Jamaica Round-Up (Ocho Rios)

Published: May 12th 2015
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What we did

Mystic Mountain Zipline

Here is a big operation that also runs places in Costa Rica and other countries. That, however, gives you the assurance that they know how to do a zipline. We started on a chairlift up the mountain. You could make a day of it up there with their cafe, small museum, hummingbird garden, nature trail (restricted to those with a guide only unfortunately), and waterslide. However, we had a specific pick-up time so we got right to zipping. Talking to others, the famous Jamaican Bobsled ride was not worth it - too short. We enjoyed the ziplines and got to see the Bobsleds beneath us. The guides we had were really professional and great for us (afraid of heights and all). We did five ziplines, plus belayed down a tree, and walked across a bridge between trees, before catching the zipline and heading back down. In summary, the place is a theme park designed for cruise ship visitors - and a bit spendy - but it's a nice way to spend a day in the jungles of Jamaica.

Also miraculously they had no mosquitos (maybe they spray), so don't bother buying the $5 mosquito prevention bracelet.

Konoko Safari with Blue Mountain Bicycles

We did this with a company called Blue Mountain Bicycles, whose main trip is down the Blue Mountain on a bike. It was a long drive, so we opted for a nearby excursion. The guide admitted that the bike ride is mostly tacked on because their name is Blue Mountain Bicycle. Also, he hates biking and hates crowds of people (despite being a tour guide). He was one of the most honest tour guides I'd had, and wasn't un-enjoyable for all his honesty. We got on some rickety yet functioning bikes and rode up (pleasantly challenging) and down (you're going to wish you had shocks) a hilly area above Ocho Rios, with amazing views. The tour ended at Coyaba/Konoko Falls (the name seems to be in dispute), where we got to climb an amazing waterfall. It was really a once in a life time experience. We were the only people at the waterfall, unlike nearby Dunn's River Falls. So we really got to enjoy it. They even had some pools built into the waterfall for swimming.

Hotel - Jewel Dunn River Resort

I have never stayed at an all-inclusive. I probably won't again,but that's just me. I'd rather pay a la carte for high quality on the things I care about. For example, rather than having free access to food all the time, I'd prefer to save my dollars up for one really great meal. I also would have liked to try more local food. The food was of varying quality but was geared towards a North American palate. For example, I had to douse their "jerk chicken sandwich" with hot sauce to get it to my spiciness preference. There was a great restaurant called Platinum, whose menu changed nightly, and frankly I was surprised everyone wasn't eating there every night. The cool thing though for a family trip like ours, where we had 56 people attending a wedding, is that everyone could find their own food at almost any time of day, and we could easily stay on-premises and coordinate group meals.

Of course I finally got to experience a "swim-up bar" - one bucket list item achieved, lol. The fact that you could wake up, walk outside and enjoy the beach, pool, breakfast, and never have to step foot in a car was pretty great. I also enjoyed working out at the gym and going for a sail in their sailboats.

Overall Impressions

I breathed a sigh of relief when we arrived back in US soil. Why? Because we were legal again. It has been years since I've been in a country where, not only is my marriage not legal, but my whole existence as a non-straight person is a crime. There were two instances where we felt that this wasn't just some archaic law, but actually something that was felt strongly by the people there. One of our guides mentioned (in a discussion of American TV) that he would never watch Family Guy because there are too many homosexuals in it and he doesn't like that. The minister for my sister's wedding stated loud & clear in the ceremony that marriage is between one man and one woman. (If you have to call it out, then it must be on your mind. Otherwise, why mention it? Most wedding ceremonies don't bother.) While there are some amazing places to see in the world that have criminalised homosexuality, I doubt I will visit them unless they really have something amazing to offer. For example, while I'm sure Jordan may not have great Gay rights, I will see Petra someday. Russia, on the other hand, has made it clear how they feel about people like me and I won't go there, ever. We never felt endangered, but most people perceived us as friends or sisters. I don't like feeling like I'm hiding and could be found out and be hurt for it, though. I don't think I'm a bad person just because I happened to fall in love and make a family with a woman instead of a man, you know? In some ways, you might think that if we were just "out" in these places, it might change people's minds because they'd be like "Oh, those scary homosexuals are actually nice people no different from me".... but no, I'd prefer not to get hurt, killed, etc - or when we're with my son, I don't want him to experience people being homophobic. So, we'll stay in the closet on these trips - and try to minimize visiting such places as much as we can. Anyway, it was surprisingly more of a problem here than other countries we've visited (and we've been to all kinds of places all over the world.) Too bad because the island is beautiful, with very friendly people, an interesting food culture (that we sadly didn't get to experience), great music, and lots of nature.


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