On the Friday of our trip, Tammy and I decided it was time to get out and see some of Jamaica (ok, technically we decided on Tuesday when we booked it). We decided to book a catamaran ride (called Cool Runnings) out to Dunns River Falls to climb up the waterfall! Dunns River Falls is really cool- they are 600 ft tall and you get to climb up it like some sort of water ninja! (Except you are holding hands with 15 other people and keep breaking out in water fights so you are basically the worst water ninja ever).
Our trip cost $100 each, and I totally recommend it (the base package to just bus to the falls was like $60. Pay the extra $40. Trust me).
First, we took a bus to Ocho Rios from the hotel. There were about 15 of us on the bus and we had so much fun- the driver made us all introduce ourselves and sing our favourite Jamaican song. Except we basically knew one so we just sang One Love 15 times. Within 30 minutes or so we arrived at the boat. This part kind of sucked because we were joining up with other tour groups and one group was SO late. And it was HOT and boring on that boat! Finally they came and we went on our way :)
About 5 minutes out we stopped to snorkel! I had definitely wanted to snorkel on this trip (but never really went to the beach at the resort), so I was happy to jump in! Tammy didn't want to join me so I went out with the group solo. It was cool- lots of colourful fishies! But the reef wasn't very attractive (I need to find that one from Finding Nemo...) and I saw no fish bigger than a foot. Oh well!
After snorkeling, it was a short 30 minute ride to the falls! When we got their we were put in groups for going up the falls. You hold each other's hands to help each other up the tough parts, but a lot of it you don't really hold hands. Our group was a lot of fun and we kept having water fights. Plus the guides and camera man (they have one so you can buy a video) splash you a lot too. I was soaked in no time!
In case you are wondering, I did not buy a waterproof camera. I just brought my broken Canon camera and used my high tech double baggie system to keep it dry. I didn't get a lot of photos because we didn't often stop long enough for me to extract it from the baggies (the one fault in my fool proof system). But once and awhile we stopped for photoshoots in falls and pools and I had a chance!
I'm not even sure how long it takes to get up to the top- an hour maybe? But it was SO MUCH FUN! I really didn't know what to expect but it was so entertaining. It was also fairly safe- they scrape off any slipperiness and you go slow so you have time to get footfalls. The waterfall isn't very powerful so it didn't push back much- but you do get WET. Some pools were waist deep and the guides loved to make you sit in waterfalls and they splashed you constantly. They were also the instigators of a few water fights ;)
Finally we finished! Then you take a path back down in like 5 minutes flat. haha. We all kept joking that they should just send us down in inner tubes! But I guess the people coming up after us wouldn't enjoy seeing a bunch of giant inner tubes flying at them.
Then we all got back on the boat and the boat turned into a party boat! There was an open bar and they blare dance music and just drive out to sea for an hour or so. It was really fun, but I get sea sick so I knew I would be much better off only having a couple rum punches, taking a gravol, and dancing in my seat. No one wants a repeat of my flight. There were HUGE swells and the boat was rocking all over so I soon knew I had made an excellent choice. Also, at one point the captain (I think?) asked to take a photo with me. Random, but funny. Jamaicans all loved my bald head and tattoos! I constantly had people tell me "I like your style" and ask about it.
After that, our weekend was just relaxing until our flight home.
And that is when everything when downhill.
Ok, here is the story. We were waiting for the bus to take us to the airport and it was storming like CRAZY. Never seen such sheets of rain in all my life. The storm was just starting to lift when our bus got there. We went to the top of the stairs (it was like 5 steps down and then the bus was right there). I didn't want to carry my luggage down because it was super heavy and the stairs were a bit wet from the rain- no worries because there are tons of bellhops and that is their job. One came to get Tammy's luggage and I waited a minute because no one was free. One guy came up to me and went to grab my luggage, so I got on the bus.
And that is the last I saw of my luggage.
It took us forever to get to the airport because of a mix-up of pick up times at another hotel. When we got there the driver unloaded the luggage and that is when we realized mine wasn't on the bus. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS WATCH THEM LOAD IT!!! I was in a total panic. Our plane was leaving in a couple hours and we were 45 mins to an hour from our hotel. I didn't even know if my luggage was there- what is the guy put it on another bus? What if someone stole it?
The driver was amazing. He called his dispatch, who called the Jamaican side of my travel agency. I spoke to the person who said they were doing everything to get in contact with my hotel and would call me. I waited and waited. The driver couldn't park there, but he kept coming back every 10 minutes to see what was going on. Someone from Sunquest in Canada (who I booked with) finally called and said they couldn't get a hold of anyone from the hotel and I better get on my plane or I was going to miss it. They would call me on Monday. Our plane came early so Tammy and I basically walked right on it- that's how long we waited.
I was a complete wreck. The other people from our bus were very nice and concerned and very sad to see I didn't get my stuff. Others commented that they hadn't watched their bags being loaded either...it could have happened to any of us.
I cried a couple tears, but mostly I was so disappointed in myself for not being more vigilant about my luggage. I kept on reminding myself that it was just stuff- my wallet, passport, and all electronics (phone, camera, ipad) were in my carry-on. There was nothing critical in my bag if it got lost forever. This was basically my mantra during the long flight home. I basically read a book and escaped into it for the whole flight (poor Tammy, I was sick the first flight and a wreck this flight...she is not a good flier and I was terrible company both times!).
I landed and no missed calls from the travel agency or hotel. I tried to call the hotel but the night concierge knew nothing about it and couldn't find it in the luggage room. I remembered my luggage tag had broken off and I had put it in the top pocket- at least it was there but the hotel wouldn't know that and I think it has my wrong phone number on it. ALWAYS UPDATE YOUR LUGGAGE TAG AND MAKE SURE IT IS VISIBLE!
Monday I ended up working (I was supposed to be off but things got crazy). Keeping busy was good, but Sunquest still hadn't called me back by noon! So I called their customer service line and they looked up my account and told me there was NO note or anything about what was going on!! Please remember that by this point I still had no idea if my luggage was safe! Sunquest said they were getting a manager on it and would call me back.
I called the hotel myself at that point and found out my luggage was safe in the security office. THANK GOD.
Tuesday afternoon rolls around and finally I get in touch again with Sunquest. The person gives me the name, number, and email address of the manager I will have to work with at the hotel. Sunquest told me their insurance doesn't cover transporting my stuff back so I guess it is between me and the hotel. I left a message and emailed the hotel manager and right now I am still waiting to hear back. I will hold back my review of how the hotel handles this because obviously the process just started with them.
I am so frustrated and stressed. Basically it feels like my whole vacation has been ruined and I don't think I will able to look back happily on the good days until it is settled. I don't know yet who is even responsible for covering the cost of shipment (luckily my suitcase is actually broken so I am going to tell them to box up my shit and toss the suitcase when they ship). In my opinion, it is the hotel's fault that my bag didn't make it on the bus. They may argue I am responsible for my own luggage. I really hope that they decide to just absorb the cost as a gesture of goodwill. I have no idea what it costs to ship ~30lbs of goods from Jamaica to Canada. If the hotel gives me problems I guess I will call Sunquest back and yell at them. I am not good at yelling at people so we shall see how this goes.
For the record- I do want my stuff back. I know it is just clothes, shoes, makeup and toiletries, but I packed a lot of my favourite items that I simply can't replace! I feel so naked right now without my makeup, but I don't want to fork out the money to replace it because I buy select high end stuff (hence why I have no extra makeup at home!). I also think the cost of replacing all my stuff is more than the cost to ship it. I should also mention I did not buy travel insurance because it isn't cheap and I have global medical insurance through work.
So we shall see what happens :S
TL;DR: My luggage is still in Jamaica and I miss my stuff.
But I DID really enjoy my trip!!!