Sunday, January 22, 2012

A winter vacation...even if it's only in my mind!

As I watched the snow falling all day Friday, I was reminded of my childhood when my grandparents took us on vacation in January of 1980.  Though it was over 30 years ago, it seems like yesterday.  This is what good memories are made of...

Here is a short excerpt from by book My Hero, My Ding which describes some of the beautiful fun we had! 

Montego Bay, Jamaica

"My most memorable and favorite trip with my grandparents was our trip to Jamaica. We visited cities like Montego Bay, Runaway Bay, Ocho Rios, and the capital, Kingston. This was the very first time I had ever been out of the country. The year was 1980 and I was in 6th grade.  Leaving the United States was a big thrill, but it didn't compare to the thrills that awaited me when we got to this picturesque island.

As we gathered our luggage at the Kingston airport, we were met by our driver, a lovely man (as we would come to know him) named Wallace. He helped put our things in a cargo-style passenger van and once we were all safely inside he drove along the sinuous, narrow roads as if he was a NASCAR finalist. The sweat that formed on our foreheads right then was not from the heat but from the audacious moves he was making especially when approached by oncoming traffic. It started to rain and soon there were puddles along the road. Our windows were down as an oncoming car careened around a corner while plowing through a puddle. What goes up must come down; so much of the water that was splashed into the air came cascading down on our van and subsequently in our windows. It was somewhat amusing as the water splashed in dousing the family members who sat on the driver’s side of the van. (Amusing to me, because I was on the opposite side of the van.) The most unexpected part was later on that day when we were stopped somewhere along the road, Wallace started speaking to a man in a car who turned out to be the man that had splashed us.  He kindly apologized for being so thoughtless while driving.

We were in Jamaica for two weeks and during that first week my grandparents rented a villa, and during the second week they had rented a house–both of which were unique and amazing to me. Until this time, I had no idea what a villa was, but as Wallace pulled his van up to our first week’s lodging I soon found out. I found myself staring at a huge fenced in yard, but this yard was unique in that it was actually the front yard. Entering the spacious courtyard was quite impressive with its in-ground pool and two-story house. Glass patio doors encompassed the first floor of the house. Once inside we saw the large living room area and eating area. There was also a kitchen on the first floor, but since we had two maids we only saw the inside of the kitchen after dinner hours when someone wanted a snack. The rest of the time we were waited on hand and foot. The upstairs was reached by an outdoor staircase and it was here where all of our bedrooms were located. Each room was spacious and had all the necessities of home and some nonessentials, like gorgeous flowers, for aesthetic purposes. While I thought this was grand, I couldn’t get over what I saw when I looked out the back patio doors to the "back yard." It was the ocean. I was astounded! Their backyard was actually the ocean!! There was a small patio where we could sit and an outdoor shower to rinse oneself off before returning indoors, but the majority of the backyard view was warm white sand and inviting azure-colored water. Wow!! So this was a villa!

We did lots of sight-seeing, but we also took advantage of our villa. The two maids that worked there were sisters named Merle and Hortenz

The villa was like its own little paradise. We swam in the pool and quickly changed our minds and went to the ocean. We could lie out in the sun, play games in the sand, buy souvenirs from the natives, or even take a ride on a donkey. I remember playing Tic-Tac-Toe on the beach with Grandpa, buying trinkets, and playing in the water. Being the water lover that I am I was in awe at the size and power of the ocean. One afternoon I thought I would "strut my stuff" and show off a bit of my pool prowess. I got my parents’ and grandparents’ attention and then I stood strong (so I thought) in the ocean facing the adults on the sand waiting for this huge wave to hit me.  And hit me it did! I can still taste the salt-water in my mouth and feel the burning in my eyes as the wave knocked me right over. The initial strike of the water shocked me and momentarily I was afraid I would not be able to regain my balance and pop back up from the bottom. Luckily, I wasn’t in deep water, but while I was underneath I felt like a cat entangled in a ball of yarn. Once I regained my footing and freed myself, I jumped up swiftly and with a quick "Ta da," smiled through stinging eyes, and quickly got out of the water."

Excerpt from My Hero, My Ding
Copyright 2010 the smell of salt water on a sandy beach would be welcome right now!

(If you enjoyed what you read here, you'll love the book!  You can click on the side panel to order or
for more information visit my website )

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