For those of you who have been following our journey through Jamaica know that we have conquered Dunn’s River Falls, tubing down White River, kayaking the Caribbean, a long day of shopping, the infamous Luminous Lagoon, and we have not had one mother daughter dispute yet! And, for those of you just joining us, you should know it has been a crazy ride in just 5 short days!
We made it to our vacation bliss which is where our new place and our new environment has begun to feel like home. However, the end of our time here in Jamaica was quickly approaching! We could feel the air getting a little thicker as we knew we only had about 48 more hours to soak in all the Jamaican culture had to offer. It was the next 48 hours that would really change us.
If any of you know us personally, you already know neither of us has ever met a stranger. Whether it be in the bathroom at a pub or the gas station down the street Rachel and Hilary have both been blessed with the gift of gab. This wonderful quality came in handy early on in the trip. We had the opportunity to meet two locals who were possibly the most genuine human beings we have ever met on the face of this whole globe. It was Monday when these two hit it off with us! We enjoyed chatting with them both throughout the entire week. They are the ones who mentioned we try the local Pork Pit, and they gave us some insider tips on the local way of life. After building a rapport with them they gave us an amazing opportunity later in the week!
We set it all up for Thursday night. Now before you go all crazy on us, and preach to us about safety and traveling abroad we will preface the rest of this story with this statement “We are very competent, safe, aware, and responsible. We are also calculated risk takers and fear missing out on glorious moments.”
Now, where were we? Oh yes…Thursday morning we spent the day resting from our Luminous Lagoon tour, and then prepared for all the fun that was in store for us that night with our new local friends! We had on our cutest dresses and most comfy sandals because that night we were going out into the city like the locals! Although, we must admit to you all, it was VERY obvious we were not locals at all.
Our new friends met us at a local bar, that was conveniently located just behind the police station. 🙂 It was a quiet little tiki hut filled with people who seemed to have just gotten off work and where enjoying a cold one to unwind. There were tv’s showing the local track and field competitions. The high schools were all competing for the titles! It was just like a sports bar here in the U.S. in the way that the old men were laughing and enjoying themselves. The bartender was pouring and serving up all the food and drinks. And the ladies were soaking in the views as the sun was setting on Montego Bay.
It was noted that the lovely bartender served us our drinks with the lids still sealed and allowed us to pour our own drinks. (We told you we are responsible!) We spent some time here chatting about the sports on tv and how this little venue was used for weddings and events… and it was not long after the sun went down that our friends wanted to show us “the newest spot in town”.
Hilary and Rachel gave each other knowing looks and we headed off to a very magical place atop the whole world it seemed! After about a ten minute car ride on the “high road” which is what the locals call the road that leads to the top of the mountain that overlooks Montego Bay. It wasn’t long until we arrived at a very upscale restaurant and bar!
It was here and now we realized our new friends definitely had friends in high places! We were greeted by the owner upon arrival, and then given a tour of the entire place! We were personally all escorted to the FOURTH Floor! This floor just so happened to be the rooftop where you could look out and see the lights shining on the bay like a thousand little lighthouse beacons!
Leaning over the railing with the salty night air on our face, we both pretended we were Rose from the Titanic because that is what everyone should do in a moment that magical. We also unapologetically admit we have no pictures for you guys. It was a time when cameras couldn’t even capture the scenery. It was a time when the clock stood still. When the world stopped spinning. It was a moment when we felt like we were truly living.
A new country, with new food, new drinks (green apple vodka and white cranberry juice is a great Jamaican twist on the classic vodka cran by the way), and now we had new friends. Our friends gave us memories we will have for our lifetime and probably many more lifetimes as we will always tell of this moment when talking of our time in Jamaica. We couldn’t thank them enough for showing us their part of the world. They showed us hospitality, generosity, and what it is like to connect with people who are completely different from ourselves, but also in so many ways….no different at all.
Our night was coming to a close as we safely and soundly were returned back to our resort. We would get to say goodbye again to our new friends before leaving on saturday, but we knew then that it might very well be the last time we would truly get to enjoy their company. It was a wonderfully sad goodnight.
The last day at our resort was Friday. We awoke with plans to do nothing but bask in the sunshine! That is exactly what we did. All four of us, even the sunburn prone Susie, laid in the sun soaking it all in for the remainder of the time we had. We had a late lunch and we proceeded to capture some styled photos of us all together. We wanted to have these captured moments to always look back on.
Hilary had set us all up perfectly in the “golden hours” of sunlight, which is just about an hour before the sun goes down. We had our silly moments, our serious moments, our moments of thankfulness, and awe, and most importantly our moments of love.
Also, so everyone is not just taking selfies and everyone can be included in the pictures, there are a couple of professional photographers on sight who will give you a photoshoot in just a moment’s notice. We had them take a few shots as well. The pictures could be purchased in the lobby. So after our glamour shots we went to have dinner one last time together in Jamaica.
After reminiscing on the wonderful moments our trip had provided us over dinner, we went off to the lobby to see how our professional shots had turned out. Rachel isn’t one for pictures that much, and decided to opt for the views of the ocean while she put full trust in Hilary to choose the perfect pictures.
While walking away from the busy lobby, Rachel headed to her favorite sitting spot. Which was unusually crowded this time of night… There were only a few seats left. She noticed an older gentleman dressed to the 9’s sitting over by himself a bit. She decided he was a safe bet, and kindly asked if he minded her joining him.
….. This was the beginning of one of our most favorite two hours of our lives.
It wasn’t too much longer before Hilary had joined them. Assuring Rachel the pictures turned out perfectly and introduced herself to our new friend.The conversation with this new man began quickly and flowed effortlessly. Our new friend was Aubrey, which just so happened to be the name of our Paw Paw (southern word for Grandfather). We felt as if that might have been a little bit of a coincidence since they both ran moonshine back in the day! Our new friend Aubrey informed us that he was soon to be 99 years old in just a few short days. It wasn’t long before we were starry eyed listening to his life stories. And believe us, he had many!
Aubrey was born into family where one side was dirt poor, and the other side was very rich. He told us neither side of his family was interested in him and at the age of nine he was living with his aunt and grandmother working as a slave in Jamaica. He told us how he soon took to the shores and landed in Florida as a young teenage boy. He began working in the kitchen of a restaurant for a Jewish man. He said the money wasn’t coming in fast enough for him so he started running moonshine on a bicycle at night. Although, he told us he wasn’t quite aware what he was actually doing until the moonshine gig got him arrested and deported back to Jamaica.
At the young age of 19 he headed back to North America, but this time…to Canada. From Canada he found himself a job that allowed him to travel all over the world. He landed in London, and decided to call it home. In London, he met his wife. He pulled out his wallet to reveal a lock of her silver hair, and a picture that revealed the fairest, most beautiful lady. The picture was them on their wedding day. He told us “We fought like hell to get married”. Aubrey, a dark Jamaican man, and his wife Gale, a fair skinned blonde, were not exactly a typical match back in the early 40’s in London. It was after he met his “brainy” wife, as he described her, that he began to go to night school. With her help, he went to night school for ten years to become an expert in the steel industry. He showed us his ring on his hand that he received after graduating. It sparkled with a red ruby on the top. He told us the five keys to his life that made him successful.
- A good woman
- A good cigar
- A good dog
We were in awe of the life this man had made for himself, and as he would take long draws from his cigar, we would hang on his every word like the smoke hung in the air. A man born into slavery, retired a millionaire. As he continued to talk his voice gave way a bit as he began to tell us why he was not sitting with his wife that night.
Their whole lives together they loved to travel. After he had made himself a successful man, they spent their times traveling to different countries all over the world. His favorite country was Ireland with the hills and the castles. His wife’s favorite…. Jamaica. They would visit the resort we just so happened to stay at every year. He told us every year around the turn of spring they would come to the resort and have a private dinner on the beach. They always had a bottle of champagne and she would always say “woohoo” every time she heard the bottle pop. It was her favorite drink. He told us that while she never smoked a day in her life, she would always sit right beside him, in the chair Hilary was sitting in, teasing him about how the last bit of the cigar made him stink, but she never left his side.
It was with a smile and a crackled voice that he began to tell us how the doctors informed him two years ago that his wife was very ill. The doctors told him that he was not to carry her on any more travels. She suffered from Alzheimer’s. It was around her birthday that Aubrey began to ask Gale what she would like to have to celebrate her next year of life…. To which she replied…. Jamaica. He informed her again of the doctors orders, again to which she replied…. Jamaica.
Against the doctors orders they hopped a plane to Jamaica. As tears begin to well in our eyes, he told us of the last time they spent together in Montego Bay. They were on the beach at their private dinner when the server brought their usual bottle of champagne…
“I knew my wife was no longer with me when the bottle popped and she just looked off into the distance without so much as a single woohoo.”
It was two weeks later upon their return home that Gale passed away. It was year later, he was at their same spot, smoking his usual cigar, sharing his life with us. Telling us all about what “One Love” really meant.
Tears were streaming from our eyes, and his, as we all basked in the heartache that love often brings. His cigar was almost gone by now as the hours had past. We knew it was getting late , and we had early morning flights to catch the next day. Our time in Jamaica had come to a bittersweet end. We stood up to say our goodbyes and began to walk to our room.
Shortly realizing we needed a picture to document a moment that forever changed us, we swiftly turned back to take our picture. It was then that we realized we were not the only captive audience. Everyone around the sitting area had stayed to listen to Aubrey share his story with us. The bystanders and listeners where so quick to help us capture our moment in time. After our pictures, our hugs goodbye, and our tears wiped away… Aubrey said “Goodnight, I will see you both next year!”
Despite having an amazing time doing all the “tourist attractions” we know that the reason we travel is because of all our new friends. The people we meet along the way help to take our cultural blinders off a little at a time. They reveal to us worlds of new stories, and heartbreaks, and new ways of life. Our new friends in Jamaica revealed to us our One Love. Our One Love is traveling. It brings us all the other things we enjoy in our life. We enjoy nature, and food, and culture, and people. Our One Love of traveling brings us all the love we will ever need.
Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life -and travel- leaves marks on you.