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Published: August 24th 2010
Emerald Seas Villa
The view of the villa from the sea
I am writing this blog on Microsoft Word, 37,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean heading towards Honolulu. It is our third flight of the day. We got up at 4am this morning and caught our first flight at 8.30am from Montego Bay to Miami, where we had a two hour wait before boarding the next plane. We then had a 5 hour flight from the east coast to Los Angeles on the west coast. Straight from one plane to an identical plane for the last leg of our flight, the five and a quarter hour journey to Hawaii. We have managed to snatch some sleep but we have been awake for 15 hours so far and with Shrek The Final Chapter blaring through my headphones you will have forgive me if this blog seems a little disorganised or even downright doesn't make sense!
The next chapter of the story begins on Friday 13th August (!) after the latest night we had for a while, bar hopping with Matthew and Carol. Typical then, that we had to be up and on the jetty ready to be picked up by a local glass bottom boat for a trip along the north coast
Our galss bottom boat
On its way to pick us up
at 7.30am. Carol missed out on this trip as she isn't very good with boats, so the eight of us plus Jason our captain and an empty bottle of rum (worrying I know!) made our way from Emerald Seas Villa along the coast to look at some of the other villas and private beaches before settling over a shipwreck, about half a mile northeast of the villa. The ship was sunk deliberately (with no one on board!) about 25 years ago, to provide an interesting visiting spot for people scuba diving and snorkelling. The water was very clear and we could see the wreck, sea urchins and colourful fish easily through the bottom of our boat and over the side. Matthew, Robert and the two little ones snorkelled for a little while whilst the rest of us enjoyed the calm sea and wonderful views, before we headed for shore and left Matthew and Robert to swim home (their choice). After breakfast, the Gibsons (minus Auntie Gwen) made their way to Dolphin Cove to swim with the dolphins and by all accounts had an amazing day. Rachel and I spent the afternoon by the pool after a meeting to discuss the
Looking for fish
Rachel, Georgia, Callum and Matt
marketing of the villa. It has set us up with plenty of work to do over the coming months. Work! On your honeymoon!? I hear you cry, but let me tell you this, there are worse things to be marketing than a villa in paradise and it also means we have something to occupy ourselves than each other (three solid months with only me for company is slowly driving Rachel crazy!)
Saturday brought a day I had been waiting for since May 15th 2010... no, nothing to do with our wedding. It brought the start of the new Premier League football season! Hallelujah, praise the lord! This happiness was tempered slightly by the fact I had to be up at 6.30am to watch the game thanks to Sky moving it forward and a 6 hour time difference to the UK. Thankfully, Spurs did ok and I wasn't miserable and grouchy for the rest of the day (well no more than usual anyway!) Rachel went out to visit the local fruit market with everyone, whilst I spent the time arranging meetings with local agents and suppliers about getting more guests to Emerald Seas.
The next day, we went to
Mystic Mountain (about 15 minutes along the coast) and for 2 minutes or so we became stars of our very own version of Cool Runnings! Yes, that's right, we were the British members of the Jamaican bobsleigh team! After a tranquil though unnverving cable car ride up the mountain (I've never seen Rachel go as green in the face and white in the knuckles as she did for that quarter of an hour jaunt to the top!) The views were spectacular of Ocho Rios and the northern coastline as we enjoyed a refreshing drink before climbing into our bobsled. Rachel and I asked for our bobsleds to be joined so we could enjoy this experience together (how sweet eh?!) I was in control whilst Rachel was in the back sled armed with the camera and a range of vocals from a quiet "slow down" to an all out scream! It was great fun despite the constant use of the breaks and we are contemplating moving to Jamaica to take up full time training ready for entry into the 2014 Winter Olympics! (I wish!)
Sunday evening saw an absolutely enormous electric storm about five miles off the coast, of which
the poolside area of the villa gave us a granstand view. The sky was completely lit up one or two times every minute with the lighning casting eerie shadows behind huge storm clouds. We all spent about an hour and a half or so trying to catch the incredible vertical and horizontal forks of lightning on our digital cameras. Some of us shot some great photos and other just caught black sky over and over again (not mentioning any names Rachel) and we retired to bed, slightly in awe at the power and size of the show nature had put on for us.
Our weather luck ran out on Monday, as we went for another tubing trip down the White River. Half way down the river, the heavens opened and there was a deluge! It was great fun though and the rain in the Caribbean is warm and as Miss Nirvella (the villa's housemaid) put it "People in Jamaica try and catch the rain in their mouths, as they are drops from heaven." Regardless of your religious persuasion how can something like that dampen your mood? The afternoon was spent frustrated at the weather doing work, playing monoply and
Giving Callum a pep talk
before he snorkelled in the sea
enjoying everyones company.
At around 4am on Tuesday morning, we were treated to the most enormous crash of thunder any of us have ever heard. The entire house was woken, most of us thinking there had been an explosion or that the roof had fallen in! To say that we crapped our pants is an understatement! Once we established that nothing was wrong other than an emormous storm raging right over the villa, we managed to watch the natural fireworks show out of our window before falling back to sleep. After Rachel, Carol, Matthew and I had reported that the jerk chicken and pork at Scotchies had been delicious, it was decided that we would all visit for dinner that night, and yet again the place didn't let us down. No matter what your opinion of spicy food is, the flavourful warmth of jerk spices are wonderful and jerk pork and chicken are definately my favourite food. We walked dinner off with a stroll through Ocho Rios, which culminated with Matthew carrying Georgia and me carrying Callum through town to the car as they struggled to stay awake. 5 year olds are not as light as they seem! We
went to Scotchies because Carlene, the cook was away for the day. This meant that Floyd and Junior were left in charge of lunchtime. The food was great as usual, especially as they cooked a meal I had been intrigued by since I had been told about it by the lead singer of the reggae band we booked. It is called Mannish Water or Goat's Head Soup and is the Jamaican version of viagra apparently. As Miss Nirvella put it "Be careful, it will give you a lump all day!" The soup contained innocent ingredients such as pumpkin, yam and spices as well as not so nice goat brain, intestines and genitals! It wasn't the nicest soup I have ever tasted and didn't leave any of the males with any sort of "lump"!
Last Wednesday was a full day of work, with the weather not so good again. After breakfast, Rachel an
d I visited two of the agents who work on behalf of the villa in town and met with them to discuss how to move things forward. When we got back to the villa, the previous owner Mrs Mafood had arrived as planned. We spent a few
hours in her company and enjoyed her "unique style" of conversation and learnt an awful lot about how the villa rental industry works and the kind of things we need to do to increase the potential of the place. We rounded the day off with a visit from the marketing manager of Chukka Caribbean Adventures. Chukka run various activities in the local area including dog sledding, zip lining and a horseback ride and swim. Another notable part of the day was the delicious lunch that Junior made for us. It included his signature dish of which he is very proud, (and rightly so) Calallo Souffle. Apparently souffle is very difficult to make in a humid climate, which made the enormous creation that greeted us when we sat down even more impressive. The taste matched how it looked and Rachel and Maria now have the recipe, so I look forward to tucking into that when we return home!
The following morning we set off into the mountains to have a go at another Chukka activity, River Tubing. Now, we have already been tubing twice in the last ten days, but Chukka tubing is to the other tubing we had done
like Spurs are to Stoke, ie; much better! The tubing lasted an hour and included some leisurely sections and some exhilarating white water rapids. We all got soaked but all bar one of us managed to stay on our rubber rings as we cascaded through the final and most violent rapids. I'll let you guess who that one was, but his surname is Lee and he is my father in law! The guides were great fun and kept us all entertained as we travelled down the river past impressive foliage and bamboo groves. We ended the trip with a visit to the little jerk hut were we again indulged in the local cusine. Everyone except Gwen and myself paid a visit to Reggae Beach to swim in the sea and bury Matthew and Callum in the sand. Gwen and I spent a couple of hours dozing in the warm afternoon sun by the pool. It may sound boring but I am not a huge fan of the beach. Sand gets EVERYWHERE, the seashore contains jellyfish and a pooldeck means that I am near a house with an endless supply of water and fresh lemonade and a pool means I can
float around on a lilo with no fear of waking up surrounded by sharks and half way to Cuba! We spent the evening being entertained by Callum. Carol, Georgia and Callum are all accomplished street dancers, attending lessons once a week at home. We spent dinner trying to encourage Callum and Georgia to show us dance moves and after various renditions of 'baby freezes', 'switches' and 'robots', Callum came into his own when a famous Kings of Leon song came on. His air guitar was impressive but his passionate vocal perfomance of "wooooooaaahhh, my socks are on fire" had us all in stitches and repeating the song over and over! We played it that many times, Georgia slunk off to bed early because she could'nt bear the sound of it anymore!
The next day was our 25th and penultimate one in Jamaica, so we made the most of it and had a very busy day. In the morning Rachel, her parents, Aunty Gwen and I met the villa manager, Belinda at Coyaba Gardens in Ocho Rios. The gardens contain a lot of local flora and fauna as well as fantastic waterfalls and great views of downtown Ocho Rios. We
were greeted in the car park by the resident peacock, George, who depsite us asking him very nicely, wouldn't do that thing with its tail feathers! We met the owner of the gardens, an English guy and had an interesting chat about the history of the gardens and also future plans for Ocho Rios and the north coast of Jamaica, which are going to make it an even better place to visit. After a lovely refreshing salad for lunch, Matthew, Carol, Rachel, Georgia and I headed for one last visit to the craft market. Rachel and I bought a couple of very brightly coloured canvas paintings as well as a dominoes set for me and one for the children to practise with ready for when we play them in the new year on our return. We made a quick visit to the insanity that is the fruit and veg market. Amongst the sights we saw that afternoon in the sweltering heat were: vendors being moved on by armed police, people selling everything from amusingly named fruit called Gnips, knickers adorned with "Miss Lee" of all names (yes we got Sophie some), youths offering me drugs, a bloke carrying his baby
Georgia and Callum posing
with me in my bobsleigh kit!
on one arm and a giant joint in the other hand, homemade rum punch the colour of rust, a stall named Lady Rasta's Foot Locker and one man trying to entice me into his stall with a call of "Hey white n*gger, I got something for you mon". I didn't stop to find out what he had for me! I made one purchase, a bar of soap with the brand name Nancy. Not funny out of context I admit, so I better explain! On the way to Jamaica, Robert said that Matthew was a nancy and throughout the holiday, the use of this nickname continued until most of us was calling Matthew Nancy through force of habit. Therefore we found that serving a bar of soap on a butter dish was very amusing! Guess you had to be there!
Another early start on Saturday morning, but this one wasn't football or thunderstorm related. Nancy, Robert and I all embarked on an hour long fishing trip about a mile from the shore. We went with two local men who are now friends of Robert, one called Gifton and the other one's name escapes me. We met them at the mouth
Callum and the ladies
Before we all went to play football
of the White River we had been tubing on earlier on in the week and two of the blokes explained to us that the joints they were smoking were called Bad Marley! They said that they were so big so that they could smoke them then (7am) and the effects would last all day! Our boat was called Survival 3 (don't ask what happened to Survival 1 and 2!) and we were soon out on the millpond calm Caribbean Sea with the warm early morning sun and gentle breeze for company. We had a successful hour, catching six fish. Gifton told us that they were blackfin tuna, but when we took one hometo be cooked for lunch, the chef informed us that they were in fact called Bonita Jack. They looked and tasted just like tuna though. Matthew caught one fish, Gifton caught one fish, Robert caught one and I caught three. it wasn't the only victory for Spurs over Stoke that happened on Saturday. We were back at the villa just in time for me to follow the football on the internet and enjoy the victory. I hope Stoke don't stay near the bottom of the league and go
down, it's been nice claiming three points in their backyard for the last couple of years! The rest of Saturday was relaxing and packing and saying our goodbyes before this morning's ridiculously early start!
We have had such a great time in Jamaica that we are sad to say goodbye. The scenery is wonderful, the villa is beautiful, the staff have been so attentive, the food delicious and the company hasn't been too bad either! We had the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure and Ocho Rios has such a host of things to do with in an hour's drive that even the most hard to please couldn't say they were bored. The next stage of our adventure is upon us though and we are off to Hawaii. According to the guide books the scenery is spectacular, the people friendly and with attractions such as Pearl Harbour and Waikiki Beach, I'm sure our sadness at leaving the Caribbean behind wont last for long.
It's "goodbye mon" from us for now, although it will be "Aloha" again very soon when we get the next blog up in a few days.
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