Wednesday, November 17 – Thursday, November 18, 2016
There is nothing longer than the last day of work before a trip, and today was no different. Once my daily servitude was complete I went home finished packing, patiently awaiting the drinking team’s arrival. Seven of us were on the same flight from LA: myself, Mike, Tyler, Sarah, Autumn, Stina and Max. Nikki is meeting us in Jamaica from NYC, while Allie and Jesse are already in Jamaica lounging and eating at a resort buffet with overweight Canadians. Our flights were uneventful.
We hit the airport bar pre-flight and I handed out the Xanax like trick-or-treat candy. Everyone quickly passed out while I tossed and turned in my coach coffin on a double dose, praying for the sleep that refused to come. Before we knew it, we were in Fort Lauderdale, waiting for the Chili’s airport bar to open at 8am. And a few hours later, we landed in Montego Bay airport and breezed through immigration. Allie and Jesse were eagerly awaiting us outside of the airport. Our driver met us about ten minutes later with a gleeful hello and a “Ya Mon!”. Eardley would be our driver for the entire week, chauffeuring us around the island. He would be the logistical jewel in my aggressive itinerary crown. We intantly knew we were in good hands. And just like that, the first adventure was upon us. It was time to eat.
We had about an hour and a half to kill before Nikki’s flight arrived, so we headed to Scotchies, which is the most famous jerk chicken place in Jamaica. It’s also ten minutes from the airport. And if the first two aren’t reason enough, they went to Scotchies on an episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta. So I can write this off as reconnaissance for my future career. We arrived in the rain to a BBQ hut oasis, complete with a thatched roof and groups of adorable wooden tables. It looked like Bob Marley’s backyard had been sprinkled with some Jimmy Buffet magic and Bobby’s Flay’s grilling skills. We ordered a round of drinks and shit ton of food from a good natured waitress. I’m sure you can guess what came next: jerk chicken and red stripe to the face. Top it off with some aggressive homemade hot sauce and the drinking team was thrilled with life. We ordered a few more rounds of drinks while the tropical rain set in. Once we were fat, drunk and happy we ran through the pouring rain back to the van and headed back to the airport to pick up Nikki.
The rain was fitting at this moment, because it was time for the one dark cloud in every trip like this: provisioning. I split up the team into groups. A couple boys for heavy lifting with me on booze and water duty and the girls on snack duty. We descended upon the MegaMart with determination in our eyes and fear in our hearts. We loaded up the carts with cases of water first. Never underestimate the importance of water. Next up were cases of red stripe. We then bought the MegaMart out of vodka and champagne. The champs proved tricker than we had anticipated, as they could not locate their extra cases in stock. The way the Jamaican MegaMart works is similar to Costco, in that extra stock is stacked above in pallets on racking. However, the MegaMart never got the warehouse management memo that you are supposed to stack shit directly above where it’s sold. Instead, they fill pallets with random shit and store it anywhere in the store that has room. The result is a horribly inefficient game of where’s waldo on a forklift. After 40 minutes of searching, we gave up and just filled a cart with single bottles of champagne. It took four women about half an hour to ring up our four carts of shit. We thought we were finally home free, but the various American credit card institutions had other plans. Capital One: declined. Bank of America: declined. At this point, I have minimum wage workers in a third world country judging me for my apparent lack of credit. I refused to let something as silly as fraud protection get in my way. I called Capital One to inquire as to why my credit card, which is specifically marketed as an international travel card, had been declined. Obviously, it was because I’m traveling. The logic is flawless. When I say I “inquired”, I really mean I that I bitched out several ill-fated employees who were unlucky enough to man the phone lines that day. I legitimately lost my shit. I could see in the MegaMart employees eyes that not only am I the broke white girl, I’m now the crazy broke white girl. Capital one released the hold and we were free to pack up our van and make drinks for the drive down to Negril in the parking lot. Another point in Eardley’s favor: he encourages holding drinking team practices in the car.
About an hour later (maybe more, I’m not sure because I’m drunk) we finally arrived at our villas. At this point, I have to back up and fill you all in on the endless saga of villa drama that I have gone through in the past few months. First, we booked a five bedroom villa on the beach. They double booked it and canceled on us about two weeks after I made the reservation. I then go back to the drawing board and book an amazing 6 bedroom villa on the cliffs of Negril. A month before our arrival they call me and tell me that they had also double booked us, due to an error in their new booking system, and we again have no villa. We are left with the decision to leave Negril for a villa on the other side of the island or settle for three two-bedroom villas non-sea side at the same property. After much deliberation, we chose to take the smaller villas and pocket the extra cash. This turned out to be an excellent decision, because the villas are gorgeous. The pool is amazing. And the hot tub seats 30 people – need I say more? There are also very few other guests staying at any of the other villas, so we basically have full run of the place.
The property loaded up coolers full of beers, water and booze and we hit the ground running. We took a tour of the property, which includes a cave that leads under the road and out to the sea. We would all be getting complimentary massages in the caves for our villa drama troubles. The property is a mixture of costa rican lushness and Swiss Family Robinson oasis. We fired up the hot tub and spent the evening drinking and enjoying our “welcome gift” from the security team. I will refer to this “welcome gift” throughout the blog as “sandwiches”, so stay alert. And if this form of references is still too stealth for you, then just assume we are all fat asses who eat a lot of sandwiches. Our chef served us dinner poolside under the palapa bar, and we all headed up to bed shortly thereafter. I was on zero sleep with a 6am call time tomorrow. Join me next time for when our car bar takes over Bob Marley’s house. Literally.