Tuesday, June 28, 2011

out and about

Our first full day here, we basically let the kids run the beach-pool-beach circuit to their heart's content, and the fact of it is that if that's all that we did during our week here, they'd be perfectly happy.  But starting on Monday, Joe and I wanted everyone to try one new activity per day.  Because new activities are fun, and, to be honest, our kids aren't exactly known for their easy acceptance of new things.

Our first activity was snorkeling.  A local guy with a boat (his name was Herman) picked us up at our beach, rocketed us twenty minutes along the coastline to a coral reef, where there were a billion pelicans just sort of hanging around, waiting for fish to jump into their mouths like Nigel in "Finding Nemo."

It was...not a total success.  Cal has gotten fairly proficient with the snorkel in the pool, but something about the combination of having to drop out of a boat and having some slightly choppy seas kind of freaked him.  So he came back in the boat after about five minutes.

Joe gamely pushed on for about ten minutes after that, but then he started getting claustrophobic (truth be told, he's not the world's best swimmer) and the rest of us in the boat were getting fried in the sun, so we headed back right after that.  Yes, we are lame, but even for me, who didn't end up getting to snorkel at all (Mack wouldn't let me out of the boat), the jaunt along the coastline and the view alone was worth the trip.

Today we took a day trip to see some crocodiles on the Black River, and visited a local waterfall formation known as YS Falls.  Part of what Bluefields does for these trips is provide a van and a driver, arrange a local guide for the falls, and pack a full picnic lunch to eat there.  (We had fried chicken, fresh banana bread and vegatable curry--so, you know, not a stack of PB&J, though I would have gladly eaten that too.)  It was really fun.  All the local interest without any of the attendant logistical stress.  Really lovely.

This was a side trip that we consider going on just with Cal, because it was a little of a drive to get to both these locations, and we just weren't really sure whether or not Mack would have more fun hiking to a waterfall versus staying at the pool for the day, bobbing in his life vest like a cork.  (Apparently it's much more fun than it sounds.)  Every cottage at Bluefields is very fully staffed, which includes a full childcare, in any permutation that you might need it (stay with one kid while you take the other kid out to do something special, stay with all your kids while the adults go get potted at learn fascinating trivia about distillation at the Rum Factory, sit in the house while the babies are sleeping so that you and your spouse can have a nice candlelight dinner on the beach, what have you).  However, ever since Mack started preschool three days a week he has had the worst separation anxiety, and given that we were on a family vacation, I just couldn't stand to get him all worked up.  We were here to be together, after all.  So we brought him along.

Anyway, it turns out my concerns, much like my pre-trip concerns about the weather, were misguided.  Mack napped in the van on the way there and the way back, and he loved seeing the crocodiles, loved boating down the river, went apeshit about swimming near the waterfall.  It was really special.

(I will admit that there was one part during our waterfall excursion where Mack got a little bit of water in his mouth and I leapt towards him in slow motion, shouting, "Nooooo....GIARDIASIS!"  But that aside, I was able to pretend that I had not gone to medical school and was, in fact, a normal human.)

Anyway, the activity level of this vacation has so far been just right.  There's enough to do outside of the villas that you could actually be programmed up to the gills every single day for the week that you're here, but no one is Cruise Directing you, telling you via bullhorn that you should be participating in karaoke up on the Neptune Deck.  It's just very self-directed and whatever you want to make of it.  If you want to take a day trip or two (or five), poof, it's arranged, and there's the driver outside your door with a wicker basket of food and a cooler of drinks the following morning.  Or, you could spend the whole week lying on the beach and by the pool, doing your best impression of a sea sponge--and that's totally OK too.  As the staff here has told us repeatedly, "No problem mon, it's your vacation."

Which leads me to the topic for the next entry: the staff.  Which is a fact that, to be totally honest, I felt kind of weird about before we came here, because, what do you mean there's a staff for each house?  What if we're used to taking care of ourselves?  We're not demanding, we don't need stuff.  We don't want people to be waiting on us.  So are they just going to stand there, like, looking at us?  It's going to be weird, right?  Totally weird.

Short answer: yes, it's a tiny bit weird, but it also stops being weird after, like, 20 minutes.  And then you realize that it is AWESOME.  We'll talk about it tomorrow.


  1. christine10:16 PM

    I'm starting to think that a trip to Jamaica may be in order soon :) And I love your blogging from the trip! Even if you weren't doing the blogging deal and had done a giant mega-post next week, we'd all be clamoring to know where you had gone anyway.

  2. Anonymous10:26 PM

    Damn Michelle... I work out almost every day, have never had kids and my abs still dont look like that! sigh..
    Love the vacation blog, will be looking into Bluefields for next vaca! Weather looks fab!
    Much envy, Julia

  3. Is Joe related to the late Shamu, by any chance? Or does your pool come with a diving board? Your tumblr Airborne series isn't exaggerating about being airborne!

    I love all the pictures you take and am hoping Bluefields will still be around in 20 or so years.... :P

  4. Anonymous12:27 AM

    "[Mack] went apeshit about swimming near the waterfall. It was really special."- hahaha!!!
    I really love seeing Mack and Joe together - they look like two peas in a pod.

  5. Anonymous7:43 AM

    Kind of freaky seeing pictures of murky water with an alligator swimming in it and then murky water and YOU GUYS swimming in it. Because even if they weren't that close together, what if one day the alligator works out where the food is and just walks on over? Makes alligatory sense...

  6. Michelle -- You're hot. And not that you need it, but kudos to you for refusing to wear the dreaded tankini.

    I will admit that after seeing the picture of the crocodile, seeing Joe holding your son waist deep in the water made me think one was going to leap out of the water and eat them both. But that's just me being all crazy.

  7. Hee! Cal, somewhat apprehensively, pointed out the same thing about the crocodiles once we got to the falls! But I told him that unless they learned to swim vertically up a waterfall like salmon spawning, we were probably safe. (The waterfall where we were swimming/wading was four or five waterfalls up from river level.)

  8. Anonymous10:09 AM

    I agree with the other posters, you look great Michelle!!!!

  9. Thanks for helping me get even MORE excited about our own vacay next week! I am loving your Hipstamatic prints -- am feverishly trying to learn my way around the app (which has just been sitting fallow in my iphone for the entire first year of my child's life) in preparation for our beach trip, and would love to hear your tips on best lenses, films and flashes, and which HipstaPaks are worth getting.

  10. Hey Holly,

    I have a couple of the film packs, but 98% of the time I am just using the film and lens that came with the base Hipstamatic app, meaning the Ina 69 film (with the off-white textured border) and the John S lens, which I like the best because it has the crispest focus. The best lighting conditions for Hipstamatic are outdoors on a sunny day, but in the shade (otherwise the whites get too blown out, and the contrast gets cranked too high).

    I love my "nice" camera but nothing beats a phone cam for the immediacy of photo sharing. Have fun on your vacation!

  11. Anonymous10:26 PM

    OMG, the picture of the horse made me loose my breath for a second. I know that wasn't the focus of this post AT ALL, but I just had to tell you. Beautiful picture.

    Also, thanks for blogging while you're on your vacay. It looks incredible and it makes me feel like I'm having fun too even thought I'm actually studying for Step 2 CK.


  12. Nicole1:55 PM

    Hi Michelle! I am completely loving these vacation posts. They're making me dream of a planning a vacation to Jamaica in the future. Quick question - has there been any issue with mosquitoes?

  13. Anonymous2:58 AM

    Michelle...can your next book be a diet book? How'd you get so skinny and toned after 2 kids??????