As the sunset down over horizon and the Carnival Conquest sailed off to the next destination, it all seemed to catch up and crash down on me like an avalanche on Mount Everest. It was over. We were pulling away from one of the most poverty stricken, run down, scariest countries I had ever been to, yet all I could think about was the beauty of it. Never before had I seen a place with so much unity, culture, and pride than I had in that one day. Jamaica.
August 5, 2009, sunny and brilliant, the day seemed to know exactly what we wanted out of it. Not a cloud in the sky to rain down on our day of travels. “Good morning ladies and gentlemen!” rang Chris, our cruise director, “we have just docked and the captain has given us the go ahead to exit the ship. Enjoy your day jammin’ in Jamaica!” Ecstatic, I couldn’t seem to gather up enough patience to compose my excitement. It spilled out in every word, action, and movement I made as we set foot onto the sacred land. Greetings and welcoming rang in the native tongue, and you couldn’t help but to feel like you were really at home. We cruised from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios in style: Jamaican tour bus style. The whole way, I couldn’t stop looking out the window. From the outside, I probably looked like a dog, just fascinated with wind in my face, but I really didn’t care. We had just started the day, yet I was already so overwhelmed with things I knew I wanted to always remember.
Every inch of land was covered in breathtakingly beautiful vegetation, but it was impossible to look out and miss what years of weather, instability, and depletion had left. It was also impossible to ignore that the people didn’t seem to care; they love their country, it is written all over their faces, and no one can ever change their minds. They clearly didn’t have all that they deserved, but they tried and knew they could never just give up; no one was going to be there to help them up when they fell. At some point during the ride, we each received a small, grape looking fruit from a young boy selling them on the street; sweet and delicious, just like everything seemed to be in this country. New experiences, like climbing up Dunn’s River Falls, filled every minute and the whole day passed just like that; one blink and it was over and time to get back onto the ship, but not without leaving footprints on my heart.
The saying, “time flies when you’re having fun” took on a whole new meaning for me that day. When I learned of this trip, it never crossed my mind that I would be learning so much about myself. I am forever changed by one island, one day, and one amazing culture of people. You never really realize all you have until you see what others don’t have. People are different wherever you go and it is all great because if we were all the same, then we would not have a world, it would be like an alien planet. I have learned to appreciate my life because I am so lucky I have the one that I do. You don’t need material things to be happy and you really only need love and happiness in life to be complete. Always remember the answer is “No problem Mon!”, or at least that is what solves all the problems in Jamaica.
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