3:15a.m. arrival at O’Hare International. More than enough time to make a 5a.m. flight, right? Not hardly. The line of people leaving after the holiday had different plans for us. Even after attempting to cut in front of half of the line, we still managed to miss our flight and were forced to rebook. The basic economy option on American Airlines sounded good at first, but quite the contrary. It was only after shelling out an extra $400 did we arrive in Montego Bay. I look around and suddenly the drama that it took to get to our destination didn’t seem so bad. I take a minute to consciously acknowledge how the sun embraces me like a warm hug and I say to myself:
Be thankful. Your ability to be patient got you here.
Be mindful. Your ability to stay present will keep you here.
(At least mentally anyway). As we only have a short time to enjoy paradise. So Day 1, we rest and take it all in.
Day 2: We journey into the mountains where the ackee and bread fruit trees along with the Jamaican castor bean plants remind us of the importance of the wait…holding off until a thing has ripened before it is enjoyed and how the right thing at the wrong time can be undesirable and sometimes deadly.
After a long drive, we arrive in 9 Mile, (Bob Marley’s birthplace) and visit the school that his family donated back to the community and named after his late mother. We walk to Marley’s tomb and light two white candles in memory of a soul who touched millions. His messages of unity transcended race and politics and helped people to remember that the one thing that will forever connect us all is love. Our driver passionately recounts how the singing legend made an impact. “Bob Marley took it to a different level. He felt the whole world needed to be saved. It was never all about the money to him. He wanted to spread the love to the people. And it wasn’t until he died that he really got rich.”
Day 3: It’s our final full day on the island and we’re up and ready at 9a.m. to go bamboo rafting at Martha Brae only to have the concierge desk tell us that our tour is cancelled due to heavy rains that flooded the river in Falmouth overnight. I am crushed! They tell us if the weather improves, there may be a chance for a later pick up time. So we optimistically wait. A few hours later we return and they tell us that Martha Brae is closed for the day…BUT…White River in Ocho Rios is NOT. Again, patience my love. As we float on the river through all of natures beauty, I reminisce about all of the things that I’ve worked for, prayed for and stressed about over the past year…things that I dreamt of and put in the back of my mind, (including being here) and I see the bigger picture now.
It is time to fly back to home and more heavy rains have hit the island. Our flight is delayed by almost an hour (which is sure to affect our connecting flight). We arrive in Newark and make a mad dash through customs to claim our baggage so that we can make the LAST flight headed to Chicago to NO avail. The airport is already packed with crowds of people who have been stuck there for the past 24 hours due to the snowstorm the day before. I can’t believe this is happening! After spending hours on the phone with customer service, they find us an 8a.m. nonstop flight the following day. I look at my phone and find a silver lining to lighten the blow. I get word that my work has been syndicated by a popular publication. I had been waiting for 2 months to make the announcement and here I am stuck in the airport when I receive the news. I don’t find it coincidental. The bigger picture? We get caught up in timing. Receiving exactly what we want, when and how we want it. But that’s not how life works. Sometimes the blessings don’t show up in the way that we expect them to. But with patience and diligence, they show up nonetheless.
-Omar with www.mellotoursjamaica.com should be your driver EVERY time you visit! He is knowledgeable and professional. He also owns a jerk chicken spot called The Hungry Hut that I enjoyed way better than the very popular Scotchies restaurant.
-The All-Inclusive Luxury Bahia Principe in Runaway Bay was absolutely exquisite and well worth the money. If you’re looking to get away from the busier areas of the island and just relax, I would highly recommend this resort.
-For those of you wondering about the ackee fruit and why I mentioned “the wait” earlier: Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica. It is called a “mixed blessing” because if you don’t wait until it ripens and ingest it, you could die. It contains a poison called hypoglycin.