The Ultimate Planner… with NO Plans!

 When I go on a vacation, it is generally with a well-planned out itinerary that schedules from morning through evening and include what time we get up, what attractions we will venture to, what restaurants we go to, and what time we go to bed.  When I first starting planning vacations, I was much more controlling and would get upset when people didn’t move at my speed, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more flexible, but it still takes the guess work out of the day when we get into the “Where do you want to eat?  I don’t know, where do you want to eat” situations.  This doesn’t work for a lot of people, especially those who like to take it easy and relax… which is not what I usually do on vacation, but it ensures that I get to visit the places I want to go to rather than staying in the hotel room and watching TV.  One thing you can’t say about vacationing with me is that you didn’t do enough stuff! 

Kingston was a little different.  We were staying with relatives, specifically, my cousin and her boyfriend, and the plan was that they would take us around.  Several months before we arrived, I read up on Jamaica in general but didn’t do any planning as to where to go or what to do.  I wanted to relax, take in  the non-resort side of Jamaica, and learn about their people and places.  Therefore, I did no planning… and hey, the world didn’t end!  Here’s what we did in a very general sense (I’ll go through the details in future blogs):

12/29/07 Ocho Rios

My cousin drove us to Ocho Rios, a two-hour drive through some beautiful scenery, including Fern Gully (no relationship to the cartoon movie) with plans for Caitlin to swim with dolphins.  However, we didn’t have a reservation, so it would have been a 2 1/2 hour wait.  The cost for Caitlin was $195, and $45/each for us to watch… we decided that she can do that another time in her life.  Instead, we walked around Island Village, a two-story shopping area, instead.  We bought souvenirs from various stores and ice cream from Devon House I Scream.  In one of thei gift shops, we saw the bobsled used by the Olympics Jamaican Bobsled Team made famous by the movie, Cool Runnings.

On the way back to Kingston, we stopped on the side of the road to visit a fruit vendor.  This vendor was a woman with two young sons dressed in tattered clothes full of holes playing with whatever they could find, sticks, rocks, fruit peels, while their mom sold fruits to customers.  She skillfully used a machete to cut up a coconut that she was holding in her hand.  Once cut open, you drink the juice inside, probably equivalent to 16 oz.  Then you hand the coconut to her, and she will cut off a slice of the rind for you, so you can scoop up the opaque gooey stuff inside the coconut.  All of it tastes like water with a little sweet flavor.

We also bought some tangerines that were green and yellow.  Most of the ones we had weren’t very juicy, but they were sweet and meant to eat as is; they were not going to turn orange.

12/30/07, Blue Mountains

After breakfast, we went to with my cousin to a local strip mall, which looks like our strip malls, except the mall guard wears a baton!  We waited for my cousin to quickly buy something before going to a supermarket.  This supermarket is about 1/2 the size of a Safeway, Lucky’s, or Ralphs.  The shelves carried similar items: pasta, sauces, vegetables, rice, fruits, meats, etc., but it was noticeable that they lack the quantities.  It looked a lot like our supermarkets the night of a big holiday associated with eating (like Thanksgiving). 

We were driven to the Blue Mountains, by way of a windy narrow road barely made for two cars (one in each direction), but as we will learn, “it always fits.”  My cousin has a restaurant there, so we had wonderful lunches there of crab backs, pork chops, and oxtail.  Everything had a wonderful taste to it, the quantity was sufficient, and best of all, we had a beautiful view.


We bought jerk seasoning and the famous Blue Mountain coffee as souvenirs for our friends and family.  On the way down the mountain, I found out that my cousin was involved in getting over 3,000 trees planted in the mountains.  Now years later, our family is able to enjoy the beauty.

Caitlin and Daniel got a chance to swim at my cousin’s pool for a short while, but because it was getting late in the afternoon, it was too cold to swim.

12/31/07 Trenchtown

When we were packing for our vacation, I packed all the t-shirts, shorts, and thin pants I could find from my daughter’s old clothing.  They were all in very good condition, but without a specific purpose, I just didn’t want to give them away.  I decided to bring all these clothing with us to give away in Jamaica.  After breakfast, my cousin drove me to the Trenchtown Reading Centre.  In this reading room, kids could read and play games.  It wasn’t open on this day, but we met some of the children who were playing in the area.  We also gave the clothes to someone who would ensure the clothing went to the neighborhood children.  Despite the poverty they faced, the children seemed very playful and friendly. 


We saw houses that were shack-like and falling apart and was hard to imagine that it was “home” to them.

We left Trenchtown and rushed across town to my pedicure appointment.  My feet were suffering from extremely dry skin, so it was more for comfort rather than beauty at this point.  Donna used a pedicure footbath similar to one that we would have at home to soak our feet, but other than that, pretty much everything worked the same way.  I picked up my color and sat down for the pedicure.  The only uncomfortable part was having to rest my feet on her knees, but she said she was used to it.  The pedicure cost me a little over $14.

Later that evening, they went to pick up my cousin’s grandchildren who were staying over for about two weeks, so our family stayed home.  Because the home had bars on the windows and gates that require keys to get out, we asked for the keys in case there was an emergency to ensure we could leave the home.  We were in a safe neighborhood, and it would be difficult to rob the home, but it seemed like most homes everywhere had bars.  I don’t know anything about hurricanes, but I wonder if they are put in place in case of hurricanes… and if nothing else, perhaps looting after a hurricane if there were enough damage.

We met her granddaughters, Jade and Lacey, who flew in from Hawaii, a flight several hours longer than ours, and had a late dinner with them.

We still had two more days in Kingston, which I will tell you about later… stay tuned!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cz_scrap
    Jan 15, 2008 @ 06:27:00

    Enjoyed reading your blog-I felt like I was there with you.What a neat idea to bring the clothes-and to be able to make sure they get to the kids that need them. Sometimes when I see kids who have very little, yet are happy and playing, it makes me wonder about the pouty kids here who have soooo much…interesting .Can’t wait to read the rest.


  2. sez_who_sez_you
    Jan 15, 2008 @ 08:09:00

    Fascinating!! A different vacation to be sure! But I really enjoyed reading about it!! Looking forward to reading mroe about it!! Take care! Tracy


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