Monday, December 23, 2013

Yah mon - Jamaica!

Just got back from the Gem of the Caribbean - into one of the worst ice storms in GTA history! When we left last Saturday we were the last flight out for the day...what a difference arriving in this beautiful sunny place, able to stroll down to the beach, immerse ourselves in warm water and enjoy tropical drink concoctions as well as be surrounded by vegetation that usually grows only as houseplants where we are.

So nice to listen to the lovely Jamaican accents - even though when they speak patois I feel like I am listening to a foreign language!

The company Fraser works for - Levitt Safety was having a sales conference - so it was partly work for many people, but not the spouses or other guests. I enjoyed relaxing in the shade, doing a few yoga classes - the instructor was from Toronto on a working vacation - and a couple of bike rides outside the compound.

Secrets Wild Orchid/St. James is a lovely resort in Montego Bay - we had lots to eat - no worries for the vegheads - there were also local specialties like calaloo and rice and peas and delicious fruits like mango, papaya (which we saw growing our on day trip) and a first for us - soursop - creamy, custardy and a taste like a flowery pineapple. The Blue Mountain restaurant on the complex even had a tofu dish - however, we did have to explain ourselves a few times at dinner at the French, Italian and Mexican restaurants. The chef came out to talk to us at Portofino - and we had such a lovely meal the first time - we went back there on our last night. Our French meal was also lovely. Strangely we had to go back to the Mexican place to be more specific as our first dinner there was an Asian stir fry!? The next time we had tortillas and veggies, beans and guacamole. Our Asian dinner was also delicious - spring rolls, miso soup and a stir fry with rice. Our waitress there was super - wish I remembered her name!

There were all kinds of on site activities like cooking and speaking Jamaican, crafts like painting a t-shirt or painting, hat weaving, making jewellery, "name that tune" and at night lots of great musical entertainment.

We did a few off site excursions - including a visit to Rose Hall - home of the infamous "White Witch"

Rose Hall, the estate house of a former sugar plantation, in Jamaica inspires new "White Witch" film.

Annie Palmer - which may or may not be true - she could be a amalgamation of the owner's first wife, Ros- who was supposedly virtuous but nevetheless buried FOUR husbands..hmmmm...Annie apparently had 3 husbands - the first lasting 7 years, the second 2 and the third 6 months as well as numerous slave lovers. She also was good at hiding the evidence of murder, having slaves go far out on the property to bury the bodies, then have her overseer kill them as "runaways". It is a cool and spooky place at night - that's for sure. Annie was orphaned at a young age and was brought up in Haiti where her nanny - a Voodoo priestess taught her everything she knew. There is also graphic description of slave punishment and talk of haunting...wooooo. It certainly gave the six of us on the tour a few frights - dim lighting, full moon and people jumping out at us..yikes.

 This fellow was walking around on stilts at the resort and selling Jamaican flags...


These are some photos I took from the van when a few ladies went on a shopping excursion into Montego Bay...

All ready for Christmas...

From one of my bike tours...that's our wonderful guide on the end!
Me and one of the many crocodiles on the Black River
On one of our last days we took a trip - or the world's longest amusement park ride as Fraser said to Black River and YS Falls - the road was verrrry bumpy and winding with extra large potholes. We were getting a "butt massage" as our guide Desrine said..LOL. We had an amazing driver - Michael. Thanks to Helen of Air Canada Vacations for telling us about and booking these little getaways!

Our new friends from the Edmonton office - Dean and Charlaine

Don't try this at home kids...our guide would "call" to the crocs, pet them, shake their paws and here he is tickling one under the chin!

A few more photos of the Black River..

YS Falls...gorgeous!

Fraser having a dip...