Beaches Resort in Negril, Jamaica
November 20-27, 2009

Thanksgiving week!

Slideshow - http://vimeo.com/7988376 

Video
 

Wagoners in Jamaica - Zip-Line from Alan Wagoner on Vimeo.

Journal:

Saturday
This was our travel day, we flew from Raleigh to Charlotte, NC and then non-stop to Jamaica. The flights weren't bad, but travel wasn't over. Negril was about a 90min bus ride from the airport. It was very scenic and actually went by pretty fast. We arrived about 5:15pm and waited in the Grand Room for our room to be assigned. We waited and waited and waited. Several others came and went and we were still there. (they apparently had 160 check in's this day out of 220 rooms) It seems, they didn't  have a room ready for 2 adults and 2 kids.  After about an hours they gave us a room with 1 king bed and 1 roll away twin bed. This was going to have to do as we were tired and very hungry.  We went to our room and it was very nice, but very small.  We washed up and headed straight to dinner.  We went for a late night swim and to bed.  It was a bit cramped in our room, so none of us slept very well.  We just couldn't go a full week in these conditions.
 

Sunday
First thing in the morning I went to the front desk to ask for another room.  After the run around and me being very empathetic with how busy they were and how difficult it must be to please so many people. They agreed to move our room, but we didn't know where. We needed to have our bags packed to check out of the original room by 10:30am and should find out our new room by then.  This was great news, so we went about our day. We had breakfast and went swimming, then back at 10:30am to check in on things. They still did not have a room for us. We had snorkeling reservations at 11am, so we had to go. 

This was the 1st time the kids had been snorkeling, so it was quite exciting.  We headed out on the boat for maybe a 5 min ride.  We all geared up and jumped in. Lars was a natural, off he went chasing fish and enthralled with the sea life. Anya loved it too, but her mask was too big. It covered her eyes, nose and mouth, so it was a little more challenging. Some of us saw a sea turtle, a sea cucumber, loads of coral and fish.  It was actually a really nice trip. After 30 min of fun, it was time to head back to shore for lunch. For a few hours were were nomads in Jamaica.  Finally about 1:30pm, we had a room. They gave us a beachfront upgrade and a bigger room. Yippee!Sometimes it pays to be the nice bulldog rather than the forceful one.

After we checked into our room, we took the kids to camp so we could take a little nap.  Then we picked them up and headed out for dinner.  We called it a night early as we were all tired from the travel and lack of sleep the night prior.

Monday
We were up early and out walking on the beach and looking for sea shells. There weren't many to  be found, but we did get a few. The beach is phenomenal. It is about 7 miles long of incredible powdery white sand. It felt so good on your feet and was so clean. Then it was time for breakfast. We took the kids to camp as we had a dive trip scheduled that morning.  The dive was much better than I would have ever expected for Jamaica.

The visibility was fantastic and the water temp was perfect!  We descended and waited for the group at the bottom.  It was an out and back over a very colorful coral reef.  We saw just about every color coral you could imagine, but my favorite is the purple fan coral. Alan had a great find and spotted a little nudibranch on a fan coral. We also saw a spotted eel, lobster, skate, stonefish, trumpet fish, parrot fish and loads more.  It was a really nice dive and is by far the most peaceful thing to do in this world.

After the dive, we headed back for lunch and a tiny little nap.  Around 4pm we picked up the kids from camp and cleaned up a bit to prepare for Grandma's arrival.  Anya an I headed to the lobby around 5pm to see if Grandma was there, not yet.  Oh, there happened to be a cocktail party with steel drum band in the lobby.  So Anya and I enjoyed the appetizers and dancing while waiting. After about 25 min, we looked over and there was Grandma! She was assigned a room right away and we walked with her to the room.  Funny thing, she was given the exact room we had the 1st night, room 219.  Oh that was too funny!  We headed out to one of the restaurants for dinner and had a wonderful time. Then we headed to the amphitheatre to see the Sesame Street Show.  We danced and laughed then headed in for the night.

Tuesday
This was a relaxing day of hanging out with the family. We enjoyed the resort and the beach to the max. In the evening we hired a nanny to take the kids to dinner and a show. Us adults all went to the adult only white glove service restaurant. It was great, we had a wonderful dinner.

Wednesday
Alan and I had a zip-line canopy tour scheduled from 8:30-3:00 (details below plus the video), so Grandma played with the kids all day. After we returned we hung out on the deck near the pool bar and danced a little. Played a little ping pong and pool, then went swimming at the beach. Then it was time for dinner at Kimono's, the fun Japanese restaurant. Dinner was so much fun and the food was just wonderful, but there wasn't much in the way of dessert. So, we headed over to the buffet restaurant for our sweet fix and coffee. Then it was time to call it a night.

Zip-line Canopy Tour – gliding from a series of decks and platforms, connected by traverses, mounted in the trees of the rainforest.         Nine traverses - ranging from 30ft – 1000ft+ long
    1 rappel – a 25ft drop from a small tree platform to a suspended launching deck
    All from about 50ft – 250ft above the jungle floor.

Our exciting journey began in the beautiful rainforest.  We entered the rainforest on an unpaved single lane road. We arrived at the Canopy tour site and were greeted by our guides. The fitted us with our harness, helmet, gloves and sprayed us down with bug spray. We hooked up the little video cam to Alan’s helmet and we were good to go.

There were 16 in our group total and Alan and I took up the rear, because I was a little scared. The night prior, I woke up at 2:30 am and was ready to chicken out but as you can see I didn’t. We hiked up the mountain a bit adorning all of our very lovely gear. It was about 100% humidity and maybe 90 degrees or so. The 1st little hike wasn’t too bad, but oh that humidity. We were instantly drenched in sweat and didn’t even want to think about those wearing this gear before us.

We met up at the 1st traverse and launching deck.  We listened to the safety briefing and demonstration of techniques conducted by the certified canopy specialist guides. Who I might add are the nicest most patient guys ever!  You will understand why later.  They informed us how to brake, raise our legs and a few other key items. Then the fun started with our 1st traverse, soaring over the Great River. I am not certain, but it seemed as if this was about 50 feet above the river and about 100’ feet across. Making that first jump was a doozy, but once you are soaring it is really fun.

Our journey continued with a grand total of nine traverses coupled with intermittent nature walks/hikes on slippery tree roots, rocks and moss. Each traverse and platform is unique with colorful names such as “Limestone Cliff”, “Threesome Stop”. There was one short traverse that dropped you on a small platform at the top of a tree. There were 16 of us on this platform along with one of the guides. As each person came to the platform or even moved, the 90ft tree (circumference of about 10ft) would sway and the platform would move. I was certain this was the end. To confirm this thought, as I was face planted into the 3ft thick tree branch on about 2 ft wide platform, I was handed a little metal figure eight.

I had no clue what this was for and then it hit me, it was for rappelling. OMG! Where were we going to go? We were forever high up in the rainforest.  The group started to descend one by one. The guided reached over to hook me up and I say NO! not ready. Can I walk back?  “My lady, there is only one way out of here now and that is just keep going.”.  So about 6 people went ahead of me and then he just grabbed my things and said I was next.

Down I went, to discover that it was only about 25 ft or so to the next platform. This platform was much bigger, so once I was there, things were better. I must say my knees were a knocking for sure!  This platform was the highlight of the tour and it was the biggie, the “Inter-parish Express” (over one thousand feet long!). I tried not to look at the length of each traverse until it was my turn to jump. When I looked at this one, it took me an extra few seconds to jump. It felt like someone glued my shoes to the deck and I couldn’t even see where it ended on the other side.  I finally jumped and took the time to enjoy the peaceful rainforest, tunnel of trees and the rushing river below.  I felt like a bird soaring in the wind.

After some time, I finally saw the end of the traverse and I was zooming along (estimated about 35mph). The guide was yelling for me to brake, but my hand just couldn’t let go to brake. I came crashing into the guide and the monster tree at the end. Thank goodness for the padding on the tree. The camera strap broke and I was seriously shaken up and banged up. It was no doubt a crash landing, but it was a great adrenaline rush. We still had a few more traverses to go, so had to keep my head held high and keep on zipping.  The last few didn’t seem so bad and when it was all said and done, I think I would do it again.  I know Alan would in a heart beat and Lars can’t wait until he is old enough to take his turn.  This is a must do for anyone going to Jamaica!

Thursday  - Happy Thanksgiving
Our last full day here, oh I don't know where to begin. We did a little snorkeling off of the beach, just wading in the water. We spotted a ray, flounder, blue trumpet fish and loads of other little fish right at our feet. It was great. We enjoyed the lazy river, slides etc and just kind hung out. For dinner, the resort shut down all restaurants and set up shop on the beach. It all stared with a parade (marching band, dancers and all of the Sesame Street characters). Then there was dancing, dancing and more dancing. There was so much energy it was fantastic. We all participated in the eternal Conga line too! (check out the slide show for pix)

The entire beach was cleared out and set up with tables, chairs and a monster buffet for about 500ppl. We were lucky enough to have our own table right on the parade route. The buffet was incredible, with a Traditional Thanksgiving faire with all of the trimmings. Also we had Jerk Turkey, Filet Mignon, pork etc. There was every salad you could dream of. The treats were the best too, all with an open bar at all times. This is really the way to celebrate Thanksgiving, this may need to be a family tradition. No cooking, cleaning or hassle. Not to mention we got to enjoy the night barefoot on the beach in tie dye. 

Friday
Time to go home :-(   Until we meet again.