Cruise Stop #1 – Jamaica

Early, on the Wednesday of our cruise, the Carnival Dream docked in the port of Montego Bay, Jamaica. My posse and I (which consisted of me, my husband, my cousin and his wife) had decided the night before that we were going to check out the Jungle River Tubing Experience. So, we disembarked and headed out, bypassing the heavily costumed Reggae man, and followed the crowd into the warehouse where we were herded into lines.

Our bus driver, Nigel, picked us up in what was possibly the coolest bus in the lot; a short, bright pink thing that had everyone laughing and smiling as we drove by.

I mean hopefully, they were laughing with us…

Nigel was awesome. He gave us lots of Jamaican history and told jokes the entire ride up there.

One thing though… Jamaican drivers are nuts! These people have the skills and confidence to take on a Nascar driver and probably win, even if they won on scare tactics alone. We were passed a dozen or more times while driving up a steep mountainside – they even passed us in the curves! But I have got to say that these people obviously know what they are doing, and even though there was a lot of what seemed like aggressive driving, I didn’t see a lick of road rage. Around here you even look at someone funny and they’re throwin’ up the finger.

Seriously though, I now have mad respect for Jamaican drivers. Those guys know what’s up.

When we weren’t clutching our seats in fear we were able to catch a glimpse of some absolutely beautiful sights – though some people seemed more excited by the goats tied to the side of the road then on the actual scenery…

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This is a beautiful church that was set on top of a hill (mountain?) I’m from Louisiana, okay? I call just about everything a hill…

[PS. My cousin told me I wouldn’t be able to get a picture of the church because we were moving too fast. Well, you can suck it, Steven. I got the picture and it’s a good one!]

Once we arrived at the actual location (which we had to do a little mud riding to reach) we were a little confused. There were a few different tours going on there as well so it took us a minute to figure out where to go. We were able to rent a locker to put our bags in and avoided the $15 bug spray – we’re from Louisiana, we don’t need bug spray! Then we were told to put on a life jacket.

Wait, what?

Yep, you heard me. We had to put on a life jacket to go tubing. Never in my life have I had to put on a life jacket to go tubing.

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Doesn’t he just look so dang handsome in his jacket and tube?

We were even more thrown off when we discovered that our tubes were being tied together in two long rows. To make it even more bizarre the tubes had bottoms in them so that we couldn’t stick our feet in the water. I was thoroughly thrown off by this point. Every other time I’ve gone tubing has been with a donut-shaped inner tube that’s easy to work so long as you’re sober.

But clearly, these people knew what they were doing. It wasn’t too long before we came upon our first set of little rapids – and my first injury. It was nothing serious, just a scraped toe, but that let me know real quick that I needed to get my butt out of the bottom of that tube if I didn’t want to leave there with a sore behind. We had already taken our life jackets off so I stuffed mine at the bottom of my tube for a little more cushion.

During our float, we saw some absolutely beautiful sights.

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PS. That jug my husband is holding was filled with a delicious mixture of juice and rum and was conveniently forgotten by the upper part of our little convoy.

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Fun fact: According to our guide bamboo trees are apparently suicidal (his words). They grow as tall as they can and then they crash to the jungle floor in a beautiful cascade of bamboo death.

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This was where we got the chance to swing out into the river using a rope swing and the strong, yet gentle hands of our tour guide

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Going to Jamaica was such an eye-opening experience for me. On the drive to the excursion, Nigel informed us that there were very few jobs in Jamaica, and so people had to create their own jobs to survive. He pointed out all the people selling their goods on the side of the road, the people who had built their homes on abandoned train tracks, and he pointed out the beautiful, massive homes that were seated just above the poor areas.

The people I met were kind, fun, and hard working. They reminded me that to succeed I need to have drive and motivation and that I need to push myself. But Jamaica also instilled in me a need for fun and relaxation and to never take myself too seriously. Ya, mon!

Share your own Jamaican adventures in the comments below and stay tuned for the next installment of Back Porch Therapy, Cruise Edition!

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