Jamaican downtime

by Philip Carroll

This story is part of our 'Romantic Travel Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by 04devei.

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I had been in Jamaica for eight weeks, working all over the island, helping the government improve its health service. It was all work and no play - many of the days were long. Some of the places I visited were in the capital Kingston, well off the tourist trail, others were a visitor's paradise in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. But despite that, the work was hard and my only solace was a can of Red Stripe to go with my jerk chicken at the end of the day.

I became an expert in the local dishes and visited the Blue Mountain coffee plantation up in the hills to see and smell the beans being roasted. My wife, meanwhile, was still in England looking after the family, resigned to yet another trip of mine in some faraway place. After five weeks, I was longing to see her again to the point where I arranged for her to fly over after my eight weeks were up. What she didn't know was that I had borrowed an airfield apron pass from a government contact which would enable me to meet her airside at the bottom of the aircraft steps.

At 11pm, the BA 747 landed and slowly taxied to a far off stand; I was waiting at the terminal door and before I knew it, the steps had appeared and there she was walking down them and across the tarmac. Then she saw me and just like in the best romantic movies, we rushed over the tarmac towards each other and met halfway with a giggle and an embrace. The champagne was waiting back at my hotel in Kingston, and then we were off for a week in Ocho Rios where the management had thoughtfully provided a large basket of fruit to celebrate our arrival.

We passed the week swimming, watching organised hermit crab races, visiting sugar plantations and marvelling at Bob Marley's home in Kingston. Full quality control was also carried out on the fabulous ice cream at Devon House and the various seafood restaurants in Ocho Rios, where we ate with the local people. This is a place visited by cruise liners and the local traders increase their prices accordingly while the ship is there. After it's gone, it's back to local prices again, and after all I did think of myself as a local. The great thing about Jamaica is that everything is "no problem" - we loved having our romantic meeting there and would recommend it to everyone.

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