I am bloody tired right now, but as I start this, I have a little under 3 hours left before I board my flight home. My last post was written as I sat at the terminal waiting for my flight out to Jamaica. I had the option for internet service, but it was $14 a day or 40 for 7 days. Thinking about it, I was on vacation, and figured that the world wouldn’t end if I dropped off the radar for a few days. I’m pretty happy that I didn’t start twitching and suffer from internet withdrawal. Grab a chair folks, this is gonna be a long ass story as I retell the transpiring of the past couple of days.
Day 1, the arrival….
The shuttle ride was interesting. We got to see the typical Jamaican country side, sugar cane fields, the ocean to our right, and occasional parked car in the middle of the lane. Honking for communication is standard practice. Everything is green, which is different for someone coming from Los Angeles, for which everything is just tan and brown. The ride reminded me of a cross between driving the hills of Hong Kong mixed in with driving in Hawaii. We hit a pit stop for drinks and the restroom break, and I get my first of many offers to purchase marijuana with the simple wink, nod and a “hey, do you smoke mon?” Benny’s crew are not surprised that I am approached while everyone else is left alone. They’re just jealous that the cool and !nerd aura flows freely from my being.
The ride was about an hour and a half from the Montengo Bay Airport to the Sandals resort in Negril. We arrive and hang out in the lobby. People already hand us drinks and water, and in short order, Brian and Ka Mun arrive to greet everyone. We sit and fill out a few forms and random paperwork for the resort’s purposes. And at this point, I still haven’t been introduced to anyone. I only know Benny and Yee. I can see that the next couple of days will be the time of my life…. I walk around and introduce myself, talk to Ka Mun’s parents, meet her grandmother, and then meet her three gook pharmacist friends (gook is much easier spelled out than Vietnamese, and it’s just a funny word, we really need to bring that one back,.. but really, no insult is meant by the term…) There is Derick, that I sorta meet, he’s the strapping young lad that will be photographing this wonderfully fun filled event.
Even while we were in the process of settling things with the rooms, keys, etc; I grab the phone to call the resort’s scuba shop and see if they still have dives for the day. Nope, they’re dives are at 9:30 and 11;30 daily. (At this point, SCUBA and Brian’s wedding are my only two priorities, as I’m a single guy at a resort for couples… yeah, so no scuba today, this is going just as I expect it, I’m gonna have tons of fun….) I get to my room and it is very nice. I unpack and hang up my clothes, and finally get to take a shower. A little note, I’m still running off the small amount of sleep I picked up from the flight out to Ft Lauderdale, and it’s now about 3PM Jamaican time. Sleep is one of those luxuries that I know I’m not going to get over the next couple of days. I shower. I feel somewhat human again. After resting for a short bit, I head over to the scuba shop with my log book and c-card. Since I have not dived with the resort before, I am only allowed to go on the later dive that is usually done in shallower waters as the resort certified divers can only go on the 11:30 dives. Oh good, I only get one dive tomorrow, better than none I guess. I head back to see what folks are doing, Benny is still trying to get a room, and most folks are already in their respective rooms. Feeling somewhat hungry, I head over to the grill and order some Jerk Chicken. I am surrounded by nothing but couples holding hands, walking the beach, eating, etc… then there is me as I sit with my jerk chicken facing the beautiful ocean and eat; alone. Yeah, this is going to be REAL fun….
Brian and Ka Mun are running around dealing with the family. I can clearly see an elevated stress level in both of them. Poor kids, heh marriage is fun guys, everyone should get married! I’m the clown, I’m there to make the folks laugh, and hopefully, alleviate some of the stress with humor. Brian’s family arrives around 4 or 5. I go to meet them. I barely recall hearing names, but I just call them mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa. Shawn is there whom I met a few years ago when he was still living with Brian – he does not remember this; and I meet Brian’s sister, Lisa, for the first time. Brian’s dad cracks a few jokes, and I retort; yeah, I’m definitely going to get along just fine with Brian’s family. Everyone goes to settle into their rooms and relax from the day of travel. We are set to meet up at 6 for the rehearsal dinner – which is an oxymoron, since nothing is really ever rehearsed. But I guess they need to label the dinner night prior to the wedding something. I head back to the room and just relax watching some tv. Holy hell Jamaica is hot; and the humidity sucks ass. This is like being in Hong Kong during summer all over again. I’m gonna sweat my ass off.
It gets close to 5:45 and I head over the the bar near the area of the rehearsal dinner. I grab a margarita, I’m still swooning from “Jamaican Punch” that Brian handed over to me earlier. Ka Mun’s grandmother downed a few of those, I’m betting that back in the day, she was a fun one. We hang out at what would be the eventual wedding area, and have drinks and some snacks. More jokes and thrown between B’s dad and I. A few jabs are thrown with Lisa, and we take some pictures of the sun set. After hanging out for a few, We sit for dinner. There is no set sitting arrangement so we just randomly sit. Still not really knowing anyone from Ka Mun’s side of the family, I sit with the Dunavant siblings and their patriarch, along with Ka Mun’s 3rd grade ESL teacher and her husband. Yes, Ka Mun’s 3rd grade ESL teacher came to the wedding. Brian’s dad, Brian, and I crack jokes and tell stories to each other. I get a few stories about the siblings; and since I’m sitting next to Lisa, I’m firing more rounds at her too… It’s cute that she tries to fight back. More jokes are fired from Brian’s dad, and I now see where Brian gets his idiotic sense of humor and jokes… I also start to get an idea about where Brian’s value system comes from; Brian has an amazing family. After dinner, I play a game of pool with Shawn, and easily defeat him, Brian takes up the charge and I beat him; feeling unnecessary to completely embarrass and pwn the men of Dunavant clan, I decline a game with Mr. Dunavant.
Brian’s dad had gone to grab some Cuban cigars from the resort’s gift shop. F me, 22 bucks for a single cigar, but at least it was a buy 4 get one free deal, so they were really only 18 dollar cigars; still, damn resort tax. He gets 5 because this is Brian’s last night as a single man, and the plan is for the five guys to hang out, drink, smoke, etc…. The planned crew, Benny, B’s Dad, Shawn, B, and me. The reality? It is just Shawn, Brian, and me. We are at the pool, just hanging out wondering what happened to the other two. We make jokes about Benny’s ability to get laid, and reason for his disappearance – he’s got his own white whale to conquer. No idea where B’s dad is, oh well, Athos, Pathos, and Aramis we are. Hanging out at the pool, we see Ka Mun wander by with young Derick, camera in hand, and two of of the three gook girls (I’m still not sure which one is which at this point, as I haven’t really talked with any of them – and they all look alike to me…). Brian and I attempt to use our charm to lure the group into joining us in the water. Brian picks one of them up and scares the bejesus out of her, getting her clothes slightly wet in the process. Well, Brian isn’t married yet, so I guess this is still ok. Ka Mun looks on disapprovingly. I wonder if the behavior is energized by my presence. Naw, the Brian I know has always been like this, even when I first met him.
With no luck coaxing the group to join, I head out into the ocean, as I have yet to moisten my body with the warm Jamaican waters. There is a lovely smell of sulfur in the mud. Having never been here, I guess this could be a by product of the hurricane season. The groups separate and we head over to the larger main pool and hang out there. A good amount of time is spent playing “battleship” with the stupid floating foam pads. Exhausting our energy, we head over to the grill for a midnight snack. Jerk burgers for the Musketeers, and when done, we grab some drinks from the bar and head over to southern most end of the resort to smoke our Cubans. Damn smooth. Being attacked by mosquitoes, we then head over to the rather secluded pool. We sit in there and smoke. B, Shawn, and I chat for a bit, and Shawn pussies out and heads back to his room; he is rooming with young Derick, so I can’t really blame him. Brian and I continue to chat, and we are greeted by a stranger that is staying in one of the top level rooms that have stairs from their patio area into the secluded pool area. The guy is a diver as well, ex-navy, and he tells us about the dives at the resort and other things. I was slightly worried that my 11:30 dive would make me late for my 1:30 duties as a groomsmen to Brian’s nuptials the same day; but again, priorities… The stranger tells us that the dives are pretty quick, and the dive locations are no more than a 10 minute boat trip out from the resort. We’ll be back by 1 at the latest. I don’t get back to my room until 2:30 and I crash out at 3 in the morning.
Oh and the WTF of the night, when I get into my room, apparently the turn down service gave me this:
Really? A towel swan and rose petals? And talking to the other folks that were staying, no one got this special little treatment either… well Brian and Ka Mun did the first night. Gotta love the feeling of getting salt and lemon juice rubbed into open wounds….
Day 2.. the wedding day
I get a call from Benny that wakes my ass up, he says something about the resort dive course and going to the dive at 11:30, I think I answered him semi coherently. I look over at the clock and it is not even 8:30; if he got laid last night, there is no way that he can be up this damn early and with so much energy. Hooray, I almost got 5 and a half hours of sleep. B calls a few minutes later to see about breakfast. I get a knock that forces me out of bed and B comes in to rally me towards breakfast. I’m not much of a breakfast guy, but we go. I meet Natalie and her husband Jonathan, he’s feeling much better than the previous day when he arrived – as he is now speaking and not a sickly green tint. Breakfast is pretty standard, I grabbed an omelette that was cooked to order, and a few other items. My system has been thrown into complete shock, with the travel, odd feeding hours, different food, and lack of fiber. We bump into various folks and when breakfast is done, I head back to then room to get ready for the dive. I get my gear out and set up my camera.
I head over to the scuba shop to learn that I just need to go to the dive boat – which I passed on my way to the scuba shop. I head back and get on board. Standard dive planning was done, Benny was on board, and it is then that I learn about the different groups of divers. The resort trained folks go on a very stringently chaperoned dive while the certified divers go with a single divemaster/instructor. Underwater, I spent most of my time dealing with the new camera set up. Adjusting the flash output, adjusting the white balance, focus, exposure, etc etc. And in the middle of the dive, the battery for the camera died. I had forgotten to charge the batter form the previous night. The dive was fairly shallow, we did a 38 minute dive with a total depth of about 27-30 feet. And the guy form the previous night was there diving too. We get back to shore around 1; so I head over to my room to shower and get ready for the wedding. The pictures I took underwater suck, I was still adjusting exposure and there is also the factor that we were fairly shallow so the visibility was horrible as well.
I get out and I’m dripping sweat, I bring along a towel. The other groomsmen, Shawn and Benny, look at me and ask where my undershirt was… great… I forgot the instructions Ka Mun had left me, I head back to the room and put on an undershirt. It helps as the more I sweat, the more see through the white shirt becomes, So, the undershirt is a great idea. We don’t really do anything other than accompany the target to the minister’s office, and sit there while he get’s a “talking to” from the minister. Heading out, we hit the wedding area, and get ready for the ceremony. Holy hell it is hot. I’m so glad this wasn’t a Catholic wedding, I think I would have completely melted. I stood there in the sun dripping sweat and having mosquitoes nip at my bare pale legs. Yee seems to be doing fine, and no one is dripping as much sweat as I am. I look like I got out of the pool, or was in the middle of the shower. Humidity and heat suck ass. I think Ka Mun cried as much as I sweated during the ceremony. Heh, the sudden weight and acknowledgment on the gravity of the situation comes flooding in, and nothing but tears are the output. After all, she is marrying Brian.
With the ceremony complete, we walk over to the reception area for some cake and champagne. Brian hands me his marriage certificate to put into a safe place. Heh, how cute, that he trusts me with that little piece of paper.
Benny and Yee are surprised that they are required to give a little speech, and sorta freak out. But they do a nice job. More jabs are thrown between Shawn, B’s Dad, and Lisa; as again, we’re sitting at the same table. While here, I get a chance to talk more with bridesmaid Charlie. It’s fun to watch Yee wipe back sweat from her. More jabs between Lisa, Dad, and me. Overheard. As Shawn openly wonders.. “Why is Yee’s head so friggin big…” We then get up for pictures. B tells me to grab a bottle of water for him. He’s being quiet. The stress and exhaustion has probably started wear him down; I do not have his patience. More pictures are taken. It’s a huge gaggle of Asians on holiday, I was actually surprised at the limited number of cameras around. And when the next group to use the area shows up, we quickly get everyone off and I head to the room to change into appropriate swim attire so as to cool off by the quickest means.
Then we just start goofing off with some of the pictures. I tried to sneak in a shot of Yee wiping the back sweat off Binh, hence the really crappy picture; in hindsight, she should have helped wipe off the clown makeup. Shawn and I were quite entertained, however; I mean, only pure comedy can result from a young lady wiping the back sweat off Bozo the Gook. Then with the next picture, I just knew there was a source for where I get my attraction to Brian…
Having left the reception area and already changed, I run into Ka Mun and some of the girls by the beach, and they are still taking pictures, poor Derick. Benny looks upon Shawn and I who have already changed out of the groomsmen clothes into proper swim attire, and he wonders why the hell he’s still dressed up. Discussions about who needs to be present during the Tea Ceremony decides that the groomsmen and bridesmaids don’t need to be there; only immediate family. So we make plans with charlie and everyone else to meet up at the main pool. While in the pool, Shawn and I grab a drink. The rather interesting thing about all the bars at the resort is that there is a lingering smell of old vomit. At the pool bar, at the piano bar, etc etc.. they all have the same odor of stale puke… as if fresh puke would be any better. No less than 20 minutes into being in the pool, we are kicked out as their scheduled cleaning session is upon us, and the pool area is closed for half an hour. We decided to pack up and head over to the pool by the piano bar.
I ended up just heading over to B’s room to hang out in the nice air conditioning. We tell the folks there that Shawn and I got kicked out of the pool area; but allude to the idea that one of us did something to result in kicking us out. Having someone else come in say that they’re cleaning the pool only further reinforces our little ruse of a story. B’s in there watching episode 3 of 0083. What does one do between the time from saying the marriage vows and the tea ceremony (which in normal cases, the order should be reversed, but there is a schedule to adhere to and conflicts arose to screw with things); watch anime of course! I climb into bed and watch along with Brian; just like old times, things will never change…. Even he is fooled about the story about getting kicked out…. that or he just knows Shawn and I very well and wouldn’t put it past us to do something so heinous as to result in our forced removal from the premises and immediate cleansing of the area. Ka Mun gets ready for the Tea Ceremony. Shawn heads over to the pool to meet up with everyone that we had told we were going to be found. I decide to enjoy the air conditioning and attend the Tea Ceremony. My choice of attire however, isn’t quite appropriate; but at least it made Ka Mun’s grandmother laugh hysterically.
The two families showed up, Derick with his cameras, Yee was there, Binh was there, both helping Ka Mun. And I was standing around watching, in my green towel “grass” skirt. Teas were served, red envelopes were passed out, B’s dad was making jokes at me and I was riposting and making general comments to add even more humor the the happy event. And with that, the tradition was complete. Having the ceremony at the resort didn’t afford some of the traditions such as going out to the brides home to fetch the bride, and having the groom go through the validation “tests”, completing half the ceremony, and then heading over to the groom’s family to complete the ceremony on her side; but alas, the resort removed the need for such redundancy. I’m glad I hung out for it. It is a different experience from that with Jason’s wedding. Only one side of that family required the Tea Ceremony, and both sides were Chinese. It is an old fashioned tradition, but good to see it kept alive still.
With the ceremony done, we headed for one of the restaurants on the resort for dinner. B and Ka Mun have a set “romantic” one on one dinner there, so the plan was to just crash it with the majority of the group. Showing up, at the restaurant where all the tables were set for two, and maybe one or two table big enough to accommodate more; I believe the maître d’ was annoyed. The group converged on the place at different times, so they ended up setting up a 10 person table and then a separate 6 person table. Ka Mun’s parents and grandmother, along with Yee, Benny, Derick, Ka Mun’s cousins and Brian’s grandparents sat at the 10 person table. The six person table was filled with B’s mother and father, Shawn, Lisa, Lisa’s friend form Switzerland, Freddy; and me. As par for the course, much merriment was had at the expense of Lisa. B’s dad and I threw jabs that got more and more racial and blue as the alcohol flowed. WTF, we started telling Hitler jokes. B’s mom can only shake her head. I see the dynamics and love in this family. Simply amazing. I am not a jealous person, but I am jealous of such family dynamics and love amongst the parents and siblings. B’s dad now calls me Hop-Sing for which I now call him Mr. Hoss. No one at the table gets the joke, they are all to young to understand it, hell, I’m too damn young to understand it. Dinner was a good time, and I adopt B’s family as my own – for which I am openly accepted; I broached it as a joke, but they seem to receive it as a statement. I tell Brian that I have replaced him as the eldest sibling, Lisa referred to me as blood… I can’t believe I’m getting a warm and fuzzy from all this, note to self, blame B.
Dinner ends for us, but only begins for the three V-musketeers, as they get their table and start dinner. Derick hangs out, and I pull up a chair to join them. I get cautious looks as they seem to look upon me as an evil entity that needs special ward; defenses are mounted before I even open my mouth. The group discusses the evening’s events. Brian and Ka Mun are a few tables away enjoying their dinner. We make note that everyone will be meeting up at the main pool around 9:30; so after trading a few more strafing rounds with the charlie encampment, Derick and I retreat, as the nva are fairly well rooted.
I return to my room to rest, set up my gear for tomorrow, charge the battery, and offload some pictures to the computer. 9:30 rolls around quickly, and I head over to the main pool. The whole group is there. Most of the folks are in the water and they’re all playing some game about monkeys. There is what I can only guess as a hacky sack sized bean bag thrown around between two groups of people. This is keep away with uneven teams. I jump in and join the fun. Monkeys are Jonathan, Brian, Lisa, and Benny. Benny has the ball, and I ask for him to pass it to me, and he does. Heh, monkeys lose the sack. As with any game B and I are involved with, it gets physical. There is physical tackles, physical blocks, grappling, full-on wrestling moves… all to get the sack away or deter it from its intended target. During the game, B tells me, “you know this game isn’t supposed to get physical”; yeah, this coming from the guy that started physical contact. The game starts loosing monkeys one by one and it gets mundane, so we start up our game of battleship we created the night before. B’s in, I’m in, Benny gets on, and Binh plays. We are immature teenagers all over again. Highlight of the evening is watching Linh get on her floating raft. To the amazement of B, me and Binh, Linh’s technique for propping herself up on the raft was probably the sexiest yet funniest thing I saw all week. Even while the trio of us were laughing and staring transfixed by the amazing gymnastic abilities to wiggle one’s butt in so many different positions and movements, she continued, completely oblivious to why we were laughing and ogling; oh how I wished I had my camera….
As the night wore on, some of the older folks retired to their rooms; and one by one we got up to leave. I handed over the card and airbrush to Brian as his wedding gift, and as a small group we headed back to our rooms. On our way we saw a crab walking along the path. Being so close to the beach, seeing crabs wander at night isn’t a particularly strange occurrence. But it did work to fuel comments about who’s dirty body did these crabs come from… I get back; shower and catch some tv before I pass out from exhaustion.
Day 3 Finally, I get to do some real SCUBA
I woke up around 8 and headed over to the buffet for a quick breakfast. Linh, Jonathan, Natalie, and a few others are eating, so I join them. Brian has already started his PADI Open Water certification, so he isn’t around. I finished breakfast, headed to my room to get my gear and headed for the dive boat. The morning dive had 5 divers and the resort scuba staff. We got and dropped to about 50 feet. At this time, I was able to adjust my camera settings and I was satisfied with the pictures I took. We saw a puffer fish, jellies, a nurse shark, I’m too used to my steel tank, I should be able to dive much longer, but I am an air hog so the length of the dive was pretty much determined by me. We dove for about 35 minutes or so. I was able to grab a good number of pictures.
Getting back to shore, I return to my room to charge the battery. It was only a half hour charge, but it is better than having the camera fail me when I’m in the middle of a dive. Getting some fluids into my system, and getting a short half hour charge, I head back out to the dive boat. Benny is here for his second dive, and B is there with his dive instructor. A few more of the certified divers show and we head out. We hit a depth of about 42 feet, and see another nurse shark. Plenty of lobsters are lounging around just outside their cave homes. I take more pictures of the various sponge formations and various fish. I’m starting to get more adjusted to my camera setup. I look forward to using the setup on my future dives. Again, the dive is centered on my tank oxygen level, and we do a 36 minute dive. We pop up onto the surface and the boat comes to get us. This is a new experience for me. I’m used to remembering where the boat was moored and having to navigate back to it. This affords a whole new world of freedom with the dive since we don’t have to worry about conserving air for a return swim. The boat comes and picks us up. Back on board, Benny tells of a poor scuba experience, inability to equalize, mask seal problems, swallowing sea water, and nausea, which pretty much killed the activity for him. Brian comes up and says he had a great time and is looking forward to tomorrow’s dives. Talking with the instructor, he says that I can tag along with them on their dives the next day.
Fish, another shark, and phishie:
Getting to shore, B and I return to our respective rooms to gear down, change and come back out to eat lunch. Everyone is already eating. My system isn’t normal, so I’ve acquiesced to sticking with 90% vegetable and fruits and 10% meat. Damn Brian and this trip for turning me towards vegetarianism. The plan for the day after lunch was snorkeling. Quickly finishing my meal, I return to my room for my fins, mask, gloves, and boots. The crew of the snorkeling ship are entertaining. A few of folks I went diving with are on the trip as well. We hit the water and start swimming and looking at stuff. We are at a very shallow reef with the bottom no more than 13 feet at the deepest. We hit some areas that were less than 2 feet. Derick became tired and ended up hanging on to Binh and Linh. I grabbed him and swam while he rested. He had gotten some salt water down and was having trouble adjusting with the waves and trying to keep up with the group so he quickly over exerted himself. Funny how my scuba training comes into play while snorkeling. After scuba, I cannot see my self enjoying snorkeling. It is the company that you keep that makes any boorish excursion fun. So regardless of my distaste for snorkeling, I had fun.
Back on shore, we break off, but make plans to meet up at the secluded pool. Derick and I head over, Natalie and Jonathan head there with Linh. Thao and Binh show up later. It is altogether funny to watch people completely put off by the loudness and crassness that is Jonathan. I slip quietly into the water and just relax and watch couples and groups of people get up and leave. The number of people leaving cannot possibly be a coincidence. I get on a floating raft, and I’m quickly capsized by Thao and Binh; and then they steal the raft for themselves. Its like they learned to tunnel in water; never turn your back on sneaky Charlie. And since Jonathan pretty much scared everyone away, the group hit the hot tub. I’m too used to hot tubbing in freezing weathering (ski trip) so being in a hot tub in hot weather didn’t suit me much. I left the bowl of bubbling Pho and hopped into the regular pool; I enjoyed the cool water and rain that fell. Darkness and lightening ended our session at the sacred swimming hole, and we headed over to the game room. Linh and Derick start to play ping pong as the little paddles and light white ball seems to be a natural magnet for little Asians. Binh and I shoot pool. I have always enjoyed playing pool with women; a long time ago, my old roommate from college at UCSD told me that the sexiest thing in the world is a woman playing pool. No arguments here. Shooting pool also affords all sorts of fun little innuendos. Overheard. Binh tells me that, and I quote, “I can put it in if I wanted to…” Shawn joins us and we play cutthroat. And as quickly as we start, the game turns to a two on one, with me being the target of their wrath. Apparently my pitiful skills in shooting pool are enough to warrant the idea that I am the biggest threat in the game. The game is fun regardless; because they just suck. We play a few more rounds and it is time to get ready for dinner. Shawn request to take a shot, and Binh says she’ll take one with him, and even as I wanted to take off, I cannot resist doing shots with a group of friends. We pop down a chocolate cake first, and soon, B’s dad shows up as well as Derick who was just wandering aimlessly around for some odd reason. We grab a few Kamikazes and pop those. When we left; we walked by B and Ka Mun’s room, Binh and I notice that the curtains are shut and there is a do not disturb sign. This only piques my interest and I head towards the bungalow room to have a peak, Binh quickly pulls me away. I find out later that Brian was just in there watching the PADI Certification DVD while Ka Mun was napping. Binh was right to pull me away, I would have perfered my imagination over the boring reality.
We have reservations for dinner at 8 and it was about 6:30 when I got back to the room. I shower and rest so that I no longer sweat gallons of liquid. B and I had already planned out that we were going to dress up this night the previous Wednesday evening while we were packing and talking through ooVoo. So making sure that I don’t sweat balls, I take my time and watch tv in between adorning the various articles of clothing. 7:45 rolls around and I head out to B’s room. I knock and Ka Mun is surprised to see the full suit and tie. Brian puts on his tie. Derick shows up around 8 telling us that there is no reservations for us. Derick then looks at me and B and asks where the dress up memo for him went. We walk over to the teppanyaki restaurant and get interesting reactions from the group that will be eating with us. Apparently they didn’t get the memo either. On a separate note, there was a problem in communication and the restaurant did not get the reservation. As a backup, Jonathan put his name down for the 9:00 table. So as much as I would like the call the guy a complete douchbag(the politically correct term is “socially awkward”) out in public, he is a really nice guy and completely saved our dinner that night. Since our dinner was now an hour later and we are set there, we head back to B’s room and hang out. I make some Gin and Ginger Ale for Shawn, Brian, and those cookie basket bomb bearing Charlie. We sit around making fun of each other and the hour quickly passes. We head back and have dinner.
Having had teppanyaki several times, it is interesting to be having such a meal with Jamaican chefs. I think I annoyed our chef. He didn’t have the same charisma as that of the other chef. Playing to the likes of Brian and I; he isn’t able to keep up and can only shake his head at our comments; utterly speechless. Dinner was decent, on par with most Benihana’s where instead of a Mexican chef, we had a Jamaican chef. We start up the Ok hand gesture game, Shawn and Binh quickly join – they suck at this game.
Leaving dinner, we had to the little dance/piano bar to find the rest of Ka Mun’s family. They are surprised at how Brian and I are dressed. After making a short appearance, B and I went back to change into more comfortable clothing. Returning, I find out that the girls took a “girls” shot. I get Binh to order up another 7 shots of something that was similar to a buttery nipple for all of us. (Ugh, I really abhor the smell of the bar area.) We get our drinks and pop our shots. Time to dance. Brian tired from the days events dances for a short period of time. We even get Ka Mun’s parents out on the dance floor. And for a brief few seconds, I had Benny and Yee out there too. Derick set up some shots and kept taking pictures. Eventually, they got him to drop his camera and put him out on the dance floor to actually dance. The dancing winds down and Brian and Ka Mun head back to their room, we have to dive in the morning. I head back to my room and change out of my sweaty clothes. The rain cooled things down significantly so it was quite nice outside, so I went for a little walk to enjoy the quite atmosphere. Alone now, I get to reflect on how different things would have been if I had brought someone along. Wandering around aimlessly, I get back to the game room area and the girls, Derick, and Shawn are still around, so I join them. We hang out chatting for a bit, and not long after, Thao leaves for her room. Linh says she’s a night owl and wants to hang out, so Binh goes off to the room to grab the key from Thao so that she doesn’t have to wake her if she stays out too late. Linh and Derick then start back up on ping pong. Confused with all the names yet? See, I knew it was just easier to refer to them as gooks. Shawn and I try starting up a game of 8-ball, but after the break, neither of us is able to sink the first ball after 4 rounds of an open table, I give up and head to the bar. The room is cleared, and the bar keeps are cleaning up. I ask the guy if I can play with the piano, and he says “go ahed mon”.
Heading over to the piano, I crack the sucker open and start trying to play some of the songs I had memorized oh so many years ago. It has been too long since I last remember playing. I can barely remember anything. But I quietly hammer away trying to figure some of my favorite songs. Binh returns and eventually, Linh and her head over to the piano. Did I mention that I loved fishing? Derick laughs as he sees this happening. I point at Derick and just knew he can play, or that he used to play. As I fiddle around, Binh starts to fiddle around, the ubiquitous heart and soul is played. All of us trying to remember bits and pieces of music from 10-15 years prior. Mosquitoes are feeding off my feet, ankles, and lower legs; so I have to leave the area, Shawn, Binh, and I start up cutthroat again. Derick is diligently hanging out at the piano softly hitting notes trying to clear the cobwebs around the memories of music long ago forgotten. I think I won one game of cutthroat from all the games we played. Derick joined, and so then we were playing it four ways. The game now turned into a everyone verses me. Binh passed on easier shots just to set the next player up to pocket one of my balls. All in good fun. The last game was a rough one, we were all getting tired and the ability to see straight and calculate angles was completely gone. It was a miracle that we finished the damn thing. I got back to the room at 4:30 in the morning, and after a shower and change, crashed out at about 5. Oh yeah, I need to get up to dive in about 3 hours. I blame Charlie for keeping me up.
Day 4 Diving off the charts
The alarm sets off at 8, and I get up for a quick fruit filled breakfast. I take my gear out and put everything on the boat and head back for breakfast. Brian is there and we eat with me regaling stories about the previous night, that the group of us had ended a mere 3 hours ago. Quickly finishing the food, we head to the dive boat. There are 6 of us on the boat, the boat captain, B’s instructor, Josh the resort staff diver, the Canadian Scotsman, B and me. I let Josh know that I will be diving with Brian and his instructor. It is always good to be well rested prior to diving. The consequences of my choices from the previous night were immediately apparent right when I got into the water… as I forgot to hook my camera to my BC and dropped the damn thing. Josh calls over asking if I dropped it, and I look down to see it. He heads down to get it as I tell B’s instructor that I’ll head down to grab it. I meet Josh half way and get my camera and hook it up. Something as simple as hooking a latch can do some serious damage. Dumb ass divers are dead ass divers. Well, I catch up with B and the instructor and they head down so I follow. I just hang out and snap shots of B and the surroundings. They get done with their skills and we head off to enjoy the dive. We hit 72 feet. The instructor is looking for sharks in all the normal sleeping spots but finds none. We run into a gigantic ray nibbling on the outside of a cage, trying to get the coconuts in fishing traps. I miss the opportunity to snap a picture as the instructor scared it off when he used his underwater whistle to call B’s attention. We run down to 1k lbs of air and he tells us to head up. We pop up on the surface and the boat comes to pick us up.
Brian in training:
The instructor tells B and I to quickly swap out tanks. Cool, we’re going on a second dive. We get done in about 10 minutes and head back into the water. Brian and the instructor get in first, but the boat drifts. The captain tells me to hang out so he can back the boat over to B and crew, I tell him no and just jump in, I’m used to swimming and this pampering will only work to spoil me. I kick out to B in less than a minute. We drop down, on with the dive. They bait the traps with coconuts, and in the last picture of the below set, I snapped a shot of the cage that the huge ray snuggled up against trying to get at the coconuts.
Sponges here is amazing…
There isn’t anything eventful in this dive, We saw a sea turtle, but it was too far and swimming away before I could get a shot off. No nurse sharks on this dive either. But we did see some lobsters. Brian points at a few things he wants me to capture in pictures. We head back up and the other dive team is already on board and stripped down. When we get back to shore, Ka Mun and crew are in the water, so Brian and I wade over and join them. The water is altogether too murky for decent picture, but I snap a few anyways. In short order, the next dive group is ready to head out and B and I head back towards the boat.
The dive group is tiny. There are two non-certified divers. One is actually certified but didn’t bring her C-card. Brian is done with his dive skills and all he has left is the book work, so he’s diving with us as a certified diver. And then there is the Scotsman. Josh feels that we can handle a deeper dive for some interesting things, so we head over to a wreck of a Cessna. We head down and the resort divers have to head down with the rope while the rest of us do a free descent. The wreck is cool, I have never seen a wreck on a dive before, so I take a few snaps. We try searching for some sharks, but find none. Brian saw one swimming along the bottom in the distance, but it wandered off out of our visibility. One of the non-certified divers ran out of air, so Josh took him up and had the boat pick him up. We continued the dive without him. We did a few swim throughs, I saw another large puffer fish, and a gigantic lobster. It was another good dive and we hit a max depth of 56ft. Heading back to shore, Brian went to return his fins and I went to unload my gear and come back out for lunch. I soaked my gear and set it up to dry as this was my last dive before I leave the following day. Certified divers only get two dives per day, we got lucky and had three today.
I catch Ka Mun and Linh finishing lunch and join them with my lunch of fruits and veggies. Brian catches up and joins Benny and Yee’s table. I show my pictures to Ka Mun and Linh. Ka Mun and Linh left to do other things, and Brian and I sat and hung out. Mr. Hoss comes by and we end up hanging for another hour or two just chatting. This is what family is all about. After this, B and I head back to his room so he can finish the rest of the videos. I’m sitting there and start to drift to sleep because I’m utterly exhausted. We get up and take a walk over to the scuba shop to get our diver logs signed. All we get are stupid stamps. No big deal, so long as they’re signed. Brian continues to watch the video and I hang out for a while, before I head out to grab a few things from the gift shop. Returning to the place, everyone gets ready for dinner.
Ka Mun heads another group over to the Teppanyaki place, while Benny, Yee, Shawn, Derick, Brian and I hit another restaurant. This was probably one of the better dinners. I did like the Italian dinner we had on the wedding night, and the dinner this night at the Sundowner was a close second. After dinner, the nerd talk started up and all we got from Yee was a deer in the headlights response. We went over to see if the steel drummers were preforming, but they had just ended. Instead there was a balancing act whom also did fire play up on stage preforming. We hung out and watched for a short while before heading back to Brian’s room so that I can teach him about calculating pressure groups, residual nitrogen time, absolute bottom time, total bottom time, resulting pressure group, etc. The stuff isn’t really explained in the book too well, so hopefully my help will suffice. After a bit of hanging out, I head back to my room to pack my stuff.
I believe it took me about an hour and a half to finish packing. I headed out again with swim trunks and a shirt. Ka Mun and wanted to dance. Linh and Derick were back at ping pong. After grabbing an amaretto sour, Brian and I head to the secluded pool to hang out and chat. Brian and I tend to get philosophical around the end of a trip as we reflect on things, and stuff happening in life. It’s mostly me talking and Brian interjecting stuff here and there. Damn, I really talk too damn much. But we hung out until about 1 when the liquids require purging, and we didn’t feel like purging and warming up the nice pool.
Day 5, the trip home
I woke up and checked out at 8. I headed over the dining hall and ran into the Dunavant clan. Ka Mun’s family showed up not too long after. When Brian showed up, we went to get food, as Brian had a dive and I was leaving at 9. Lisa came over and gave me a hug good bye. I chatted with Ka Mun and her parents shortly before one of the hotel staffers came to find me and tell me that the shuttle was leaving. I said my good byes to the Dunavant clan and B’s mom sorta yelled at me for not giving her a hug goodbye. “come here and give mom a good-bye hug!” I am truly lucky to have so many friends with such wonderful families that readily accept me into their hearts.
My luggage was the last on the van, and they were waiting on me. The ride out was absolutely quite; but there was no break stop, and the driver was considerably more aggressive than our driver to Negril. We got to the airport in short order. Checking in, my bag that was 49 lbs on the way here, was now 54 lbs. Over the weight limit. I paid the fee and just moved on. Getting to the terminal, I head to the duty free shop and pick up a few bottles of Jamaican cream rum. The damn things at the resort were 7 bucks for a tiny bottle, and I was able to pick up the largest bottle for 15 bucks. I grab a jerk pork platter form the airport deli and finish it before boarding the plane. Bye bye Jamaica…
Ok, with the sappy shit out of the way, commentary time. Granted I was a little wary about the whole trip because I was going to be there alone. None of Brian’s other friends I have met came out such as Nick, Justice, Carey, etc etc, so I was a little apprehensive about going and being bored out of my mind – hence the focus on SCUBA. Ka Mun’s family is great, the Dunavants are absolutely great, and I think I made some pretty cool new friends with some of Ka Mun’s rather conservative friends. Jonathan was definitely “the one”. Every trip like this with a pack of friends and not everyone knowing each other invariably has one of those “that guy” situations. There is at least one on every ski trip. It’s not to say they are a bad person, it just that cohesiveness and the ability to mesh isn’t quite there. I’m still recovering from the trip so as thing settle down, I’m sure I’ll have more to say, I talk too much to begin with anyways…
There were times when I felt rather single since the resort is a couples resort, but in the grand scheme of the entire event, such feelings didn’t linger much. I was either too exhausted, or I was busy hanging out with Shawn, Derick, Brian, Charlie, and the two families. I had an incredible time and I wouldn’t have changed a damn thing. Thanks to Brian and Ka Mun for inviting me out and congrats on their union.