One Love

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.

Our Mommas were the “Supermodels”

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.

  1. Money
  2. A good woman
  3. Scotch
  4. A good cigar
  5. 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.

No Wet, No Fun

The Carry On Cousins go INTERNATIONAL! Just when we thought the world was not ready for us… the world quickly showed us we were not ready for it! This was a life changing experience for us in so many ways. We learned so much in just a short week. We learned about another culture, different food, different landscape, different people, and even about ourselves. As we embarked on this journey through Jamaica we were thinking about you guys, our readers, and how we could capture our beautiful moments in order to allow you to see what you could expect if you ever visited there.

So, we are prefacing our next few post with this statement: Our writing and pictures will never even almost live up to what we experienced. We will not be able to deliver to you the taste, the sounds, the sights, or the emotions we experienced. We ask you to read our post with one purpose, and that purpose is to help you book your next trip. It does not have to be to Jamaica, but you have to travel. You have to go and experience something new in your life.

Now, let us begin with the fact that an international flight is an experience all of its own. TSA can be scary, but we promise if our Momma’s can do it, you can too! 🙂 Hilary and Becky flew to Jamaica and got the party started on Saturday. Rachel and Susie followed closely behind arriving on Sunday. Our meeting in the lobby looked as if we had not seen each other in years. When it had only been the weekend before that we were sitting on the front porch laughing that the next time we saw each other would be in another country. Needless to say, it was the longest week of our lives!

After everyone was accounted for in Jamaica, we got a slow relaxing start. We got situated in our rooms and then quickly made sure we got our money’s worth from the all inclusive package! However, we must admit, day one we were not in the best head space. It is almost shameful to admit that we were in a new country on a trip we had been looking so forward to, yet we were still feeling a bit down and out. Honestly, there were Itty bitty bikinis and abs walking around everywhere it seemed, and by the end of the night we found ourselves throwing a pity party on the beach by ourselves. The beach was empty and we were just sitting there talking over our own insecurities. We were talking about fears and how our life may not turn out the way we thought it would. We think it is important to note that while in the pictures we are all smiles, there were definitely tears on this trip. We want you all to know that we often experience this on night one of our travels. It is almost like we experience a little bit of culture shock in a way. This is the residual effect of pushing oneself out of the comfort zone. It was not that we were sad and depressed but rather, a little uncomfortable in our new place. However, whether it is tears or the ocean, the salt water is the key to healing.

And with that notion, we did some self validation and began to say how thankful we were to have this opportunity. We began to talk about how we were going to try and make this the best trip EVER and….. just about that time, there was a loud POP of a champagne bottle behind us in the distance. This beautiful couple was having a private catered dinner behind us. We two single ladies rolled our eyes so far back into our heads and just laughed until we cried. The irony of the situation was undeniable. Our life is a comedy movie and yall are just getting to watch it unfold! We decided to let the couple have their privacy and headed to our room for the night.

We felt better the next morning by visiting the place where all the drinks (coke, sprite, and water, of course) were served all day free of charge! It got our spirits lifted and our inhibitions lowered! We had not been together for more than twenty four hours before we already needed a nap to calm us down from all those Cokes and Sprites we drank! The guys behind the counter really know how to work those fountain drinks, let us tell you!

It was on day two that we booked all of our excursions and the good times of exploring and learning really began to roll now that our “spirits” were taken care of! We spent the rest of the day sleeping and soaking in the sun.

Tuesday morning came early with an all day excursion! We were off to hike the infamous Dunns River Falls, spend some time on a private beach with food and drinks for lunch, then tubing down the White River. You can check out more details on booking your own tour here.

Keep in mind, cruise ships dock on Wednesdays causing a rush of crowds.

We hopped on a 25 passenger bus with our driver, Randy, and our tour guide, Yanice. They provided safe travels and stories and tales of the country and the excursions we would be doing that day. They gave us interesting facts and information about local way of life, food, and government there on the island. For example Ochos Rios stands for eight rivers. The river we floated down there is called White River because of all the limestone rocks. When the water washes over the limestone the water turns a milky white! Limestone is also a big export for Jamaica, as well! We played a little Jamaican trivia long our ride to Ochos Rios, and admittedly, Rachel loved every minute of it! (And yes, of course, Rachel knew the answers to every question, just like the studious teacher she is.) Randy and Yanice made our ride very enjoyable with their charismatic and warm nature. We do want to inform you that when you book these tours you will be making a few stops at other hotels to pick up passengers along the way. So, understand that while it may only take thirty minutes to drive straight to your destination, your ride may be a little (or a lot) longer depending on where your hotel is located and how many people will be traveling on the bus with you. However, with the “more the merrier” attitude you will enjoy getting to converse with the passengers and the guides, as well.

When we arrived to Dunns River Falls, we were not exactly sure what was in store for us. We had seen pictures and watched videos but nothing quite prepared us for the journey ahead! We were under the impression we’d be hiking more alongside the falls, but no. You go right up the middle of a 950 foot tiered aqua blue waterfall! This was a beautiful and challenging experience! There were kids and grannies alike attempting to climb up the wet rocks and flowing water but we warn… this is not for the faint of heart or for the weak ankles! Speaking of ankles, your footwear is very important. Online and at the Dunn’s River Falls they will recommend water shoes, however, we saw many people losing their footwear because of the rushing water. We both had on waterproof sandals that had straps we could tighten to our comfort. The ability to tighten our shoes made us feel as if our footing was more secure and we didn’t lose our footing or our shoes like some of the other hikers. Rachel had on Teva’s and Hilary had on Chacos.

Now our mommas set this one out, and let’s be honest, we were all glad they did! We had an amazing time, however, you hike the falls with a group of twenty or so while holding hands to work your way up the falls. Since you have to hold hands to help push and pull the group along the rocks, it is advised to get between some folks of the same ability as you or else you’ll find yourself feeling more like Stretch Armstrong!

After the exhilarating hike, we traveled a short ways to the private beach. Here we splurged for an upgrade, and it was well worth it! We had long layout chairs on the beach instead of the regular chairs like the others. We also had unlimited drinks and much more succulent food! We had an appetizer, a festival ( a corn fritter like roll that is AMAZING), a main course that consisted of jerk chicken AND lobster tail. We were also treated to a little strawberry puff dessert. There was a small place to purchase Jamaican goodies, as well. However, we knew we would be going on a shopping tour the next day, so we opted to save our money here. The beach was very scenic and had great photo ops!

After filling up on the food and drinks, we headed to another gift shop for a prompt tasting of the famous Blue Mountain Coffee. Here we got to see all the school kids walking home from  their day at school. Since Jamaica was a British colony until 1962, the schools adopted some of their traditions. For example, they are required to wear uniforms, and it was quite a site to see all the youngins!

We then headed to the river for tubing! It was absolutely so much fun just rolling on the river! Our water guide was very energetic and personable! It was adrenaline filled on the little rapids with lots of laughs and absolutely relaxing at the same time! Even though this was considered a “touristy” activity, there were locals swimming in the river that interacted with us and made us feel like we belonged. We floated about two miles down the river before taking a boat pulled raft out into the ocean where the sun was setting. Our bus was waiting on us on the beach.

By the time we arrived back to our resort we were definitely in need of some R&R! We had a morning shopping tour the next day. We had dinner at the buffet at our resort and turned in for the night.

It was only three days into our trip and we had all experienced once in a lifetime thrills! We learned so much about the country! Randy and Yanice made us feel as if we had become a local by the end of the day by teaching us a little Patwah (the Jamaican dialect) and sayings like “Ya Mon”. We found out that in Jamaica there is no such thing as a problem but only “situations”. We decided to adopt that notion for the rest of our lives! Everyone has situations in life that that are hard. We think of them as problems that cannot be overcome, but the truth is that when you really pick them apart they are just situations that have solutions and answers. When we saw how far we would have to climb up the falls, we thought we had a problem! While scanning the waterfalls for quick and easy exits, we pushed through, and standing at the top looking down at the lush greenery and falling water we knew that we had just accomplished a great feat! It was a rewarding day filled with lots of water which means a whole lot of fun because in Jamaica they say, “No wet, no fun!”

We still have four more days to conquer in Jamaica, so stay tuned! We are only getting started! Next week’s post you will get to see what shopping in Jamaica is like! Also, we will show you all what it’s like on the inside of a local Jerk restaurant!