Learning about Palm Trees

Trip Start Apr 21, 2007
Trip End Apr 28, 2007

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Flag of Jamaica  ,
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another beautiful morning in Jamaica. Blue mountain coffee, fresh fruit, and baked goods delivered to the room. They told us about the botanical tour during orientation and we plan to attend this morning.

The tour was conducted by an employee on the grounds staff by the name of Fitzroy. He was a quiet spoken young man who had incredible knowledge of the plants on the resort. He showed us most of the 72 different types of palm trees on the property, along with at least a hundred other plants ranging from ferns to Jamaican apple trees.

The tour lasted two hours and we met a couple from the UK who talked with us during much of the hike. We ended our tour near the sports complex, so we and the other couple ordered fruit smoothies at the sports bar.

While we were at the sports complex I checked on the Yoga classes and Miss Judy signed up for a tennis lesson. The sports complex covers 10 acres and is the largest in the Caribbean. They have 5 clay courts, 5 hard courts, lap pool, squash, racquetball, exercise machines, exercise rooms, spa (with every type of message and treatment you can name), sports bar, and full sauna and steam room facilities.

We spent the early afternoon on the beach. The bar staff makes continuous rounds and bring any type of drink you want as well as water and ice. Romaine works our section of the beach and does an excellent job. They try to learn your names and do very well considering the number of people and the rapid turnover. For the first day we were Bob and Julie, but he soon had it straight.

The beach vendors roam up and down the each. They sell cigarettes, t-shirts, hats, carvings, music, etc. The resort has guards at each end of the property and in the center. It is a public beach along the water line, but up the beach is private. If anyone ventures too far from the water line or looks like they are trying to sell ganja they are encouraged to move along.

The beaches are not nude, but anything short of that is allowed and encouraged. There is a large contingent of Europeans so the topless sun bathing and thongs abound. I never know they made bathing suits that would fit into the cap from a bottle of water with room left over. Of course I have to admit that most of the women wearing these suits do not need that much material to cover their breasts and bottom.

One young American girl who was a white as a Russian (she and her husband may have been Russian for that matter) shyly removed her top and finally was comfortable enough to walk to the water and swim with her husband. They were not back on the beach later in the week and either returned home or were burned to a crisp.

The sun in Jamaica is VERY hot. Even at 7:00 it is hot. The air temperature is not bad (low to mid 80s) but the sunshine makes your skin feel like it is burning after just a few minutes. You have a drink, go for a swim, wait to feel hot again, and then start the process over again. You have to make at least half of your drinks water or you will dehydrate and pass out.

At 4:00 we went for our tennis and yoga lessons. I walked into the exercise building and the instructor was there loosening up. Soon there were 5 petite young women who joined us. I weigh about 240 pounds, and I think I accounted for almost half the weight in the room. I think I surprised the instructor when I could do all of the postures except the ones that require extreme knee flexibility. I have enough cartilage damage to make those moves impossible. She was working us very hard and I was sweating out an afternoon's worth of tequila.
Miss Judy's (as my wife is fondly known, even by an airport employee checking her passport and a staff member here) tennis lesson went well also, and we both wanted to come back the next day. We had another fruit smoothie in the sports bar, and relaxed there for a while.

Dinner was at Lemongrass, which is an authentic Thai restaurant. When they say some of the dishes are hot, you better listen. Their hot and sour onion soup is VERY hot. The waitress was actually impressed that we could eat it. The entrees were excellent, and Miss Judy even learned to use chop sticks.

Tonight's entertainment was Ultimate Chocolate playing the Blazing Piano at the Aura Lounge. Guests crowd around the bar built around the baby grand or sit in the many comfortable chairs and love seats placed around the room. We are given songbooks so that we can join in and actually know the words to sing, unlike Dueling Pianos or Rum Runners where we first enjoyed this type of entertainment. Talented guests (and a few not so talented) are encouraged to sing. One guy sang a love song to his bride, and a girl from the UK blew us all away with her voice. Many people tried to get a lovely girl from Denmark to sing, but she declined, saying she was afraid she would cry. The manager, a cute Jamaican girl, sang a little Reggae, and afterward she and Skippy danced several times. Toasts were made to newlyweds and those of us celebrating our anniversaries. We weren't the oldest ones there after all, as another couple was celebrating their 45th anniversary!

Another day in Paradise ends with us looking at the moon and listening to the ocean.
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