Before I get started, I will give you a very brief background of what drew us to Jamaica. My husband's brother was getting married. My husband and is brother both grew up quite poor, I must say, and of course, have the gross fortune/misfortune to have grown up on this huge mountain in the APPA-LATCH-UNS. They also grew up very religious. Now, my husband, as many of you know, has kind of shucked that whole thing. He has a degree from Berkeley, which should tell you a little something. My husband's brother went to Liberty University, the college started by Jerry Falwell. That should tell you another. His bride also went there, and she grew up decidedly not poor and not in the mountains. I'm not going to go much more into this, but let's just say the dynamics in our traveling party were interesting to say the least.
We left very, very early Wednesday morning and arrived in Montego Bay around 12:00 that afternoon. After going through customs, we were taken to the Sandals/Beaches section in the airport and got ready to take our bus. Beaches Negril is about an hour and a half bus ride from the airport. And really, I'll just say that I was brimming with energy before we got on the bus, but that bus ride really took us all down a little. Not to say that it was bad or anything; the tiredness just all caught up with us--all of the kids fell asleep, and Matt and I were really flagging. The one good thing about the bus ride, though, is that you get to see the countryside and of course, there's all that blue-green water to fawn over. It is a bit sobering, though, to see all of the poverty around. And I mean this in a totally un-pretentious look-what-a-good-little-liberal-I-am way, but it really affected me. There was one image in particular, of a tiny shack about the size of my living room (and I live in a very small house) with a clothes line laden with tiny, tiny onesies extended from it, flapping in the wind. A teenage aged girl was standing in the door way wearing bright pink leggings and biting her fingernails. There was a terrible beauty there, to quote Eliot. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
We got to the resort and were immediately whisked away by the suites concierge folks. We got a suite, since as a five person family, a normal hotel room doesn't quite cut it for us anymore. At Beaches, this means you get a whole different team to check you in and do all of that. Our concierge gave me a rum punch as soon as I walked through the door. And yeah, that set the tone for the rest of the week. Our room was lovely, and the kids were excited by both it and the in-room XBox. Matt and I were excited about the minibar that was filled to our demands. We were both squicked out by the concierge guy insisting several times that he was there to "spoil us." I'm sorry, but as a white American person from the South, having a good looking dark skinned person treat you like you are somehow royal made me feel icky. There were lots of uneasy glances all around.
After this, we went out to enjoy the resort. The kids and I soaked in the main pool for a while and then we went out to the beach. My kids were happy to report sightings of "fat, drunk New Jersey-ites in their natural habitat" (Gabby's words, not mine). She is not allowed to watch Jersey Shore for very obvious reasons, but hears about it from friends whose parents are not Nazis. I think she was pleased by being so close to the real action.
Later that evening, my mother and father in law came down from Sandals to watch the kids so Matt and I could go out and enjoy our 14 year dating anniversary (!). We went to the fancier restaurant at the resort and got amazingly drunk. Like crazily so. We sobered up a bit by playing some lawn chess, then staggered home and got the kids in bed before splitting another bottle of champagne on the patio and having a loud, crazy and disjointed conversation about, among other things, Schrodinger and can you fucking believe we've been together 14 years!!!! Yeah. We're those people.
The next morning, we had to go to the rehearsal dinner, which turned out to be a snorkeling adventure. Here's the thing: I spent quite a bit of money and some time procuring outfits for my family to wear to what I thought was a rehearsal dinner on a boat. I bought things that matched, you guys. Everyone was wearing navy blue. And I'm not a matchy-matchy mom so I was VERY proud of myself. I've been talking about these outfits for a long-time now. But we were told, at the last minute, mind you, that this was a snorkeling trip, so to wear bathing suits. I'm not going to front: I was pissed. Plus, when we got to Sandals, where the boat was supposed to take off from, we were corralled on an out of the way couch until someone could locate another member of our party since Sandals does not allow children (note: it took a while). Finally, we go outside to do a quick run through of the wedding on the beach, and THEN, and oh my god, guys, this is where it gets interesting, my brother in law walked out into the ocean and baptized his bride to be. Ever been to a wedding where someone gets baptized? Cause I have NOW. And here's the really weird thing: people were all just sitting around us in their bikinis and beach chairs, watching a bunch of strangers go through some weird shit. One girl, who I think my husband was, um, let's say impressed with, got up and threw down her copy of Darkly Dreaming Dexter, huffily walking away to a place where there were no prayers. If you don't think this is weird, I implore you to tell me if this is "a thing," especially for a husband to be to do it to his wife to be.
Then we got on the catamaran for the rehearsal dinner. And as grouchy as I was, this ended up being my favorite part of the trip. We went snorkeling around a huge coral reef, and then got back on and listened to Shaggy whilst I downed about 10 vodka and cranberries. It should be noted at this point that my mother and father in law paid for this shindig, and they can neither swim nor drink. I was determined to make up for that. I also showed my daughter my amazing knowledge of the Notorious BIG tribute anthem "I'll Be Missing You" and put on a Bob Marley wig to inform several people that I "felt like P. Diddy." And if that sounds strange or embarassing, you didn't see what other people were doing, and folks, those people were straight up sober. Canadians, ya'll. An interesting group.
The rest of the day was spent on island time, which means that I don't really remember what all we did, but that it probably had something to do with the water park, the attraction my kids were the most into. Awesomely, Beaches has this little water park thing, and right behind it, a huge hot tub for the adults who are there "watching" their kids. Matt and I spent a lot of time there.
That night, we took Allie to a Sesame Street parade that she was simultaneously mesmerized by and complete scared shitless of. It was quite fun, especially when the guy dressed up as the Count started doing the Thriller dance. When one is a little buzzed from fruity drinks and a lot of sun, that shit is DOPE. Our older progeny walked around the resort and made sure to delineate themselves from the Sesame Street crowd. Gabby wore a monocle, which delineates her from any crowd really, except from those who shill peanuts and oligarchs who enjoy squeezing lemons as a visual reminder of what they like doing to the proletariat. Then we went to eat at the resort's Japanese steakhouse. The cook asked us where we were from and my husband said, "Virginia." Then the cook proceeded to sing (very loudly I might add) that song "Country Roads" which is about WEST Virginia for just about the rest of our meal. And that song remained in my head for at least two more days. I went home and crashed with Alice after that, and of course, Matt was unhappy because he wanted to sit up and drink and talk about philosophy which is what you do when you are on vacation. IF YOU ARE A NERD.
The next day was the wedding, so we did some fun resort stuff and then got ready for it. The wedding was a perfectly lovely seaside affair. The bride wore Monique Lhullier, and I spent an INORDINATE amount of time worrying about the sand mixing with the beading on the bottom because as SUPER ANXIETY GIRL, I will find SOMETHING to worry about. I wore a dress from Target. It was really pretty, I think, and I kind of rejoiced in sharing that I had gotten it at Tar-jay. (Full disclosure--I ordered another dress from Nordstrom that just didn't work, so ended up sending it back and ordering this on a whim.) I allowed Alice to roll in the sand during the wedding, which kept her quiet and gave me a lot of good pictures. After the wedding, we had a cocktail hour and the bride and groom did a very cute, very interestingly choreographed dance as their first dance. It defied explanation really, but I applaud their appropriate levels of crazy, as did the drunk people watching from their balconies.
And that is when I started drinking myself. We went to a very fancy dinner afterwards, all on the beach, and the champagne flowed. I felt a little weird after the first course, but didn't think much of it, because my eating habits were shit the whole time I was there and I figured it was just my stomach rejecting a proper vegetable. There was a fire-eater guy, and my son Sam did the limbo, which I gladly paid him five booster packs of Magic cards to do. And I kept feeling weird, and not in a good, "I'm drunk!" way. Then, at some point after the bride's father promised Matt and me tickets two rows back from the catcher for a series of our choice in Detroit, I really got sick. As in, I started puking. The alcohol and whatever else just really caught up with me. I made it to the bathroom, and I won't get into it really, but if you've ever read anything on Deadspin where people detail stomach maladies that are, um, explosive enough for discussion, you know what happened. And, being pretty wasted as well, I got this crazy idea that I had to clean the whole stall, so I used all of the toilet paper in both stalls of the bathroom trying to do that. ANXIETY GIRL AWAY. Matt came after me, and I kept trying to explain that I wasn't just drunk, that there was something else at play. I don't think he was really getting it, because, who would, coming from a girl covered in vomit who had just spent the previous 20 minutes catcalling to the fire-eater? I went home with some level of disgrace, but was redeemed when the resort nurse confirmed that I had a fever and that there was some stomach malady going around at the Beaches resort. I ended up making it to my room and literally passing out in the bathtub. The kids were shocked and upset, for obvious reasons, but at this point, Matt was able to explain that I really was sick and that I wasn't just a drunk. So, small miracles I guess? I am still working up the courage to call the bride's father and say, "Remember me? The puking girl from the party? Well, I wasn't really drunk, I was actually sick, confirmed by medical personnel. So how's about them tickets???" (If we can swing it, we are thinking about seeing the Cardinals during interleague play [that's for you, AKM] and our beloved Triple A's in September.)
The next morning, I was remarkably hangover free, which was the last sign we needed that I really had had sickness and wasn't just a degenerate. We had to check out, so we got up early and went to the beach and water park again while the concierge came and got our bags. Gabby and I witnessed two men fight over a beach chair, which was awesome in its own, Jerry Springer-esque way. Then we took the bus ride back to the airport, complete with a kid and his mom puking in the front seat, as they had gotten the bug too. LOVELY.
That is the trip in a nutshell, as best as I can recall. Having had a wonderful time, I would definitely do it all again, except this time, I might wear some sort of mask to keep myself from getting whatever it was that I got. However, there are two things that if I ever hear again, I'll cut my own ears off, Van Gogh style, and promptly airmail to Jamaica.
And those things are:
1) Any white person saying the word "mon" as in "IT'S JAMAICA, MON!!!"
2) Any song by the Black Eyed Peas, especially that one about tonight being a very good night. ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH.