WELCOME home, mon! That’s probably the first thing you’ll hear when you step foot onto any hotel or resort in the country. The people are so hospitable and friendly so Jamaica truly is a fantastic place for a vacation in the sun. Our cousin and her fiancé, who is Jamaican and has family who still lives on the island, were getting married so instead of just staying for the weekend we decided that we hadn’t had a family vacation in far too long so we would make a trip out of it. My dad and I landed in Montego Bay on Friday morning and were greeted by our driver at the airport who have us the whole shpeel about the island during the hour and a half ride to the small, yet beautiful, Moondance Cliffs resort in Negril.I remembered that Jamaica used to be owned by the British, which is why they drive on the opposite side of the road (very difficult to get used to, by the way). However, I didn’t know until arriving that Jamaica didn’t become its wn country until 1964, exactly 50 years ago. It was certainly hard to see and hear about all the poverty on the island, which has something like a 30% unemployment rate, while we were off to live a week of luxury.At Moondance we were able to spend time with family at the saltwater pool, restaurants, and hurling ourselves off the mini cliff into the ocean. Then came the rehearsal dinner, which was a short ride down the road at a restaurant overlooking the water called The Push Cart. We got to try Jamaica’s signature jerk chicken (or jerk bean stew for an herbivore like myself) which only made us about a thousand degrees hotter and a whole lot sweatier on a humid evening during which there was no breeze. Nevertheless, we had a blast listening to the local band and enjoying the eve of the wedding in a gorgeous place. Of course we all hopped right in the pool when we returned to the resort to cool down!My sister (who had just flown back from South Africa and had barely made the flight) and mom landed the following day, just in time for a swim before the wedding, which was then delayed a couple hours because of a sudden torrential downpour. Even though it was just after the sun had set, the ceremony was absolutely gorgeous. A wedding in a gazebo overlooking the ocean… I mean, how much prettier does it get? After another short rain delay before the dinner (and we were told it hardly rains during this season!) we were able to eat, drink, dance, and even enjoy a fire juggling show.Saturday morning we followed our breakfast with a trip to the local craft market, where we sweated while bartering for ridiculously overpriced paintings, carvings, t-shirts, or in my case a funky new straw hat the size of the island. After a detour the the Harley Davidson store, we then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the pool before an impromptu trip to Rick’s Cafe, a world famous tourist attraction made famous by the Rolling Stones at least a million years ago that’s supposed to be one of the top 10 bars in the world. I personally didn’t think it was all that it was cracked up to be but, then again, it was pouring the whole time we were there and it’s an outdoor bar. We did, however, get to see a few people jump off the ridiculously high cliffs that are the main attraction and, let me tell you I was pretty tempted! After deciding that it was not my immediate family’s scene, the four of us headed to Margaritaville for dinner. There we ate with our feet in the sand while listening to karaoke (the way life should be, in my opinion).
Sunday morning the remaining family and wedding party members met for breakfast during which Casey, my dad, and I jumped off the little cliff again. Then we packed up our stuff, followed by a brief temper tantrum on my part because my suitcase somehow became infested with ants YUCK!We rode to our next hotel in a shuttle that, in my aunt’s words, felt like a ride at Disney World. After a nap (so I wouldn’t get motion sickness from said Disney-esque ride) we arrived at Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay, a gorgeous resort that used to be a sugar plantation.Over the next two days my family and I took full advantage of the all-inclusive resort by drinking quite a few piña coladas, basking (or burning, depending) in the sunshine, floating down the water slide and lazy river, and getting pampered at the spa.On Wednesday morning, we sat down for one last Jamaican breakfast before heading to the airport, where we found out our flight was delayed an hour and I got selected for a random security screening. All in all, I would say it was a successful family vacation.