5.21.2012

Jamaican me crazy, part 2

part one here.

Even though I was loving our pool/beach rotation, we wanted to change things up a little, so about halfway through the week I did a little exploring.

And then one afternoon I stumbled across this beauty of a beach.





And then I found myself a chair in the shade (have you seen my Irish skin?!) and parked myself there for the rest of the week, minus a few trips to the restaurant in the sand that served american!! food. Burgers, fries, and ice cream cones after hours in the sun is bliss in its purest form.

This quickly became our favorite area on the resort, and it wasn't very crowded since it was a bit harder to find. Not to mention, it had a small pool with another swim up bar.




We also discovered a shared love of kayaking. So much fun. Please excuse photos taken with our disposable waterproof camera.






One of my favorite things was getting dressed up for dinner.



And hello Jamaican sunsets.


The rest of the week was uneventful. Lots of swimming and kayaking and eating and napping. And eating.

The last day it rained and stormed all day, which was perfect because my skin decided that even though it had been slathered in SPF 70 all week, it could no longer tolerate the powerful Caribbean sun and broke out into hives. The life of a pale person. Once the thunderstorms ended, we went outside and swam in the pouring rain. It was the best. The perfect way to spend our last day.


The next day we woke up early, ate breakfast, got on the bus, and settled in for the two hour ride to the airport. I couldn't get over how beautiful everything was. On one side of the bus were lush green mountains, and on the other side was the turquoise water, big resorts, and small fishing villages.

We walked into the airport and noticed an unusual number of people standing around. I didn't think much of it, and we stood in line for an eternity. As we started nearing the front of the line, it was announced that the first few flights of the day were delayed several hours.

No big deal. Our flight was still a good many hours away. We figured we would be fine. Plus, I reasoned there was no way things could get worse than they did on the way to Jamaica, right?

Then, those first few flights were cancelled.
I started getting a little nervous.
Then, all flights for the day were delayed.
Heart starts beating a little faster.
 Sweat glands start working overtime.
Then, all flights for the day: cancelled.
 Tear glands began working overtime.

Then came the announcement that changed everything

(please read in very thick Jamaican accent that I still can't understand)

"Attention ladies & gentlemen. All flights are cancelled indefinitely. All air traffic controllers have gone on strike. Jamaican airspace is closed until further notice. No flights in or out."

Picture me collapsing to the floor in utter disbelief. We were given slips of paper with the number for US Airways to call them and try to get on other flights when the strike is over.

However, no one could get ahold of anyone on this number. So we waited another hour in line and spoke with the ticket agent. Even if the strike were to end soon, all US bound planes were full for the next several days. And there were hundreds of Americans needing to get home.
So you can imagine my panic, I'm sure.

And then, being the smart traveler I am, I reminded the ticket agent that the airlines should be offering food/hotel vouchers. They can't leave hundreds of Americans hanging in a foreign country with nowhere to go, right?!

Wrong, apparently. No vouchers. I begged and pleaded for some sort of help.

"You're on your own" are the exact words I was told.

So, what to do?! We decided to call Sandals and see if we could come back.

Oh, then it turned out that every single payphone in the airport was broken. Not kidding.

So James stood in line for a working phone at a customer service desk while I guarded our bags from creepy locals who kept eyeing them and trying to sell me drugs.

Turns out, Sandals was thrilled to have us back! For $900/night.
Um, no. We didn't even pay anything close to that the week we were there.
All other local resorts were completely full.
You don't even want to know the amount of hysterical crying that came from me. And pretty much every other American around me. Pure chaos. People were freaking out.

So we resigned ourselves to sleeping on the airport floor indefinitely.
Except, there was the problem of safety.
Let's just say the locals aren't exactly trustworthy.
They spot a "rich" American and will do just about anything to get their money.
They're rude and pushy and follow you around.

Sometime that afternoon we went back up to the ticket counter, begging for some kind of help. Plane tickets home, advice on what to do, where to go, anything. After a very long time of waiting, an agent said he managed to get us tickets to Philadephia two days out, as long as the strike is over.
We'll take it!
He also helped us find a "respectable" taxi driver. A lot of Jamaicans will pretend to be taxi drivers and trick Americans out of their money. And they take them skeezy places. Hence my fear of leaving the airport. Not that staying was any safer, though.
So he found someone contracted with the airport and gave him some addresses to take us to. Not going to lie, I put up a bit of a fight. I had no reason to trust this person.  

He was supposed to take us several places, but ended up letting us out at one hotel and driving off before we even made it inside.
Great.

Thankfully, the hotel heard about the strike and gave us a discount, which was great because we had next to no money at this point.

Help! We're stranded!



We got settled in and tried to make the most of it. We found a bunch of other Americans in the same situation, which was comforting. Most people said they couldn't get tickets home for another week at least.

We managed a quick phone call home to let our parents know what was happening and to have them call James's boss since he clearly would not be returning to work any time soon.

We spent most of our time in our room watching tv. I remember sitting on the bed and watching the news about the tornado that hit Joplin. I was suddenly very thankful to be in our situation.

James tried to walk and find the Pizza Hut we heard about, but he was offered drugs and followed a few too many times and came back. Thankfully there was a Burger King next door.
Hello, saving grace. Except for the part where they charged for ketchup packets and were out of EVERYTHING on the menu except for chicken nuggets and a fish sandwich.
However, we did find a Margaritaville the next day. Where I was offered drugs. Again.

Our hotel did give us breakfast, though. A traditional Jamaican breakfast of beans & fish.

Our hotel room did have a balcony with an amazing ocean view. And whenever I stepped outside all the boys would holler.
I did a lot of hiding inside.

Diversity: an old, old wooden ship used during the Civil War era.

We called the airport a lot to see if the strike was over.
We quickly learned  the airport staff lies a lot.
Kind of like when they told us planes were delayed when really the whole freaking airport was shut down.

And then! The night before we were supposed to leave!
Look what I spy with my little eye.

Glory, hallelujah.

As happy, no, thrilled that I was to see the plane, I was a smidge sad to be leaving these killer sunsets.

I was a nervous wreck the whole next morning.
We got to the airport and they gave us the green light for our flight.
They printed off our boarding passes, and holla! FIRST CLASS AGAIN.
The same ticket agent from the day of the strike let us bypass the whole check-in line and said he made a special request for us to be in first class.
I still love him.

We made it Philly without incident. Never have I ever been so happy to be on American soil again.
Tears of joy, people. I love my country more now than I ever did before!

Customs took fo-ev-ah. We literally RAN through the airport to catch our flight to Raleigh.
We made it just as they were calling our group to board.
I called my parents to let them know we were back in the homeland.
Turns out, they were busy hiding in the basement from a tornado headed straight toward them.
And then I had to hang up so we could fly to Raleigh.

We made it to Raleigh.
They made it through the tornado.

And James and I swore we would never leave the country, let alone get on an airplane ever again.


We got to Greenville in the middle of the night to find that our bathroom sink had gone from a small leak to FULL ON RUSHING HOT WATER.

And then we were gifted with a $300 utility bill.

And that's how we started our marriage. And things haven't really been any less crazy. But we have to laugh about it.
And at least we have some good stories to tell, right?

17 comments:

  1. oh my word. what a story!! so glad it worked out okay but that must have been scary!! that Joplin tornado was the sunday before our wedding and it actually came thru our small town before it hit Joplin. that was scary stuff too, but your story definitely wins. you should submit that to readers digest or something lol.

    love the photos btw :)

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  2. Oh. My. Goodness. That was THE craziest honeymoon story EVER! So glad you made it back in one piece. I am also glad that you were able to enjoy your honeymoon in between all the ruckus of airports and sketchy drug dealers. :)

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  3. Holy guacamole! That is quite a story to tell. Your second hotel sounds really scary. Jamaica is a beautiful place but you sure do need to be careful. I'm so glad you made it back safely and that your family was okay in the tornado and as for the leak? Well, that just sucks.

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  4. Wow! My husband and I just got back yesterday from the same Sandals resort in Jamaica (we went for our anniversary), and I'm so glad I did not read this before our trip! Definitely a story to tell!!

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  5. Loved the reference to Anchor Man... :) Yes, laughing is a good remedy for this madness called life! :)
    xoxo

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  6. Wow I can't even imagine. I honestly don't know what I would do if put in the same situation. I know I wouldn't have handled it very well.

    Now you have a crazy story to tell your kids one day. Every vacation from this point on (hopefully) no matter what goes wrong you can always say it wasn't as bad as your honeymoon.

    I've loved reading about this experience. Hope you're having a good week!

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  7. Looks perfect!!! Love your pretty dress for dinner! xoxo

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  8. Well... shit. No more airports for you, missy! And that utility bill is really the cherry on top! WOW.

    I loved reading all of your wedding/honeymoon posts, friend! You're a great writer!

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  9. girl I didn't know you went on vacation! Jamacia!!! Those are beautiful pictures...aahhh
    Glad you're safe.

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  10. Oh my gosh! I found you via your guest post for Chambanchik, and I can't believe this happened to you! I went to Jamaica for my honeymoon too, and I can't imagine how panicked I would have been! At least you have a good story? haha

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  11. Well I have to say I stumbled across your blog, ended up reading all about your wedding and honeymoon and I'm hooked haha!
    newest follower right here!
    Hello from Canada
    Jessica

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  12. So I just made my way to all your posts about your wedding from your about me page, and I have to tell you - my husband and I live in Columbus, got married here on May 14th, 2011, and spent our honeymoon the week after at that same resort...haha. We stayed on the same side of the resort, but not in the manor house, and we loved taking that bus over to the other side to that swim up bar you mentioned. I'm so glad we made it back right before that strike though and I'm so sorry you guys got stuck dealing with that - I couldn't imagine!

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  13. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! O_O

    thats like, uh, the worst honeymoon story I have EVER read. I mean, you guys held up so well! But that is INSANE!

    oh dear. and a 300$ electric bill @_@ poor you! and james! what hard things to go through when you are first married!!

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  14. Wow! You are the queen of misadventures! CRAZY CRAZY!!! I cannot believe these stories!!! Or the DRUGS?!? Ahh, that makes me scared! And it does give me a greater appreciation for the U.S. We often feel so entitled when flying, but I can't imagine getting to a place where even the people at the airport are super sketch... or you can't even go to the Burger King because next thing you know, you're getting stabbed with drugs! AH!


    http://www.chimerikal.com

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  15. Reading this really made me regret never doing something like that for our honeymoon. It never even occurred to me that you can go to those places and not feel pressured to do anything but sit on the beach. I feel like I've been going about life all wrong.

    Air traffic controller strike? I did not see that one coming.

    The nice thing is, through your pre-wedding, wedding, and honeymoon ordeals you and James basically went through all the crap that makes or breaks relationships. You know, once you'd fully committed and all that. Parenting should be a breeze. As long as there are no more strikes.

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  16. Since you haven't posted in a while I decided to entertain myself with some of your old posts.
    Holy poop. This sounds awful. We went to Jamaica a little over a year ago and I could never have imagined this kind of torture. Dang.
    Also, your "diversity" sidenote. Love it. HAHAHA! San Diego...

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  17. This is quite LITERALLY the worst travel story I've ever heard.

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