Thursday, April 30, 2009

Respect Mon!!

Thursday morning Ryan and I headed down the beach a little further than we had in the days prior. On our way, we came across a lot of friendly locals as usual, and eventually found our way to Margarittaville to claim another free lunch from our meal tickets.
There's always someone in Jamaica saying "Respect Mon" and shaking your hand. There is a special handshake that the locals will teach you almost as soon as you get there, and with that, you always say "Respect" to eachother. Margarittalville was definitely the most Americanized place we visited while we were in Jamaica. The food was pretty good, but not authentic by any means. They offered a lot of fried food which you rarely see there. Our service sucked, but we still got a free meal out of the deal.
I have no idea what kind of bug this is, but I thought it was pretty. We saw it crawling on the beach while we were walking. It was the only time we saw any bugs or anything that kind of scared me. I'm pretty sure this one was on his death bed because he barely moved as we posed him for the photo. That was fine with me because I would have totally freaked out if that thing would have flown into my hair or something!!!

Thursday night was the night we were supposed to have our campfire jam with the band at a place called 3 Dives on the Cliffs. It started out as a campfire jam until the rain started falling. That's when everyone started crowding under the awning. It was pretty packed, but not too close for comfort. The guys from the band all brought their acoustic instruments and invited anyone else to join in that had something to play.
I had to be up and dancing around the whole time, and of course, I never went far without my Red Stripe :-)The guys from the band Cosmic Railroad also joined Ekoostik Hookah for a few songs. It was so cool to be up close and personal in this setting with both bands at our fingertips. Neither band played any of their own songs. Well, with the exception of maybe one or two, but it was mainly old cover tunes that nearly everyone would know. There were a couple times that I think literally every single person under that awning was singing along. It was fun beyond words!!Cliffy, who normally plays bass guitar was playing mandolin for the night. That in itself was a huge treat. We all know that Cliff has a lot of interest in bluegrass, but have never really had the chance to hear him strut his stuff on the mandolin very much, so that was awesome. He also sang the old Peter Tosh song, Burial, which was a big hit with the locals. I don't know why I would be surprised, but Cliffy can pull off some pretty mean reggae!!
There were a couple ladies there who have sung back up for Hookah at a couple shows in the past who got up and sang a couple songs for us. This is Judy Russell singing in the picture above. Dave Katz from Hookah is sitting in front of her and Steve Sweney was playing guitar. If I remember correctly, Judy was singing "TUSH" by ZZTop in this photo. That woman can SING!!!!Corinne, AKA the merch girl, hopped up with her guitar and sang "Brand New Key" for us. A few other people like Dan Mesnard, Hookah's sound guy, played for us too. He played "Psycho Killer." Dave Katz' wife, Cassie and another backup singer, Genean Grantham sang a great rendition of Ophelia.....gave me chills.....even on a hot Jamaican night :-) Judy came back up with "Son of a Preacher Man" after multiple requests. It was a phenomenal experience to have all that talent wrapped around us under one tiny roof.Eric Lanese, who is usually on drums, played "Powderfinger" by Neil Young to close the night out. It was an awesome night of music!!

After we all headed back to Fun Holiday, we wandered down to the Twenty Three Seven bar which became a regular hang out for us throughout the week. They would close for one hour every day to clean, but otherwise they were always open and not too far down the beach from where we were staying. So, we ended our night there with some pizza and a couple more drinks.
As you can see, I should probably have only had the pizza...not the couple more drinks, but I had a great time. That's all that matters, right?
The Twenty Three Seven Bar had some really cool artwork hanging around the bar that I got a few pictures of. The pictures don't do the work justice, as you can't see the detail at all, but believe me, they were beautiful!!

Everyone was getting tired after about an hour at the bar, so we decided to all head back to Fun Holiday for the night. One more wonderful day in Jamaica down. Only three to go.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grab Life by the Ball

Ryan and I are playing in a dodgeball tournament in Lafayette this weekend to raise money for testicular cancer.
I really like getting involved with fundraisers like this.

The factory where Ryan works got word of this somehow, and Ryan asked me if I would be willing to play on their team. I have a feeling that I might be pretty out numbered by the guys, but hopefully I can use that to my advantage somehow.

The factory where Ryan works is called Donaldson's. So, our team name is "The Test D's." The "D" is for Donaldson's :-) But if you say it fast........he he he!! From the pictures I have found from previous years, I saw that there have been some pretty crazy names. Check 'em out: It looks like it could get pretty intense. I just hope I don't come out of this with a black eye or something!!! Wish me luck!!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wednesday in Negril

We woke up with very sore feet from dancing on the beach all night Tuesday, so a three hour boat trip and a little swimming was welcomed warmly by our group!! We met at a hotel called Kuyaba and had a free breakfast before our catamaran came to pick us up.
This is the bar at Kuyaba. I can only imagine how much fun I could have in those swings after a couple drinks!!!!There were some birds at Kuyaba. Charlie was my favorite. He talked and ate nuts out of our hands and waved at us. He's waving in this picture.When the catamaran arrived, our group claimed the back end of the boat where there was a bench seat long enough for all of us. Matt, Liz, Dave, Kelly, Ryan and me all went on this excursion together. It was one of the most fun things we did on our trip.We all had a set price to pay for the catamaran that included the three hour ride, all the booze we could drink (Actually it was just rum punch and Red Stripe), snorkeling, and cliff diving on the west end of Negril. They did take us snorkeling pretty early in the trip which I thought was smart since we were all drinking :-) The water where they took us snorkeling was absolutely amazing. It was very deep, but you could see the bottom everywhere.
I tried jumping in without a life jacket at first, but I realized very quickly that I needed one to keep me from running into the coral reefs. The current was really strong out there, but once I figured out that you're supposed to put the life jacket around your waist instead of around your neck, I was swimmin like a fish!!! If you put it around your neck, you can't put your head in the water....made it a little hard to see anything :-)The coral reefs were beautiful and we saw all kinds of crazy fish. There were a lot of black sea urchins too. They were a little scary. It took me a little while to get used to the snorkel and the mask. My claustrophobia was kicking in at first and I had a hard time, but once I got the hang of it, I loved it!! There is no way I could ever go scuba diving....I know that for sure!!!They opened up the sail so it was nice and full and we just let the wind carry us for awhile. This is just about the time that Kelly started to get nice and red :-)There was a big net similar to a hammock at the front end of the boat that everyone took turns hanging out in. It was a great place to go after you got nice and hot sitting in the sun because the water would splash up underneath you if you hit a big wave. I did a lot of screaming and bouncing around while I was in there!!Of course, no booze cruise would be complete without some music, and of course they hooked us up with some good reggae. Ryan and I were shakin' our booties the whole three hours :-) This was right before we got to the cliffs on the west end of Negril. That's where a lot of the tourists go to cliff dive. The catamaran stopped at Rick's Cafe for us to cliff dive. It was so beautiful around the cliffs. I think Ryan and I would like to stay in that area if we ever go back to Negril.If you look closely in the picture above, you can see Ryan diving off of the cliff right above the big boy in black :-)Then if you look really closely in the water to the right of the stairs, you can see Ryan waving at me after he jumped. Once I saw that he was safe, I put the camera down and jumped in. I swam over and joined the fun. Ryan ended up jumping off of the higher cliff which was apporximately 40 feet. The other one he dove off of was 25. I jumped from that one, but that's my limit. Even that 25 feet was scary to me!!!After we all spent some time up on the cliffs, we went back to the boat to play on the slide. You would have thought we were all about ten years old we were so excited!! Dancin' fool!!!!
There goes Kelly!!Ryan had to be a show off and go on his back...head first!!!

A friend of ours named Kevin took these consecutive pictures of everyone going down the slide with his fancy camera. My pictures were boring because I'm just sitting on my butt, so you get to see Ryan's trip down the slide!! Dancin' fool's wife :-)This is T. J. and Ashley who we met at our hotel. They went on the booze cruise with us, to all the Hookah shows, and were also there for Matt and TeShannah's wedding.After the girls finally got hot enough, I got them talked into playing in the net with me. It was a blast!!!This is a group of small villas on the cliffs that I thought looked like it would be a good place to stay sometime. They all have stairs carved into the cliffs that allow access to the water, and there are several shallow areas where you could wade very easily. I really don't think I'd miss the beach that much.This was definitely the day we all got most of our sun for the week. Between the sun and the booze and the swimming, we were all ready for naps by the time we got back to our hotel.This fellow was our first mate, and I feel awful, but I forget his name. He helped the captain of the boat with all kinds of things and helped us with all of our snorkeling gear. He was pretty much the "go to guy" for anything we needed while we were on the catamaran. He surprised me when I asked him to get my picture with him...he just scooped me right up off my feet!!

When we got back to the hotel, a few of us decided we were hungry and wanted to go back to Miss Sonia's for some Jamaican Patties again. We were disappointed when we first got there because our host from the night before, Elkin, wasn't there. But shortly after we sat down, he showed up.

While we were waiting on our food, we spotted this cute little lizard poking around in the trees next to us. Ryan kept trying to get him to flare out the little yellow thing under his neck, but instead of making him mad, Ryan just made him leave. Still got a decent picture anyway!!!
This is Liz, Elkin, and me with Dave in the background at Miss Sonia's before our patties were done. We really enjoyed talking with Elkin again. I did feel kind of bad though, because we were such big fans of the food that we told Elkin we would be back a few times during the week, and we never made it back after that second trip. Our goal was to try to get ox tail for dinner one night, but you had to order it ahead of time. Like, a few days ahead of time. So, we told them we wanted two ox tails, one for Ryan and myself, and one for Matt and Liz, and then we never went back to eat them. I hope they didn't go to waste. Surely someone around there would have eaten them if we didn't. Who knows. I guess that's one goal I did not accomplish while in Negril. So, if for no other reason, I'll have to go back for the ox tail. They had this note hanging up that said "What is Life" In the picture below, you can read what it says a lot better then the one up top. Elkin explained to us that his family reads that list every day basically to keep their priorities straight and to keep them from feeling sorry for themselves. We all thought that was pretty cool.
After another wonderful meal at Miss Sonia's, Ryan and I went back to our room and took a nap. We were both completely exhausted. We had a couple hours before the next Hookah show was supposed to start, so we took advantage and slept those hours away.
When we woke up from our nap, we decided to go to Merrill's for dinner. It was one of the freebie places on the meal tickets we had purchased. Their food was really good. I got chicken in sauce with carrots on top, salad, which is more like cole slaw because it's made of mostly cabbage, a wheat roll, and rice and peas as they call it. I thought it was rice and red beans. So, now I'm confused as to whether they just call red beans peas, or if those things that I thought were red beans are actually some weird kind of pea. Either way, they tasted delicious!!!
After dinner at Merrill's, we headed back over to Risky Business to catch Ekoostik Hookah again. It was another fun show, but a lot of us were worn out from that booze cruise we took that day. You could tell a big difference in the size of the crowd too. In fact, I think Dave, Kelly, Ryan and I were the only ones who made it through both the cruise and the show!! John Mullins from the band even posted a comment about not taking booze cruises the same day as a Hookah show next time because everyone was hurting so badly that night. Most of them missed out completely!!
Since we were all so exhausted, we hung out on the balcony for a lot of the show. It was much less crowded up there, and we had a ledge to lean on with a great view of the stage.I quit drinking alcohol after we got back from Miss Sonia's and stuck to water for the rest of the night. Check out their water bottles. It's spelled just like it sounds when the Jamaicans say it:


WATA!!!!!! Isn't that funny?????