Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Guest Blogger!!

Oh I'm so excited.... all of the big bloggers have Guest Bloggers who take over when they're unable or too busy to post!  


Here's some news from Asher....


.......Over MLK weekend, a friend of mine invited me and some friends down to
her "family place" in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

I say that it's her

"family place" because her family was one of the original ten
shareholders in what is now Half Moon Bay Resort. The resort began as ten beach-front cottages (one for each family) on a half moon shaped stretch of beach on the north shore of Jamaica. Over time, the
families acquired more land and did a wonderful job at developing the area. There is no large hotel-like structure on the property. 

All of the guest rooms are divided into small clusters in cottages, houses, or larger villas on the property, so everything really does feel like home. The ten original cottages remain, so I was staying in Mary's
family's cottage, right on the beach with our own pool.

Since I had a rushed trip from New York (others in the group were staying in Jamaica all week), I had somewhat of an usually flying schedule. I was also attempting to save money where I could, so instead of flying from NYC directly to Montego Bay, I flew to
Kingston.

My flight left New York around 3am on Friday night / Saturday morning.
I landed in Kingston and took a cab over to the smaller regional airport, which turned out to be nothing more than a small landing
strip in an overgrown field, next to a very small "terminal" which was really just a hut. 

No air conditioning or anything, but beautiful mountain views all around. I got there a little early for my flight, and it was still early in the morning (around 7:45). I was the only person there, so I walked into this empty, unlocked building with a
few broken windows just assuming that someone would show up. 

Finally, the few staff members started trickling in, turning on the lights, and
setting up the small podium and baggage scale that served as the check in desk. By the time of the flight, about 4 other passengers had shown up so it started to feel more normal.

They gave us the seatbelt lecture right there in the building, then we went through security. 

This involved going out the back door of the
hut and onto the back porch, where there were a few seats and a metal detector under the canopy. As you went through, you handed your bin of items to the security guard on one side of the metal detector, and then she just handed them right back once you went through. 

The plane was small - 8 seats total. I was sitting right behind the co-pilot (no door or divider, of course).

I'm actually glad that I ended up flying into Kingston and then connecting to Montego Bay, because this little flight was a great way
to see the country. We essentially flew all the way across Jamaica, which is pretty mountainous and very green. The cruising altitude was all of 6,000 feet, so I had great views the entire way.

The big thing we did was to go swimming with dolphins. 

Half Moon has their own dolphin lagoon, and it's a natural lagoon on the beach, not
some awful dolphin tank where the poor dolphins are forced to live. I felt confident that the dolphins were fairly happy living there. And we really did swim with them. We were out in the deep lagoon with them, and the trainers were on a small floating platform. The dolphins would take commands from the trainers and then come around and do
things with us or go off and do tricks farther out in the lagoon. 

We also learned a bit about dolphins - for instance, I didn't know that dolphins "sleep" by shutting down half of their brain and using the other half to continue to function.

Overall I was pretty impressed with Jamaica. It is definitely a poor country, but the people are extremely nice and have an overwhelming amount of national pride. Everyone speaks to you and wants to know where you're from. Everyone, from the woman at immigration to the dolphin trainer, made a point of saying "Welcome to my country." 

They are proud to be Jamaican and love visitors. It's beautiful as well. The mountains come right down to the beaches with crystal clear blue water - very Caribbean. 

The pace of life in any beach town (or any town, really) is slower than life in New York, but the entire country of Jamaica operates that way. It really is something that you can
feel. I was only there for three full days, but I would go back anytime. And having a free place to stay always helps...

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