As I probably won’t be able to come with any clever titles for these entries, I’ll just stick to keeping it simple. The first entry is about my adventure in Jamaica. This one is going to encompass the entire 5 days as they were to me very traumatic and to everyone else very funny.

I had decided to go to Jamaica for my 25th birthday rather than to Paris as I had originally had planned. Now, I know that Jamaica is no real comparison to Paris, but it was going to have to do as Paris was going to cost around $1200 compared to the $300-400 to Jamaica. On top of it, a bunch of people were supposed to be going with me but in the end, I was the only one able to go.

My trip went from the 11th of July to the 15th of 2007. It was full of more mistakes than anything. First mistake was my flight into Kingston rather than Montego Bay. This wasn’t the smartest of choices as Kingston is on the other side of the island and I had to rent a van to get across the island. Here then comes the second mistake. I am not a haggler. I was screwed over by the people. I can’t remember the exact price I paid but it was around $120. Moron I know.

The one consolation was that the drive was incredible. Driving through the heart of Jamaica was fantastic. The island is incredibly beautiful. I was amazed at the lush green of the mountains and the overall scenic beauty. But the further we got, I got to see more and more of the people and their living conditions and the realisation hit me that I was in a third world country. I had known it was but as I had never been to or seen a third world country before, I had no idea what to expect. When we finally got to Ocho Rios, we began driving into the outskirts and seemingly ghetto regions of the town. I was literally shaking by the time they got me to my hotel. I seriously thought that someone was going to pull open the door and kidnap. I was so shaken that when I got to the hotel, the lady at the front desk offered me a beer to calm me down.

This is where we get to my third major mistake. Never stay in a Jamaican hotel. It was a joke. I stayed in the Crystal Ripple Beach Lodge. The first lady I met there was lovely and very helpful. The second lady not so much. Almost every night I was able to order pizza in as I was to terrified to go outside my hotel to get things to eat. That was by the helpful services of the first lady. On the one night that the second lady was there, she was unhelpful in finding the supposed restaurant close to them and then told me just to go out and get something to eat somewhere. It was pitch black and I was lucky enough to remember a chicken place at a gas station where I was able to get something to eat. I was praying practically the whole time that no one would accost me or take my food. Thankfully only one person asked me anything on the way there (for a light).

Obviously you are not always going to get helpful people no matter where you go, but that wasn’t what made this experience so unpleasant. One big thing was their idea of a “continental breakfast.” It comprised of mainly tea and toast. Literally. Then in the my room there was a door that lead into the next into the next room. You find that in lots of hotels, but the are usually sound proof so that you do not hear your neighbours having sex. I had no such luxury. Thankfully I had headphones and music to drown out the moaning. But I guess you get what you pay for.

Now the whole trip wasn’t bad. My second day there, I made some plans with the first lady so I could have some things to go do while I was there. The third day I was to go to a plantation and take a horseback tour around the plantation and down to the beach where we would get to eat a traditional Jamaican meal. On my birthday I was to go to this waterpark-esque place. I was planning on swimming with some sharks.

So on the 13th I was picked up to go to the Prospect Plantation for a horseback tour of the site. I had not been on horseback in many years and it was better than I expected. I’m not to keen on riding horses but I really enjoyed it. The air was fragrant from the allspice (which I snagged a leaf to put in my journal) and the sun was shining. From the plantation we went down to the beach where we rode the horses in the water and had the traditional Jamaican dish of ackee and saltfish. It was really good. At the beach I also bought a bracelet and necklace. Everything was going well until my driver got me back to my hotel. I was expected to tip him and I felt so bad as I had no more money as I had used it to buy the jewellery. Not very classy of me. Always remember to have extra cash to tip your drivers.

My birthday was quite sad. I thought that I would have a driver to take me to Dolphin Cove to swim with the sharks, but I did not. It was turning into a hassle to get me there, so I opted to cancel it and stayed at the hotel, I swam a little, as my hotel was right on the beach, and read Harry Potter 5 (not all of it of course). Not the ideal birthday, but very relaxed to say the least.

At last my journey was coming to an end. As it was sunday, the driver was generous enough to take me to church when we got back to Kingston. I should also mention that I gave the first lady a copy of the Book of Mormon that I had taken with me. I made it time to experience sacrament but that was all. From there it was to the airport and back to Miami.

While the trip was not a complete disaster, I learned a lot about what I should do next time I go there (which I very much plan to). I am going to fly in to Montego Bay, stay in an American hotel and learn how to haggle.

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