We were heading back to get ready for a major event, a full lunar eclipse - a "blood moon" - happening from around 1AM until around 4AM (Jamaica does not do daylight savings time so in summer is the same time as US Central time).
In Jamaica we had clear skies and so a perfect opportunity to view the eclipse. T had a king size bed up on her roof deck and set up pillows and chairs for the viewing. When it was time, the group moved upstairs. The group included T's husband who is German, T's mom who is from NYC, a friend living in the Blue Mountains but British, and a Jamaican rasta neighbor.
Listening to the various accents fly around the roof deck as we talked was something else. For a bit we played Dub Side of the Moon (of course), on ipod speakers. For a bit T's Jamaican neighbor freestyled some rastafarian lyrics. The rest of the time we just talked :)
I only had my phone camera for photos but you get the idea:
It's hard to describe the experience. I hadn't actually seen a lunar eclipse before, not all of it and never so clearly. It was well worth staying up for though I admit, heading back to the Knutsford to get back to Montego Bay for my flight on just one hour of sleep was pretty rough.
Morning came early and Ts driver was right on time.
I took a lot of photos the first time I did this route on the bus, back in 2008, it was in reverse but you can see what's along the way there.
I went back to sleep until we approached Montego Bay....
The Knutsford stopped at its normal stop in Montego Bay but once we verified that our luggage was not removed from the bus, we were taken on to the airport. I don't know if it does this all the time, but it was nice not to have to get a taxi from the bus station.
Since I didn't have a bag to check I was able to get my boarding pass in about 2 minutes. In Montego Bay, not checking a bag is critical if you don't want to wait in line for an hour. With only carry-on, I used a computer kiosk. Slide my passport through, get my boarding passes and then on to security. People with bags to check had to wait in a line at least 100 people deep and it did NOT move quickly. So my #1 tip for you: don't check a bag.
I get asked how this is possible a lot. I have a carry-on size wheeled suitcase. I choose my clothing carefully - a couple of sundresses, swimsuits, sarongs, tanks, shorts. I roll them to save wrinkles and fit all I can. I wear my sneaks, pack only sandals. Before my trip I purchase 3oz bottles of sunblock, bug spray, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste. I fit what I can into a large ziplock bag. It has worked for the past few years. Not only do I get to avoid the long line, I save $50 or whatever most airlines charge to check a bag roundtrip these days. And still....I come home with clothes I didn't wear.
If I am on a longer trip, say two weeks, I simply hand wash some laundry in my hotel or pay an employee of the hotel to do a load for me. It's never a problem.
One downside is that I can't bring home jerk sauce from 3 Dives. That is the only liquid I miss. If I wanted rum or other alcohol, that can be had duty free. They deliver it to the gate and now - this is new this year - you can carry it through to your connecting flight, you don't have to check it. I didn't buy any but if I'd wanted to, I could have.
I stopped into Island Grill, a Jamaican fast food chain that is in the airport but outside security. They've got authentic, very good food - chicken, fish, veg, soup, etc. I got an order of curry chicken to take on the plane.
This trip, as last trip, I opted to use Club MoBay's departure service. Once I had my boarding pass I walked to the desk and was accompanied to the "special" immigration and customs line for Club MoBay clients only. It can be shorter than the regular line but on this day was about the same. This year, just like last year, security took my bug spray. I don't know why US TSA lets me bring it and Jamaican security doesn't, but I got the 3 oz sprays for $1 per can so it's no biggie.
Once through I headed to the Club MoBay VIP lounge where I enjoyed free drinks (anything, alcoholic or not), snacks (sushi, patties, sandwiches), coffee, wi-fi and cozy seating until it was time to go to the gate for my flight home. Club MoBay costs $30 if you book ahead and in my opinion, it's worth every penny unless you don't plan to eat or drink anything at the airport.
And so ends trip number.....gosh I'm not sure. Twenty-something, I think. Even though I spent most of it in Negril, I got to do that with so many good friends that it was one of my favorite trips. I still got to ride my scooter out and about, and though it was a whirlwind, I'm glad I made it to Kingston to visit T and see all I saw.
Until next time....