This was Samara's first trip, if you're not counting the trip home from Russia, and all in all she did really well for being taken out of her daily routines. The flight down could have been worse, and truth be told wasn't as bad as I thought it would be flying with a four year old and two year old. It began with very little sleep the night before, a one hour ride to the Dayton airport, all the airport fun (sarcasm), a one hour delay on the plane after we boarded, a two hour flight to Orlando, a very short layover followed by another two hour flight to Montego Bay and a very long line to get through customs. Sounds great, doesn't it? Ohhh, I forgot to mention the 4 hour bus trip from the airport in Montego to our villa in Port Antonio.....
It was late when we got there and already dark, but the initial sights of the villa seemed enough to make the trip worth while, at least until the morning came and the sun rose to the beauty that awaited us right outside our bedroom doors. Certainly with this kind of scenery staring you in the face you can quickly forget the trials and tribulations of the previous day's travels and look forward to the wonderful week ahead.
Day one was one of rest and relaxation, and getting to observe our surroundings. Not to mention letting the little ones get out and stretch their legs and burn off some of their pent up energy. Let me take a moment to tell you about the breakfast we had that was prepared by the staff taking care of us at NorseHill Villa. First was the fruit tray which consisted of pineapple, Jamaican apples, papaya, grapefruit and grapes. Then we had pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, turkey bacon, orange juice, guava juice, coffee and tea............ahhh, just what the Dr. ordered. Each morning we were blessed with a wonderful meal to begin our day.
Our afternoons were spent hanging around the house and relaxing or visiting one of the three nearby beaches, and one afternoon we went to the local market and had lunch at the marina. The days went by far too quickly, but each one of them was a great day filled with memories we'll cherish forever. Dinner each evening was impressive, and nobody left the table hungry as Alma and Marjorie made enough food to feed an army. Some of the our dishes consisted of curried chicken and shrimp, jerk pork, lobster, grilled fish, rice, vegetables and probably a couple other fabulous foods that are escaping my brain at the moment. This of course was followed by a bit of desert each night as well.
The sun rose early and fell that way too, and so did the kids for the most part. Ethan was awake each morning with the sunrise and thankfully Wayne (butler, chief of security) was there each morning to have a pot of coffee brewing at just the right time. Samara was never too far behind, and thus our day would begin. There was a pool on the grounds that Ethan found himself wanting to enjoy each day, no matter how cool the water was. And speaking of the water, not as warm as you think a pool in Jamaica would be, in fact the ocean water was warmer than that pool. But it didn't stop the monster from wanting to get in each and every day, and guess who had to get in with him?
We went to three different beaches that week (San San, Winnifred and Frenchman's Cove) and each time found ourselves happier than we were the time before. First was San San, and although it was nice and there was virtually nobody there, it wasn't as a nice as Winnifred. Beach #2 had many more people on it but our Chief of Security accompanied us that day. Leah got to do some snorkeling while I nursed the sunburn I got the day before at San San. The kids loved playing on the beach and in the sand, and Samara loved being in the water. She didn't quite grasp the concept of how deep the water was and wanted to be put down to walk, and thankfully there was quite a bit of beautiful shallow water for her to walk and kick around in.
The third beach was my favorite of the week, and I'm thinking that it was Ethan's too. The beach wasn't as long and the cove was closed in tightly by two cliffs........but the property had a fresh water river running through it that spilled right into the cove, so you had the mix of the cool fresh water and the warm ocean water all at the same time. This beach had many more inhabitants than the previous two, but also served food and drinks with a professional wait staff. There was a wooden swing hanging from a tree that the kids could swing out over the fresh water just as it ran into the cove, and Ethan had lots of fun with that. The water was so clear in both the river and ocean that you could see fish, so cool.
Even though the kids would get worn out in the sun and sand, none of them wanted to leave each day. Sunblock and cameras were a must, and if it weren't for little ones much needed and most certainly deserved naps, I think we could have stayed at the beach all day. Our day at the market was rainy, and to be clear we had some kind of rain almost everyday, although most of it was overnight or in the morning. Usually it didn't last long, but Friday market day was overcast and partly rainy all day. We found some things for the kids, Ethan got a drum and Samara a summer dress. Not for the quality but more for the memory. The market was kind of like going to a flea market, but kind of outside with mud on the ground and tarps blocking the rain, and needless to say we didn't stay too long. From there we headed to the marina for a drink and some lunch, and where Leah found a gift shop with some cool souvenirs in it.
Lastly, the trip home mirrors the description above about the trip down, with the exception of the monumentally epic meltdown my daughter had in the Jamaican airport. It was toward the beginning of the 21 hours of Saturday's travelling, and what was left of my sanity. At the time my head wanted to explode right off my shoulders, but looking back now I can only imagine how difficult a trip like that was for a 2 year old with her history. All in all she did great, and Ethan did great too, but I think that everything just caught up to her and her sensory got the best of her. We're extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to go on such a wonderful trip and to let our little ones get to experience different cultures. Thanks again to Chris, Jennifer and little Ethan, and to Jeremy, Heather and Ellie for allowing us to be part of something so wonderful. And thanks to Ed for offering up Norsehill Villas for auction at the benefit.
I could write much, much more, but that would certainly make this already long blog post more of a book and I fear that this may be too long to read as it is, so I'm going to end it with this little bit of Jamaican wisdom...........Everyting Irie!