Day 1 June 7th 2013 New York Miami Montego Bay Runaway Bay On the plane, I pointed out to my friend, Tiffany, that there was a guy wearing a Boston University t-shirt walking towards us. Turns out, his seat was the empty one right next to mine. “Did you go to BU?” “Yeah.. Did you?” We both studied economics, but didn’t have a single mutual friend. We chatted for awhile about our roommates, professors, jobs, and places we used to hang out in Boston and then both dozed off. Funny how we probably would have never spoken to each other had he not worn that shirt.
Because of the weather, our flight was delayed by 2.5 hours. Tiffany’s dad had been waiting at the Montego Bay Airport the whole time, but didn’t seem tired or annoyed at all. He had a wide grin on his face as he saw his daughter for the first time in a few years. My first impression of him was that he seemed youthful; his gestures, facial expressions, and clothes would’ve made me guessed that he was ten years younger than his real age: 47.
As we got into his car, I told Tiffany that I didn’t know that Jamaicans drive on the right side. “Yeah.. some countries do… You didn’t know that? Like the UK, Australia, India..” Umm yea, I lived in London for half a year, and I’ve been to Japan. I didn’t reply. Tiffany’s dad blasted reggae and shook his shoulders to the rhythm. I did the same. We opened the windows and let the nice breeze give us respite in the 90 degree weather. “First time in Jamaica?” her dad asked. “Yes!” I’d later receive this question many, many times by the locals. I hadn’t ever been asked this question in any of the countries I’ve visited, and I’ve traveled quite a lot.
Tiffany would often have to translate between my English and her dad’s Patois. He would be the only one who had trouble understanding me, however, during my entire trip. It was just me who had trouble understanding some of the locals- perhaps because a lot of them would switch to a more Americanized English when speaking to me. Tiffany would switch back and forth between American English and Patois; in the beginning of the trip, when she’d speak Patois, I felt like I didn’t even know her. We were heading East from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios; as we drove along the Caribbean, which was on our left side, the scenery reminded me of my trips from Barcelona to Valencia, in which my bus or train would run alongside the Mediterranean on my left-hand side as well. I’d always make sure I booked a window seat on the left side going south to Valencia, and on the right side returning to Barcelona. I was mesmerized by the iridescence created by the dual effect of the tinted car window and my shades. “Great view, right? Want to take pictures?” “Sure.” We got out of the car, and I took a couple of pictures. I looked to my right, and saw Tiff’s dad taking a piss right there, along the road, facing the sea. What a free soul. We made another brief stop. There were two ladies selling mangoes on the roadside. The younger one was Tiff’s dad’s girlfriend. After chatting awhile, Tiff bought some mangoes, and we hopped back into the car.
We finally arrived at our resort. Our meals were included in the package that we purchased, but Tiffany’s dad would’ve had to pay 75 USD just to join us at the buffet, so we went to a small restaurant/bar 5 minutes away. The plate of jerk chicken, rice, and beans cost 500 Jamaican dollars, or about 5 USD. Tiffany had jerk chicken and festival, a very simple yet delicious fried snack made mostly of dough and maize. I noticed a big flag pole with the Jamaican flag on it in front of the bar. For some reason, I’ve always found the Jamaican flag a bit intimidating, even though it’s one of my favorites along with the Korean, Vatican, and Brunei flag. We returned to the hotel.
It was already nighttime, so we wanted to get some rest. After we put our bags down in the room, we walked out to our balcony and saw that we were right in front of the beach. We walked through the pool area, and sat on lounge chairs at the beach. As I approached the water, I was so tempted to fully bathe myself in the lukewarm Caribbean sea, but I didn’t want my clothes to get wet, so I only let the water come up to my knees. As I faced the horizon, I fully took in the view of shining stars above me and some sort of bioluminescent sea creatures flickering neon green light below me. This unimpeded, 360 degree view left me with pure bliss. The palm trees, sound of waves, and white pebbles below my feet were all I needed at the moment. I turned to Tiffany and told her there was no other place I’d rather be. I pointed out the Big Dipper and North Star to her. “So it’s that way to Cuba. I might just swim all the way there..” She laughed because she knew what I was referring to. I had told her earlier this year that I may move there with my ex-boyfriend (a joke, obviously). We headed back to our room, and I snuggled in the white sheets of my canopy bed.
This Jamaica trip is going to be perfect.