Stranded In Jamaica

Looking for more info on Jamaica? Read about our experience staying at Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach, Jamaica

DH and I have come to realize that no adventure is complete without at least one unexpected setback.  Case in point, Jamaica. After a wonderful week at Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach we were shuttled back to the Montego Bay airport with plenty of time to spare.  Unfortunately our plane had different ideas.

After the incoming American Airlines flight deplaned we loaded up only to find that both transponders were not working on the plane.  A transponder is a radio transmitter that works with a ground radar. When the transponder receives a signal from a ground radar it returns a code with the aircraft’s position, along with the altitude and call sign. It is constantly being radar pinged, helping air traffic controllers on the ground determine the airplane’s speed and direction. Remember the missing Malaysia Airlines 370 flight? Word is their transponder had been turned off, hence why the crash site couldn’t be located.  So in other words, it’s important to have at least one operating transponder…and we had none.

American Airlines

After sitting on the plane for an hour it was decided that we deplane as the mechanics did their best to fix the problem. I have to say that the captain kept us up-to-date as much as he could while we were on the plane.  When we deplaned we found him wandering around the rest of the passengers giving his own insight on the problem.  Unfortunately he wasn’t with the plane as they were working so he really was limited in information. The problem with flying in and out of Montego Bay is that there are only a handful of flights a day so it’s darn near impossible to be switched to a different flight.  In addition, once the sun goes down there are no flights that come in or out of the airport due to their lack of lighting.

While we were in food spirits we could start to feel the tension, so we did the only thing we could do….talk to fellow passengers to keep the situation as light as possible.

Jamaica Travel

After another 2 hours of little communication from the Jamaican American Airlines staff we were told a part would have to be flown in to Kingston, driven to Montego Bay, and they would work on it overnight.  In other words, we were staying put for the night. Eh well.  What could we do?  By that point the airport had basically been shut down and the air conditioning turned off. Thankfully we had been hanging out close to the gate so we were one of the first in line to receive our vouchers.  Others weren’t so lucky.

Jamaica TravelWelcome to Jamaica….again!

The good? American Air was setting us up in an all-inclusive resort for the night complete with transportation. I do have to say this was a pleasant surprise given that when this happens in the US it’s a total crap shoot as to the type of accommodations you’ll encounter.

Having spent the week at a quiet hotel on the south shore we were now going to have the opportunity to see what most everyone else experiences when they travel to Jamaica. As we made our way to the resort we had gotten to know several of our fellow passengers quite well and we decided we were going to live it up.

Riu Jamaica

Liquor and stocked mini fridge in each room, massive food buffet, servers with drinks everywhere you turned, and staff bending over backwards to make sure your stay is perfect. DH and I have experienced this on a cruise so it didn’t totally catch us off guard, but it’s not the usual way we travel.  After spending the evening with our new friends it was time to call it a night since we knew we had to be up bright and early to catch the shuttle back to the airport.

Unfortunately our fiasco wasn’t over.  When we arrived at the airport at 8a the air conditioning had yet to be turned on and there was only one American Airlines employee there to assist all of the passengers.  Word is there weren’t due to be on the clock for another half hour.  Why they took us so early we have no clue. In any normal circumstance DH and I would’ve used the kiosk since we only had carry ons, but given the situation those weren’t an option.  After waiting in line for well over an hour we had updated boarding passes and were through security and waiting at the gate ready for our flight.

American Airlines

But no, the fiasco continued. Instead of changing our flight number the screens showed two flight 1194 causing confusion with many of the passengers and the gates changed minute to minute.  We had no idea where we were supposed to be.  By 11a the plane was not at the gate ready for us to board for our noon flight.  Things weren’t looking good.  Minutes before noon we were told our flight was once again delayed until 2p.

While most people had already been peeved you could once again feel the tension raise even higher. The Jamaican American Air workers were providing no communication and when they did we would later find it was inaccurate information. All DH and I could do was laugh at the situation because we knew we were at their mercy.

Jamaica Travel

Finally our repaired plane made an appearance at 1:30 and we were airborne shortly after 2p.  Thankfully for us we didn’t miss our connection in Miami and before we knew it we were on to our final leg of our journey.  This time around we were in for a pleasant surprise when we boarded to find we were in the first row behind business class which meant no seats in front of us and extra leg room. The Jamaican American Airline worker that checked us in slipped us an upgrade without telling us! Proof that good things can happen when you’re genuinely kind and have a smile on your face.

American Airlines

While our personal opinion may not mirror those of the rest of the passengers we do have to give some props to American Air. Sure the Jamaican employees didn’t seem to give a crap about the situation at all and their communication was seriously lacking, but the actual flight crew was pretty darn excellent.  I also know that some passengers weren’t enthused with our accommodations, which I can understand.  However, given the circumstances it could’ve been MUCH worse. DH and I aren’t ones to complain but thought it was worth a call to American Air.  In turn they not only offered flight vouchers but points as well.

This was not the way we had hoped our expected our vacation to end, but it is what it is.  As always, I’m a believer in things happening for a reason.  Maybe it happened so we could meet new friends, or have the all-inclusive experience, or something we may never know. Who knows, but we took it in stride with smiles on our faces and  it was an experience we’ll never forget!

Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)

Off The Beaten Track Travel: Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach, Jamaica

DH and I are fresh back from our island adventure to Jamaica.  Ahhh, it was excellent.

Jake's Hotel Octopussy 2

If you would’ve asked me a year ago Jamaica wasn’t on our radar.  The idea of all-inclusive resorts with pristine white sandy beaches doesn’t appeal to us as much as it does to others. That’s not to say we wouldn’t be interested if given the opportunity, but it just wasn’t top of our list of places to travel.  That all changed when I happened upon a Yahoo Travel article featuring Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach, Jamaica that piqued my interest.

Jake's Hotel

Instead of finding countless palm trees and white sandy beaches, cacti and rugged coastlines are found in Treasure Beach. In addition, it is host to much of the island’s vegetable, fruit, and cattle farms. In other words, it’s not what people have come to expect when traveling to Jamaica.  Getting there from Montego Bay requires a 2-3 hour drive through the mountains.

As for Jake’s Hotel, what once began as a home for Sally Henzell’s family has since grown into multiple villas designed and decorated by Sally herself.  From wine bottles pressed into the walls to the artwork that hangs on them, her touch is everywhere.

Jake's Hotel Octopussy 2

I was smitten with the history of Jake’s along with their dedication to the community and creating a sustainable future, not to mention the idea of adventuring to a location off-the-beaten track.

We debated to take on the 2 hour commute on our own from the airport to Treasure Beach but opted to pay for a transfer that Jake’s offered.  Smart move.  After landing and going through immigration/customs we bee lined to the taxi line where our driver was waiting.  If we hadn’t done this it would’ve been interesting sifting through the many men vying for our business as we left the airport.

Drive To Jake's Hotel

In addition, as with any international driving experience, it’s totally different there.  In Jamaica you drive on the opposite side of the road and drive on the opposite side of the vehicle than in the US.  Lastly, the drive through the mountains on narrow roads with pin turns is not for the faint of heart.  The driver forewarned us about getting carsick and we brushed it off since neither of us have ever had an issue.  Needless to say I was the closest I’ve ever been to upchucking in a car.

As we drove over the mountain and through the many small towns on our way to Treasure Beach we got to see the REAL Jamaica.  Small family-owned shacks on the side of the road serving jerk chicken, fruit stands with freshly collected fruit, along with goats and cattle roaming free.

Upon arriving at Jake’s we once again realized we made the right choice.  It was so eclectic and unique yet picturesque.  Once we had checked in all of our questions were answered by the hostess in the main cottage and we exchanged our American money for no fee.  We were then escorted to the room we had chosen, one of their three Octopussy bungalows, and it got even better.

Jake's Hotel Octopussy 2

Each little villa/bungalow is a bit different spread out over the property. Just like any hotel rooms with a view are a bit more. Since most of our vacations have us out exploring and being active, spending little time in our room, we rarely splurge on our accommodations. We knew this time around would be different so we decided to spend a little more. TOTALLY worth ever penny.

Steps away from the sea with the sounds of the crashing waves, rooftop cabanas, and an outdoor shower with clawfoot tub.  The things dreams are made of.

Jake's Hotel Octopussy 2

Jake's Hotel Octopussy 2

Jake's Hotel Octopussy 2

On the day after our arrival we took Jake’s up on one of the tours they offered and made a 45 minute trip to a place called YS Falls. The YS River is the main tributary of the great Black River, the longest navigable river in Jamaica consisting of 7 waterfalls that are located on privately-owned land. For a $17 fee we road on a jitney to the falls.  There we found workers offering to take us into the falls.

YS Falls

Given that we have already swam in waterfalls and the water was COLD we opted to take in the view and pass on getting in the water.  Afterwards we decided to take a dip in one of their two pools that are heated via solar power.

YS Falls

Once we returned to Jake’s we made absolutely no plans for the remainder of our stay. Several times we were offered the option of another tour or two but we decided to lay low and center our vacation around rest and relaxation.

Jake's Hotel Octopussy 2

Jake's Hotel Octopussy 2

Every day we woke up and enjoyed each minute as it came, moving with the flow of the day. While we explored the area by foot and swam in several beaches within walking distance, we also spent many hours reading and listening to the crashing waves as we drifted in and out of naps. It was amazing.

Jake's Hotel Octopussy 2

While we’re always excited to travel we’ve learned after some not-so-great experiences to not to set our expectations too high.  This was no different, yet this time around Jake’s and Treasure Beach delivered.

Jake's Hotel

Want to take a walk through Jake’s?  I’ll take you on a tour….

More to come.  Want to see more photos?  You can find them on our Flickr account.

Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)

Great Things Ahead

I’ve got a job. Yep, that’s right.

You may remember that I was recently laid off.  You may also remember that I had a game plan in place that called for sitting tight and seeing how the cards would fall.  Well, last week they fell in my favor.

As planned, I applied for all open positions that interested me at my former workplace.  I never expected I’d be called back for each position I applied for, but guess what?  I was. Sticking to the timeline that was provided, interviews were hosted Monday and Tuesday of last week. While most people came in for interviews for a position or two that lasted a couple of hours I was in non-stop interviews all day on both Monday and Tuesday.  I’m talking two 8-hour days for a total of 24 interviews.  You read that right. Twenty-four interviews.  Let me be clear, I am not complaining nor am I boasting.  I was grateful for the opportunity.

I didn’t hesitate to tell each and every interviewer that I saw the glass half full and that everything happens for a reason.  I wasn’t just putting on a brave and happy face for all of our benefits.  No, I truly believed it.

Journey #quote

While moving from my old position to a new position was on my radar there wasn’t much fire under me given the short amount of time I had been in the role.  And even if I would’ve been on track to move along chances are I would’ve been on a straight and narrow path with little deviation.  Not only did getting laid off provide a kick but it busted open a whole new world of opportunities. Chances are I would’ve never had the opportunity to gain exposure to so many departments or touch base with such a vast network of people if this never would’ve happened.

My only hope was that out of all of those interviews someone would want me.  Thankfully several did and I will be heading back to work in a position that is in a totally different direction than I’ve ever gone before, and I’m pretty stoked about that.

Over the past several weeks I’ve found myself saying, “Great things ahead….” to myself and others. It’s basically become my go-to mantra. But it’s not something I’ve just found myself saying…Once again,I truly believe it.

As expected, being laid off was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me.

Unique Journey #Quote

Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)

Adventuring Without A Plan

You’d think that by being unemployed I’d have sat down and written a blog post every day.  Obviously I haven’t.  I’ve been off keeping busy making plans for future adventures or actually our living them.  Gosh, sometimes I’m not so good at being a blogger.  Safe to say that I’m good at the adventurer part though, eh?  The best way to stay abreast as to what’s going on in my life in real-time?  Follow my instagram feed.

(No, I haven’t forgotten about finding a job….more on that soon!)

More often than not I’m the one who sets out our game plan, deciding where DH and I are going, and mapping out how to get there.  However, before I could figured out our plans for last week DH said, ‘Let’s head to Sedona tomorrow.” He had me at Sedona.  If you’ve followed me for awhile you know that Sedona holds a special place in my heart.  I could go on and on about Sedona but since I already have let’s just leave it at that.

Me: “What’s our plan when we get there?”

DH: “There is no plan. Let’s see what happens along the way.”

Given that Phoenix is in a valley we have a pretty warm climate year round. When you head north, even just an hour or two,  you gain altitude which also means a change in climate.  While it can get toasty Sedona has pretty moderate temperatures and even experiences snow during the winter. As we made our way up north on that Friday morning I kept my eye on the temperature gauge, hoping that it would start to drop….and it did. When we made our exit to head into Sedona we pulled over to remove the Jeep sunroof panels for the first time and enjoy the absolutely gorgeous mid 70s-low 80s weather.

David Heidi Jeep Sedona

Since we’re usually off-roading or hiking we’ve never taken the time to walk through the shops in downtown Sedona, so that’s where we ventured first.  After spending an hour or so browsing we found ourselves back in the Jeep, driving around, taking in the views. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen them, they never get old.  Can you really beat this view?

Sedona Jeep

As we headed towards west Sedona we decided to keep going and take the long way home through Jerome and Prescott, venturing into areas that we had never seen before.  So many people have said that we need to check out this area so it was the perfect opportunity.

Driving up the switchbacks through the mining town of Jerome was crazy.  I’m sure that anyone who lives there is not scared of heights because the town is literally built on the side of a mountain.

Jerome, Arizona

Before leaving Jerome we made a quick stop at the Audrey Shaft.  No longer operating, it was built in 1918 for copper mining and is 650 feet deeper than the Empire State Building is tall.

Audrey Shaft

DH and I love history.  When you couple that with our recent interest in rock hounding it’s been interesting learning about the history of mining here in Arizona.  Some of which still continues today!

Audrey Shaft

Audrey Shaft

After stopping we carried on, driving up and up and up, finally descending into Prescott Valley and the town of Prescott.  We made our way through the center of town and Whisky Row, which is the area named for the numerous saloons that once lined the street. Although we weren’t on a set schedule it was getting later and our curiosity to explore would have to wait until another day.

We continued on down the mountain, back into the valley of the sun. We’ve always wondered what the route from Sedona through Jerome and Prescott had to offer and it didn’t disappoint.

Drive Home From Sedona

So often planning is a must when it comes to our Jeep off-roading adventures, but sometimes it’s nice to have variety and adventure with no plan in mind, enjoying whatever comes our way.

David Heidi Prescott

Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)