Posts tagged ‘Jamaica’

Jamaica is a Great Vacation Destination

Jamaica is a very poor country and the recession has hit them even harder than the USA. When we went 2years ago the currency exchange was $1 US = $37.50 Jamaican, now it is $1 US = $88.00 Jamaican. Tourism is their #1 money making industry followed by the exportation of their Blue Mountain coffee.

Check out the price for gasoline and this is per liter not gallon.

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Unfortunately for Jamaicans, most of the plantations have shut down, the bauxite mine is closed and a lot of the smaller resort hotels have shut down as well. This leaves over 1/3 of the adult population out of work.

Despite this situation, the Jamaican people are warm, friendly and very glad to see tourists. Between the great weather and wonderful beaches, where else would you want to vacation?

The ocean is so clear and there are practically no waves since the corral reefs break the waves prior to them hitting the beach. Swimming is great because the water is somewhat warm and very relaxing.

I love the swim area at Sandals Resort in Ocho Rios because it has a pier surrounding it which is built on cement blocks which creates a “mini reef” effect. In less than 7 ft. of ocean you can see the fish, coral, sea urchins and even an octopus if you are lucky like I was. This makes snorkeling in this area a whole lot of fun and extremely easy to do. We went snorkeling farther out in the ocean and all I could see was the reef since it was deeper water and I’m fairly blind without my glasses and can’t dive at all. Surface snorkeling was way more fun when you can see the fish.

Lots of homes in Jamaica look like they are abandoned but they aren’t. Jamaicans mostly can’t afford to have construction companies work on their homes so they work on them a little bit at a time which makes for interesting neighborhoods. There will be fancy homes next to ones that look like they are falling apart or derelict.

Neighborhood in Jamaica

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Home of “voodoo” practitioners and you have to cross a thin walkway bridge after paying the entry fee to see the voodoo priest. Not set up for tourists this is the real local voodoo den.

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The views of the ocean and the rest of the island are really pretty.

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This was our room for the 10 days. Backside/poolside of the villa, we are the one with the towel on the railing. We had a big bedroom, medium sized living area, bathroom and small kitchen which is the window on the left.

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The pool was for the four villas only and we usually had it to ourselves which was great.

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We had a few visitors that kept us from missing our pets

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The pool at the Manor house which was the main hotel portion of the resort and where the main desk, tour desk, restaurants and spa are.

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And food? OMG! Such great choices! The actual Jamaican jerk chicken and pork is terrific but they have that for lunches and pull out the stops for dinners. Here is some pictures of a buffet they had set up on the evening I got injured. Hubby went and took pictures and brought me back some goodies.

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I recommend Jamaica as a place to visit on vacation even if you don’t  stay at Sandals but I highly recommend them as a resort of choice. There are six Sandals resorts in Jamaica to choose from and they are really super!

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Happy to be Home Again

We had a great time in Ocho Rios, Jamaica but I am so glad that the trip home is over. Gah…never book a trip without really looking at the flight itinerary. I failed to notice that we had two stops and one was a 6 hour layover in Miami. This was the same both going to Jamaica and returning so we had to get up at 1am to be in the lobby by 2am to leave by car for the hour and a half drive to the airport in Montego Bay for a flight that left at 7am. We got into Wichita at 11pm and fell into bed at about midnight. Never. Again…I will read the dang itinerary before agreeing! My fault, not theirs.

I’m going to start off with the end of the trip instead of the beginning so please bear with me as you will understand why shortly.

First off I want to state that I absolutely love Sandals resorts. This is the second time we have stayed at one of their Jamaican resorts and Ocho Rios was just as fantastic as the Montego Bay resort was two years ago when we last went to Jamaica. All of the staff are warm and friendly, extremely thoughtful as well as helpful and this is not because they are waiting on tips, Sandals resorts only allows tipping for the butler services, not the rest of the staff so there is no extra financial incentive for them to be so great.

If you book like we did when they run a special, you can get a great room for a reasonable rate considering it is an all-inclusive resort and you pay nothing extra for food (fantastic) or booze (plentiful and top of the line) and they have great maid service, drivers, porters, desk help, etc. all there to make your stay as enjoyable as it can be.

This last Monday, we had an excursion to do the Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour. Now the Blue Mountain is where the best Jamaican coffee is grown and Hubby absolutely adores this coffee though we can’t afford it unless we purchase it in Jamaica where it goes for about $15/lb as opposed to around $50-$80/lb online which is the only way to get it in America.

The trip from Ocho Rios is about 2 hours or so and you get to see a lot of the country. Jamaica is only 145 miles long and 51 miles wide so you can get anywhere in a short amount of time.

Here are some of the pictures from the trip to Blue Mountain:

Now we get up the mountain and let me tell you this is an experience. Back roads in Jamaica are one lane – 2 way traffic and they are narrow as hell. Jamaican drivers use the car horn constantly to warn on coming traffic that they are coming. Sometimes the tour bus and the small cars we passed had only a few inches between them which is a bit scary because the drivers are so used to this that they still drive remarkably fast for the terrain yet don’t have fender-benders very often.

Now this is the incline and the width of the road on the mountain and is what we are riding bicycles downhill on. Yep, Princess of Klutz thinks she can ride a pedal brake only bicycle down this incline.

NOT!!!  But of course, I tried.

Before we start downhill:

We are actually at the very end of the pack when we start rolling downhill. I find myself going way too fast and attempt to slow down. Not happening. I see a hand brake on the bike and try it…nada. Try pedal brakes….nada.

I now have two choices, go left and go off the cliff or go right into the side of the mountain. I chose the mountain. Of course a guy stops his bike just before I start toward the mountain and he winds up right in my path. I hit him then continue into the ditch/side of the mountain. He is a bit pissed off but really unhurt thank goodness. Me on the other hand? Not so lucky.

My wrist connects with rock and my chest and leg connect with the bike. Hubby and one of the tour guides immediately pull me up and my (of course) right hand now swells up about three times normal size in less than 60 seconds which makes everyone immediately say “OMG! it’s broken!”

This happens about noon and needless to say, we did not finish the rest of the tour. Blue Mountain Tours was fantastic though. They got me to the nearest ER which was an experience in itself. Don’t bitch about health care here in the USA because I sat in the “waiting room” which was outside with the chickens. They were incredibly busy so they drove me back to Ocho Rios and took me to a private doctor and that office was very clean with friendly staff but they had extremely old equipment and set ups.

I am glad and thankful to say I did not break anything even though the doctor I saw even thought I did until he read the x-rays. Just a very, very nasty sprain and bruises on my chest, leg and hip.

These are the pics from when we got back to the resort.

I have nothing but great things to say about both Blue Mountain Tours and Sandals and their treatment of me after my wreck. The tour company paid for all my medical bills, refunded the tour and checked up on me until we left to come home. Sandals gave us room service for the rest of our stay and they had a jitney available whenever we needed one so I didn’t have to walk that far for anything. They had their nurse checking in on me as well as various staff throughout the day.

They did not have to do this because I signed a waiver before getting on the bicycle and I took my chances. Like an idiot, I should have known that a 54yr old, fat klutz that hasn’t been on a bicycle in years, should not have attempted this tour. But I did and I suffered the consequences. I was just very impressed with how genuinely concerned that the staff at both the Blue Mountain Tours and Sandals were about me.

I am doing better but still battered and bruised. Of course since I am right handed that is the one I injured so it has been logistically a nightmare since I am very right dominate and can’t do much left handed.  Doctor said it will probably take 2-3 weeks for it to completely heal but I am just thankful it isn’t broken.

I have lots more pictures and more to tell you about the trip and will post more on Monday. Until then I am resting and hopefully healing. Stay tuned for more.

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Part 3 of Winning a Ferrari – $100,000

I now have the chance to finally show you all why I have an icon of a baby and not a picture of myself. I’m surprised I didn’t break the cameras when they were filming the check presentation !   :0)   You finally get to see me in all my plus-sized glory and I tell you that the camera puts on 20lbs. not ten – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

This is the news clip:

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more about “ferrari sweepstakes « The Official Ro…”, posted with vodpod

Newscaster made a error – it’s Roar’s 15th Anniversary in October and Deepak graciously invited us out to LA for the celebration and at no cost to us! Yep, Roar is flying us out and putting us in a hotel in LA and Hubby and I get to go to the party and tour the business plus get some free shirts! How cool is this? Gets better…

Seems that the Ferrari that was being given away in the sweepstakes belongs to Deepak (only 11,000 miles on it) and since he gets to keep it (what a win-win ) he is going to let Hubby and I drive it (in a large parking lot lol!) and have our pictures taken in what could have been our car. How fun is that? We get to check it out and still spend the money!

Love you Deepak Vasandani and love Roar Clothing USA!

We are officially on vacation from Sept. 14th – 24th because we will be in Jamaica for those 10 days staying here:

Sandals Ocho Rios resort

sandals

There are honeymoon villas in the back each with their own private pools and we are staying in one of those. Hey, we got in on the very end of summer savings and got 65% off of the room so why stay in the hotel part?

section 7 is where we will stay

section 7 is where we will stay

We are so stoked and can’t wait though all the darn tours/outings for those days are booked except for the canopy tours where you are on wires 150 ft above the ground speeding down the zip line. Not for a confirmed coward with an enormous fear of falling – nope not this “fluffy” lady!

Great food – 11 restaurants with all the food we could ever want, booze, sun, surf, swimming and snorkeling.  I think I can find enough to keep me busy in paradise for 10 days without the tours. Did I mention before that I LOVE the ocean and can’t get enough of it? Just hope we don’t get too sunburned but we are taking lots of sunscreen.

Someone pinch me please I still can’t believe this is real :0)

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