First of all, you guys are the best. Really. I'm a hugger...and while I can hug some of you, I know mileage or lack of actually ever meeting each other stands in the way of me hugging the rest. But, I totally would. And you'd be like, "Whoa...she's a hugger," but it'd be a good hug. I'm talking way too much about hugs. Moving on.
Today, Jamaica. Jamaica holds a very special place in my heart. This was the second time I'd been to Jamaica as a tourist. The first time was with David on my senior trip with my family. Before that, for four summers during high school, Sara and I went with Dad to a medical/dental missions camp in the St. Elizabeth parish of the beautiful and lush island. We'd stay for two weeks at a time working with medical clinics that dotted the mountainsides. I'll tell you all about our Jamaica adventures another day. Boy, do I have some stories...
We docked in Ocho Rios...Spanish for Eight Rivers. Christopher Columbus shipwrecked there on his last voyage to the New World and thought he saw eight rivers. They think he was drunk because there are only four rivers that flow into the ocean at Ocho Rios. Actually, I think that's one of those little stories they tell you. They say it's named that because someone called it "Las chorreras" meaning spouts or waterfalls because of all the waterfalls in the area and someone just mispronounced it one day. I choose to believe the Chris Columbus story. Drunk explorer stories always get me.
The white apartment buildings in the far distance are the Turtle Towers. Well, that's what they were called 15 years ago when Dad, Sara and I stayed there for a night after finishing up our first trip.
The city is laden with shopping villas and markets and little craft fairs and just people walking around selling necklaces or the dreadlock hats. It's pretty overwhelming at times, but you can get some good deals. Like, $20 for coffee that you pay $50 for in the States.
So, we boarded our taxi van and headed to the parish of St. Ann to visit Prospect Plantation. Still a working plantation, their main crops are pimento (all-spice) trees and, oh gosh, I think limes...I can't remember. They had sugar cane, too, and some other stuff. It had a lot of neat history. The descendants of the owners still visit regularly. I think they're from England. I dunno...Google "Prospect Plantation Jamaica" and you can read about it.
We boarded a tractor tram and headed off into the rain forest. Our guide, Jackson, was ADORABLE. We stopped and he picked some lime and pimento leaves for us to smell. He said the all-spice was a mixture of cinnamon, pepper and something else...nutmeg, maybe...and you could smell all three scents. And the lime leaf, oh my word, it was like heaven. I want a lime tree just so I can smell the leaves.
We stopped to watched a coconut tree climbing demonstration and we got to have some coconut water and eat some coconut meat. In Hawaii, I drank enough coconut water to know better than to take more than a little swig. It's supposedly super healthy for you, but whew, it's a little thicker than regular water and kind of sweet, but also tastes kind of like what you'd expect water from the inside of a nut to taste like. I like coconut milk, but you can't drink a lot of that at one time either or you'll...well, it's a natural laxative. We'll leave it at that.
We kept on driving and we come upon a clearing and here stands Random Bee Man. I guess they farm honey, too.
We stopped to see some ostriches. They raise them on the plantation, I guess for meat, I'm not sure. But, we got to feed them. Ostriches are mean little boogers.
An old sugar cane mill.
A huge valley with the White River (??) at the bottom. Jackson told us that legend has it that if you jump into the river from the top of the mountain, you'll live forever. That seems pretty true.
We finally got to the main house. It's a very pretty house, still filled with its previous owners furniture and belongings...like it knows they will one day return to haunt its stuccoed walls....bwaah ha haaaa...no, it's not haunted. It used to be a fort. Built by somebody in some year a long time ago. You can see I really paid attention on this tour. Sadly, this was the second time I've toured this place and I still don't remember. On the bottom story, you can see the little gun holes. They go all around the house. A second story was added later and it became a house.
A tree planted by Sir Winston Churchill. Inside the house, there was a picture of him planting it.
The back yard. More like, beautiful gardens and grassy slope that eventually led to a huge cliff.
Used to be a swimming pool.
There was some story about this fountain and why they didn't clean it. I think it was imported marble from somewhere and designed by a famous sculptor and they didn't want to hurt the marble by cleaning it, so they let it go natural.
On our way back, we stopped to pet some camels. Yep, camels in Jamaica. When asked what they were used for on the plantation, the reply was, "Tourism."
Then, we headed to Dolphin Cove to get some amazing lunch and visit the beach. It was pretty overcast and rainy, so we just watched other people swim. They had a little nature trail you could walk on and see iguanas and silk spiders and birds. They also had a dolphin and shark show, which was pretty cool.
You could see our boat from the beach.
Lunchin' with my honey.
We had to do some jumping pictures, of course. This is me prepping for a jump and David took it too early, but gyah, it cracks me up. It took us forever to get it right.
The shark pool.
So, these guys did a shark show. I don't remember what kind of sharks they were...nurse sharks, maybe?? It wasn't really a show, more like a "swim around with the sharks" type of thing. I don't know that you could train a shark to do more than eat you anyway. But it was funny because they got some tourists in the pool with them. When the trainers dropped food in front of the sharks' mouths, they would burst up out of the water and make this huge sucking sound and snarf the food right in. It was crazy. And they scared the guy so bad doing that. I about wet my pants. But, remember how I told you, like, eons ago, that there was a pirate who was annoying? Well, he was here. They had a little pirate village and we were standing up on the boardwalk and he would walk around WITH A MICROPHONE (WHO GAVE HIM A MICROPHONE?!) and talk like a pirate. Except it wasn't like, "Arrrgh, me mateys," here and there. It was, "Arrrrgh...hmmm...sharks....arrrrrrrrrrrrgh...rarrrrrwwwrrr...arrrrrghghh...sharks....rum....feed the sharks arrrrrgggh rum...pour me some rum...arrrrrrrgh." And he was doing it all during the show and I almost pushed him in. Except that wouldn't have been good because he really did only have one leg.
We heart Jamaica!
Me and Hugs and the sunset. You will honestly never find a more beautiful sunset than at sea. Just because it's so clear...there's nothing obstructing the view.
Here's a boy for you.
Oh, I almost forgot. We sailed around under Cuba for awhile. You can see it on the horizon.
I did it! I finished the cruise posts! Yes, Allison, you guys HAVE to go on one. I know the Carnival Splendor ordeal probably isn't helping me sell it right now, but they are fabulous. I will never get tired of them. Yay for cruises! But yay for land, too!