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Thread: Trip Report: ULTRA BUMP

  1. #1
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    Trip Report: ULTRA BUMP

    April 8-13, 2012

    Trip Mantra:
    May we be happy.
    May we be healthy.
    May we be safe.
    May we live with ease.

    ULTRA BUMP

    I booked a 5-night package through Funjet Vacations using
    their promotional code ULTRA BUMP.
    From that point on, that was the title of our trip.

    I arrived at Sunset at the Palms (SATP) in Bloody Bay, Negril by the afternoon of Easter Sunday.
    For reasons I can’t explain, the day of travel didn’t cause the wear and tear that I remember from other trips.

    Previous trips started replaying through my mind as soon as I stepped foot on the island in a different way than they do at home.
    The memory bank is stimulated by the sensory overload.
    Is it possible that after 22 trips in 22 years and four years and eight months away from the island that I could forget how this place makes me feel?
    I can tell you it is. It is the difference between thinking and feeling.

    We were given chilled, rosemary-scented wet towels as soon as we sat down to check in.
    The staff, acutely aware of how precious our time at their property is, makes sure the transition from home to here goes as smoothly as possible.
    Without even feeling the shift, there is an unspoken realization that “here” is now our new, temporary home.
    I feel welcomed; I feel relaxed, and I feel my usual acclimation period has been cut down to record time.
    The property’s simplicity and tranquility are in the subtle details of sun peeking through Buddhas amidst the beautifully manicured gardens and open floor plan.
    The lack of music allows us to hear the birds welcome us as well.

    Our bags are quickly brought to our private tree house. Two separate rooms are attached to the same well built wooden structure so we have our own space, but we are still connected. This is very symbolic of my friendship with Lisa. We met through Negril.com and this is our fourth trip to Jamaica together.

    My room is clean, inviting, and sits up in the trees. The verandah has a day bed that I will spend many hours in the trip lounging on and reading. I never hear voices when I am in my room, not from the fellow tourists or staff. I am conscious of this and do not play music or talk loudly. The TV watches me, but I don’t watch it during the duration of my stay. I rarely need the AC because the ceiling fan moves the air from the three walls of ventilation around.

    I have never stayed in Bloody Bay (BB), but I welcomed the new experience. Not completely trusting myself to be open to breaking old habits, I took comfort in knowing that I was still a short taxi ride away from the scene I’ve known and loved for years. I find that BB is a microcosm of the seven-mile stretch of Negril Beach, but with a slight twist. Although we are on an all-inclusive (AI) property, the salesmen are not chased off if you choose to call them over. Nearby are the familiar tables of jewelry, sarongs, and other wares. Directly next door to us is Office of Nature. What I loved about Sunset at the Palms is that it maintains its Jamaican character at all times. I felt pampered without feeling like I sold out, without feeling like I could have been at any resort in the Caribbean. There was a careful balance between comfort and convenience with beach yard life. I was still able to meet Jamaicans from all over the island with stories to tell, ears to lend, and laughs to share.

    A highlight of my trip was Donnavon Dalrymple. He plays guitar and sings on the beach. His rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is the sweetest I’ve ever heard and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. He told me that his videos are on YouTube, but I found the sound of the waves crashing behind him, while picturesque, too distracting to truly hear his voice. I shot a new video of him away from the water.

    I never quite got used to the fact that the guests at our hotel were all couples, except for one Jamaican family that included three generations enjoying the Easter weekend. The staff, both women and men equally, seemed to pay extra attention to us. Culturally, I have learned over the years, that they do not think women should be alone. They saw quickly how receptive we were to their company so at every meal they would come to talk with us for a while and go on their way. When Lisa mentioned her love for roasted breadfruit, someone brought it the next day from the country. Their company was genuine and respectful, and the feeling was mutual.

    The property is more of a boutique hotel, with less than 90 rooms on the property. All meals were buffet style, with one fine dining restaurant option called The Lotus Leaf. We ate all of our meals except for one at the casual buffet, opting for a table outside of the dining room by the coffee bar. It was never crowded and the mostly Canadian clientele became part of the close-knit family environment that is so carefully crafted there. At night, live music played at the Bamboo Bar nearby.

    The lobby was our living room, with several dimly lit seating areas tucked away. Free WiFi was available in this area. We always found time to sit here throughout the day and night to regroup. The martini/piano bar was in the same large area. A tennis court, state of the art gym, pool, Bamboo bar, Cambio, computer lab, and gift shop were also available for anyone interested. I was interested in the gym, but I never actually made it there.

    MEALS

    I am a big fan of the buffet style meals because the food was always ready and I love to create a plate of tapas, sampling tastes of as much as I could. Each night had a different theme (Journey to Japan, international, Italian, Jamaican), but lunch was always traditionally Jamaican. The wide bread selection and pastries were all homemade on the property. What I like most about Jamaican desserts is that they are not nearly as sweet as at home. Fizroy, the pastry chef, informed us that he follows recipes and uses half the sugar that they call for. We always had leisurely meals, taking hours to finish. The waitstaff would try to clear our plates and seemed confused when I would tell them that I was still working on it. At home, I don’t eat as mindfully or slowly. When we were finished, we retreated to the coffee bar for herbal tea.

    Breakfast was by far my favorite meal of the day. We arrived every day when they opened at 7 AM. I’d start with a Blue Mountain cappuccino and a plate of fresh fruit. I’d work up to fresh, steamed vegetables, saltfish, eggs, and a side of corn meal or oatmeal porridge. I fell madly in love with the porridge, filling up a bowl to keep in my room fridge. On my last breakfast, there was no corn meal porridge so Bruce whipped me up a special batch and I asked him to marry me. I could not leave that day without one last bowl. It was love in a cup, divine comfort. After two hours at breakfast, I brought a small Tupperware to fill with callaloo and to bring to the beach.

    We made reservations for one night at The Lotus Leaf. There are two seating choices, 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM. We decided to forgo one sunset to dress up and eat at the restaurant at the first seating. They serve a five-course meal that includes your choice of appetizer, soup, salad, and entrée. The plates that lead up to the dinner were small so you did not fill up. The day before, I secretly ordered a birthday cake for Lisa. Fizroy made a special rainbow cake that she was delighted and completely caught off guard by since her birthday is not until June. Lisa and I live in separate states; and even though we agreed that this trip would be our time to celebrate, she had not expected me to actually take it seriously. After dinner, Sifford shut the lights and Lisa assumed the electricity cut off. This soon followed our waiter coming out of the kitchen with a candle-lit cake, followed by a birthday song. Lisa perked up and got giddy, singing along and looking to see whose birthday it was. Once I turned my camera and pointed it in her direction, she caught on that it was for her. She squealed and fought back the tears. It made her feel, in her words, all “feklempt.” Our waiter delivered her present from me on a plate and we ate cake and shared it with the other guests and staff.

    ** More posts and photos to come. Some names have been changed.
    Last edited by rizla; 04-15-2012 at 01:00 PM.

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    CREATURE OF HABIT

    For those of you who have followed my trip reports over the years, know that I crave structure. Each day was nearly identical. We arrived at the beach at 10 AM and chose a nice spot under a large tree. My backpack was full so that I had everything that I’d need to stay until sunset: book, sunblock, bottled water, Digicell phone, sarong, towel, sheet, assorted toiletries, and snacks. The beach had comfortable lounge chairs, a bar, clean bathrooms, showers, and a grill that made it that much easier to spend the day there without having to walk back to the room. By 11:30 AM, I snacked on fresh, grilled red snapper and sliced fruit, along with the veg that I brought from breakfast. I only got off my lounger for necessities such as a swim; otherwise, I read for hours on end. Gone are the days of journal writing, but I kept a small notebook on hand to jot down notes and quotes that I didn’t want to forget. At 5 PM, I enjoyed jerk chicken to hold me over until a late dinner.

    By afternoon, the beach emptied out except for the few of us who knew that the sunset was the best time of the day. The couples left to go to the pool at that time. When we asked a couple who we befriended why they never watched the sunset, they confessed that they did not know about it. With the beach mostly to ourselves, we got a private show. Each was unique. Each night I said that wouldn’t photograph it since I have so many already. Each time, I couldn’t resist and shot another one.

    Once the sun dipped down, we gathered our camp and headed back to our rooms to shower and get ready for dinner. Nights ended relatively early for us and I gladly continued my book on the verandah with the tree frogs. I indulged in a bowl of porridge as a bedtime snack.

    A BITTERSWEET VISIT

    Our dear friend of many years, Wayne, has been sick for many months. He was being treated for an ulcer since the fall, with the pain getting so bad that they had to give him shots of pain killers. A few months ago, a doctor in Kingston discovered a large tumor and suspected that he had pancreatic cancer. After an arduous preparation, they finally performed an eight-hour surgery, a whipple. Before surgery, the hospital requires receipts proving that a patient was able to get a certain number of people to give blood to the banks, which is not an easy task in Jamaica. There was also the daunting task of bringing specific hospital supplies with you prior to surgery. Weeks were passing and it was obvious that he would die if he did not get this surgery. We did what we could from the States, but mostly felt overcome with helplessness and worry. Wayne survived the odds and made it through surgery.

    The results proved that the doctor’s diagnosis was correct, but he was optimistic that they caught the cancer in its early stages and got all of it. He was allowed to return to Westmoreland to recuperate with his family, but he will be returning to Kingston in the coming weeks to begin chemotherapy. Luckily, the timing worked out so that we could spend a few hours with him. Our friend was in Negril last week and warned us that he is now bald and lost about sixty pounds. Seeing Wayne was still heartbreaking because the light in his eyes is dimmer; he is tired; and his spirit is broken. He has been to Hell and back, but he is sure that he is going to be all right. It’s not his time to go.

    Lisa paid for him to have a day pass and, again, the staff could not have been kinder to him. For the first time since knowing him, he put on his swimming trunks and joined us in the water. He said that he had not been in the sea in about three years. It was sweet to see him float with us. It was very healing for him.

    It never rained during our visit and, from what we were told, it hasn’t rained in weeks; however, the dark clouds moved in and pushed us back to the resort for our only lunch buffet visit of the trip. It was good to see Wayne eat a nice sized plate of food, but we could see him starting to fade. He took us to one of our favorite trip ritual spots, PetCom gas station, for Lisa to fill his tank and for us to stock up on goodies. Everyone needed a nap after that so he took us back to SATP and he went home. The day took a lot out of everyone. Lisa and I weren’t able to talk about how heavy our hearts felt until hours later. Even then, I knew that Lisa wasn’t ready to go there so she tucked it away for a few more days. I didn’t push.

    ** More posts and photos to come. Some names have been changed.
    Last edited by rizla; 04-14-2012 at 09:42 PM.

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    SUNGLASSES

    During one of my beach days, I used the restroom. I brought my bottle of water, sunglasses, and wallet with me. I left my water and glasses by the sink and brought my wallet in the stall with me. I contemplated whether or not leaving my glasses there was a good idea, but I figured no one would steal them at a nice place like this. When I returned to wash my hands, I noticed that my glasses were gone. I quickly ran out of the restroom to see if I could catch the teef. Security was nearby and suggested that perhaps they had fallen. Instinctively, I wanted to put out an Amber Alert and worried that going back in to check the floor would be losing precious time; but, I went back in to check. They weren’t there.

    Security pointed out the tourist women who just left, but they were back at the beach at this point. I stomped toward them and aggressively stared all of the women.

    A guy called out to me, “Are you looking for something?”

    “My sunglasses,” I replied angrily.

    “We found them, but didn’t know where to return them,” he explained, as he handed them back to me. Apparently, they weren’t worth stealing, as I only paid $10 for them, but already grew very attached to them. I thanked him profusely, going along with the charade that they took them with the assumption that they had been lost.

    The bartender told me that he saw the women leave the restroom with them, quickly studying them to see if they were expensive. It was hard for me to get over it for the rest of the trip. It was beyond me that someone would do that. Unfortunately, since we were all staying at the same resort, I had to see them for the rest of the trip.

    The trip was therapeutic in every way. I felt a million miles from the stress of my job and my life. My peace of mind was rattled and I found myself saying “I’ll cut a *****” every time the subject came up. You can take the girl out of Jersey, but.. you know the rest.

    At the end of the trip, one of the ladies who works in the lobby was tickled pink by another pair of sunglasses that I was wearing. She giggled with delight at the sight of them. When we were leaving, I wrapped them up and gave them to her as a present. I made her day.

    In the end, I guess if you want my sunglasses, the best way to go about it is not to take them, but simply compliment them and I’ll simply give them to you.

    ** More posts and photos to come. Some names have been changed.
    Last edited by rizla; 04-14-2012 at 09:46 PM.

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    HE DON’T

    I’ve developed a fascination with Hedonism II (Hedo) after hearing the stories over the years. I can’t even say I’ve heard detailed stories in the sense of a beginning, middle, and end; but general suggestions, a lot of missing blanks, but all danced around the same theme of, in a word, sex. I wanted to see what it was about. I wanted to leave with a good story.

    Randomly, throughout the days leading up to our small adventure, we’d ask people what they know about Hedo. It was the topic of many funny conversations with both tourists and locals. A taxi driver referred to it as “the zoo” and others gave it mixed reviews based on things they’ve heard, the boats they’ve seen go by, or the big Halloween party they host every year. Our all-time favorite quote of the trip came from a sage Riu worker who said quite simply and without contemplation, “Hedo is retarded.” We both burst into wild laughter at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word “retarded” from a Jamaican and it struck us the funniest thing we’ve ever heard.

    We toyed with the idea of going on a night pass, with the hope that it would be an interesting sociological study in human sexual behavior.. Ok, who am I kidding? I wanted to see people giving head in the hot tub. I thought that we would laugh about it for years to come. (Is it me or are my word choices been full of puns and Freudian slips?) I must admit that I pushed for the idea more than Lisa. She had never been, but had a better idea of what it was like. I didn’t seem to be letting it go though. Our last night was my last chance and I felt sure that our peaceful trip needed a little cheap thrill. I just needed to see for myself what was going on over there. Since Italian night at our buffet didn’t appeal to either one of us, I figured we would eat dinner there instead.

    We arrived just before 8 PM, paid $50. at the front desk for a night pass, left our driver licenses with them, and added a second AI band to our left wrists. Someone told us that a night pass was $30. so it felt like a blow to the gut to know that we had to pay more, especially since we are paying a lot to stay at SATP. I was dressed up, standing in their lobby, and ready to party. I handed over my credit card, but had a hard time recovering from the setback.

    A boardy friend has stayed at Hedo many times over the years and linked us up with a few of her friends to look after us and show us around. Upon arriving in the dining room, I was smacked with the stark contrast of where we just left. We left heaven and entered a bright, loud, hot, and crowded large dining room that was in full swing. (Sorry, the puns are finding their own way in this story all on their own.) My eyes were large and my heart was beating in double time, which was only exaserbated by the outfits. The outfits. I am not a prude, I just.. I..I... My head started to spin and a song played incessantly in my head:

    “In another dimension
    With voyeuristic intention.
    Well secluded I see all...
    With a bit of a mind flip...
    You’re into a time slip…
    And nothing can ever be the same.
    You're spaced out on sensation.
    Like you're under sedation.
    Let's do the Time Warp again.
    Let's do the Time Warp again.”

    I kept thinking that I was going to get hit by rice and toast any moment.

    Continued...
    Last edited by rizla; 04-15-2012 at 02:08 PM.

  5. #5
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    HE DON'T (Cont'd)

    How did this happen? How did I LET this happen? I left the womb, got in a taxi that I’m quite sure was a time machine and after only a few minutes and 500J later, I arrived in the 1970s. Only Hugh wasn’t there and the bunnies had aged considerably.

    Our private guide recognized us as soon we stepped foot in the large room because, I’m assuming, it was easy to pick out fresh meat. Plus, we were practically bumping into people because our heads were turning in every direction but forward. Mikey called me on my cell, said he was looking at us, then waved from across the room. I was relieved to go to him and opted for a cool, I’ve-got-this walk; although, I wanted to run. He was handsome and strong and every bit as kind as our connection said he would be.

    A lovely woman from the Italian restaurant was next on our list on the welcoming committee. Sharlene welcomed us with warm, hearty hugs, as if she had known us for years. She was given strict instructions to make sure we ate the ravioli. She said that she would speak with the Maitre D to see about getting us a table.

    A short time had passed since we arrived and yet I felt drastically different. Although he didn’t have to pay to get in, my old friend Anxiety decided he was NOT going to miss this party! I ordered a scotch and soda at the bar with the hopes that it would send him back to whatever hell hole he’s been hiding in, but that just seemed to encourage him more. Mikey took us on a tour of Hedo.

    I dressed in heels and an ornate cover up, with a just-in-case, sexy lingerie number underneath. Navigating through the property in heels, a lit Parliament, pocketbook, and a drink was proving to be a challenge. All I wanted to do was sit down with Lisa and regroup. Anxiety was fueled by the Dewars and already having a blast, he told me to shut up. I obeyed.

    The odd thing about the tour was the time of night. Everyone was either in the dining room or in their rooms, which left the rest of the place a ghost town. I saw the infamous slide, the nude side’s pool, beach, and hot tub, disco, and piano bar. It was all deserted, dark, and dank. The highlight was the glass bottom Jacuzzi in the ceiling for people to look up at and see what’s going on. This may not be entirely true, but it felt much hotter here. We ended up back at the dining room, where we both abandoned our drinks and tried to make a plan. Hedo sober probably wasn’t our best plan, but then again, we stopped making good decisions when we thought coming here would be fun.

    Sharlene found us and was exasperated from looking all over for us to bring us into the Italian restaurant. Lisa was instinctively opposed to it, but I pushed for it. I believed that it would be quiet and cool; we could regroup. I desperately needed to regroup! The restaurant was hotter than outside and the AC was on. We sat down and tried to focus on the menu, but the couple next to us kept throwing me off. They were someone’s grandparents. They bought someone socks for Christmas. They were at Hedo. I didn’t get it. I tried to absorb it all, process it, but I couldn’t.

    “I don’t want ravioli,” whispered Lisa.

    “Listen, Sharlene ordered it for us so let’s just split it and go outside,” I suggested.

    Lisa tried to play along, but we were sweating and the discomfort level was rising with the heat. A lot was going through our minds, yet weren’t able to articulate it. It’s like trying to have a conversation with the person sitting next to you on a roller coaster. Out of desperation and in an attempt to cool off, I removed my cover up, leaving myself more vulnerable as I sat there in a tight, lace nighty. Looking around, I told myself that I wasn’t standing out by any means. If anything, I was overdressed for the occasion. I didn’t care. This is normal. I always go out for ravioli looking like a hooker. I am soooo cool with this.

    Efforts to regroup were an epic failure so we moved on. The buffet was rockin’ and the tables were all full. Eventually, we found a table full of dirty glasses and a stained tablecloth. A lovely waitress came over with the smile of an angel. She cleared the table and allowed me to have a fresh tablecloth. I was optimistic that this was going to get better; all I needed to do was relax and go with it.

    I surveyed the buffet, but all I wanted was to be at our home resort. I wanted to spend our last night with our new friends, in peace, feeling the safety and security that I had reveled in all week. Lisa ordered a stir fry, which took longer than my plate piling at the roast beef carving station and salad bar. I arrived back at our table before her and waited for what felt like an eternity for her to return. I looked at my food, but I couldn’t eat it because Anxiety is never hungry. I told myself it would be polite to wait for Lisa to return before I started eating.

    When Lisa returned, she was in good spirits and highly amused by the crowd. She’d say, “Oh my God, three o’clock.” I’d look quickly and stiffly return to my full, untouched plate of food. I envied her ability to laugh at it all.

    Sharlene found us and, for the second time in the evening, was dumbfounded by our disappearing act. “I came to your table and brought you bread.” We apologized and explained that it was too hot in there, but we would eat the ravioli out here. She understood and said she would bring it out to us.

    I mouthed, “I’m not doing well.” Lisa was sweet and said I looked beautiful. I tried to take comfort in that. I sat there for a few minutes, pressed my hand on my belly, and tried to breathe. I asked how long we had to stay and Lisa said we had to stay a little while. The show was about to start soon and we should try to see some of it. I wanted to leave. I wanted to catch the buffet at SATP before it closed for the night. I couldn’t verbalize to Lisa that this wasn’t how I wanted to spend my last night of our trip because this was my idea, we paid a lot to get in, and well, this was my idea. I didn’t know what to do.

    I sat there overcome with emotions and did what I oftentimes do in situations when I feel there is no out. I started to cry. Lisa took one look at me and said, “Let’s go.”

    I dropped my napkin on my plate and headed toward the door without hesitation. We sat on the bench out front. If I can just regroup, I know I can do this. Lisa saw no reason to torture ourselves and she, too, wanted nothing more than to go back to our buffet, to sit at our table, and to talk to our friends. We got our wrist bands cut off and the staff seemed surprised that we were leaving so soon. Without explanation, we simply got a cab back to SATP. Thankfully, Lisa was in her right mind and stopped the taxi driver before he hit the road. He threw it into reverse and we went back to the lobby to get our drivers licenses. While I was there, I ditched Anxiety and left him there to party since he liked it so much.

    A few days later, my boardy friend said that Sharlene was heartbroken when she returned to our table with a plate full of ravioli, only to find that we had disappeared again. For this, I felt awful.

    When we arrived back at SATP, with my cover up back on and the temperature and vibes much cooler, we enjoyed Italian night tremendously. It was good to be home. While it was an expensive lesson to learn, I was finally able to put my Hedo fantasy to bed. Pun intended.

    ** More posts and photos to come. Some names have been changed.
    Last edited by rizla; 04-14-2012 at 09:59 PM.

  6. #6
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    Donnavon Dalrymple

    Link to private concert...


    "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"


    I have another video of his Beres Hammond (medley style) to come.

    ***photos to come...
    Last edited by rizla; 04-14-2012 at 09:51 PM.

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    Good stuff so far .... We don't get many reports from SATP ....

  8. #8
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    Absoloutely, insanely gorgeous property

  9. #9
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    (((Rizla))) Thank you for sharing your trip! I can relate to the anxiety and wanting to/trying to recover from it in the moment!!

  10. #10
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    Loving your report! We used to stay at PV and on our first trip ~ VERY EARLY in the morning I started bugging my husband to finish his breakfast so we could head out down the beach. For the longest time he could not figure out what my rush was all about. After about 15 minutes of discussion he started to laugh and said, "Oh my God...you want to get through Hedo before they're all out on the beach!" Um..yes. That was it. He chose this point to take his sweet time finishing his breakfast and having another cup of coffee...oh and could he run up to the room first? Sigh...my trip across Hedo's beach was enough of a tour for me. I had the same reaction ~ dear God...that's someone's grandparents! Yikes!!

    Can't wait for more of your report!

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