November 2, 2015

our jamaican adventure

There's nothing quite like a family vacation. Even better when you get to head to a country that you've always wanted to cross off your travel list. For me, Jamaica was a place that I had always wanted to visit, so when Cal's cousin decided to get married there we were happy to accept the invitation to head south to celebrate with them.

This trip has been planned since early this year, and with plans to go to Florida, then camp over the summer, we didn't tell the girls about it for quite some time. We figured they could enjoy the other adventures we had planned, then they could learn about the trip to Jamaica to shorten their waiting time. We told them around early September, showed them the website for the resort, and they began to count the days...

On October 22nd, we boarded the plane to Montego Bay and headed to the Grand Palladium Resort & Spa. Lady A hopped into her plane seat, buckled up and surveyed the area. She promptly looked over at Cal, eyeing her armrest and asked "Daddy - which button do I push to get a massage?"

From the moment we got to the resort, we had two little girls who settled very easily into the all-inclusive lifestyle; gladly sipping on virgin Pina Coladas (Lady M) and virgin strawberry daiquiris (Lady A) when desired.

Upon arrival we realized that we'd had a slight mishap with our luggage. I had carefully packed all of the toiletries into large freezer ziploc bags before putting them in the suitcase. In my preparation back home I had tried to distribute these items between Cal's bag and mine to ensure neither bag was overweight when we got to the airport. Well, the weight distribution was excellent, however, it seems that the sunscreen fully exploded in flight, bursting out of the ziploc and spraying all over the suitcase it was in. That suitcase was not mine. Suddenly Cal's wardrobe for the week was cut in half.

Thankfully, that was the worst thing that happened all week; the rest of our days were happily filled with swimming, relaxation and fun.

Some highlights:

  • Lady A mastered the fine art of swimming through the pool with her drink held high enough, to the laughter and cheers of many of the adults at the pool.
  • The girls loved the variety of pools to choose from, and moved happily from the kid pool (filled with waterslides, waterfalls and fun), to the enormous main pool, to the beach. Lady A even began to swim on her own, under water about 20 feet between Cal and I. 
  • We had a great day trip to Negril on a catamaran where we had lunch at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, visited a local mall and watched the cliff divers at Rick's Cafe
  • Part of the day trip was having the opportunity to snorkel too. This was a first for all four of us, and the tour guides from the catamaran were awesome with the girls! One guide had a life preserver that both girls held on to as he pulled it through the Caribbean sea. He would dive down into the water and bring something special up for them. On various dives he brought up a sea cucumber, female sea urchin, starfish, sand dollar and assorted shells and the girls were mesmerized while happily splashing around, and peeking under the water throughout the adventure. 
  • Lady M bravely took the plunge (from the lowest platform) at Rick's Cafe into Cal's arms, and was quite excited about it! I played my anxious mom card and said that Amelia would have to wait until next time. 
  • Both girls got to head to the resort spa one afternoon to get some braids in their hair. Now I realize that the woman who did them was skilled in the area of braiding, but DAMN, she was FAST! I was mesmerized by her speed and efficiency. I should have taken lessons; it would make our morning routine at home much faster.  
Of course the reason we headed south was to celebrate the wedding of one super fabulous couple with Cal's family, and their special day was lovely. The ceremony was at noon, followed by pictures and pool time, then the reception was at 6:30pm. After a full and fun day, Lady A passed out in my arms during the speeches. Lady M lasted a little longer, happily playing with her older cousin until about 10pm when she hit her limit and Cal brought her back to the room for a good night sleep.

The rest of the week was really just filled with lots of swimming, eating and relaxation. I polished off a couple of books, worked on my tan and just enjoyed being disconnected for a while. Lady M certainly settled into the caribbean life, and proved that when she was out swimming one morning and asked:

"Is it 10 o'clock yet?".
Me: "I'm not sure, why?"
Lady M: "Because that's when the swim-up bar opens!"

Clearly my almost 7-year-old girl has her all-inclusive priorities straight!

It's always a treat when we can take some time away from the real world. Waking up when we wanted, not having to rush to school/work and having lots of extra hours in the day to spend time as a family was wonderful. The girls were not ready to leave when Thursday came around again, but they were rockstar travellers, even on the flight that didn't land until 2:00am. Lady A was sleeping against the airplane window before we ever left the gate in Montego Bay, but woke up four hours later in Toronto telling us she'd been awake the whole way. :)

Though we were all sad to see the vacation come to an end, we'll happily look forward to our next travel adventure, wherever that may be!
Lady A wistfully saying goodbye to the resort!