Wa Gwan

We have made it to mid-week in Jamaica! No one has food, sun, or alcohol poison, so we had considered it a successful week thus far. Up until this point, we had spent our days trying to figure it all out, but we were starting to settle into our comfort zones nicely. Humans are very adaptable and thrive on routine. At this point, we knew where the convenient bathrooms were located on the grounds and our favorite foods at the buffet (Hilary: the peanut butter oatmeal. Rachel: the hashbrowns with cream cheese). We had also found our favorite spots away from the rest of the guest to relax and watch the waves crashing. Now, Jamaica was starting to feel like our new home. We had found the vacation bliss! The moment when your new environment feels like home, and it isn’t even close to time to pack your bags back up!

Vacation bliss is our favorite times during a trip. When you begin to experience the real culture and build your courage up to be braver and more adventurous, it really creates some magical moments. Not to take away from Dunns River Falls or the White River tubing because they were great, but our truly magical and life-changing experiences were yet to come!

We warn, you should never become too comfortable in a new place like this. Just as we had begun to get our bearings we set out on an adventure to go kayaking on the Caribbean! At our resort, you could rent out a kayak and take off free of charge. You just had to sign up for a time slot. So, we did this really cool thing where we convinced our mothers to do it with us! Mainly because we wanted to have fun teasing them for being so old and decrepit that they could not do it as well as we could. We got quite the kick out of imagining them tipping over and trying to get back on! The guys who helped us get started with our kayaking adventures where there for all the poking fun and joined in the conversation with us. They were nice. They made it fun. We trusted them…..

They helped us with our life jackets, handed us our paddles, and set us on our way. They were super helpful to our mothers, as well. The guy helped them in safely and off they went, also. We were all out rowing to our heart’s desire, yet it wasn’t too long before we realized our mothers had turned back for the shore. We started laughing, we guessed they tired quickly and headed back. Just to ensure their safety, we headed back to check on them. Since, ya know, we are so loving and caring like that. It also had nothing to do with the fact we wanted to see them try and get out of the kayak onto dry land without falling over.

However, from a short distance behind them, we were kind of let down by the fact they eased out of the kayaks on the beach with poise and grace to our surprise. We were proud. Joyful. Thankful to be on this trip with our moms! We were quite amazed at how well they had handled themselves.

We coasted our way back, easing up to the guys who where wading in the water ready to help us out like the gentlemen we just knew they were. The young man eased us closer to him, took our paddles for us, told us to keep our legs inside the boat, and then he grabbed to the side of the boat with his hand, AND HE FLIPPED US OVER INTO THE WATER!!!!!!!!

All the while we were out in the water, the guys and our mothers plotted evil against us! Can you believe that?! Why would they play with such sorcery? We were just in shock! Literally, it shocked the hell out of us as the cold saltwater came rushing toward us unexpectedly! Ladies, you should know Jamaican men are not to be trusted in such a manner! Their smooth Jamaican accent will soothe your ears. However, your eyes will burn, and you will cry FROM THE SALT WATER THAT GETS IN YOUR EYES FROM YOUR MOTHERS BETTING THE GUYS TO FLIP YOU OFF YOUR KAYAK!

We managed to get back up on to the beach where our mothers were about to pee themselves (told you, old and decrepit!). We could not believe they had betrayed us like this.

We all had our laughs, but now we have trust issues beyond repair. Thanks, Mom!

We went to rest our bloodshot eyes and awoke early Wednesday morning. We had set out on a shopping tour with a guide from our resort. We started off at some higher end shopping centers which offered an array of Jamaican goodies and souvenirs along with some summer dresses! We will note that the only place in Jamaica that did not accept American cash or American Credit Cards was, ironically, the Pizza Hut located in the shopping plaza. Hilariously, this is our luck!

Speaking of lunch, after we had done a little shopping, our amazing tour guide did us a solid! We really wanted to try a local restaurant. The locals were a bit skittish to give recommendations outside of our resort, but we had heard “The Pork Pit” was the best place in town. Our tour guide allowed for a “Pit Stop”.  From our resort it was going to be a $50 taxi ride, yet she did this out of the kindness of her heart! We had to get our order to go, as this was not a part of the normal tour. However, when you are out and about in a new country and you get the opportunity to try some local food, DO NOT sit on the bus like the others on the bus did. When we had the great opportunity to eat the Jamaican style Jerk Chicken, we absolutely took it! We ordered a WHOLE Chicken, beans and rice, and the famous “festival” that we mentioned in our last post (which is a sweet corn fritter). We took the time to look around while they prepared our food and then hopped back on the bus.

We only had one more stop to make on our shopping tour and we while we were asked to not eat on the bus, we couldn’t help but give it a taste test. The aroma of all the seasoning and spices were making our mouth water! The little pulled piece of chicken melted into our mouths as we pulled out onto the famous Hip Strip.

We stopped at a little open-air market that was filled with vendors selling arts and crafts and all kinds of goodies. This is a buyer beware situation here. These vendors were very pushy. They are like your used car salesmen on crack! They are there to haggle, and trade, and make deals! It was a fun experience if you enjoy getting some souvenirs at a good price, but only if you’re willing to make a deal. If you feel as if it is hard to say no and walk away, the tour guide suggested you stay on the bus at this stop.

When we got back to the resort, we had to load all of our shopping bags up to the room. We had so many bags we had to place them in the back of the bus instead of holding them in our seat! We had so much fun, but we WERE READY TO EAT! We hauled all of our stuff up to our rooms and met in the lobby to chow down. It was some of the best chicken we have ever tasted! 10 out of 10 recommend.

Now, at this point, we had been going pretty hard for a couple of days. We had been hiking and tubing and swimming and shopping! But, the fun was not over yet! We had just a couple of hours to be back in the front lobby to catch a ride over to the infamous “Luminous Lagoon”. The Mommas and Rachel were pretty tired at this point and considered rescheduling the tour; but, the strong and willful Hilary lead us all to one of the most amazing excursions of all!

Maybe it was the fact that we were all suffering from a little exhaustion. Admittedly, we were all a little skeptical about how “luminous” this lagoon would actually be. We put on our big girl bathing suits and hopped on the next tour bus.

It was on this tour we met Tony. He was our driver. We all sat in the front closest to the drivers and the tour guides, so we could get a first-hand look at driving on the WRONG side of the road. We like to talk it up with the guides and driver. This is how you get all the good information. You should also know , if you are lucky enough to have Tony as your driver, you can give him a pretty little smile, and he will let you roll down the window so you can feel the spicy island breeze in your hair.

On this particular instance, we had a tour guide who was new to the whole thing and sat in the back, kind of quietly, but Tony was quite the tiger! He was so much fun to talk to and gave us lots of good information about the local things to do there. He was very conscious of us being safe, but also having fun and experiencing all Jamaica had to offer!

Entrance to the Luminous Lagoon

We arrived a little later to the Lagoon than we had planned due to some booking issues at another hotel. Pro tip: when booking these tours, longer than expected waiting and driving time is just a part of the process, so hang tight and be patient. Remember, you are now on island time!  When we arrived, we had some time to have a quick sit down meal and watch a live show before our tour into the Lagoon began.

When we boarded the boat, we met our lovely captain, our lifeguard, and our “paparazzi”. As soon as the boat left from the dock, the true magic began to happen before our very eyes! In this particular lagoon, the White River flows in and meets with the salty water of the Caribbean Ocean. The warm salt water and the cool freshwater mix and create a perfect environment for these luminous microorganisms! When these microorganisms are disturbed or moved around they light up an iridescent blue! We all expected it to glow, but we never imagined it would be as bright as it was!

As our captain drove the boat into the dark night on the lagoon the motor from the boat left a sparkling tail of bright blue water behind the boat. After about a 15 minute ride out into the lagoon, he killed all of the boat lights and asked who was going first?!

We never hesitated. Our hands went up and he escorted us to the side of the boat where we were the first two people to be fed to the pitch black waters! However, as soon as our bodies made their way into the black water it was a splash of neon blue! This was the most shocking experience we have ever partaken in. We literally could not believe our own eyes! As people started to gather their bravery on the boat, splashes of blue begin to light up the night.

It was a great shock to both of us as we heard loud screams and laughter as BOTH OF OUR MOTHERS DESCENDED FROM THE BOAT BY STYLE OF CANNONBALLING, JUST LIKE WE DID! We laughed and played in the water for well over twenty minutes. Splashing and making “glow angels” was definitely a highLIGHT of the trip! We made a solid point of being the last ones back on the boat. We didn’t want to leave the lovely lagoon.

We will note a few important things. First off, if you’re not the best swimmer, they do give you a life jacket if you want one, but you’re only in four to six feet of water. Also, there are no sharks or predatory fish in the lagoon because of the brackish water; however, there is a silky weed and mushy green mud on the bottom that will occasionally feel like something (cough cough, the Loch Ness monster) is sweeping by on your legs. The “paparazzi” will be there to take pictures of you in the water, and all of the pictures he takes can be purchased on the docks for thirty dollars. You get ALL the pictures for that price, and you receive them on a jump drive. If you were to lose your jump drive during your travels you can also get them emailed to you.

This was a day in our lives that will forever be etched into our memories! There were so many unique experiences we had all in a short twenty-four hours. However, the next two days in Jamaica would be the best to come. We hope you stay tuned for next week to learn all about our new friends we made. Also, we are going to tell you what it is like overlooking all of Montego Bay at night! Check in next week for all the “juicy” stories

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