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October 26-30, 2016

What a relaxing trip to Jamaica!

The travel started out a bit rough, having to arrive at the airport at 4:30am only to be helped by a grouchy Southwest Airlines ticket agent. This was a bit disappointing to me, as generally the customer service is quite spectacular which is a big reason why I use the company. Not to mention I worked there years ago in Revenue Management and Pricing.

After a weak “hello”, the older woman asked me in a condescending tone, “Do you have your passport?” It was almost like she thought I wouldn’t! Then after I received the boarding pass, I asked if she could reprint it with TSA precheck since I have global entry.

She agreed and asked for my known traveler ID. I said, “I don’t have it with me, but it is in my SWA profile.”

“No it isn’t,” she argued.

I replied, “Yes, it is. It is also in my American Airlines and United profile.”

“Well, we have a new system, and it isn’t showing.”

I said, “Ok, I can look at my profile and get it for you. Should I step aside and let others go ahead?”

“No”

After a while, she became impatient and said, “It is the TT number.”

Thinking to myself it isn’t the TT number, I replied, “I’m very aware of what it is. It is in my profile. I just can’t see it on my mobile device. If I had a computer, I could look it up.”

By this time, the agent next to her overheard the conversation, and quickly pointed to her computer screen while directing her to “scroll down.”

Low and behold, there was my known traveler ID!

She replied, “Well it’s your passport number.”

To which I replied, “No it isn’t.”

And the other agent chimed in, “It starts with a 9. It’s not a TT number or passport number.”

So, the older woman proceeded to type the number into this new system, only to tell me it doesn’t work. I later found out she left off a 0. But anyway, she needs some training!

The good news is, the only way my morning could go after that exchange, was up!

The rest of the travel day went smoothly. I met my mom in Houston. Both of our flights were on time. We experienced the friendly Southwest service thereafter. We cruised through immigration/customs in Montego Bay and found transportation desk #16 where our hotel, Idle Awhile, had arranged our $80 taxi ride to Negril, the common fee.

We were directed outside, where our driver Chris found us. He was a friendly chap. He almost always had two conversations going on at once. One on is cell and another one with us as he listened to our comments.

He asked where we were from and when I replied Colorado, he responded, “Marijuana is legal there now, did you bring any?”

I said, “Well it’s not legal federally. So no I didn’t bring any. And besides, if I really wanted some, I’m pretty sure I could get some Mary Jane here.”

He started laughing and told a story, “One time I picked up a guy and he asked me if there was marijuana here, and I told him that’s like asking an Asian is there rice in Asia!”

He was funny! We sat in quite a bit of congestion near Montego Bay as the cruise ship was in port. Eventually we got out of town on the two way road with lots of potholes. We enjoyed the view of some lovely estates, the aqua water, and some small, somewhat dilapidated towns as we made room for many school children walking down the side of the road.

After about 1.5 hours in the car as we were nearing Negril, I asked, “Where do you live?”

Remarkably, he answered, “Right here!”

I couldn’t have timed that better.

We finally made it to Idle Awhile and were greeted by a friendly staff. They gave us a water bottle, took our bags to our room, and then pointed out the features in it. Then they told us the bar staff was waiting for us, so we could enjoy a welcome drink! Pointing down the pathway, they said, “The bar is down by the beach.”

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What a lovely view at dusk. We enjoyed our drink and came back for dinner around 6. Our meal was pretty good. It wasn’t the best fish I had ever had, but it certainly wasn’t bad. And I got to try a Jamaican food I had never had, Bammy. Bammy is a Jamaican cassava flatbread. It reminded me almost of polenta. But it was good.

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After dinner we headed back to the room to relax and watch the Cubs after a long travel day. The tree frogs were chirping in full force. I shined the flash light on my phone on several trees until I finally found one. I was hoping it would have been vibrant green and purple or something. This one was just the usual greenish brown frog. They sure did create a nice chorus.

The room included a lovely porch with a hammock, a comfortable king size bed, a loft, a sitting area, bathroom, and kitchenette. It was nice, though a little dark for those who can’t see.

We both couldn’t wait until morning to set our eyes on Seven Mile Beach, ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for Things to Do in Negril. The beach didn’t disappoint. Though the morning was slightly overcast, the sand beach glimmered by the calm turquoise water. The hotel staff set beach chairs out for us beneath an umbrella. What I loved about the plastic beach lounger was the cushion for it was a white foam raft. If we got hot, we could just pick up the raft and go float in the Caribbean!

We found after strolling along the beach for some time, that many of the nice hotels provided the white float with the beach chairs. I think this was a brilliant idea! Back on the chairs while reading our books, many vendors approached us…”fruit, juice, parasail, glass bottom boat tour, bracelet?” they would ask. A polite “No Thank You” sent them away. I’ve heard in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios the vendors are more aggressive. In Negril, they are friendly!

Our days and nights, frankly were uneventful! We simply relaxed which was unusual but nice for me after being very busy at home in recent weeks. Instead of eating at the hotel this evening, we tried Jamaican food at Best of the West across the street from the hotel. All locals sat at the bar. We were the only tourists, and we took a two person table. I ordered the jerk chicken which was fantastic. My mom ordered the pork. It was almost black in color and SUPER hot. I only took one bite! I don’t know how she ate any of it. Once again, the locals couldn’t have been nicer and were pleased to take our photo.

The next day was more of the same…laying out on the beach while reading. We also tried another new food I’d never heard of, ackee. It is a fruit in the soapberry family, but to me it almost tasted like squash. We switched it up the final day and took the complimentary shuttle up to the Idle Awhile Cliff resort. This resort had a pool just next to the cliffs. When we first arrived in the late morning, we had a choice of any lounge chair around the small lap pool. Only four more people joined us at the pool over the course of the day. The sun was blazing and the breeze was cooling making for perfect afternoon. Our lobster salad was spectacular.

We hung out all day and chatted with a couple from Upstate New York. They have been coming to Jamaica for over ten years. In fact, most the people we met were repeat clients of the hotel. The nice part about the cliffs was the tranquility. There weren’t any vendors. In fact, the couple at the pool told us, they stay at the cliffs first to mellow out, and then they move down to the beach later! If we were staying for longer than a few days, that would have been a good option.

I also believe, if I had wanted an active vacation, Ocho Rios may have been a better choice. While I didn’t even lay eyes on Ocho Rios, I think the hiking and river rafting and such is closer to this area and wouldn’t require an all day commitment with at least four hours in the car like it would take from Negril. I could return to Jamaica and try an active vacation. At the same time, there are so many places to see in the world, I have to keep traveling. Anyway, despite a few migraines, it was a nice way to spend time with my mom! ETB

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