“It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Why Jamaica? The short answer is because it was there. But really, that doesn't make much of a story, does it?
Last fall I came to the conclusion that I needed a vacation rather badly. I should say that we needed a vacation, since Sunshine was coming along, but the reality is that even if he had been fresh as a daisy ready to take on anything life throws our way, I still really needed a vacation. He did too, but if I waited for him to lead the way to vacation land, I would die of old age.
Why such a need? It was really only the usual trials of life.
My parents live in Europe, so for 11 months of the year they are extremely low maintenance. So where are they for that last month? They live at our house. To be fair, they are very good house guests. They do a multitude of chores without being asked; make sure there is always milk in the fridge and generally aim to make our lives just a little bit easier. Still, a month is a really long time to have houseguests; I have been led to believe it is especially tedious if they are your in-laws.
My husband's family are local to us. Do you know people who whenever you see them they just seem to make you feel calmer and better about life in general? This isn't this family's story and it hadn't been a good year.
So it is mid-October and we are half way through my parent's visit. We have just celebrated three family birthdays and Canadian thanksgiving in the past ten days, all hosted at our house. I am the type of person who pretty much always has a countdown going for something. At this point the best I can come up with is Christmas. Yes, if you are wondering this blessed event will also be at our house and will include overnight guests.
For my sanity's sake, I need something positive to countdown too, and I needed it fast. So I beat up on Sunshine until he got a week's vacation at the beginning of December approved and I set off to find us a deal. I had at Sunshine's request agreed to a couple of criteria that this random vacation would have to meet.
1. We weren't going to Mexico. Sunshine has decided that one would require a death wish to go to Mexico, despite the fact that seemingly half our friends return from Mexico tanned, relaxed and happy on an annual basis. Whatever, I am learning to only fight the battles that really matter to me.
2. Our chance of being a victim of violent crime couldn't be worse than home. I have mixed feelings on this criterion, as statistically our home town is one of the most violent places in the entire country. I would suggest that one should always be a bit suspicious of statistics, as we live in a pretty safe place. All the same, I thought we might actually want raise the bar a bit on this one.
3. Jet Lag was to be avoided. There is nothing like crossing 5, 6, 7 time zones twice in one week to send you back to work feeling like you'd been beaten with a sack of hammers. This was supposed to be a vacation, not an extreme sport.
4. Preference would be given to destinations with direct flights. There is just something really appealing about getting up, going to the airport and only needing one aircraft to get you to your destination, or so I'd heard as I don't know that I have ever actually done it.
So armed with my criteria I starting searching the web for just where in the world our adventure would take us. It took very little time to start focusing my search on the Caribbean. I also soon discovered that Westjet was flying direct from Winnipeg to Montego Bay every Saturday. Better yet, there were packages we could probably actually afford.
Hmmm, Jamaica eh? My preconceptions of Jamaica were mixed.
One of my best friends as a child was Jamaican and her and her family were wonderful. Big smiles, fluffy hugs and an always genuine welcome were always on offer. That said they had come to Canada to escape the poverty and violence they faced in Jamaica.
Very early on in our marriage, I had read an article in Condé Nast Traveler that waxed on poetically about the virtues of Jake's at Treasure Beach, so much so that I had been to the website, priced it out and had a dreamy 'someday' conversation with Sunshine that had us both lost in fantasy land. He agreed that it sounded like a perfect slice of paradise, but it seemed like a small fortune at the time, especially with the sixty cents to the dollar exchange rate. There was also a government travel advisory that recommended not traveling by road in Jamaica, at least in some parts of the country.