Montego Bay - Ya man!

Trip Start Feb 21, 2010
Trip End Feb 28, 2010

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Well, after two days at sea which included reading, eating, sleeping, eating, getting sunburned, eating, and eating some more, we finally arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  We left Galveston at about 3 am on the morning of the 22nd, which was 11 hours late.  The captain absolutely hoofed it through Caribbean waters and we arrived in Jamaica only two hours late.
    Claudia was happy as she would get a break from listening to Chris, our ship's "Host" over the intercom.  He is British and had, well, a high pitched voice.  To put it nicely, Claudia thought he was a "she" for the first two days of the cruise.  Also, he was a bit too cheerful.  Poor Chris, that was his job though - to keep everyone entertained.  I was entertained by Claudia grumbling about having to listen to Chris. 
    We spent most of Monday the 22nd resting and catching some sun.  Too much sun in fact.  You'd think two adults would know enough to put sunscreen on, but our plan was just to go up to the top deck and check it out.  Unfortunately, it was very nice out there, and they had some activities going on as well.  So, after an hour I could feel my skin toasting; I went down to the cabin for some sunscreen.  We both got in and yes we were burned.  Really brilliant.  Half of my face and one side of my legs were red, the other sides not too bad.  We went to the steakhouse for dinner, which turned out to be a great deal for $30 per person - appetizer, salad, steak and dessert.  Very tasty as well!  Tuesday turned out to be much of the same - eating, reading and relaxing.  Although we did use more of the sunscreen!
    On to Jamaica.  We arrived around 10:30, to beautiful sunny skies and a little humidity.  Our original shore excursion had been canceled due to the late arrival, but we picked another one that turned out to be a great choice.  Once we debarked from the ship, we passed through the terminal out to a huge row of buses, taxis, and the like.  Our excursion - Chukka River Kayak and Canopy Tour - had only ten people in it.  We got in the bus and finally got through the brouhaha of the terminal.  We headed up into the mountains and jungle south of Montego Bay, hanging on as the driver whipped around corners on the very tight roads.
    After passing by some big houses and then some really squalid dwellings, we turned down a dirt road into an orange grove.  It was a VERY bumpy ride through the jungle, but we made it to the Chukka camp.  After getting things settled, we received our life jackets and helmets for the kayak.  As you will see by the pictures, the equipment was not designed for someone my size.  After sucking wind and having about four guides working on it, I got into my corset, er. . . life vest.  We headed down to the river and boarded our kayaks - inflatable, nearly unsinkable kayaks.  Also, not quite sized proportionately.  No one else seemed to have much trouble.  Is that a sign?  They should eat more I guess.
    We drifted slowly down the river, getting accustomed to our kayaks - we had three guides taking us down the stream (although during the rainy season, the river is 15 feet higher and MUCH faster) until we got to the zip-line portion.  We got out of the river and hiked up into the jungle.  We arrived at a platform up on the edge of the canyon, where we were harnessed up.  These harnesses weren't designed for comfort, but I guess I will take "man-pain" over crashing into the trees from 200 feet.  I don't think the ladies were much better off - thankfully we got going pretty fast so pictures we just about pointless.  The first traverse was a good 200 feet above the river - many of the people "sat" into the zip-line - Claudia leapt off the platform and flew to the next one.  I jumped as well, but once again my "girth" punished me.  I dipped a bit deeper on the line and my legs brushed through the tops of the trees.  Why didn't anyone else come CLOSE to those trees?  JEEEZ!!!! 
    The good thing about having some weight behind you is that you get some major speed going.  This poor 130 pound Jamaican guide bravely stood in the way and stopped me from pasting up against the tree, and unfortunately I had nothing but thanks for him.  After another short traverse, we got to the last one.  This was the longest and fastest of the three we were to take.  As usual, Claudia jumped and performed a perfect mid-flight twist for a good picture.  I didn't seem to have as much control mid-flight - I kind of sank down and just got going super fast.  I caught a look of unadulterated fear in the eyes of the poor soul who was tasked to stopping me on this one.  I plowed into him and we flew back about 6 more feet from impact.
    From there, we went back down to the river and boarded our kayaks once more.  We continued down the river and the guides took turns showing us the different plants - bamboo, banana trees, the "Flaming" tree.  Many of the plants were imported from Africa and simply loved the Caribbean weather!  Later on, we got to a deep part of the river where there is a rope swing.  I couldn't resist, and crawled up the bank.  One of the guides came up and gave me a push backwards, and then I swung out over the river.  He told me he would let me know when to let go, and once I was about 15 feet above the water, he yelled out.  I dropped and tried to get into a cannonball, but managed a spectacular belly-flop.  Good thing I had some extra padding, or else it may have hurt.  Well, I couldn't leave on that.  I went up for one more go, and landed a great cannonball that I think scared some wildlife.  Our guide then took the rope swing and performed a perfect double twisting triple sow-cow or something straight out of the Olympic Aerials.  He landed with a splash that Greg Louganis would be proud of.
    We finished up with more kayaking - it was a nice lazy ride down the river with lots of sun.  Finally the end came, and we crawled out of the river and into a vehicle that looked more like a troop transport than a bus.  We bumped along through the jungle, stopping only to let one of the guides out to pick fresh oranges for everyone to eat.  Yes, they were tasty!  We got back to the camp, changed and caught the bus back to the ship.  After picking up a couple of things at the shops in the terminal, we boarded the Conquest and got ready for another meal!!
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