Ocho Rios --  03/18/06

Yes, more Caribbean pictures..

Wow, just realized that we set out on our trip one month ago today -- flew down to Florida on Saturday, Feb. 18th, because we did not want to take a chance on any possible air travel problems and wanted to make sure we were in no danger of missing the Sunday start of the cruise. We embarked from Miami on Sunday, spent Monday at sea, Tuesday at Roatan, Wednesday at Grand Cayman Island (Jeremy and most of the others spent the day at a beach there while Mike and Nancy and I spent an hour or so looking around town but spent the rest of the day enjoying the onboard pools and waterside and hot tubs without there being many people around), and Thursday we were at Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Dunn's River Falls is one of the big attractions there -- You walk/climb up the river -- a long series of waterfalls.

The journey starts at sea level, at a beach where the river flows into the ocean. You climb with a guide. The theory is that everyone holds hands in a long chain and this helps you climb the falls. I found it very difficult to maintain my balance while holding hands with the person in front of me and the person behind me. Receiving a helping hand at some particular tricky spots was vital (as was providing a helping hand) but for much of the journey it was really better and safer not to hold hands.
Jeremy at the start of the trip up Dunn's River Falls
Of course there were many guides taking many groups. This is the view from the start of the climb. Just a bit upstream from here it got to be almost like being in gridlock traffic on I-95.
Once we got about a third of the way up, the traffic jam cleared and we could relax a bit and pose for pictures. [Nancy, Jeremy & me in front, Nancy's sister Janet, Janet's husband Tom, and their son Mike behind us.]
The further upstream we went, the more it seemed that we were having fun -- very wet fun.
Jeremy enjoying one of the larger waterfalls.
I have heard it suggested that mid to late afternoon is the best time to climb the falls. It seems that the busloads of tourists from the cruise ship start arriving in mid-morning and continue into the early afternoon, but this heavy traffic eases off later in the day. If I were ever in Ocho Rios again with a less rigid schedule (I think the last tender back to our ship was at 4:30), I think it might be fun to climb the falls again when it wasn't quite so crowded and to just do it without a guide (you can't really get lost... just start at the bottom and keep going until you come to the top).

The Dunn's River Falls excursion package we had purchased included a stop at Dolphin Cove (where those who had signed up for it could swim with dolphins). I guess I had not been paying close enough attention to the package, because I thought it was climb Dunn's River Falls and then hang out on a beach. Jeremy had had the same impression. The beach at the base of the river had looked very nice and I had thought that was Dolphin Cove so I was puzzled at having to hop on a bus. The beach at Dolphin Cove was very small and was more of an after-thought than a featured attraction. I was sure I had spotted a beach the trip to shore that morning, so Jeremy and I skipped the dolphin show to take a bus to town where we found the beach without too much difficulty...
Me climbing the falls.
The Island Village shopping center -- they apparently like to call themselves a "theme
park" -- but they are a collection of clothing, jewelery, souvenir, and liquor shops
plus a beach and a variety of bars and restaurants (one of which was a Jimmy
Buffett's Margaritaville
) -- so here is Jeremy, happy at last to have reached a beach
(he saw each island we visited as primarily a beach opportunity) with a rum & Coke
in hand (made with Bacardi 151 rum). Note the cruise ships in the backgroud -- there
were five anchored at Ocho Rios that day.
And there I am, drinking a local beer (Red Stripe) with the outdoor portion of Margaritaville
behind me (they even have a swimming pool complete with a swim-up bar). Jeremy was happy --
right after snapping this picture he handed me the camera and then ran to the water and went
swimming -- and I was happy -- warm sun, cold beer, beach, music from the bar -- and sat on
a log and relaxed and watched the scene: blue sky, water, beach, tourists, locals selling souvenirs
(note the two guys at water's edge behind Jeremy in the previous picture).

At one point, as Jeremy and I were walking on the beach, a local came up and offered
to sell marijuana or cocaine or "whatever you want, mon."

Now it is noontime on a sunny but chilly mid-March Saturday (36°F, 2°C) and I've got lots of stuff to do, including trying to get in a run.

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