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  • Writer's pictureClaire

8. Jamaica, Montego Bay ...

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

The idea of an All Inclusive 5 Star holiday to Jamaica with my lovely friend Justin sounded absolutely incredible to this little Flairey. As much as I looked forward to it, I was also scared silly. The thought of the drive to the airport, which was over an hour away, made me feel physically sick. The worry of actually getting through the airport, onto the plane and off again the other side filled me with terror! I had absolutely no control over any of those things and couldn’t even visualise how it would all work out. Then, there was the added concern of what would happen if I was poorly or blacked out away from home. I hate hospitals with a passion and had no desire to end up in a Jamaican one! It all sounds very silly now but at the time I was dealing with what seemed like never-ending uncertainties. With Justin however, I was in the best hands, he’d been to the resort many times before with the same company and knew that it would all be accessible for me so that wasn’t an issue at all. He’d had a full run down of what to expect he may deal with on the trip and how to deal with any health issues should they crop up. I trusted him implicitly.

As it was, the airport concerns were unfounded. There is a wonderful thing called Airport Special Assistance. You check in with them, and they take you through the security checks, and all you have to do all the way through the airport is dish out the Queenie waves! I was amazed, the process was so simple. We were taken through everything very quickly, and before we could blink, we were in the airport bar drinking cocktails. A time was arranged with the Assistance Team for collection so I could be wheeled to the plane in Mildred. How simple. I began to see that maybe travel wasn’t as far out of my reach as I’d imagined!

The flight from Birmingham Airport to Montego Bay was 10 hours. That, my friends was really hard going. I’d been to my GP who had prescribed me morphine to get me through the flight. As it was a long haul, the seats were marginally more comfortable than your general budget holiday flights. We also made use of the onboard drinks trolley, for an astronomical fee of course! I managed to sleep on the flight with the aid of the morphine, but I was very uncomfortable and was concerned about blacking out and making a complete fool of myself. It’s a bit of a blur to be honest, but we got through it. I know this because I’m telling the tale again. Oh, and Justin has jogged my memory!

As it was my first time ever on a 5 Star all-inclusive holiday, I was somewhat excited. Well, very excited actually. It was my first all-inclusive holiday full stop, let alone blinking 5 Star! I wasn’t disappointed!

The Hotel Riu Montego Bay was a short bus trip from the airport. We were greeted on our arrival in the air-conditioned foyer with cocktails. This was delightful as you can imagine, I felt it was off to a great start! The site itself spreads out over a vast area, interconnected with flat pathways lined with lush green grass, flowers and palm trees. There is also an adult only establishment on site, but as some other friends with young children were going too, we didn’t go to that one. Justin was in control of Mildred, and we bowled along to our room in the wake of our bags after the cocktails had been finished. The temperature was divine, high twenties, with clear blue skies and I could feel the heat soaking into my tired and aching joints. I began to smile; I was already having an amazing time and we’d not even got to the room!

Riu Montego Bay Reception

The room in question was ENORMOUS! It had two Large king-size beds that were supremely comfortable, a mahoosive bathroom and a lovely balcony area overlooking gardens. Oh, and air-conditioning. Something I was to become very grateful for over the next two weeks! It was such an effective system that there was condensation running down the outside of the door to our room, in reaction to the temperature difference inside. We unpacked and exhaustion, and quite possibly the cocktails kicked in. I pulled on my Flamingo print pyjamas, (I was a little chilly) and think, with the aid of all the meds, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. I have no idea how long I slept, hoping it wasn’t too long as I didn’t want to miss any sunshine, or indeed the bar which was obviously included. Although I had learned by this stage that I really have to listen to my body. It was during this particular little power nap I discovered I snored! Being a lady, I was certain I didn’t snore. I was more than certain; I was adamant I didn’t snore. That’s for old people. If I did, they were sure to be the delicate little snuffles you would expect from a lady. Well I’m reliably informed that I do not snore gently or quietly, oh no, I make more noise than your average passing tractor. Apparently, I was almost smothered with a pillow for making such an incredible racket! Justin had never ever heard a racket like it in his life. I was like a bush pig, without the smell! I’m still of a mind to think he made it up, but as the two weeks progressed, he began to look very tired. I did begin to wonder if I was a snorer after all…Heavy meds relax everything which doesn’t help.

As you may have gathered, I love my food. Admittedly it doesn’t love me quite so much and seems to stick itself to my hips and backside. Imagine my delight when I clapped my beady little eyes on the massive dining area … the food was so colourful and what I can only describe as happy. I shouldn’t have been surprised given the high standard of the rest of the hotel. I was still following the Slimming World plan at the time and I didn’t want to undo all my hard work. (I don’t want you to think I’m telling you how to suck eggs, and I’m sure many if not all of you have experienced all-inclusive before. I hadn’t and this is how I found it.) Fortunately, every food you can possibly imagine was available. Fresh, rainbow fruit salads, colourful vegetables, and every cuisine I could think of was on offer. It was simply stunning. I like to eat with my eyes as well as my mouth and my peepers were not disappointed, everything was so wonderfully displayed, I’d never seen food like it. There was a fresh juice bar which I have to say we kicked the arse out of every morning. The green ones were my favourite although I have no idea to this day what was in them, except for the day they popped a chunk of ginger into it, but they looked really healthy (cos they were green!). I loved the concept that I could eat whatever I wanted and just roll up to it, put it on my plate, roll back to our table and eat it. No preparing, cleaning up the messy worktops and washing the dishes. Sheer heaven!

breakfast ... how happy does that look??

I hate waste, but I also love to try new things. we took our time eating our meals, savouring every mouthful, and just picking a small amount of what we fancied and going back up for refills if we had room. I remembered getting so cross at the amount of waste that people were leaving on their plates. They were loading up plates like they’d not been fed in months, taking a few mouthfuls then leaving the rest on the plate. Then going up for another huge plateful, before doing the exact same thing. It bothered me greatly. Maybe this was due to the way I was bought up. We never filled our plates unless we were able to clear them. Waste is something we have got used to seeing the world over, and never more so than in all-inclusive establishments. It’s not big and it’s not clever, just plain greedy. Well that’s what I think anyway!

The hotel gardens and pool were a sheer delight. Well maintained, watered regularly and there was always someone tending them. The purpose of this trip was to relax, unwind and get some warmth in my bones. Oh, and to get a tan, obvs! Justin is a professional ‘sun worshiper’, so I was in good company, better than good, the best! As is usual in holiday resorts there were plenty of sun loungers to relax and recline on and we certainly made the most of them. I found them relatively comfortable to lie on face up for long periods of time. I did however struggle to lie on my front, an issue I still have due to the injuries I sustained. However, by taking one of the substantial pillows from our room I was able to overcome this dilemma and lie on it placed underneath my tummy and pelvis, so my back was supported. I wouldn’t be going home tanned on the front and milky white on my back. That was something that made me very happy. Where there’s a will there’s a way right?

the beautiful beach at Riu Montego Bay

The hotel had a private man-made beach, which to my ears sounds odd! We visited several times, beautiful white sand and crystal-clear waters. We did hit a minor snag at the beach. Mildred doesn’t like to get sand in her treads. Justin discovered that pushing a wheelchair on sand is, and I quote, “a f**kin nightmare”. It has now been discovered that pulling it along is a little bit easier! I’d taken a snorkel and a pair of snazzy pink flippers with me with every intention of doing some snorkelling. This didn’t go so well. The water although very clear, had little of interest in it where we were, just some dodgy looking seaweed. Not a single rainbow fish in sight, I don’t actually know if they reside in the Caribbean, I’m assuming they do. Just may be not in Montego bay.

There was the option to go out on the party boat. I was sure I was just about still young enough to get down with the kids however getting me and Mildred on it proved more trouble than it was ever worth. I thought rope ladders were a thing out of Disney’s Peter Pan. Not so. That was precisely how access was gained to the party boat. I hadn’t taken any of that into consideration. Besides I’ve seen Jaws. ‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat’! The party boat was snack size for a Great White Shark. I had enough issues, getting eaten by a Great White wasn’t on the agenda. The brand spanking new pink flippers remained in the case for the duration of the holiday. On our return they were relegated to the shed, never to see the light of day again.

Tanning was the sole aim of our days, apart from eating and drinking. I must recommend the Coconut Rum Latte. Oh wowzers! They were the Mutts Nuts. I felt able to have one at 10am as it was obviously a ‘coffee’!

Coconut rum latte

Being in the hot sun made such a huge difference to my pain levels. I’m not sure if this is the same for everyone, but I’d like to hope so! Within a few days my mobility improved significantly, and pain levels became bearable. I was coping really well. The temperatures were rising and as they did my pain decreased. I was a happy little bunny. I was also working on possibly the best suntan I’ve ever had. I was introduced to Australian Gold suntan lotion by Justin. I will never ever use anything else now. It’s the best and turned me a shade of gold never before achieved by my milky white skin! The company I was keeping was amazing and I was feeling so good I even went out in the evenings. Just to the hotels varied and excellent entertainment. I was feeling like a proper grown up again. We enjoyed a Lion king Show and some incredible steel drum music; true Caribbean. I know I sound like a child, but it was just fantastic.

Being a grown up!

At the time I was a bleached blonde, I loved it but as you can imagine the bleach and the sun was not a good combination. So, I wisely took a hat. It was all going so well until I got my hat wet in the sea, and it began to disintegrate. When I read the care guide, it said …. Do not get wet, this product is made of paper. Who even makes paper hats??!! More to the point who even buys them? Oh yes, that would be me FFS! Cue one ruined hat. As my poor hair was about fried, I knew I needed to protect it. I did this with a lovely red, yellow, green and black Bandana complete with the lyrics of One Love by Bob Marley. I really liked it that Bandana, Bob Marley fan here. It was big enough to get my hair underneath and protected from the blistering sun. Result. I wore it all day, in the sea, in the pool got it soaking wet and it didn’t disintegrate. You would think that would be a good thing. What wasn’t so good, was that the lovely vibrant colours i loved so much, ran when it was wet. I was left with red, yellow and green dye in my hair and the ink imprint of Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’. Justin laughed. A lot. Really hard. I did too, eventually. The colours and the lyrics stayed quite a few days but finally washed out.

The offending bandana

Another friend and her family were at the same resort and left a week before us. When they left Nic kindly left me her leopard print Bandanna to use. Strangely, this didn’t leave leopard print in my bleached locks nor did it disintegrate. I was most pleased at this as you can imagine. It was a little late for my hair, which now had the texture of candyfloss. Which, in itself isn’t such a bad thing, I love candyfloss. On my head however, that was bad, really bad. It started to snap off at a rate of knots. Hey ho.

One hot sunny day on the beach, I nodded off and was fast turning the shade of charcoal. Justin woke me up several times and told me turn over because he could smell me burning. I turned over but we could still smell burning flesh. I even sniffed myself. We were lying just in front of the hedge that separates the beach from the hotel, it was later that we discovered there was a BBQ Jerk chicken hut right behind where we were lying. It was probably that we could smell …

Lovely pic of Justin's feet the day he thought i was burning

I would visit Jamaica again in a heartbeat. Maybe not to the same hotel as its gone downhill somewhat since our visit. In fact, Justin and his partner went a few years later and got the most horrendous food poisoning. Ended up in hospital over there at great personal cost, although, they were able to claim it back from their insurance company when they arrived home.

I would however, go to another Riu hotel. They are all accessible, of a high standard, the food is incredible, and the service is wonderful. Comfort in the bedroom is of a high standard. Bathrooms are accessible and spotlessly clean.

There were two pools at Montego Bay resort. One of which is a swim up pool bar. We didn’t go into that one, as one evening wheeling back from the entertainment we passed it and it was a luminous green colour. Finding that strange compared to the lovely clear blue of the pool we generally used, we avoided it. Over the following days we observed the swim up pool bar. These were our findings … people were in there from 9am until 6pm. They didn’t get out, apart from eating. Now, you can’t tell me that after sitting at a bar drinking heavily all day that you don’t need to use the toilet. Of course, you would. What was happening, was this; they were drinking vast amounts of alcohol and then emptying their alcohol filled bladders into the pool. This would explain the green luminous tinge to the pool. It made us very happy we hadn’t been in there. As the holiday progressed it got so bad, we couldn’t even see the bottom of the pool, it got greener and greener. That minor detail didn’t stop the pool from being packed out daily though! YUK!!

The pool that didn't go green over the course of our two weeks holiday

I love people watching, and watching intoxicated people is the best. Lying in our loungers one day, we watched a very drunk lady start shouting and waving her arms. We have no idea what on earth she was saying, she was struggling to string two words together, let alone a full sentence. She tottered around in a pair of high heels, zig zagged, fell over and almost rolled in the pool. She then vomited. Not in the pool, which in some respects would have been a blessing (they would have had to shut it and clean it out) but all over the side. The staff immediately were on site to clean up the mess and none too gently escorted her away from the pool area and back to her room. Her friends carried on drinking.

The pool offered man-made shade and the shade of palm trees that swayed gently in the breeze. I loved spending a bit of time under them. That was until a large palm frond decided it was going to drop to the floor missing me by inches. Something Justin found amusing. You may have gathered by now that he has a wicked sense of humour and is a lot of fun to be around. I love his company so much.

The offending Palm frond after it was dragged from my lounger

This isn’t a holiday review article; this is the first holiday I went on after the crash. It was something I never imagined possible. Without Justin, it would have been impossible. His kindness, and unflappability made it all possible. I was in good hands and we had the best time two buddies ever could. It showed me that things I thought impossible were still possible.

I had no idea there was Airport Special Assistance. No idea that I could be wheeled to the plane doors in Mildred and as if by magic she would be there waiting for me at the other end. No idea I could jump the cue at security checks and no idea that life in the chair could be a whole lot of fun. Sometimes I wish I had thought of writing about this mind changing holiday at the time. I’m relying heavily on photo triggers, and my lovely Justin’s memory.

So, planes are fun, trains, hmm ... not so much given my experience with being put on the wrong train, and cars seriously suck! As always, thanks for getting to the end. If you’re interested, drop by for the next installment. Until then my lovely readers much love, Flairey. x

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