Pampered Paradise

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What I did
Zip lined for the first time!

Flag of Jamaica  ,
Saturday, April 10, 2010

we got up at 5am and was on the road by 6 to o'hare airport...stopped at duty free to pick up our cigarettes (26 dollars a carton...compared to 50-55 here)...i noticed they had some fancy perfumes there, so i splurged and spent 45 bucks on 5-pack of small estee lauder perfumes....i knew i liked their 'beautiful' scent (a regular jar of it is 60 bucks) and could have just gotten that, but at the time i figured it would be a great way to check out their other fancy perfumes so got that instead. (in the end i only liked 2 out of the 5 so booo, bad decision on that!) 

im just letting you know the prices so you can compare the awesomeness of duty-free stuff. on the way back we got a LOT of stuff that we brought back, but you will just have to read through to the last day to see what we brought home. 

this was a direct flight from chicago to montego bay. we left at 10 and landed in montego bay about 2pm. i slept for about 2 hours and then woke up right when we were flying over the southern tip of florida....and let me tell you, it was one of the most gorgeous sights ive ever seen. we followed the 'straits of florida' and i saw the huge trench/waterflow stream where the atlantic ocean turns into the gulf of mexico....one side was deep deep blue, almost blackish, and the other the most beautiful turqoise color. and we seemed to follow it for about an hour, and then we were flying over cuba.....and then just more open ocean until we landed. it was kind of cool because i was on the left side of the plane at the window, and since the airport there is right on the carribean ocean, when we landed it was like 'where is the land! we are landing on water' but in a cool way. the landing was one of the best ever, but it was really weird...EVERYONE CLAPPED when we landed...and even the flight attendant said something about how smooth the landing was.

the lines to get thru immigration took FOREVER...about an hour and a half (thats the first check point when you get off the plane, before you even get your bags)...so mental note...DONT fly there on saturdays! oh my gawd....lots of hot sweaty people waiting in loooooong lines. once we finally got up the lady asked why we were there, where we were staying, if we had our return flights and stamped our passports and then we were 'let into jamaica' and then went to pick up our luggage, and stood in line for about 15 minutes to get thru customs (where they ask if you are bringing in stuff you arent supposed to (fruits, animals etc blah blah) and then they say ok go thru and then we are off

ok we headed to the sandals lounge in the airport to check in, and then we were led to our bus that takes us to Sandals Whitehouse. our resort is on the south western end of the island, and we landed onthe north west end, so we went up the mountains and through the rural farm lands. i thought of dad a lot during this bus ride, i thought he would enjoy looking at their farms and livestocks. we saw an orange farm, so lots of oranges already ripe on the trees. we saw a cashew tree, they even stopped and picked one and explained how they make cashews (the thing on the tree is big and black, but still shaped like how a full cashew looks).....we never knew they grew on trees! we thought they they grew underground like peanuts do. there were a lot of goats roaming around, but as we know, their goats are for food, not petting.

the road thru the mountains was really bumpy (crappy road, full of potholes) and really windy thru the mountains...sometimes it was a little bit scary, but a lot of it was because we were on the left side of the road, so it was weird to see people passing us on the right. once we made it to the top we stopped at a rest stop and i got a Ting, which is a jamaican pop, tastes like squirt/grapefruity. the whole ride took about 2 hours but finally around 5pm we made it to the resort!

as soon as you step off the bus they give you a cold towel and a drink and figure out who is concierge guests (we were). we were the only ones in our group with concierge and were then lead off to a different building where they checked us in and led us to our room. they told us they had upgraded us, but we did not like the view AT ALL, you could hardly see any ocean, and just a lot of trees....i was a bit mad (just on the inside, i was still smiley and nice) because i thought we had booked the specific type of room we wanted for THE VIEW because i wanted to see as much ocean as possible....they said 'well this room is bigger so its considered an upgrade' (didnt look any bigger, just looked normal) so i asked if we could just see the original room we booked and of course they said NO PROBLEM MON. so they took us to that room, and the view was a little bit better, but the balcony was a small triangle and TIIIIIIIIIIINY. like if you sat on the right side of the table out there and wanted to go back in, the person on the left side would have to move and scoot out so you could get by........

so after both of us expressed disappointment with that room, bill surprised me and said something like 'well i saved a little bit of extra money for splurges and i guess this will be one thats worth it once in a lifetime' and then turned to the concierge dude and asked if we could get upgraded to the one bedroom suite with a butler if we paid for it. they said no problem mon again and then bill went and took care of the paperwork (we paid 600 bucks extra, for something that would have cost us 2000 bucks more to book online...so GREAT deal i think)...

so we went to the butler one bedroom suite and oh my gawd the view was awesome!!! ocean everywhere, and our balcony was HUGE!!!! plus of course, a seperate living room then! and having a butler means you are THE SHIT at the resort...they are dressed in a tuxedo and escort you to dinner, and set up stuff for you, and anything you want. ill detail the little extra things our butlers did along the story. but all in all, it was suuuuch a wonderful experience having one and made it so romantic! 

but at this point it was about 6pm, and i was starting to get really tired and hungry from all the traveling. i had been up since 5am after only 4 hours of sleep, and the last thing i had eaten was at 9am and was just a breakfast burrito from mcdonalds. so i was suuuper extra hongry to the point of feeling a bit naseous.

ok we left off its our first night, im starving to the point i dont feel well (im sure the twisty windy bumpy road didnt help, i had a small headache from it also). we were waiting in our room for the butler to arrive and meet us and escort us to dinner, but after an hour we decided to just walk down ourselves, no problem with that. so went down to 'The Bayside' restaurant and got seated. we each ordered the peppered steak dinner (one of the few things offered we could eat, otherwise was just things like duck or lamb and weird dishes that people from all over the world eat normally......and we each got an appetizer. they brought out something called an 'amusche busch' which basically means 'just one taste of something' (tiny appetizer)...this was hummus on a peice of bread about the size of an inch i kid you not. it was good, only the 2nd time ive ever had hummus in my life, i liked it the first time so i wasnt scared to try it. then the entre came and the steak was SUPER spicy from so much black pepper on it. now, i love to put a shit-load of pepper on my steaks and this was way too much for me. so i think that on an empty stomach helped irritate it or something (maybe mixed with the glass of rum punch they gave us when we arrived, ...i was so thirsty and hot that i just downed it in like 3 minutes hahahahaha).

well my stomach started to hurt so bad and got upset that as soon as bill was done eating his food, we headed back to our room and then i puked up what little bit i did eat. i was pretty miserable the rest of the night (puked 2 more times). and at one point around 4am i woke up with the worst headache ever...not sure if it was just from throwing up or what...but i felt it pounding in the front of my head and all thruought the back of my neck. it was all i could do to take 2 tylenol and fall back asleep.

luckily when i woke up that horrible headache was gone.

the next morning i tried a little bit of fruit and couldnt even keep that down, and kept having extreme hot and cold flashes so bill made me go to the 'resort nurse station' and she gave me the equivalent of jamaican alka-selzer and dramamine. the alka selzer make me start to burp and almost immediately felt a bit better...and the dramamine stuff she said would make me drowsy, and i coudl tell as soon as it started to kick in. so from basically noon-2pm that day (this was sunday now) i ended up just napping it off in bed.

let me tell ya when i woke up i felt like a new woman! i wonder if it was either food poisoning or just a mixture of stuff. (like curvy bumpy ride in the heat). but i didnt care, i was finally ok!

****
lunch buffett was still being served until 230 so we hurried down and i ate a p[lateful of fruit, manly watermelon and honeydew. i didnt eat too much of it, i was kind of scared to eat even tho i did feel better.

after that we headed back to the room and got ready to walk the beach. that was really nice....about a mile long. once you got to the edge of the resort property, there was a security guard writing down your room number just to keep track of you, and to let you know that you are entering lands where there might be some wildlife, so if you see any animals (or crocodiles) to let them know when we come back, and dont touch!

well, we didnt see anything anyways, just beautiful beachline. but man what a work out that was! 


oh, that first night, i was in bed at 930pm....just so you all know how bad i felt......i never go to bed before 2am usually, but i was just wanting to escape and was so exhausted from traveling and the heat change and the puking.....(just thought id mark this down, since we are such late owls.....)

i never slept past 8am the whole time, but got enough sleep. it was kind of nice! 


there were 4-5 peacocks that roamed the resort. 2 males and the rest were females. the males are the ones with the pretty feathers that you think of when you see a peacock. so it was always cool to randomly see them everywhere. dad, i think you and mom should get a few peacocks to roam your lands! altho they are pretty noisy, we could hear them squawking even from our room some nights. bills dad raised peacocks when bill was growing up so it was cool to hear some stories about that too. such a pretty bird!

our butler was Omar, and i must say, he made our trip awesome. besides escorting us to dinner each night, (in front of everyone else waiting in line, and to a table he had decorated with candles and flower petals) he always popped around randomly bringing us drinks, or delivering a cheese and cracker plate to the room for an afternoon snack, or other fruit plates being delivered. and each day there would be a different set up of towel art with flower petals on the bed or the livingroom table. i took lots of pictures of those so youll get to see. plus, one day we came back and had a bubble bath with candles and flower petals and a bottle of champaigne cooling down next to it

besides all the extra things he did, he was just really awesome to chit-chat with.....they are always formally dressed and their shirt has something like 'official english butler service' or something like that. so they are supposed to be of the utmost professional/blah blah but we were able to get him to just be cool with us and he kind of started to pick on us towards the end so that was cool.

since we had butler service, we were able to get room service 24/7, and had a form to fill out to leave on the door by 2am if you wanted breakfast delivered. we had breakfast delivered every morning (usually just some fruit plates, coffee/juice and breads, bacon). and of course each morning they were delivered by Omar the butler. he would put a white table cloth on our table out on the balcony and set up the food for us. and each morning he always brought me a flower (kind of cool). if i didnt already know he was getting paid to do all this i would have thought he was sooo romantic! hahahahahaa. 

sunday night there wasnt too much activity or entertainment going on, i think i was in bed by 11pm and it was a struggle to stay awake that late!

monday morning we got up to breakfast being delivered again and was told by Omar that he had some chairs reserved for us at the beach under the umbrella and by the trees. (sometimes the good spots are hard to find, so another awesome perk of butler!!)......so after breakfast we went down and laid out a bit and then got in the water. 

the water here had a lot of bunches of seaweed, so if you want crystal clear awesome ocean swimming, this is not really the place. i got in far enough to get wet (the ocean water was SOOOOO WARM i loved it. it was warmer than when we went last year....but last year we were also on the north side of the island (maybe that makes a difference) and also a month earlier. it was great.

but the good part of the water...there were TONS of starfish EVERYWHERE!!!! there were red ones, orange ones, brown ones, and black ones! and we also saw a few hermit crab running around down there, an eel swimming on top of the water (that scared me) and i even saw a sea urchin! (one of those round things with spikes). it was really cool just wading around and finding the different starfish. i didnt bring my camera down to the water since i thought we might swim, so thats one regret, i didnt get any pictures of the starfish :(

after that we went up to the room to cool off a bit (yay for air conditioning in paradise haha) and then headed to guisseppes, the italian restaurant for a pizza for lunch. we each got a pepperoni pizza (every portion here is small, you have to each order something (and the appetizers) if you want to get full at dinner. we have to remember that american portions are HUGE in compared to the rest of the world. realistically each portion is more than enough to 'tide you over til the next meal' but that is IF you are able to eat everything you get on your plate! one night with a steak (the size of my fist, like 6oz maybe) i got one small peice of broccoli, one slice of a carrot, and one slice of a grilled zucchini. good thing i do like my vegetables huh? hahahahaahaha.

the pepperoni pizza was really good though, i was able to eat most of it, and at that point i was thankful to get something in me that wasnt a fruit or a veggetable.

there was a coffee shop called 'cafe de paris' where you can go get coffee drinks or ice cream or pastries...we went there quite often. the cups were really really tiny, it was almost ridiculous, but i still didnt go there was much as i thought i would have. before going there, i had thought id go all the time, but it was kind of nice gettting away from drinking so much coffee or caffeine. all i really drank the entire time was either water or tea or juice. i would open a pop back in the room (our fridge was stocked with water, pop, beer and juice) take only 2-3 sips of it, and then end up just not drinking it. i bet it had something to do with the heat and humidity, my body knew to just crave water or something cos i was sweating so much. (im not complaining, it was great while there sweating! hahaha).

monday night there was a big beach party and buffett with entertainment afterwards. we knew this was going to be good. they had mixed grilled vegetables on the buffett, so i loaded up on them (had 2 huge servings, at that point i was still thankful for anything i could eat or get/keep down, ...my stomach was fine, but i could just tell to not push it at all). they had things like jerk chicken and other jamaican foods and salads on the buffett. ohhhhh i almost forgot, i also ate a lot of tomatos and cucumbers whenever i coudl find them on the buffetts hahaha. and each time i say buffett they have the different melons, so i ate a few of those.

after the buffett we saw a station where they were making real drinks in coconuts...had guys with huge knives just a chopping away, theyd pour out half the coconut water, put some ice in, then fill up with coconut rum. they didnt have that many cococnuts(only 50 or so) and there were about 300 people at the beach party, so we knew we were lucky to score one. the drinks tasted like crap (figures! hahaha) so we just walked around a bit carrying them, letting everyone turn and say 'ooooo i want one of those' and be all jealous of us (hahaha). little do they know they werent missing out on anything. we walked back to the room to go to the bathroom and get rid of them so we wouldnt have to carry them around all night! lol.

after that there was entertainment starting on the beach, so we found some chairs and planted ourselves. they had a steel drum band with some jamaican kids doing michael jackson songs. i think i enjoyed that more than bill hahaha. they had 'charles the chameleon' doing the limbo and going really low, and then a fire twirler/breather. it was all just ok....what we saw at the other resort our last trip was a lot cooler. but in the moment it was nice sitting on a beach in jamaica watching it!

after that (it ended about 1030) we just sat out on the balcony and listened to the ocean. it wasnt as breezy/noisy there at all, that was one thing we were a bit disappointed in. but it was still awesome! we just had different expectations based on the last time. still awesome and i still want to be back! haha.

of course that night we were asleep before midnight also. (crazy, i know).

tuesday: our last full day there. we planned to go to YS Falls/ziplining excursion, so was i was up by 730, we had to meet up in the main lobby at 9:50. so had breakfast delivered again, and was ready to go down, and then our butler shows up to escort us to the lobby, and hands us a bag with towels and water to take with us. that was really cool.

the bus ride to the waterfalls took about an hour (not quite). our guide was a jamaican lady who called all of us 'her children' so we could call her mama, which was funny cos everytime we thought of her, we were like 'hey, where's mama?' hahahaha. the drive there was cool, went thru a few different towns, and she told us more history of jamaica and the area. we even stopped so we could see a cashew tree, which was cool because i didnt know they grew on trees! i can see why they are so expensive now in general. 

the actual waterfall area is in the middle of a farmer's land, so we drove past cows and goats and fish ponds, and learned that the breed of cows grown right there are some type that are really agressive, and if they are chasing something and can't end up getting to it, they'll convulse and shake themselves to death. PRETTY WEIRD! 

but once we got let off at the actual ys falls, we were led straight to a hut to get all harnessed up for the zipline. then we were all led up a hiking trail (i sure was huffing and a puffing only halfway there, it was mostly stairs and steeeeeep inclines). but finally we made it where the first line was at......and boy was i scared! being a fat girl, of course im extra scared the whole thing will just break with me on it! hahahaha. but the guide said that i was fine, if i was below the weight maximun (which is 260...so yeah i was below that) and as long as i fit into the harness i was good to go. so once he said that i felt a little more relaxed. but it was the type where you had to hang on with one hand overhead to be the brake...well each time i got so scared as soon as i took off that i would let go and just grab on to the rope in front of me FOR DEAR LIFE......but that meant that i was coming into the stops pretty fast, was funny seeing all the jamaicans zip line guides catching me to stop hahahaha. there were 5 different lines we did (the last one straight down to the ground! that looked scariest).......if anyone is scared of heights at all this is not really for them...the platforms between each 'flight' were just peices of wood/stuff on the trees, could still see far down.

and the longest zipline went right over the ys falls, i couldnt see that much tho cos i was more worried about holding on for dear life! hahahaha.

that took about an hour to do, and we stil had an hour and a half before 'mama' said she was gonna round us up to head back, so we all headed towards the waterfalls, and took all our pictures. we stepped foot in it and it was just way too cold to want to get it in right away. but i did get a picture of me touching the jump rope some people swung off of into it. (no way would i do that).

the pictures i took didnt really do it justice, so much prettier in person. all the colors were so vibrant everywhere in jamaica, and flowers EVERYWHERE......sooo beautiful.

then when we were about ready to leave, it just started to downpour really hard. remember, we are in the jungle! and we were so warm that it just felt good anyways.

on the bus ride back to the resort, 'mama' taught us some things that jamaican say ....and she pointed ME out to say that jamaicans wouldnt say 'michelle is fat'...they would say 'michelle is fluffy' ....it was funny cos mama is just as 'fluffy' as i am! hahaha. bill said he was worried i was gonna be mad about singled out, but nah...it was funny, i AM fat/fluffy, and so was mama so i knew she wasnt insulting me or anything. 

once we got back we were pretty hungry so went to the beach restaurant and ordered some jamaican jerk chicken and pork. since i had that stomach bug a few days earlier, i was too scared to really eat anything super spicy for a few days, so yeah it took me this long to get some jerk chicken in me! and of course it was soooooo goood, and just sitting near the ocean watching it made it taste even better! 

after that we just relaxed in the room a little bit (balcony) and then wandered around the resort a bit, just looking at all the stuff/trees/foliage.

went to dinner at one of the fancier restaurants that night for our last meal, it was good (steak and mashed potatos). 

the next morning i woke up at 730 even tho we had a wake up call of 8, and was onthe bus on the way back to montego bay airport by 10am. got there and thru security, etc by noon, so just wandered all the duty free shops.

i picked up 2 packages of jamaican hand rolled cigars (few of my co=workers and friends wanted them), and then a couple bags of coffee, and 4 different bottles of jamaican rum: 1 regular rum, 1 rum cream, 1 coconut rum cream, 1 banana rum cream. all the rum creams you cant get in the states, and they are soooo goood! also picked up a couple t shirts, and then was time for our flight.

we flew to charlotte, NC and barely had enough time to scarf down some food. took us a little longer to go thru security because we were flagged because we had too many cigarettes. i guess the allowed amount is just one carton a person, and we had 2 cartons each. all we had to do was pay the 'duty' on them, which ws 10 bucks each, so even figuring that in, they were cheaper than buying a carton here! hahaha.

the flight from charlotte to chicago was one of the worst ones ive been on-----my back was hurting and the lady sitting next to me wouldnt stop talking to me. was the type of lady who just goes on and on about her life history and stories and even tho i tried to actively listen/participate in the conversation, i coudl tell she wasnt really listening to what i said, so i just ended up doing the 'ahuh' 'oh wow' 'yeah' tpe of thing, and getting more annoyed at how stupid some of her stories were. i mean really? you talk to a complete stranger for over an hour and tell these weird things? 

it was really frustrating, so thank goodness that flight was only an hour and a half.

landed in chicago about 930, got to where the car was parked, and on our way heading home by 10pm.....actually made it HOME by 11pm that night.

sure was nice to be home at that point! but of course we still wish we were in jamaica!
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