Not So Happy Birthday to Me

Jamaica – July 2016

I decide to splash out for my birthday, even though it’s not a milestone year. I found a deal on Business class tickets, which I figured would allow us the use of the airline’s lounge. Instead of booking at a large resort outside of town filled with fellow tourists, which isn’t really our style, we went with one in Montego Bay proper where the locals tend to stay. And we’d be arriving on my birthday. So far so good.

The night before we’re flying out, I start to feel off. This is the third time this has happened to me the past year, the last time the day of our flight from Taiwan to Hong Kong. I know it will pass as it’s allergy related but the timing is not good. I figure we have a shuttle to the airport and a lounge awaiting us the next day, so it shouldn’t be too bad. Only the lounge is not awaiting us. When I present our tickets, I’m told our destination is not international enough to allow us access. Fine, at least it’s going to be a comfortable flight.

While the flight was fine, it landed us around 8am and the resort doesn’t start checking guests in till 3pm. Knowing this, I booked a sightseeing tour around the area that picks us up at 10am and returns us around 1pm. We drop our bags at the hotel and wait in the lobby for our guide to arrive. When he does, he drives us around for about an hour, never stopping, and then we’re back at the hotel. Still four hours to go. I check in at the front desk to see if there’s any chance of getting into the room early, even 2pm would work, and they say they’ll let me know.

It’s a hot and humid lunch at the hotel’s outdoor restaurant. Then it’s back to the small lobby area, which is air conditioned. It’s noon and becoming increasingly clear there is going to be no early check in, so we make ourselves at home. If I were feeling better, we’d explore the town below us, but I’d rather save my strength for the remainder of the trip. Somehow, we make it to three and can finally check in.

Our room is nice, though there’s only air conditioning in the bedroom, rendering the seating area and kitchen uninhabitable in the heat. I check the bathroom to discover there is no soap or shampoo. I call the front desk to be told that they consider our rooms apartments, so those items are not included. We drop off our bags again and head into town looking for soap and shampoo. We usually bring them along just in case, but didn’t this time as what resort wouldn’t provide them?

I have the great fortune of usually being avoided by insects, especially mosquitos. My mom was a magnet for them as is my wife, but for some reason they tend to leave me alone. It’s not till we return from our shopping trip that I discover there’s something in Jamaica that hasn’t gotten the memo as my elbows and ankles are now filled with swollen and itchy bites. So I slather on the anti-itch cream, turn on the AC, and hope to sleep the rest of my birthday away.

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