Monday, July 28, 2008

The Honeymoon: Jamaica

There are a lot of awesome things that go along with getting married: you get to see all of your friends and family together in one place at one time, you get thousands of dollars worth of gifts (ninety percent of which are some sort of small kitchen appliance seemingly sent from an outer space civilization and only practical if you’re an employee for the Food Network), you’re the center of attention for a whole day, and you get to experience a great spiritual and emotional bond with the spouse of your dreams.

All that stuff was great—especially the spiritual/emotional bond stuff—but the most enjoyable part of the whole process undoubtedly was the honeymoon.

I don’t want to make it sound like the wedding itself wasn’t superb, because it really, really was. One of the most superb weddings I’ve ever been to, speaking from an entirely objective standpoint of course. But the honeymoon is the culmination of the whole process. After putting in all that time courting Amy, then stressing over the purchase of the engagement ring (a.k.a. the depletion of my savings account) and the proposal, then spending over a year planning out the wedding itself, it was nice to just get everything done and then go away to relax.

In our case, going away meant flying to the beautiful island of Jamaica, then driving an hour and a half along the coast to Negril where our all-inclusive resort was located. Situated on the western side of the island, Negril is known for its beautiful sunsets over the horizon deep into the Caribbean Sea. I would love to try and describe them for you, but sunsets have been romanticized in just about every combination of flowery cliches the English language can proffer. I’ll just say that they were “neat.” That gets the job done.

The shuttle to Couples Swept Away can only be described as colorful. Although Jamaica is 90% black (that’s an actual number, not a humorous hyperbole), I’m not referring to the country’s dominant ethnicity. I’m referring to the buildings, splashed in all different hues of red and green and yellow, the azure sea glittering like crystals, reflecting the green hills adorned in sweeping fields of tall grass just across the road. Every little town we drove through was like its own living graffiti mural painted from the palette of the Jamaican flag’s green, gold, and black.

Though picturesque and beautiful in its own primitive way, Jamaica is an extremely poor country with merchants literally everywhere pedaling sea grapes, t-shirts, beaded jewelry, and any other sort of homegrown art or food that could be easily and cheaply put together. Even on the resort these peddlers would wander the beaches selling these items or playing reggae or offering any of a variety of expensive watersports options (which we would later take advantage of—more on that in a later entry). It was sort of like dealing with the homeless people in Chicago, except you got the impression these people were trying to make an honest living instead of sleeping on a bench, hoping to get something for nothing. Also, Jamaicans back off when you say “No, thank you.” That’s all it takes to get rid of them. “No, thank you.” Crazy, huh?

Actually, the Jamaican people in general are absolutely wonderful to spend time with. Everyone’s always smiling and retorting every question with “Yeah, mon” (Which isn’t a stereotype; every man, woman, and child on the island actually says this like all the time). The national slogan is “No Problem,” and for the most part there truly were no problems. Even menial workers—people who sweep sidewalks and bus tables—genuinely enjoy what their doing and take a ton of pride in their work. Conversely, I have yet to meet an American person who doesn’t gripe about his/her job at least once a day, even if this person is making over $100,000 a year.

The resort itself stretches over several acres, including a beautiful beach lined with white sands (part of Negril’s seven-mile beach), tons of palm trees and other exotic plants, six restaurants, more bars than you can count (including one that was actually INSIDE a pool—where are these swim-up bars in Illinois?), a spa, all sorts of sports and weight-lifting facilities, a casino, and a night club. There’s probably more, but I can’t remember right now. I’m getting drunk just reminiscing on the fumes of wonderfulness Amy and I left behind in that glorious little island slightly south of Cuba.

The kicker for Couples Swept Away is that it was an all-inclusive resort, meaning you pay the money up front and then enjoy all the above amenities for free once you’re on the property. As a result, I ate more high-quality food and drank more top-shelf liquor in the last ten days than the rest of my entire life combined. There also were a number of great activities, both in the water and on land, that we got to partake in as part of our package. There’s no room to give these things proper due in one winded blog entry, so over the next week or so I’ll be laying out everything Amy and I had a chance to experience, from our amazing adventures on the water to one uber-long extended culinary mouthgasm.

I can’t wait to share the details because this trip was beautiful, like a sunset. Like a really neat sunset.

To be continued…

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