Since my visions of typical tropical goings-on mostly included limbo parties and hula dancers and tiki torches, and all of those things tend to show up only in Hawaiian honeymoons, I was pretty open to whatever fun Jamaica would be offering. I suppose I expected gaggles of dreadlocked Rastafarians banging on tinkling oil drums, but I was surprised to find out how much more the resort had to offer.
One of our first evenings on the resort we decided to check out the piano bar, which proved to be arguably our most enjoyable evening experience of the honeymoon. Hosted by a friendly and extremely talented man named Ultimate Chocolate (couldn’t make that up if I tried), we sang along to all kinds of piano hits and even took part in a Name-That-Tune battle of the sexes, which of course the men won. Think group karaoke with a happy Jamaican guy and free drinks for a few hours. How could that be anything but ridiculous fun?
Across from the piano bar was a small casino with slot machines, poker machines, a roulette wheel, and an employee for cashing out and dealing blackjack. Amy and I blew about $30 there in an hour one night in a fit of boredom, leading us to wonder how anyone could gamble on a consistent basis. We had fun, but it was expensive fun, and it was only the start…
One of the more practical daytime activities was a Speak Jamaican class, which informed students on some of the basic rules and common sayings of patois, the unofficial national language of the island. Understand that when I say “class,” I mean a half-hour sit-down with one of our entertainment directors, O’Neill (who was awesome, but not quite awesome enough to get Amy dancing in public. He did try, though, and props to him for that).
Basically, O’Neill scurried through the basics of the slanguage and then told us how to say funny stuff in patois (pa-twah). English is technically the official language of Jamaica, but patois infuses the Queen’s English, some French and Spanish, African dialects from the days that a staggering majority of the inhabitants were slaves, and a little bit Arawak Indian, the original Jamaicans. That’s where the iconic “Yeah, Mon” accent comes from. See? You learned something today.
The only lingo I can remember is “Wagwon?” which means “What’s going on?” and “Irie,” which means “alright.” Everything else just sounded like the people were sucking on a mouthful of marbles and spitting out indigenous gibberish. Fun to listen to, but impossible to speak.
We also took classes that educated us on how to make a hat from a coconut tree leaf, as well as the art of Jamaican jewelry-making (if you walk up or down the seven-mile beach, approximately 2/3 of the merchants are peddling beaded jewelry—cheap to make, easy to sell). After quite a few tribulations I managed to piece together a bitchin’ sombrero, and Amy received a number of genuine compliments on the bracelet she made at the jewelry workshop.
Also, while fumbling through the hat-assembling process, we met a woman from L.A. who’s made appearances on Showtime’s “Californication.” Also, her twin eight-month-old boys take turns playing the new baby on “The Young and the Restless.” So basically Amy and I are now famous via association. I am slightly more famous because I saw her first.
Perhaps the most impressive perk we received was the complimentary couples massage we got as part of the newlywed package. Before you head into the room, there’s a gigantic Zen bath tub you soak in, preparing your body for the magic. Once in the room, you’re asked to get buck naked and slip under a towel the approximate size of a dishrag. Amy and I looked at each other like, “Was she serious?” But we grudgingly obeyed.
My masseuse, Cherry, had magic hands grafted by the gods and fine-tuned by fairies and massage school. I essentially melted into the table as part of deep relaxation until… Hey! That’s my butt! Apparently that’s part of how they do things down there. All I kept thinking the entire time was, “I hope Amy’s getting her butt massaged, too, otherwise this could be a really awkward situation.”
As it turns out, Amy did get her butt massaged. That was part of the routine. I can’t tell you how thankful I was, because I was starting to wonder if I shouldn’t have taken Cherry out to dinner beforehand. Didn’t want to seem rude. Other than some momentary discomfiture, it was the greatest massage I’ve ever gotten in my life. Amy will concur.
So with the details of our experiences on the land and in the water now officially recorded, what does that leave? Only one more thing, ladies and gentlemen: the food. That’s what I’ll talk about tomorrow when I wrap up the honeymoon recap, and trust me, you’re not going to want to read it before lunch.