Trip Start Feb 04, 2008
20Trip End Feb 21, 2008
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We left the ship after noon and had to be back on board by 5:30, but the shore excursion we chose made the most of that brief time.
Our first stop was Shaw Park Gardens, a pretty spot on the hill overlooking the town and the port. A gardener guided us around and provided an encyclopedic introduction to the many plants and flowers, as well as a few impressive banana spiders. Max made a long video of it, until the catalog-like delivery and the wilting heat got to be too much.
Back in the van, our guide Trisha and driver Colleen taught us a few words and expressions in the local patois (a language that is a combination of English, Spanish, African, and French)
The second destination on our itinerary was a beach, where they greeted us with very sweet rum punch and lounge chairs.
At the play structure there, Max met a Jamaican girl named Diandra (D for short), who was eight and was also in grade 3. In Jamaica, children start school when they are three and go for three years of kindergarden (K1, K2, and K3) before starting first grade. Their schools are organized into houses like in Harry Potter; D is in the Blue house. She and Max compared notes about school (she especially likes spelling and reading) and about the movies they've seen, some of which were the same although D has seen more.
We also got to wade and swim in the Caribbean, which Max was pleasantly surprised to find is much warmer than what we're used to in California.
But after only an hour, it was time to move on again, this time to the highlight of our tour, Dunn's River Falls.
The cruise excursion book describes the falls as "crystalline waters [that] cascade 600 feet down a giant rock staircase to the Caribbean Sea." But that sort of misses the coolest part, which is that they let you climb in them all the way from the beach to the top. So in addition to being beautiful, it's a great adventure.
We opted out of holding hands all in a line with a bunch of other tourists we didn't know, and all five of us did it in our own style and at a slightly more relaxed pace. Max and Allen especially enjoyed finding the most challenging climbs, while Keith and Rie helped each other pick out the easier routes.
We all reached the top quite proud of ourselves and happy with our day in Jamaica.