Sunday, June 26, 2011

the digs

So, as promised, the accommodations.  The accommodations here...are pretty sweet.

There are four other villas here which vary in size--some can accomodate up to 12 guests, which seems like it would be fun for large or multi-family groups--but as we are terrible introverts with no friends apart from our two kids (how much you think we're kidding basically depends on how well you know us), we elected to book Cottonwood Cottage, which is a two bedroom lodging with its own small pool, right above Bluefields Beach.

Kids don't really care about the view, but there's a killer view out every window, and it's just a few short flights of steps down in order to see that view up close and personal.  It's a public beach, but it's incredible how private it feels when you're down there.  I think there was one other family down there this morning, but they left mid-morning for their flight back to the States, and after they vacated, we were the only ones down there.

Kids also don't care about the furniture and stuff like that (and to be perfectly frank, neither do I, really) but even a philistine such as myself could appreciate the attention to local historical detail and the interesting architectural flourishes, like the hexagonal-shaped rooms to maximize ocean cross-breezes, and the high wood vaulted ceilings.  It's pretty neat, honestly.

To be totally, totally honest, here were the things I really cared about infrastructure-wise before I came here.  First, was there wireless internet?  (Yes.)  Two, was there air-conditioning?  (Yes, but you're not spending that much time indoors, so who cares.)

Which brings me to the main point that I love about this place, which is that everything is incredibly convenient.  Want to go to the beach?  Walk down the stairs.  Want to go to the pool?  Walk across the front yard.  Want to eat?  Turn around and there's someone trying to shove food and drinks directly down into your gullet, though in the most charming local way.  Guys, I ate breadfruit chips today!  I thought they were saying "grapefruit chips," and was silently puzzling, 1.) how they could possibly chip and fry a grapefruit, and also 2.) why the grapefruits on this island tasted like potatoes.  The chef, so friendly, and probably sensing my confusion through supernatural means, ran straight out of the kitchen and put this in my hands, proceeding to tell me about at least five local breadfruit dishes and how they are prepared.  Like I said: absolutely charming.

I am taking a lot of pictures (obviously), and the ones from my iPhone I'm loading up to my Flickr account as I go, because, to be honest, there are a lot of pictures.  You can follow along here, I will add new pictures day by day as we go so I don't have, like, fifty skrillion photos to upload all at once when we get home.  Here are some of my favorites from today, but check out the full set if you have some time to kill, you can never see too many pictures of my family in various stages of aquatic submersion.

Next, we're going to talk about the food. FOOD. Mack has some opinions, and he'll share those with you tomorrow.


  1. pics are beautiful. the place is fab,but the expressions on mac (i hope i guesses right) are priceless. Those faces remind me of an old man..too cute...i hope the rain stays away and you have a wonderful time and get some color gurl....

  2. Looks wonderful! How does one land a sweet blogging vacation like that? ;)

  3. Anthony11:35 PM


    Check Publix and see if they have a Caribbean/Jamaican section in your local store. All the Publix in FL have Ting.

  4. Anthony11:44 PM

    What did they serve the breadfruit with? I know its classically served with either ackee and saltfish, liver, or mackerel rundown.

  5. Anonymous12:19 AM

    this is amazing
    how did you get this place ???

  6. Anonymous12:32 AM

    Love the pictures, and I think Mack is so adorable!! Hope you have a great vacation!

  7. Anonymous8:36 AM

    She got this place by paying for it, I'm sure. According to the website, those cottages go for like $4000 a week. And while I certainly value a good vacation and do not begrudge anyone the right to take one and blog about it, I would caution you, Michelle, against making statements about the financial woes of physicians and then advertising your very expensive vacation on your blog. The thing is, it makes us all (as physicians) look bad. You can't say that we are stretched to our limits financially when you're dropping coin like this on a vacation. By all means, take the vacation- but stop whining about your financial situation in the meantime.

  8. Wow bitter much?

    I was guessing she was getting compensated for blogging about the resort.... but I was curious mostly because I would TOTALLY blog about a resort in order to get a discount and wanted to know how to get on that gravy train!


    It looks A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I love how the pool almost looks like its part of the ocean. And you can almost feel the ocean breeze from looking at those photographs of your villa. Have a great time. You deserve it!

  9. Anonymous11:05 AM

    everybody deserves a holiday, and I am sure both Michelle and Joe toiled through numerous oncalls and worked endless weekends for their hard-earned money so let them enjoy it with the boys :)

  10. Anonymous11:14 AM

    Glad you're having so much fun. Looks like a fabulous place. I don't begrudge you your vacation in any way. I would like to know though - in the interest of full disclosure, if you're receiving any discount or other compensation by advertising the resort on your blog. It's not entirely clear - or I missed an explanation somewhere.

  11. Anonymous4:40 PM

    I'm yet another annonymous, but I understand where the first one is coming from. I don't agree, however, that it makes us docs look bad. What I have noticed in the blog is that although Michelle and Joe are in 2 of the highest paid specialties, she freqently comments about cost restrictions on things. This seems disingenuous at best. I've been wanting to tell you for some time: You worked damn hard for this. Enjoy the fruits of your labors. Don't apologize for finally making it and having money. No reasonable person would begrudge you this after all the sacrifices you've both made to get where you are.

  12. Anonymous5:23 PM

    I'm not really anonymous, I just don't have my own blog to comment from/to etc. My name is Laura.
    I recently stayed at Bluefields and it was the best vacation I've ever taken. For those of you balking at the price, it might seem like a lot but it's totally private and totally inclusive. No line ups, no buffets, no stinky bus tours, no pools that close at 9pm, no sweaty fat man snoring 3 feet away from you while you suntan by the pool... and the staff are your friends by the end of the week. Totally worth every penny.
    I love your blog... I'm reliving my vacation with every word. I'm glad you are blogging from there. Good idea Bluefields!

  13. I sort of understand where the anons are coming from, but I disagree, too. I think you can be highly paid and still comment - legitimately - about how much certain things cost and consider those costs as restrictions. This may or may not apply to Michelle, but if you've been raised by frugal parents (who made no bones about it), it's often difficult not to see spending a lot of money on certain things as something you *just don't do* or to feel a sense of frugal restraint, whether you need to or not. (I consider this attitude a very good thing.)

    Clearly, this nice vacation doesn't fall into that category for Michelle. Like others have said, there's no reason for her to apologize for that or justify it to anyone. Because she has worked hard for it. But I don't think the fact that she and Joe earn a lot (much of which I'm sure is going directly to student loans) makes them ineligible to mention cost restrictions in other areas.

    This looks like a wonderful vacation. Enjoy, you guys!

  14. Chris9:58 PM

    You anonymous guys are crazy.

    She said she has been planning this trip for 9 months. $4000 for a week does not seem unreasonable for a family of 4 who plans that far ahead. I personally know families spending in the $2000-5000 range for vacations that have a net income FAR less than the earning potential of Joe and Michelle.

    Sometimes people need to leave their opinions to themselves.

  15. Anonymous1:05 PM

    I don't think the first anonymous was being bitter or crazy. As a physician who has put herself very much in the public eye recently, and who has also (on Facebook and other places) engaged in very public discussion about how doctors are not financially as secure as the general public thinks, Michelle has a duty to be a bit more honest about how she's paying for this vacation than she initially was.

    I take vacations as expensive or more expensive than this on the regular, so I don't begrudge anybody the right to do so. However, I don't make any claims to be financially strapped or struggling or even really "on a budget." Cause I'm not. Nobody who can take a vacation that costs this much is, unless they are very, very poor money managers (which Michelle might be, but I'm not sure that's a step up...)

  16. Anonymous9:53 PM

    Agree with Zinemama. Are Michelle and Joe not allowed to lament the cost of gas because they can afford it? Maybe they can afford this vacation because they scrimp in other areas e.g., packing instead of buying lunch. I mean gosh, in order to amass savings for specific goals (e.g. a nice vacation) one has to be "on a budget" no matter what one earns. I don't think Michelle has ever said that she is financially struggling. It is my impression that she tries to live within her means, and is at the same time trying to educate the general public that the reality of her "means" does not match the general assumption that all doctors have a lot, and I mean a LOT, of money.

  17. Pedimom2:12 AM

    Well, "financial security" in the spectrum of the medical profession is all relative. I am a pediatrician married to a family practice doc. Like Michelle and Joe, we both graduated from Columbia as well, with a lot of debt. Are we making more than the median American salary? You betcha. Are we rolling in money? Not worried about student loans, rent payments, child care expenses, etc.? Of course not. But let's not kid ourselves here...we are nowhere close to what Michelle and Joe are making, and we could never afford the huge house + nanny/preschool + exclusive expensive vacation resort.

    So there's "pediatrician/family practice financial security" and then there's "anesthesiologist/ophtho financial security." There is obviously a big difference, and I've become even more cognizant of it since Michelle has started blogging in other forums about physician salaries and lifestyles and now she is blogging about her nice vacation. For me, it's easier to relate to Michelle's work and parenting trials and tribulations (which is why I visit this blog) than it is to relate to her financial worries. Part of me can understand why the general public is unsympathetic to the financial plight of the subspecialist physician. At times like this, I have to agree.