10 years!!...well, almost...it'll be official on May 10th :-) Where on earth has the time flown??? 10 years...3 kids...multiple moves...multiple careers...one business....one love (haha, sorry - that's Jamaica's main phrase so I had to throw that in there). "Hey mon! No worries man! Life is IRIE!" This is what we heard all week long in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Those phrases were pretty wonderful to hear repeatedly as our life is filled with worries...raising children in a fast paced world, owning/operating/managing a business and providing an income for multiple families...and so many other things I could add, but you get the idea. Chad and I were in need of a break...we were in need of time alone to reconnect...we needed to make our relationship a priority again...and we are so thankful again to our parents and friends who made it possible for us to get away!!!
Giddiness pretty much sums it up. We were downright giddy to be leaving! The drive to the airport was wonderful just getting to hold hands and talk...reconnecting was the name of the game on the way to Jamaica. It's amazing how two people can share a life together but be so busy and distracted that they hardly ever have a complete conversation. So, we made up for lost time and talked for about 6 hours. It was really nice. :-) The picture of me "waiting" was a pattern every morning. Chad was on Jamaica time...which means he slept in every morning and didn't go ANYwhere till he'd had a few leisurely cups of coffee. No complaints here! He deserved it! This man has worked his butt off ever since I've known him (about 12 years) and was in desperate need of some serious relaxation. In order to not drive him nuts though, I was at the gym by 5am several mornings, and out all by my lonesome on the beach soaking in the sunrise. Hey, opposites attract, right?
Scuba Diving. Oiy. What to say...what to say.... Well, we learned a lot. Chad is super brave and tough. Ok, so we didn't really learn that - that was common knowledge. We did however learn that I'm prone to having panic attacks 40 feet underwater. Who knew?? Something about being told we would see Squid, Sharks and Barracuda's left me hyperventilating and shaking. I'm glad we did it - and am even more glad that I was able to (by the grace of God) not totally flip out and ruin the experience. Despite aspirating ocean water in to my lungs - TWICE - due to panicking and forgetting to breathe through my regulator,...I was still able to appreciate the beauty of the fish and corral. Although my teeth were chattering and I had to hold "Big D's" hand the entire time I was in the water, it was still good. No. That's a lie. It was pretty awful. But I did it!!!! And Chad was amazing - he loved every second! Glad to have done it, even more glad to know I'll never do it again. ;-) (Btw: "Big D" was our bear of a Jamaican trainer...he was Padi Certified and had years of experience under his belt...after that trip, he was a hero in my eyes!) We got no pictures because I was far too busy planning my funeral. ;-)
Our Sandals experience included a team of Butlers - Evernaldo ("Ever) and the oh-so-fabulous Carlene! These two people were really amazing, and we were blessed to have developed a friendship with Carlene. To say they took care of us would be a major understatement. When we arrived, we really had no idea what to expect. But from the moment we stepped off the airplane to the moment we were back in the airport a week later, we were spoiled rotten! We received Breakfast in bed with Champagne every morning. Ever and Carlene reserved Tiki huts on the beach early each morning complete with a cooler of drinks and books to read! They brought lunch and cocktails straight to our lounge chairs, and when we went back to our room, we were welcomed with a hot drawn bubble bath and snacks of grilled shrimp and chocolate cake.
I just have to take a second and brag on Carlene. She was in her mid-twenties and takes a taxi 45 minutes to work each day. She's going to school to be a nurse and is one of the hardest workers I've ever seen - and always, ALWAYS, she served us with the most optimistic, upbeat energy...she was an absolute joy and we were incredibly blessed to have met her. When we left, she was hugging our necks and calling us family - we're now Facebook friends (too cool!) and I sure hope we get to hug her neck again one day! I'm sure Ever was every bit as awesome as Carlene, but more time was spent with Carlene and therefore we got to know her much better. Best of luck to Carlene (and Ever too!)...may God's face shine down on you!!
Another friend we made was Robert. He was one of the servers in the Oleander Restaraunt (the most prestigious restaraunt at Sandals) and was training under Carlene to become a Butler. We spent quite a bit of time with him throughout the week....what a SWEET man!!! I just wanted to squeeze him each time I saw him!!! Saying goodbye to him and Carlene was bittersweet. We were so ready to see our kids, but a bit sad to be saying goodbye to such salt of the earth.
Here's a few pics of the ways they blessed us. I truly can't name all the things they did...suffice it to say, Chad and I didn't have to think at all the entire time we were there, which was good - our brains needed a break. :-)
The most. fun. part of the week was spent on the Catamaran's Reggae Cruise! We went snorkeling and traveled to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Jimmy Buffet's had the most amazing 3 story water slide that Chad and I flew down - literally. Before sliding down, I asked the lifeguard at the top if it would hurt, to which he said "Nah mon...heya's the tip box (tap tap)." Ooooook then,...down we went! (And yes, we did climb back up afterwards to drop the guy a few dollars.) ;-) I don't think my bottom even touched the slide once I was halfway down. It was terrifying, but in a good way. ;-) Once we landed in the ocean, we swam over to their trampolines where we laughed till our belly muscles were aching as person after person skidded down the water slide and flipped off the trampoline in to the ocean. Our kids would've LOVED IT!!!! Afterwards, we made new friends on the cruise and enjoyed the entertainment that the boat provided...at one point it got a little crazy for us (there were a lot of young people...ok, they were our age, but most of the time I feel much older than I am!) and we headed to the front of the boat to sit with all the old folks. lol! I leaned back in to Chad's chest, took in the breeze and we both sat very contentedly as we listened to them share about their lives together. We did a little dancing (a pretty conservative Macarena) and pretty much had the time of our lives. :-)
Our butler reserved a table for us at the Oleander on Wednesday evening. Before dinner a photographer grabbed us and took pictures on the beach and then wound up finding us in the restaurant. The Jamaican food was incredible, but I learned this past week that eating to the point of being sick (which seems to be the theme at all-inclusive resorts) is really not enjoyable. I wound up nibbling on the 5 course entree while gripping my tummy...Lawd have mercy...I could practically feel my stomach stretching and when our butler offered dessert, I groaned. Couldn't believe I was saying noooooo more fooood!
Our last night in Montego was spent with some friends we made that week. Honeymooners from Birmingham and a couple from Kansas who we had gone on several excursions with. They were a lot of fun to laugh with as we rode the cuhraaaazy taxi to and from the private island - I tell ya', scuba diving ranked #1 on my scary list, but riding in a speedy bus driven by an impatient Jamaican on the LEFT side of the road ranks as a close second. We did survive the short trip though and had a fabulous time! Below are a few pics of the island...
No, we did not see any nudists...praise Jesus. ;-)
The last sunset in Jamaica...off of MoBay's private island. The Thai restaraunt was yummy, but we spent much more time marveling at our Creator's artwork in the sky. After ordering our appetizers, I grabbed my camera and snuck away for a minutes of alone time with God. It was incredible to stand barefoot in the sand, praising His name while watching the sun sink beneath the horizon. What an amazing Father we have!!! After the sun set, I breathed in the salty air and joined Chad at our table. The entire evening was spent with both of us trying to memorize every beautiful detail of Montego Bay and the awesome people who live there!
Chad, I thank my lucky stars for you! My greatest blessing in this world is you. I hope to always remember the moment we first met in the Harding Cafeteria, the deep friendship that developed in to something much bigger and the days/weeks/months that led up to us saying our vows. "In good times and bad, in sickness and health, till death do us part...". Thank you for being a rock these past 10 years - life has swept me off my feet a few times, but you've always been there to catch me. I'll love you forever and pray that I'm able to bless you as richly as you've blessed me. Looking forward to what the next 10 years brings!