Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Jamaica 2015: Week 2

I was up early on Sunday, like the day before. I just didn’t want to waste any time indoors when I could be outside on that gorgeous deck! I was outside a little after 8am with a cup of tea and my book.

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We had breakfast at 9am (scrambled eggs, bacon, croissants) and then it was just me for a while.

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I was feeling a bit burnt from the day before and tried to stay under the umbrella as much as possible (except when I was in the water). We had a lunch of chicken sandwiches (from the leftover roast chicken the night before). I carried on reading while everyone else napped. I had the place to myself again…

We left at around 4pm to head back to Kingston as my brother (S) didn’t want to drive back in the dark. What a lovely, relaxing weekend! I was seriously sunburnt though – around my shoulders and collarbone…

On Monday morning, I realised how badly sunburnt I was.

Ouch!

Ouch! I spent the rest of the week peeling…

My sister-in-law (T) and I took my nephew (Baby A) to the supermarket to pick up a few things for the house. That evening we went over to a friend of S and T’s to celebrate her birthday. I hadn’t met her before but my aunt was there with a couple of her friends who I’ve known for a while. It was a nice evening – we had some wine and some homemade Chinese food (excellent) and a delicious homemade coconut birthday cake too. People meet up early here so we were home by 9.30pm, even though it felt like much later.

I went back to the office on Tuesday to do some work. T met us for lunch that day, and we went to Fromage Gourmet Market on Hillcrest Avenue. We all had the burger and fries – the burger was excellent. S and I went back to the office after that but were in a bit of a food coma, as you can imagine!

On Wednesday morning, T and I decided to use the gym at my aunt and uncle’s place a few streets away. They have a small gym in the house – a treadmill, a bike and a cross-trainer. There’s also a small multi-gym and some free weights. My first choice was the treadmill but it was out of order. I spent 20 minutes on the cross-trainer and then did some upper body weights. It wasn’t the best workout but I was just so hot. I don’t know how anyone gets anything done here. Just behind the gym is a koi pond where Baby A kept himself entertained by feeding the fish.

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That afternoon T, Baby A and I went back to PriceSmart – T was hosting her Baby Group at home on Thursday morning and needed a few things. I’d already told her I’d be going to the office that day! Afterwards she said it had gone well and there weren’t as many mums/babies as she thought there’d be. On Thursday evening, we went over to S and T’s friends’ place (the same friends who had the birthday at their place on Monday) to play Kalooki (Jamaican Rummy). I’m not a card player and it took me a while to get my head around this – partly because the game moves really fast! The game only lasted an hour or so and we were home by 7.30 to have dinner.

On Friday evening, we went to Medusa’s Bar and Grill – just off Hope Road – they do steaks on Friday night and it’s a regular outing for S and T and a few of their friends. I thought it was a good sign that a Prince song was playing as we walked in! We each had the 10-ounce sirloin (I couldn’t finish mine) which came with French fries, sour cream, Scotch Bonnett pepper and a few other toppings you could choose. We had a few drinks as well – and we were home by 9.30pm.

We lazed around on Saturday and then popped in to see my aunt in the afternoon. She had some other friends over too and we had a few bottles of wine between us! S, T and I dropped Baby A back home and then went to Roe for dinner. To start with, we had fried crab sticks, a garden salad and shrimp gyoza; for our main course we shared the crispy tuna roll and pork ginger. I think there was one more roll, but I can’t remember what it was. I also had another glass of wine. We were home early and T and I sorted out our packing for the following day. We were driving to Old Fort Bay near Ocho Rios for a 3-day yoga retreat (the same one I went to the year before).

I love my life.

To read more about Jamaica, click here.

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Jamaica 2015: Week 1

I came to Jamaica in July 2014 to visit my brother (S) and his family. I was in Kingston for most of the time, and also went on a yoga retreat near Ocho Rios for one week.

This year, I decided I’d stay a bit longer. I got in on a Tuesday afternoon (16th June) and was so impressed with the new automated immigration system! I placed my passport face down on the scanner (open to the page with my photo and details) and my details popped up on the screen in front of me. I had to confirm they were correct and then type in the address of where I’d be staying. The machine took a photo of me (not pretty after a 9-hour flight) and then printed off a slip of paper with my details on it. I took it to the immigration man who tore off his part of the slip and gave the other part back to me. I then went to the carousel to wait for my luggage. It was hot. And it was crowded. And the carousel hadn’t even started yet. What I noticed last year (and again this year) is that everyone waits as close as possible to the wall where the luggage comes out instead of spreading themselves around the carousel. I waited on the opposite side and had a bit of room to breathe for a while! My bags eventually showed up and I wheeled the trolley towards the ‘Nothing to declare’ area. Unfortunately the customs officer thought I did have something to declare and asked me to put my bags through the X-ray machine. And then they opened my trolley bag – for what, I have no idea. I was finally allowed to go and wheeled the trolley towards the exit. As I got there I was approached by a porter who said he’d help me. ‘No, thank you,’ I insisted – I’d managed this far on my own and I could see S waiting outside. Just as I got to the door, I was stopped by another man who pointed to a sign that said ‘NO TROLLEYS BEYOND THIS POINT’. How was I going to manage two suitcases, a trolley bag and my handbag without a trolley? The same porter was still hanging around, so he ended up helping me after all!

We got home at around 5pm and my nephew (Baby A) was about to have his dinner. I hadn’t seen him in a year and he’s toddling around now – and he’s such a doll! Of course he whined when I picked him up – it would take some time to get used to me and I’d brought lots of little toys and books to buy his affection with over the next few weeks.

We had an earlyish dinner and S went off to play poker while I unpacked and settled in.

I pottered around the house on Wednesday morning. I had some tea and breakfast and watched Baby A playing with his toys. S came to pick me up for lunch – we stopped at the pharmacy first (I’d fallen when I was in London and grazed my knee quite badly) and then went to Roe, a Japanese place at Sovereign North. We both had the sushi bento box which was really tasty and then he dropped me back home.

My sister-in-law (T) arrived that evening – she’d been to London and Venice for her cousin’s wedding (we’d also met the week before in London). She was exhausted (and so was I) so we all had an early dinner and called it a night.

On Thursday I decided to go to the office with S. I had a lot of work to catch up on and my plan was to go to the office a couple of days a week to get it all done and relax the rest of the time. Also, the office is air-conditioned whereas the living/dining rooms in the house are not – and even in the bedrooms, the fans are on in the day and air-conditioning at night. Even though the temperature in Kingston is about 32/33C it feels hotter than Dubai as it’s so humid (I sometimes feel like I’m even sweating in the shower) and we really take air-conditioning for granted living in Dubai… So, I went to the office and managed to get a bit done. We ordered chicken shawarmas for lunch – yummy! We left the office early as we were going to PriceSmart (the equivalent of Costco in the UK) to pick up food for our weekend in Port Antonio. On the way home, I spotted this house and found it amusing:

Welcome 'Om'

Welcome ‘Om’

We went home, picked up my T and Baby A, and off we went. We picked up all kinds of things – wine, fruit, vegetables, bacon, salmon and some stuff for the house too. Fitting it all in the car was quite a challenge!

Once again, we had an early night as we had a long day the following day. We were all up early on Friday and eventually left the house after an early lunch. We got to Port Antonio at around 4pm and most of the drive was beautiful. I do get freaked out by the bends in the mountain roads and at how close the other cars drive! My uncle and aunt have a house (Nautilus Villa) in Port Antonio, near the Blue Lagoon (where the movie was filmed), so we stayed there for the weekend. It is gorgeous – the deck looks out on to the ocean and is built above the water so when you get in using the ladder you’re already in water that’s 10 feet deep (and so clear).

The Blue Lagoon is behind those rocks surrounded by trees

The Blue Lagoon is behind those rocks surrounded by trees

The entrance, dining room, one bedroom, kitchen and deck are all on the ground floor. On the first floor are two more bedrooms and a living room.

The upstairs living room

The upstairs living room

The beds must all be Super King size because at least four people could have slept comfortably in mine!

We unpacked and then had a drink on the deck. The sun was already starting to set and none of us felt like swimming right then – even though it was still hot. We’d asked for dinner to be served at 8pm, and just before I went up to my room to wash my hands. I realised I should have gone up earlier and closed the windows so that there wouldn’t be any mosquitoes (and who knows what else) buzzing around. As I opened my door, I was greeted with a blast of cold air. God bless the housekeeper – she’d already closed the windows and turned on the air-conditioning! I was so happy!

S, T and I had dinner on the deck. The cook had made salmon in an orange/mustard sauce with a mixed salad and sweet potato fries. Baby A and his nanny were already asleep. By 9pm I was tucked up in bed with my book.

On Saturday morning I was up so early. I was on the deck before the staff arrived at 8am and I think the butler was quite surprised to see me there! I had a cup of tea, enjoying the ocean breeze and my book.

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We had breakfast at 9am – eggs Benedict, bacon and jerk sausage. We soaked up the sun a bit more and then when it was too hot to bear it any more, we got into the water.

S, T and Baby A

S, T and Baby A

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We had some lunch at around 1pm (grilled lamb sliders and chicken wings) and then it was back into the water. It was so hot. At around 5pm, some of S’s friends stopped by with their families – there were six kids running around (not including Baby A – who was quite overwhelmed)! They only stayed an hour or so but it felt like it was much longer! After they left, we all showered and got ready for dinner (roast chicken and asparagus). We sat up on the balcony for a while and, once again, I was in bed soon after 9pm. I’d finished the book I was reading and started another one that night.

I love my life.

To read more about Jamaica, click here.

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