Oh, Jamaica…

We awoke Wednesday morning to the boat rocking heavily and the windows being pelted with a bit of rain. The wind was intensely whipping about the balcony as well. The sky was a little angry but it all faded quickly and the sun came out from behind the clouds.

We ventured off of the boat and chatted with a few people but didn’t love the tours being offered just yet. We wandered outside of the port and started chatting with a man about what our goals were for the day. We ended up meeting a man named Dwight and having him show us the island.

We rode through a bit of the rainforest, traveled up the mountains and saw the spectacular views looking out over the ocean. Stopping to smell the leaves of different plants (all spice and lemongrass grow freely!), we also learned about the different fruit trees growing around the island. We stopped by the local Dunn River Falls and peeked at the water cascading over the rocks.

Next, we headed to Bamboo Blu beach and set up – Jacob couldn’t get into the water fast enough! It was that beautiful, crystal blue again and our sweet boy couldn’t wait to run into the small waves.

Joe & I left Jacob to play in the waves for a bit while we went on an adventure. It’s something that I put on my list of things to do before turning 30 but never actually did. It’s something I’ve seen pictures of and thought – someday I will! Well, today was that day. Joe & I went horseback riding. 

I remember a week long trip in Girl Scouts when I was young. We went to a farm of sorts and one of the activities that we did a few times throughout the week was horseback riding. I remember feeling as if I was high off of the ground and a little afraid of the height but truly enjoying the experience. 

Dwight took us to two local guys just up the road from the beach. We received a great price for the hour that we wanted to ride. We hopped on our horses, Crystal and Cindy, and I had a moment of panic when she first started moving.

What are you thinking?! This is so high! What if you fall off?!

But I swallowed those fears, put on a big smile and braced the moment. I will do this! So off we went.

Joe & I traveled up the mountains through the town where the locals live, saw goats – young and old – eating the tall grass, saw a community garden where anyone can grab fresh fruits or vegetables for their meal, they simply need to replace it with a seed or two and Joe even picked me a bright pink hibiscus. Our guides told us stories about the town and shared the different things they do to keep busy. At the top, we saw the breathtaking view of the water below. We headed down the mountain through the town and into the some of the wooded area by the beach. We learned about the trees that only grow in the shade and I may have bumped my head on a few branches along the way, despite the warning of doing just that.

Eventually the trees opened up to show the dazzling blue waves of the ocean. Our guides stood back while Joe & I rode our horses into the water. It was clear that Crystal & Cindy love the water as much as we do. They trotted through the waves, the water lapping up over our thighs. They stopped to play in the water, flicking it up over their heads and onto us. I don’t think the smile came off either of us the entire time.

After riding in the water a bit and learning about local fishing, we headed back. I trotted up ahead of Joe & turned around to see him racing up the trail behind me. His grin was from ear to ear. The trip was amazing. It may have only been an hour of our time but the memories are completely priceless.

Dwight brought us back to the beach where Grandma & Grandpa were playing amongst the waves with little man. He wasn’t too interested in chatting with us upon our return, as he had his own ear-to-ear smile from the ocean. I sat with him in the waves, while we picked out the big & little waves and braced ourselves for when the water rushed over us. We said “ew!” at the seaweed floating in from the reef and dug holes in the sand. The hours flew by and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the ship.

Dwight met us and drove us back, telling us more about the town on the way. He was a wonderful tour guide and I would absolutely book him again if we return. (And you should too if you head to Ocho Rios!).

Once on the ship, Jacob took a bath overlooking the water. Despite his shower before leaving the beach, another pound of sand may have come out of his bathing suit. He loved holding the spray shower head over him and “wash my chest and wash my legs and wash by tooshie…”. Seriously, just too cute!

A nap before dinner was needed after such a fabulous day.

So I went to Hell…

On Tuesday morning we awoke to the boat approaching Georgetown in the Grand Cayman Islands. Cayman is a new experience for all of us so we were all anxious to visit the town. We had to tender into this port, which was an extra opportunity to experience the amazing waves.

Once on land, we grabbed a taxi to take us to Hell – a small, local place named after their limestone rock formation and with its own post office. Jacob helped to send ourselves post cards and we are anxious to see what the post mark is. They also stamped passports, which worked out well since the office for the port authority was closed each time we tried. It was a neat little place to stop by.

The taxi then took us to visit the tortuga rum store, a quick stop by the 7 mile beach and, to Jacob’s delight, the dolphin discovery center. Though we did not actually interact with the dolphins, Jacob loved watching them swim and jump about. Ms Welcome was a wonderful driver and host, taking us around to different parts of the island and sharing fun facts with us. 

Shortly after our tour, we ventured over to take the Seaworld Observatory boat. It’s the only excursion we booked ahead of time and were excited to see how much Jacob enjoyed it. We hopped on a boat and immediately headed down the stairs. About 6 feet under the water, we sat on a bench looking out into the water around us through big windows. The whole tour was about an hour. The boat took us out a little way and told us what to look for under the water. We saw dozens of fish, two separate shipwrecks, a stingray, lots of that beautiful sand along the bottom and a gorgeous coral reef. We saw a group of scuba divers and the Captain of our boat jumped in to scuba dive while feeding the fish around our boat. The entire experience was magnificent and Jacob completely loved it!

Though we had a few more hours left, Jacob was tired and it was time to go relax. We ventured back to the boat, snuggled up on the bed in front of our window and took a nap before dinner.

Our night ended with Jacob standing on the balcony with me & Joe, pointing out the twinkling stars filling up the sky high above us. He then serenaded us with “twinkle twinkle little star”, his pointer fingers dancing up and down to the lyrics.

Perfection.

Cozumel…

Joe & I have had the luxury of visiting Cozumel twice in our short married lives. I have never seen such amazing beaches before. We took a page out of our honeymoon book and decided to tour the island on Monday. With 5 of us, we opted to rent a Jeep – a stick shift, to Joe’s delight.

We drove the entire island, saw the incredible water and enjoyed a yummy Margarita. The day was magnificent. We even had time to grab some vanilla, made locally.

I remember visiting Cozumel on our honeymoon cruise. I sat on the rocks and watched the ocean wash up in front of me. The bright blue water bursting amongst the rocks, turning white with the spray and retreating, just to do it all over again.  I was in awe. Living in Florida, I have some pretty awesome beaches near me…but this was spectacular. 

The beaches are just…breathtaking. The water is the most amazing blue, they are either rock or sand depending on where you go and the waves crash magnificently in front of you. Jacob could feel the spray of the waves while taking in the sites in Daddy’s arms. It was a sight to see. We were excited to visit again and hope to go back again some day.

A day at sea…

On Sunday, we spent the day at sea. It was wonderful. On a massive ship, we did not feel crowded or overrun. I was afraid that seasickness may rear it’s ugly head but I’m glad to say that despite feeling the slight rock of the boat dancing amongst the waves, it has remained at bay.

Jacob loved the pool and especially the hot tub! He had so much fun going in both. Despite his slight fear from swimming lessons, he let go of Daddy within a few minutes and became more and more brave as he swam around with his puddle jumper – always where he could touch, of course. 😉

We awoke to the sun rising above the clouds…it was amazing. We shut off all the lights at night and can watch the ocean from our bed through the window. Jacob took a nice nap halfway Through the day (and Momma too!).

Truly blessed.

What an incredible day at sea. Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Mesmerized…

Joe & I booked a cruise last minute for our honeymoon. Booked just a week or so before it was set to sail, a friend of ours asked what boat we were taking for our first ever cruise. “The Norwegian Epic. Apparently our room has a balcony so that’s cool.” My friend stared at me blankly. She then explained that not only was it in its first year, this ship was also the biggest ship in the Norwegian fleet. Well, then. I suppose we made a good choice!

We have been on a few cruises since then but this was Jacob’s first – and it was only fitting that he joined us on the Epic once again. Joe’s parents joined us too – and memories are already being made!

Jacob was Mr Cool Kid from the start of the morning – complete with sunglasses, his first pair of Sanuk flip-flops & all. After a small tour of the ship and lunch, Jacob took a mini nap so he was ready for the evening.

We were treated to dinner & a show at Cirque du Soliel. Anticipating a large theater, you can imagine our surprise when we walked in to a cozy room and were seated at a table with front row seats. If I moved my head the wrong way, it might have been knocked when the acrobats swung from the ceiling!

To say that Jacob was mesmerized is an understatement. A small fright at the music initially, he sat up in his chair with his jaw dropped the entire time. He barely ate, he was so in awe of the show! He danced to the music, stared in awe of the incredible artists and even gave a high five to our waiter at the end.

It was a remarkable first night of our cruise. After the show, we all sat on the balcony and stared out at the bright moon rising in the sky and the stars twinkling all around the sky. It was perfect.

One sleep!!!

Jacob has been counting down the days until vacation by counting his nighttime sleeps. The adorable-ness is incredible! 

Tonight while laying in bed, Joe was showing Jacob pictures of the “big boat” online. Jacob was mesmerized, especially at the size of the massive ship. At one point he stops and says “The boat is sad.” Huh? Sad? Gently asking why, Jacob explained “because I not on it.” Oh, my heart!

Needless to say, our family is ready for this time away to unplug, decompress and create the most amazing memories together.  It’s Jacob’s first cruise and our in-laws first too. We are very fortunate to enjoy this adventure with them.

I’m determined to make 2017 the best year, yet it’s started off a little rocky. It’s not that anything particularly bad has happened, it just hasn’t lived up to my amazingly high expectations just yet. But it is only mid-January and I plan to embrace that! 

In the words of Jacob, it’s just “one sleep!” and we are off to create new adventures, make memories and laugh, a lot.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends! ❤

Where in the world…

After Joe & I were engaged, we started thinking about our honeymoon. Where in the world would we go?! The options in our minds were endless…we explored the idea of Fiji, Napa Valley, a week in a houseboat locally, Disney World, Europe and everywhere in between. Countless hours were spent researching where to go, how much it would cost and how long we could stay. Despite all of the research though, we couldn’t make up our minds!

Time continued to fly, as it often does, and all of a sudden it was a week before our wedding and we still hadn’t booked our honeymoon. Eeek! We started to research some more and decided on a cruise. There was one leaving just a few days after our wedding. Neither of us had been on a cruise before and weren’t really sure what to expect but we decided to go for it. So 3 days before our wedding, we booked it!

Little did we know at the time that we booked it, that we had picked the newest and greatest of the Norwegian Cruise Line ships – Epic. It was incredible. We spent 7 days on this ship and traveled to the Western Caribbean. We didn’t book any excursions ahead of time and decided to “wing it”.

Our first stop was Costa Maya. After a day of cocktails on an amazing beach, we walked into a local town and found a tequila shop set up in someone’s home – literally. We met the homeowner / tequila expert, as well as his daughter and a few friends of his, and spent the afternoon learning all about tequila. It was amazing! We bought as much as we could hold when we left. They didn’t even have real bottles in it so we filled all of our water bottles! He now owns a restaurant on the beach, where he sells his tequila. Someday we will visit again!

Next was Roatan, where we walked the town for hours and shopped a little. We met a local artist, learned about him and his family and enjoyed some of his artwork. It was beautiful.

Our last stop was in Cozumel. At this point, we felt relatively comfortable exploring on our own so we decided to rent a scooter and explore the island. We started by following the tour buses to the local Mayan ruins, where we learned about the history of the Mayans. Next, we decided to follow the road along the coast. We stopped every mile or two to look at the ocean. It was incredible. The waves crashed beautifully against the shore, taking the turquoise water and spilling it amongst the rocks and sand. Amazing.

We were sad when it ended and yet we couldn’t wait to experience such an epic adventure again. To celebrate being cancer free, we want to plan a dream vacation. Somewhere beautiful, possibly exotic, somewhere that we can enjoy the land, the water and the world while creating memories together. I once again feel like the choices are endless, and yet I can’t decide where to go!

Where have you traveled, that you loved? Where would you go, if you could travel anywhere in the world?