Okay, so here goes. 19 days without access to email or live journal. Will she survive? My plan is, to write up my vacation, as I get time to sit and type, and then upload the entries when I get home.
Friday was our day of departure. I went to sleep the night before, mostly packed. I had left:
- packing up what was left in the bathroom </li>deciding what to bring in my travel purse (a large, gussetted canvas bag)</li>
- making invitations for Critter's birthday party
- updating the checkbook and preparing bills for Mom to mail when she deposits the check that Flar left
- finding a pattern for an afghan -- Bébé's sweater is almost done, and I wanted to take something that would last the trip, so I'm starting a chenille throw
- Printing out a check-in sheet for chess club
- catching up live journal
I'm probably forgetting some of the things I had left for Friday to do, but I didn't bring that checklist as I was able to complete everything but catching up on live journal. One of Flar's client's came through with a big check at the last minute, so I was able to bring us almost completely up-to-date on bills after Mom makes the deposit on Monday.
Knight arrived in plenty of time to get me to chess club. I'm still working on learning all the kids' names, but I'm getting better. We've got two other chess moms involved this year. If they stick with it, then I know I'll be able to run chess club next year.
As chess club was winding down, I was reaching for my phone to call and see whether Flar was en route, and it rang. Okay, beeped. Anyway, Flar wondered if I'd remembered to bring my passport. Oops. See, he was handling all the tickets, and when we travel as a family, he includes all four of our passports with the tickets in his packet. I hadn't even thought about my passport -- I usually don't have to think about my passport. I remember explicitly thinking about having ID with me -- moving my driver's license from one purse to another. But that's as far as I thought. It never made any of the checklists or really my conscious thoughts about the trip.
Fortunately, Pengie had gotten into town early this weekend, and he was able to bring my passport to the airport for me. While Kittybane and the boys watched for him, Flar and I checked in at the Delta counter.
Our ticket agent was puzzled by the computer, and after he shared the changes that it showed to our itinerary, we were, too. Our flights toJamaica were still as expected, but they had once again changed our itineraries for the trip back. And worse than that, Knight's itinerary was changed from a layover in Miami to a one-stop flight via Atlanta to Lexington. Which would seriously impact our plans to spend a night in Ft. Lauderdale together on our way back.
There wasn't really much that the agent could do at that point, except give us all the info. So we decided to call Knight from Atlanta and give him a heads up, to see if he could do anything about it.
Pause for clarification. Our flight plans were enormously complicated, as a group of four: me, Flar, Knight and Gaucha. Flar and I were flying together to Miami. Knight was flying to Miami Saturday morning. Meanwhile, Gaucha was flying from Brazil to Jamaica via Miami, Since she still doesn't have a US Visa, she would be in the special transit lounge between flights. There's a special in-transit-without-visa program, apparently.
Flar had planned the flights so that we were scheduled to arrive in Jamaica before Gaucha, so that he would be there to translate for her. Then Knight couldn't get on the same flight -- his would be arriving later -- and I was given a choice of flying with Flar or with Knight. I decided to fly with Knight.
Then, on the return trip, Knight would be leaving the earliest, but all three of us would be laying over in Miami. So Knight arranged for a rental car and a room in Ft. Lauderdale, and we were planning one last night of fun before the vacation would be over on Sunday. That is, until the airlines stepped in to change everything around.
By the time we all got to Hedo, we found out that Knight had been able to arrange to change his flight from Delta to American and stay over in Miami after all. It turns out that he'll be flying from Jamaica on the same flight that Gaucha will be taking.
Meanwhile, still on Friday night, Flar and I offered to give up our seats on the flight from Atlanta to Miami: they were offering $250 vouchers and confirmed seats on a later flight, and we had the slack in our schedule. But they ended up not using our seats so we followed our original schedule to arrive in Miami at 10:30pm.
It didn't take long to spot our luggage, and I enjoyed chatting with a young lady who was in culinary school and had photography as a hobby. But we had a bear of a time getting to our hotel. The courtesy shuttle that we were told circled every 20 minutes didn't arrive until we'd been waiting 45 minutes, and then it was too full to take us. So we went back down to the taxi line, only to be moved from a yellow taxi to a blue taxii when they found out our destination was in the airport region. Miami airport is not a friendly place for travelers; at least not by this experience.
By the time we got to our room, we were only interested in settling down to sleep.
Friday morning, we left the hotel nice and early, only to stand in line for almost an hour and a half to check in for our flight. Sure, standing that long is a pain, but there were people to talk to in line, and I was on vacation at last! Flar has more trouble accepting poor line management than I do.. When we finally got to check in, Flar reminded me to ask for a seat next to Knight. Later, Knight said that when he checked in for his flight she recognized his name from my request, and called me a lovely lad. :) They may not be efficient, but Air Jamaica folk are sure good at being friendly.
Flar talked to the people in charge of Gaucha. She was in a holding area at the airport, but they had no provisions for letting anyone visit her. When we went through security together, I got selected for wanding. My theory is because I was switching travel companion.
I waited with Flar for his flight board, as mine was hours later. Well, it should have been. Unfortunately, some of the FAA paperwork had been misplaced for Flar's plane, and they had to wait while copies were faxed. He ended up boarding only minutes before I did. Our plane was only slightly delayed by extraordinary attention by US Customs. Knight has this theory about why they would search planes going *to* Jamaica, but it still bewilders me.
The flights to Kingston, and then Montego Bay were pretty uneventful. My bags flew with Flar and were already at the baggage service desk when I arrived, and Knight's was one of the first group off, so we had little time to wait there. We didn't have to wait long for our bus to Hedo, but the trip itself is an hour and a half on a tiny winding road. And did I mention they drive on the left side of the road in Jamaica?
While we were checking in, our travel agent came and met us, and told us where Flar and Gaucha were waiting (nearby), so I went to find them. My first meeting with Gaucha. I think I was so tired from travelling that I forgot to be nervous, and she was there, and so pretty, and threw out her arms for a hug, and smiled so big. We've been very comfortable together since then during the trip, even with the challenge of learning each others' languages.
Dinner on Saturday night was a very elaborate banquet, with the most gorgeous desserts, and so many different entrees. I think I did well at not overdoing, but I took one too many of the marzipans and didn't finish it. The only problem is that I didn't get a chance for a bath until after dinner, and by the time I was done bathing, and I realized how much I needed water, all the bars but the main one were closed. Knight was a hero and found me water, and then we both collapsed to sleep after the long day of travel.
I came here determined to rest and come back without a sunburn. I brought many different choices of amusement, but only the two goals.
So far, I think I'm meeting my goals.
Monday after breakfast, Knight and I went to the boutique and picked out a bikini for me. I haven't had a two-piece bathing suit in ages and I just wanted something that I could pair with my white mesh cover-up for swimming without burning. I found one that tied on the sides, and made a full-coverage large into a bare minimal 2XL by adjusting the ties.
Then we went back to the room to dress for the pool. We started out at the clothing optional pool, where we have a corner room. I got a couple of drinks called hummingbirds, which have milk, banana, grenadine, mango and rum in them. They were very yummy.
We headed over to the nude area to see if we could find Flar and Gaucha, and they were at the bar in the nude pool. We spent the next hour or so hanging out with them in the shade. It was fairly laid back fun,k until some bitch complained to me about wearing my cover-up in the nude area. I let her get to me, even though everyone said she obviously had her own issues, and it kind of put a damper on the rest of the afternoon for me. We went to lunch soon after that, and played Bingo during lunch. After lunch, we played a couple of games of Mama Mia!, but I was developing a pretty strong headache by then and headed back to the room to try to sleep it off in the dark.
Unfortunately, the headache had too far a head-start on me. I didn't really start to ebb until after I'd thrown up from the nausea it caused. And then I sacked out until after dark. Flar and Gaucha called before the hot-tub party at 6, and Knight told them how sick I was. After the party, they stopped by and offered to bring me back food from dinner. But, by then the headache had mostly passed, so I got up and joined them for dinner.
After dinner, the entertainment crew was running a trivia context, and I answered a few of the questions. The one I liked the best was "What do Jamaicans call a woman who has sex with a man for money, and a car, and a house?" My answer was "a wife!" After the trivia game, they gave reggae lessons. Gaucha and Flar and Knight and I all participated. We had lots of fun dancing, but we didn't win the competition that followed.
After dinner, we went back to our rooms. Knight got sleepy before I did, so I stayed up and read awhile.
Monday was a very restful day. I've given up on completely unpacking, and have settled on rummaging in the one bag that didn't get completely emptied on the first day. What made my mind up was discovering that I had room for the PDA keyboard on one of the tables.
I've determined to stay indoors as much as possible when the sun is out. Even when staying cool and in the shade, the amount of light coming into my eyes from the bright, bright sunlit scenery is too much for me in large doses. Today I succeeded in this goal. We ate breakfast in the main dining area, then retreated to the room, after one game of pool. (But not on the pool table in the pool, so it doesn't count.)
We dozed and watched movies, until it turned out too late for lunch in the main dining area, and we ate at the only eatery still open -- the Jamaican restaurant. Where I wimped out and had a cheeseburger. But I tried the cocoa bread. It was only barely touched by a flavor of chocolate, but it was yummy sweet bread, so well worth the try.
We met up with Flar and Gaucha at that restaurant, and spent the rest of the afternoon with them. We hung out in their room awhile, then swam for a bit, and soaked in the hot-tub, and then cuddled on our bed for a couple of Wallace and Gromit shorts.
By then it was near time for our dinner at the Japanese grill, so they left to change for dinner. Tonight's dress code was bright tropicals, so I wore my flowery-print jumper. Dinner was yummy, and we enjoyed talking to our companions at the dinner table. There was a couple there from Boston, and I don't recall where the other couple was from.
When we got back to the room, Knight and I figured out that we were sleepy and didn't want to fool with late night parties. We watched a Sinbad movie, then he went to sleep and I decided to get my journal up-to-date.
Which brings us to the end of the evening, and of Day Four, and of the first installment of my Hedo vacation.