt’s work. Since it was painfully cold outside, he dropped me off at the Park N Go building and went to park the car in the ramp. I went in to get us a couple spots on an outgoing shuttle (his work has an arrangement with Park N Go that lets us ride their shuttles for free, which is awesome), and it picked us up and headed to the airport.
The line for the bag drop at US Air was terrible, and I was worried we’d have to go through regular security since our Precheck numbers weren’t on our boarding passes. The desk agent was able to sort that out and reprint them, but then we discovered that the line at Precheck was super-long, too. We stopped to get coffee, and arrived at the gate to find the flight in the middle of boarding. We got on and headed to our very own two-seat exit row, which was very convenient.
We knew that Kris and Orsi and their kids were there somewhere, too, but we didn’t see them on the flight. They boarded a while later, and apparently we’d totally missed them waiting at the gate.
We landed in Charlotte a couple hours later, and met at the brewpub by our gate. Kris gave us the Jamaican cash he’d picked up for us at the bank. It sure looked like a lot of money. (This is $400 US.)
We had snacks and beer and then boarded the next flight to Montego Bay. Matt and I had another 2-seat row, this time with a chatty flight attendant in the jump seat.
We landed in Mobay a little late, customs forms in hand. There was one lady standing in the hallway checking every single customs form, which led to a huge messy crowd of people from the flight standing around. Once we got past her, we went to stand in the always-long customs and immigration lines. At least it wasn’t quite as hot in there as usual, and since I was carrying flipflops in my bag I was able to change to something not quite as warm.
We eventually made it through passport control, then stood in another long line for customs. Finally, we were in Jamaica. We found Kris and Orsi hanging out with the bags. We picked up snacks and a bunch of Red Stripes and Dragon Stout for the road, and found our driver waiting for us. (Their friends in Negril had arranged a driver for us, for only $20/person. That was awesome.) We piled in the van and were on our way.
Well, sort of. Traffic was godawful in Mobay, partly due to a cruise ship in port. It took us close to an hour to get out of town.
I did get to see this giant sugarcane truck along the way, though. Future rum! I hope it was going to Appleton.
The kids were bored on the long ride, and food only occupied them for a while. We finished all our beers halfway through the trip, too. We had to stop to use the bathroom and resupply our beverages, the drive was taking so long.
Our flight had landed just after noon, but we didn’t make it to Negril until sunset. It’s usually a 90-minute drive!
We arrived at Samsara, and checked into our rooms. The guy at the front desk told me and Matt that we’d be staying in one room for a night, and then transferring to our actual room for a week, and we were fine with that. We didn’t realize until the porter started leading us there that our single-night room was one of their awesome stilt houses overlooking the ocean!! I’d wanted to stay in one of those, so we were thrilled at the opportunity.
The room was fairly small, taken up almost entirely by the king-size bed and giant wardrobe, but it was great. The wind was blowing like crazy, so it didn’t matter that there wasn’t an air conditioner. (The overhead fan helped, too.) There was a bathroom with a sink and toilet on the same level as the room, but the shower was downstairs. There was also a decent-sized balcony from which you could see the ocean and the entire hotel property. (Not well since it was nighttime, but still.)
Once we were settled in, we met up with Kris and Orsi and headed down the road to No Limit, our bar-away-from-home. It was so great to be back.
They ordered food from Tony, who had a huge grill set up in the parking lot outside. He didn’t have any rice and peas left, so Orsi and I walked down to Pablo’s to get a carry-out order. It wasn’t the best thing I’d ever eaten, but as I’d learned on previous visits to Jamaica, vegetarians can’t be picky there.
No Limit had cricket on TV, so Matt and Kris decided to teach the kids how to play. They used a broken mop handle as a bat, and plastic cups from the bar as the ball. It seemed to work OK for them.
After hanging around there for a couple hours and greeting all the regulars, we headed back to the hotel. It was really clear out, so we went and sat on a low wall by the ocean, as far away as possible from the lights. We spent a long time picking out constellations, and then it was time to head to bed in our stilt house.
The ocean was pretty rough due to wind, and I woke up halfway through the night thinking I was going to freeze to death. I had to get up and close the windows, even. Who knew you could be cold in Jamaica?