Saturday, December 24, 2016

Vacation 3: Going down the rabbit hole

Both our eyes blinked open at 2:57 a.m., three minutes before the alarm was set to go off.

I reached under my pillow to grab my phone, and clicked the home button to light up the screen.

"Good morning sweetie," Nate said from the other side of the bed.

"Good morning."

I rolled out of bed and headed to the bathroom to take a shower, trying to be quiet enough to not wake our nieces asleep in the other guest room at my in-laws' house. I showered and got everything else packed up in minutes, and I could hear Nate talking to his mom downstairs.

It was only 3:35 a.m. and we were ready to head to the nearby airport. Nate had packed our bags into our car, and we set off for the short drive. At the airport, we said our good-byes, and Nate's mom headed back home with our car.

About an hour later, we were sitting and looking at our phones when we glanced out the big windows of the airport. It had started to snow.

This was one of the reasons that we had decided to vacation in December this year. We had gone to the Bahamas two years prior in January, and as nice as it was to get out of the Midwest during the winter, it was terrifying to know if we were really going to get to leave due to weather. The following year, we played it super safe and headed to Jamaica at the end of April, but the weather was so hot there we decided to change back to winter again. That put us with the safety of traveling at the beginning of December.

But our carefully laid plans weren't working out.

By the time we all boarded the plane, enough snow had built up that it needed de-iced. I dozed off as we waited for the de-icing truck and then was awakened with the captain telling us over the loudspeaker that the truck didn't have the right fluid for our aircraft.

I dozed again.

"I'm so sorry. The de-icing truck has the fluid now, but it needs to be warmed. We will be about another 15-20 minutes," the captain's voice floated through the cabin again.

Once the orange fluid was running down the windows, the time was creeping up to 7 a.m., an hour after our flight was supposed to depart.

Everyone around was starting to do calculations. Are we going to make our connection? Nate and I figured we would cut it close to boarding time but should be fine for take-off in Atlanta.

However, by the time we landed in Georgia, we were so late that the airport wasn't ready for us.

"We are waiting for a parking unit," the captain's voice said on the loudspeaker as we sat on the tarmac, the gate within easy walking distance. "We know most of you have connections to make. I don't know why they weren't ready for us." The frustration was obvious in his voice.

We piled off the plane, now 15 minutes past when our next flight started to board. We all rushed into the airport and searched for our next gates. We found the flight to Montego Bay, but no passengers were standing in line anymore. We were late.

But not too late. We got right on board, thankfully.

Now relaxed, we searched for our seats on the huge flight.


That wasn't me calling my husband. Nate turned to look at me and pointed ahead of us. I could see a hand waving, a few rows back.

It was his cousin's wife.

His cousin from Omaha just happened to be on the same flight! We almost couldn't believe the randomness of it all. They started messaging each other and we found out they were headed to Negril, while we were on our way to Ocho Rios. We promised to meet up when we disembarked to get a photo before we went our separate ways.

We landed in Montego Bay a few hours later, and with the help of Club Mobay made it through the airport, immigration and customs easily. Soon, we were on the bus heading toward Ocho Rios.

Ocean views. A potty break. Check-in. A room with a view.

It's always hard to know what to do when you first arrive on vacation. It's almost dinner time, and you're starving from having nothing but a granola bar and some airplane pretzels during the day. You want to eat, but you don't want to just snack and ruin your appetite. However, we were starving, so we decided to go grab a small wood-fire pizza that we've had on other resorts and shared the seafood special.

Then we got ready for dinner and headed to the closest restaurant on the resort.



Nate ordered the surf and surf, yes, that's right. Who comes to Jamaica for steak? You don't. You come to the Caribbean for seafood, and when you don't have to pay anything extra for your meal, you substitute the grass-fed steak for another lobster tail.

For me, it was red snapper and clams.

Oh what a way to start vacation.

We were smiling and drinking pinot grigio and munching on our appetizers and bread with seafood spread, and then the entres arrived. Mine was served in a delicious broth with a hint of scotch bonnet peppers, and you can tell when I love food when I begin to dance.

After the first few bites, my hands went up to chest height and I started swaying back and forth in my chair.

A meal worth dancing for.

We decided to go down to the beach to a bar there, and met a really fun bartender. He served us his signature cocktail, called "Looks are Deceiving." He called it that because it's this dirty blue color, but it tastes delicious. Looks are Deceiving is kind of a long name, so we instead called it Dirty Water.

Nate had a ball talking to people while we sipped on our drinks and suggested the bartender's special to everyone. He was just a kid, and he lit up every time someone ordered his concoction. We chatted with people from Canada and Mexico, and Nate loved getting to talk Brexit with a couple from the U.K.

We also wanted to experience what the resort was known for, a bar called the Rabbit Hole. It's a 1920s speakeasy with a jazz singer that is supposed to knock your socks off. We got on the bus that would take us to the other half of the 100-acre resort.

We found a cozy spot in an upstairs alcove and watched as the singer and her band wrapped up their show, which had started an hour ago. The entertainment would have continued, but by 10 p.m. we were exhausted.

Time to go to bed after a full day.

Good-night Jamaica.

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