Did Last Week Happen Part 2

Since I wrote about my mother’s fall two weeks ago, the streak of strange events has continued.

My mother was out of critical care and on the mend, so Matt and I decided not to cancel our birthday vacation to Jamaica. The day before we were leaving, I pulled out our passports and Matt’s was expired. I couldn’t believe it. I was so annoyed and upset. With all the commotion surrounding my mother’s injury, I neglected to get our travel plans in order.

I started to freak out. Matt told me to stop being a “stinker thinker” and call Delta.  He was upstate driving home from a work thing – it was all on me. I learned there was a chance Matt could get a rush passport if he headed to the NY Passport Agency on Hudson St. the morning of our flight. It opens at 7:30am. Our flight was at 10:05am. I pushed back the flights to 12:00pm and then his again to 2:00pm. If he received the passport, we’d meet in Atlanta and catch the connecting flight to Jamaica together at 6:00pm.

The next day, my birthday, Matt popped out of bed at 5:30am and headed into the city. It was a waiting game. I took the chance and left for the airport without knowing if he’d get the passport renewal. He called as I pulled up to the terminal and said “It’s a go!”

I spent most of my birthday alone in Atlanta, drinking pina coladas at the airport bar. Matt finally appeared, gave me a big hug and we headed to our gate.

We arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica that evening. We still had a 2 ½  hour drive south to Treasure Beach ahead of us. We made our way to the car rental in an exhausted haze. “In Jamaica we drive on the left ya mon…” said Alamo car manager guy. “Oh God, the steering wheel is on the right??” I said to Matt. We drove in fear for maybe 5 minutes, twice the wrong way down a one way, before blowing a tire. We hit a pothole masked in the darkness.


We gave up on the long drive and decided to crash in Montego. With the help of Andre, the really nice Alama rental guy, we got the donut on the car by the light of our phones alone, and drove to the “Hip Strip” as it’s called, which, if you like weird dudes loitering in dark parking lots, is the hippest spot around. Everything we found had no vacancy except for a place that got two recommendations — including from our buddy Andre — The Glorietta. Unfortunately, it appeared that two ladies of the evening were having a boisterous debate in front of the place. We didn’t care. We just needed to sleep.

Bright and early, we started on our very scary drive through the mountains of Jamaica. And guess what? We blew another tire!!! It was only noon but I decided it was time to crack open the Jamaican rum I had bought in the the airport!

Thankfully that was the last hiccup and we had time to enjoy the beach, the food, the culture and the incredible nature that surrounded us. The landscape on the south coast is semi-arid. Cacti grow wild everywhere! There were pelicans that fished in front of our cottage, spiraling down head first into the sea to catch breakfast. Crabs were camouflaged on the rocks. I saw a colorful jellyfish and a huge stingray, like the ones you see on Planet Earth documentaries.

The element of weirdness did continue though, with our visit to a tire shop where the locals were speaking patois*, kindly offering us ganja and where the Red Stripes was quenching everyone’s mid-day thirst. Then there was the karaoke bar – more grass, more beer and 80s soft rock re-cast as reggae. There’s not enough space here to describe all the weird, wonderful and beautiful things we saw.

Now I’m back at home, taking down the Christmas decorations in a polar vortex. What I wouldn’t give to be back on the side of the road drinking rum while Matt changes tires.

*English-based creole language with West African influences

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