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Thread: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

  1. #1

    I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    “You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
    ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

    Hello, my name is Cherry and I am pretty sure I am addicted to Negril. I will tell you for sure in 20 or so days, when I return with my husband for our second trip.

    Having enjoyed so many of the reports on the board, I have thought for a while that the right thing to do would be to contribute back with a report of my own. I thought this back somewhere in April and have continued to think it would be a good idea. Thinking and actually doing is of course not the same thing. Now with only three weeks until we head back to Negril, the excitement is starting to drive me to distraction. Rather than quietly go crazy, I thought I might channel that energy into reliving our first trip with all of you on the board.

    I will warn you upfront that if you are a big fan of the short version of a story, this report will not be for you. Though there will be a certain amount of we ate here and did that to the report, I am hoping that I will be able to successfully share with you moments that helped make our first trip so unforgettable. I aim to share my opinions and I do not claim them to be fact. If our opinions differ, please don't take offense.

    Cherry is not the name I was born with, though it has been a second name of mine for a long time. There is no deep meaning to the name, it actually came from an obscure video game character, but over time it stuck. North49 is really a statement of geography, as I live North of the 49th parallel, in Winnipeg to be more exact.

    The title of this report is from the first line of this song, which has without fail, made me think of Negril each and every time I have heard it since it came out last winter. The video was actually shot in Barbados, but close enough.

    For this report, I am going to name my husband Sunshine, because he really is my sunshine. Even on the darkest days, I know he is there and will be there again the next day and the day after that. It is a warm and comfortable feeling.

    Sunshine and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary back in May. We have no kids and no pets, though I've nothing against either one. We met in university, Sunshine was in his second year and I was in my first. Our first meeting was at a fraternity keg party, which I will admit is not the most romantic of venues. Romance together wasn't the plan though, as we were both there with other love interests. We soon became good friends and before the school year was done we were an item. I don't want to make it sound too perfect or easy, because over the last nearly twenty years there have certainly been times of challenge.

    Outside of our jobs, we are one of those couples who tend to do most everything together and I like it that way. I prefer to think we are cute as opposed to nauseating. If that isn't the case, no one has yet to have the stones to point it out. We are both known to suffer from the excessive politeness that afflicts many Canadians, especially with people we don't know. Don't let the polite face fool you, we both have a rather wicked sense of humor that lurks right beneath the surface, but I will have to get to know you before I let it out.

    I am an optimist and prefer to seek out the silver lining in life rather than dwell on the bad in things. I once described myself as laid-back to Sunshine and he actually laughed in my face. I was a bit put out. What can I say, I like to be organized and have a plan in place. I am however easily talked away from my plans and I generally don't let much of anything get in the way of having a good time.

  2. #2

    Re: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    Chapter 1

    “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.

  3. #3
    Member gluecipher's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
    Thunder Bay Canada
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    Re: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    I love the report so far. Please, go on.

  4. #4

    Re: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    All I can say already is WOW!! Can't wait for more Cherry .........

  5. #5
    Member Lorax2's Avatar
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    May 2011

    Re: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    Great start! I'm hooked :-)

  6. #6
    Member kaycee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Re: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    I'm feeling it...loving your style of writing
    ...I have wandered but I wasn't lost...

    Negril, Jamaica: GreenLeaf Cabins- 5/5/12-5/11/12, Kuyaba- 9/14/12-9/18/12, Negril Beach Club Condos 10/31/12-11/5/12, Pure Garden Resort 2/5/13-2/11/13,Legends Resort 6/11/14-6/16/14, Ocho Rios: Reggae Hostel-6/5/15-6/15/15, Reggae Hostel 4/12/16-4/18/16 Where next??

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Egg Harbor Twp, NJ

    Re: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    Great start - can't wait for more!!!

  8. #8
    Member bjritz's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Kansas City MO

    Re: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    CherryNorth +Sunshine, super style, great wit, love it. More Please! No betta place to prepare for a trip to Jamaica than right here.

  9. #9

    Re: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    Thanks for the comments Gluecipher, Rinakim, Lorax, Kaycee, Mamade and bjritz. I see some of countdowns that look pretty close to my own. It won't be long now. More of the report is on its way.

  10. #10

    Re: I've got to find my way back, back to summer paradise - Nov 2011 Trip Report

    I needed more current information, so I started with the government travel site and all looked good. The country had been stable for a while, still a few places in Kingston that weren't tourist friendly, but otherwise no real concerns. The only real advice of note was that travel during an election should be done with extreme caution, as Jamaican's were passionate about their politics. I figured the chances of that were slim, so no worries there. Not yet satisfied, I went to newspapers and local media websites. I googled crime rates and all sorts of word strings that might identify a dark underside lurking beside the palm trees. Was Jamaica without incident? Of course not. Did it have a better record that the blocks surrounding my office building? Probably.

    I would like pause at this point to say something that might be starting to seem obvious. I have been accused of being almost compulsive in my research before we settle on any vacation plan. I used to try and hide that fact; now I have come to appreciate it is part of what makes a vacation for me. I might also say that the compulsion doesn't just end when the vacation is booked. It's in the end how I found Negril.com.

    Now you can't do this kind of research without learning a few other things along the way. For me, the most positive surprise was the fact that the drinking water pretty much all across the island is perfectly safe to drink. Not to get TMI on you, but I don't have an iron stomach. Spending my week worried about where my ice cubes had come from and what my fruit was washed with sounds like a real holiday bummer. This is especially true since I know it would only take one misstep to end up with my vacation sponsored by Pepto.

    So at this point, I have to admit I was totally sold. Now I just had to get Sunshine on board. I should say the drinking water wasn't the only tidbit I picked up in my research. When trying to sell someone on something, it pays to know your audience. The conversation went something like this.

    "So, I think we are going to go to Jamaica the first week of December," I say.

    "Jamaica? Isn't that dangerous?" Sunshine replied.

    "No, Foreign Affairs has lifted all the travel advisories. Would you believe there is actually a direct flight, it is only one time zone away and they have good drinking water so you probably won't have to deal with me getting sick."

    "Ok, sounds interesting."

    "Yes, doesn't it? Another interesting point is they seem to have an awful lot of sandwich joints in Jamaica. It seems like folks don't really need a special occasion to enjoy a good sub. Every day is a good day. In fact, sounds like people are pretty relaxed about chowing down almost everywhere."

    "Seriously?" he says.

    "Uh, yeah."

    "Sold! We're going to Jamaica."

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