Sunday, January 8
Our flight left Denver at 7 AM, and we arrived at the Montego Bay airport about 3 PM. Chris, Paula, Steve, Jen, Wayne, and I were all on the same flight. At the airport, Sandals had a little waiting lounge with free beer and soda while we waited for the bus. We didn't have to wait long. Right outside of the airport, our bus stopped at a gas station, and a Rastafarian selling lobsters approached the bus. I'm not sure what we would have done with a lobster at the resort, but they did look tasty. A couple minutes further down the road the bus driver asked if we wanted to stop at the rest stop. By this point we had been on the bus about 20 minutes and had gone about 4 miles, so no one liked the idea of a rest stop. The ride from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios is about 100 km (60 or 70 miles?), but it took us nearly 3 hours. The roads were mostly paved but had many sections of construction or bad potholes. The main delay was that the bus would slow to about 5 miles an hour as it crested hills - it just couldn't go any faster.
Our room was nice: a suite with a separate living room and kitchen. There was a stocked bar of rum, whiskey, vodka, red wine, white wine, and champagne; bottled water and soda in the fridge; and a cheese and fruit plate. We devoured the cheese and fruit plate only to find out that was the only thing that wouldn't be restocked. There was plenty of cheese and fruits at the restaurants and buffets though, and the restaurants would wrap up food for you to take back to your room. We went to the buffet for dinner, and we ran into mom and Shay along the way. After dinner, we sat outside near the bar at the manor house and talked. We were getting worried because Dave and Gretchen hadn't arrived yet, and Wayne finally went to the lobby to leave them a message and returned with them. We stayed up quite awhile drinking and playing pool.
Monday, January 9
On Monday, Wayne and I had to meet with the wedding coordinator. Genevie was very sweet and made the whole process very easy. It rained some in the afternoon, so we didn't spend too long at the beach and headed for the pool instead. Later we hung out in our room drinking for awhile. I wanted to take some time to do some pre-wedding stuff like paint my nails. That night, we got dressed up for dinner, with plans to eat at one of the nicer restaurants. It turned out by the time we got over there, the nicer restaurant was booked for the night. We ended up eating at the Reef Terrace. This ended up being a nice restaurant on a terrace overlooking the ocean. Later, Wayne and I took a bus over to the Ocho Rios Margaritaville. It was much like you would expect - not too different from Senior Frogs or Carlos and Charlie's. It was fun to be there though. Apparently, it was Sandals staff night so the staff from the resort were showing up and starting to get a little crazy. We only stayed an hour and then headed back to the resort. On the way back, there were some very noisy, whiny (and frankly very large) Canadians complaining about the place. I'm not sure what they expected but apparantly a cheesy club with expensive drinks wasn't it. They made most of the Americans at the resort look good.
Tuesday, January 10
We had everyone over in our room while I got ready. Quite a bit of champagne and other drinks were drank at this time. The sun came out right when they picked us up to go over to the wedding gazebo. Mom and Shay gave me away. Shay was getting a little nervous before we walked up - it was pretty sweet. The minister was really friendly and introduced himself to me before the ceremony. There was a short prayer and then a simple ceremony. Very traditional "to have and to hold in sickness and in health in richness and in poorness as long as we both may live" type of stuff. After the ceremony, the photographer took many pictures at the gazebo overlooking the beach where the ceremony was. Then, he directed us over to the reception, which ended up being at the same location as our dinner the night before. They had moved out the chairs and we had the place to ourselves. The wedding coordinator set up the first dance (One Love, Bob Marley). When that was over, we did the cake. They had created a crustless cheesecake that I could have and decorated it like a traditional wedding cake. I was really impressed. I hadn't expected it all to look so nice. There were hors d'oeuvres (cheese, fruit, jerk chicken wings, etc.) They had some pre-set out for Wayne and I, and I was really impressed that they never set anything out for me that I couldn't eat. They had some additional hors d'oeuvres on a table buffet-style. We chatted and had drinks, and then eventually we wandered back up to our rooms.
Wayne and I were lounging on the patio at our room later and the gardener came by and asked us if we'd had any coconuts yet. He came back with a couple and cut them open for us. We poured some rum in and they were quite yummy. We couldn't finish them though - there's a lot of juice in there! Later, Wayne and I had a private dinner. It was supposed to be on the beach, but due to the wind and chance of rain, they moved it to one of the cabanas by the pool. It was very secluded and very nice. Steak and shrimp with champagne. Later, we again met up on the bar at the manor house for drinks. My mom and Shay had met a young couple from Wisconsin and they joined us, but we had lost a few from our own group.
Wednesday, January 11
This was really our first day to hang out on the beach. We went kayaking. Dave and Gretchen managed to tip their kayak over by the reef, and for a moment we thought the patrol boat was going to have to rescue them. We managed to get on the snorkeling trip for the afternoon. We were worried they might cancel it because of the weather, but luckily we were able to go out. This was fortunate because it was my mom and Shay's last chance to go out before they left. That night, we went to dinner at Valentino's, the nice Italian restaurant at the resort. There were only six of us eating there that night (my mom, Shay, Steve, Jen, Wayne, and I), but we still ended up waiting an hour and a half or so to be seated. The wait was actually quite nice - we just sat and had drinks on a nearby terrace. The restaurant was small, but very nice. The waiters all wore white gloves, and you could order 4 or 5 courses if you wanted.
Thursday, January 12
This was the day of the booze cruise. We woke up in time to grab a quick bite and say goodbye to my mom and Shay before they left. When we got down to the dock we had time to hang out for awhile. Another boat was loading up before our boat came. When we got on the boat, they served water and punch before the snorkeling. The boat was a double-bowed catamaran with large netting on the front part that you could lay on and get splashed by the waves occasionally. We went out to a bay in Ocho Rios where there were several large cruise ships docked. We went snorkeling in the outer part of the bay. Afterwards, they started to serve beer and rum punch on the boat on the way over to Dunns River Falls. We handed our camera to one of the guides so he could take pictures, and we had to hold hands to walk up the falls. The walk up the falls was actually harder than I thought it would be, and in some spots we were in 2-3 feet of water with strong currents. The falls were beautiful despite all the tourists, and there was red ginger flowering everywhere. On the way back the booze was flowing. Dave was diving through waves at the front of the boat. Dave and Gretchen both hung off the boat to chug beers, and Wayne, Chris, and Dave decided chugging drinks through a snorkel was a good idea. Surprisingly, the staff was ok with all of this and the DVD guy encouraged us. We ended up buying a copy of the DVD. It didn't turn out half bad. When we got back to the resort, Wayne and I went out on a Hobie-Cat ride. We were a little drunk and didn't understand why they wouldn't let us to go out by ourselves with no experience right then.
Friday, January 13
We spent the next morning relaxing, and in the afternoon Wayne and I decided to take Hobie Cat lessons so we could take a boat out by ourselves. Later, Wayne, Paula, and I all went out. Wayne was a good captain, and I had a good time (even if I was a bit of a back-seat driver). I've always loved being out on water like that. There was an outdoor buffet that night with grilled lobster and curried goat. The food was all delicious. Unfortunately, by this point in the trip I felt all I was doing was eating and drinking, so I could only make it a couple trips to the buffet. After dinner, we played shuffleboard. Gretchen and I had a several game winning streak going until Dave and someone(?) finally broke it. Dave threw his arms up in the air and ran around shouting his vistory. He cornered a little too fast on the slick pavement and right went down on his face. It looked like something out of a cartoon. A guy walking past made the comment: "Now THAT made this vacation worth it!"
Saturday, January 14
We got on a morning snorkeling trip that went out to the other side of
the reef. This side of the reef was deeper. The reef was 5-15 feet beneath
you and there were large trenches in the reef. It was nice because you
didn't have to wear the life jacket so you could dive down and swim around
with the fish. There was a huge school of fish right where the boat anchored,
and they did not move at all when you swam through them. After we all
boarded the boat to get back, the crew realized the anchor was stuck in
the reef. After much trying and maneuvering, the captain ended up stripping
down to his swimming trunks and jumping in. He was able to free-dive thirty
feet to clear the anchor. He claimed he could do fifty, and I don't doubt
it. That night, Dave, Gretchen, Steve, Jen, Wayne, and I all went to the
Asian restaurant, Orchids, for dinner. The food was all good. We experienced
that the food was good everywhere at the resort, but sometimes it was
a little off from what you might expect in America. For example, the tuna
steak was very thin and well cooked, but it had a very nice flavor. And
the crème brulée was more like a soup with a crusted top,
but it was still very tasty. We talked with the waitress about all of
the kittens that were walking around the resort, and then we asked her
what the other creatures running around the resort were called.
.... You may have had to been there.
Sunday, January 15
They say all good things must come to an end.
We didn't let the morning be wasted though. We sat around drinking mimosas in the sun on the terrace before the bus left. The bus ride back to Montego Bay seemed a little quicker than the one to Ocho Rios. I think the bus we were on was just a little more capable of going above 30 mph. We stopped at the rest stop on the way back. It wasn't very interesting, but I did appreciate the restroom at the time. At the airport, we had a meal at Margaritaville and shopped the duty-free liquor stores. When we got to Miami, our connection was very short and the bags were slow coming out of baggage claim. We sent everyone else ahead of us when they got their bags. Ours ended up being the last bag out, and when we got through customs we ran into a lady taking bags. When she asked where we were headed and we said Denver, she said we needed to go to concourse D, the second level. When we got over there, we were a little shocked to realize we were back on the wrong side of security and being sent to the ticket counter. After many lines, we finally were told that there was no way of us making the flight now, but they would get us a flight the next morning and give us a night's stay at the hotel at the airport. The hotel was not quite as nice as a Best Western and was literally in the airport. We had an early flight the next day so we didn't explore Miami beyond the airport. The next day we made it home by midday and just relaxed the rest of the day.