Thursday, December 17, 2015

Day Four | Wednesday, February 4th | Falmouth, Jamaica

Day four brought with it many new adventures as we arrived at our second port, Falmouth, Jamaica! This place will stick around in my mind forever. Such an experience. I spent half the day worrying but the sights and experiences we got to embark on were memorable to say the least.
Lots of photos ahead!
Ready for the day!

We didn't have balconies but GMa, Aunt Sandra and Aunt Barbara did. Since they were right across the hall from us we took advantage of their view whenever we could!
Steel drums...perfection.
James party of two in Jamaica!
I shall preface this by stating that I was scared to go to Jamaica as soon as I heard it was a port stop on the cruise route. I’d heard many scary stories before going from co-workers, friends, etc that it is not the safest place to be. Tourist abductions are the norm and I received strict instructions from anyone who’d been there prior to stay within the gates of the port. At least if I wanted to stay safe. If you know me, you know that I am a worry wart and a scaredy cat and a rule follower. Such a joy to be around! So when the majority of our 6 man wolf pack expressed interest in venturing out of the port in a tour van with a stranger, you could say I was less than thrilled. I didn’t need adventure. I had everything I needed within the iron fencing and tourist traps that existed in the “safe zone”.

After wandering around for a few minutes, my Dad was starting to get impatient. He doesn’t do crowds, or tourists, or touristy “stuff”. He likes to venture out. Do the unordinary. Cole and David were pretty on board with this too while the girls were more reserved. A lady walked up to our group as she could tell we were trying to decide on something to do and said something along the lines of do we want to go on a bus tour? The photo below was not the conversation I described above. This person was with the cruise line excursions. The one we went on was definitely not. 
No. No, I absolutely do not want to go on a bus tour. Thankyouverymuch. I want to go over there to that tourist trap of a store and look at the “I heart Jamaica" shirts. 

Next thing I know we’re being introduced to our driver for the day, Louis (pronounced “Lou-ey”) and the six of us (Dad, Mom, David, Me, Cole and Kali) are piling into a cramped wagon. No doubt what will be our last ride in a vehicle ever because I just know we aren’t coming back from this.
Dad rode shot gun, David and Cole held up the middle row and the girls filed in the back.
Nervous smiles.
 Goodbye world. It’s been fun. Peace.

As soon as we left those gates, my anxiety shot through the roof. We were driving extremely slow through hoards of people who were groping the van and peering into the windows. The streets swarmed with people. I didn't get any photos as I was trying to take it all in, but it was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Then the roads started to clear out and we were on our way.

We maneuvered our way through the town of Falmouth and started to get a dose of reality. We weren’t in Kansas anymore. It was a whole new world. The country side was beautiful, no doubt about that. But the little towns we traveled through along the way surely made me appreciate where I live and the luxuries I take for granted. At one point things seemed a little sketchy. David asked, “hey Louis you’re going to take care of us right”? Louis replied, “Yea mon I got my 9 and a machete. No worries mon I’ll keep you safe”.

Oh boy.

After a while of riding and realizing that Louis was not going to drive us out into the middle of nowhere and leave us for dead, I started to relax and enjoy the adventure a little more. We made pit stops along the way and learned about the history of the country. Louis was a great tour guide and such a kind soul. We truly enjoyed getting to know him and his country and hearing his story. David and I still think about Louis as he left quite an impression on us. We still talk about him occasionally and have even shared his story and wisdom with friends.

We made a pit stop at a country club to stretch our legs and snap some photos. The grounds were really something. 

Where's Waldo?

Gorgeous hibiscus everywhere.
We drove by Montego Bay and got to see the fancy five star all-inclusive resorts from the back of our van. If those people only knew the reality of life in Jamaica, as seen in the pictures below, they’d have a much better appreciation for their little slice of Heaven at that resort.

Rasta man. 
At some point during our day trip, Louis decided he was going to drop us off at a random beach to fend for ourselves for a little bit. Um ok sure. He didn’t ask if that’s what we wanted to do. Just took us, told us to get on out and enjoy and he’d be back later. Um ok again. Sure. Promise you’ll be back? Like before dark?
I don’t remember the name of the beach but it was absolutely stunning and not very crowded. When Louis dumped us he also provided us with a bag of sugar cane for a snack. Thanks Louis!
We were beckoned over by Jamaicans on stilts and quickly smiled for a photo-op. We were also not so politely told that we now owed them money for the photo and all. Alrighty then! Welcome to Jamaica!

This pit stop was definitely worth it. SO incredibly beautiful. There are a lot of photos ahead of this stunning place!

Traveling to the bathroom in a group. Safety first!

I forgot to mention but all of my photos from this trip were taken on my iPhone. Such a handy little device. I brought my DSLR camera with me on the cruise but barely, if ever, pulled it out. 

Paradise again. 
Momma dukes has her fam and a beach. Happy girl! 

TOURISTS. All we're missing are the fanny packs. Which I actually bought one recently and I couldn't be more excited about it!
Jamaica me happy!

Have you ever used the Pro HDR app on your iPhone? I'd highly recommend it! 

To this day Mom is adamant that her koozie has bamboo leaves on it...ok Mom, whatever you say...

So many treasures.

I found an awesome piece of painted wood that was floating in the ocean. I totally planned to keep it and make a cool sign when we got home but alas nobody would let me bring it back. Apparently it would cause a problem in customs and that was a no-no. Boo.
Once Louis finished eating lunch (that's what we found out he was going to do) he thankfully returned to collect his passengers.

After a long day of exploring/riding/fearing for my life, it was time to head back to port. When we were approaching the gates, Louis told us what to expect and that we needed to present our ship cards so the authorities could check us. We did as told and when we entered back through the gates I said a silent prayer that we’d made it back in one piece.

We said our goodbyes to Louis and wished him well. We thanked him for keeping us safe and that we’d always remember him!
I’d had enough adventure for one day and could finally breathe easy again. We split up from there and ventured out within the port to do a little window shopping before it was time to get back on the ship.

Some of the crew.

One massive ship I tell ya!
We ran into Fred and Robin who’d done an ATV adventure that day. Apparently Robin’s clothes were soaked/muddy beyond wearability and so she invested in an authentic Jamaican tourist outfit. Beads and all. Ha!
It was then sunset, dinner, and casino as usual!

None of us ever braved the Flow Rider. Next time I'll remember to pack (and thus have to buy) a one piece.

Bye Jamaica!

The smile seems to have faded...
The Royal Promenade in our ship was like a mall! So many stores, food and people! 

Day Five is up next!

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