I always thought if I got to Jamaica it would be to live in a tree-house in the hills. I would smoke ganja all day, study the flowers, and listen to nothing but Bob Marley. I would grow dreadlocks and live on a fish diet. But, oh, how different this trip would be.
The winter was brutal. While every winter is harder on my aging body, this one was particularly bad. I needed a vacation.
My winter blues dissipated as the dark North Atlantic water turned to Caribbean Blue.
We reached the Sandals Arrival Lounge at the airport. We changed into shorts, had a quick washroom visit, got wi-fi passwords, and had my first 3 Red Stripes (in clear plastic cups), then escorted to our ride. The driver and I tried to decipher each other’s accents; he reassured me Jamaicans have the greatest accent in the world.
On the two lane highway cars work together, pulling to one side or another as they pass haphazardly. Jamaicans use car horns to say hello. We heard dozens of horns, not one in anger. No worries, Mon.
Through the open air lobby blue Caribbean water was immediately visible. We left winter behind and the warm breeze could not have been more welcoming. I took a deep breathe and realized everything will be okay. “Don’t worry ’bout a thing, Mon. Welcome home.”
Sandals Royal Plantation is the smallest of their resorts. The property is made up of 74 suites, each with personal butlers. Our butler for the week, Ashford, escorted us to our digs, handed me an I-pod, and said “check yourself in, Mon.” I got confused and promptly erased our entire reservation. I needed another Red Stripe. “No worries Mon”, he fixed it for us later.
The warm, salty, humid air of the Caribbean is medicinal. Bones and joints become flexible, aches and pains go away. I rose early every morning and treked to a gazebo for a personal yoga and meditation session. “Set the day right, Mon,” my new Rasta friend Maji said to me. I did.
The main entertainment was an ostentation of peacocks (yes, that is the right word) that strut around the property. At last count there were 19, only two of which are adult males, and both are named George.
This is a small resort, with not many dining choices. Ashford took it upon himself to reserve dinner for us at the specialty restaurant. The food here is better than any other all-inclusive.
When not eating, we lounged on the beach, enjoying the blue sky and clear water. And watching the sand crabs. They blend perfectly with the white sand, noticed only when scurrying along the beach. The days were lazy, with no shortage of beverages, and the occasional aroma of weed. Like all resorts in Jamaica, for safety concerns we were told not to leave without a plan.
I went fishing. After trolling for hours without a bite, I had the chair when the big one hit. The big Mahi-Mahi was one of the coolest fish I ever caught!
During dinner on our last evening, I had the pleasure of speaking with the Executive Chef. A laid back European, he wanted to know what we thought of his restaurants. I raved about the great time I had, and how good the food was, but explained we rarely, if ever, return to the same place twice. There are just too many wonderful places in the world. Chef looked us straight in the eyes, and said with all sincerity, “What specifically is it that we have to do to ensure your return?”
Sandals Royal Plantation, we’ll be back again someday, but we have other places to visit first.