Friday, December 24, 2010

My Excellent Jamaican Cycling Adventure.....

Having spent a great deal of time and energy in last night's post grousing about how our trip to Jamaica ended, I would like to use tonight's blog post to tell about a wonderful experience I had on the trip. On several of our trips I have wanted to ride a bicycle, and I was excited to read that the resort offered a bicycle tour as one of its daily activities.

I wanted Hubby to do it with me, and I really thought I might be able to guilt him into it. What kind of man allows his wife to go off cycling alone in a foreign country? (Okay, there were 17 of us, but still.) He expressed some doubts about his ability to do a long ride. I think that was his pride speaking. He was probably picturing a ride of 20 miles or more, and he's never done a ride of that length. He had rather stay at the resort than take off on a bicycle ride he was afraid he couldn't finish, when he KNEW I would be able to do it. Male ego. What a nuisance.

When I figured out that he really didn't intend to go, I almost didn't go myself. But how do you like THIS logic? I knew if I didn't go, I would blame it on him, and I didn't want to waste part of my vacation being mad about not getting to do something I really wanted to do. So I went without him.

And I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I feel compelled to admit something, though, that reveals something mildly disturbing about my personality. I had the bicycle GPS in the laptop case, but I wasn't absolutely certain it would work outside the continental United States. If it hadn't worked..... I wouldn't have gone. Because if you can't PROVE the miles you rode on a bike, they don't count. At least in my mind.

The route wound up being only 5.91 miles, and at least a half mile of that was achieved by riding round and round a parking lot at the Mega Mart.

Please do not be alarmed that the ride appears to begin and end in the middle of Montego Bay. I can't explain that. I didn't say the GPS worked WELL.

The first part of the "adventure" stems from the fact that in Jamaica they drive on the wrong side of the road. Well, as they put it, "Left is right, and right is suicide." I'm accustomed to having cars whiz by me on the road. Just not on the right side.

We had two employees of the resort accompanying us on the ride, one at the front of the pack and one at the back. Every now and then we had to go through an intersection (many with round-abouts, which I'm not accustomed to), and one of the guys would ride his bike into the intersection and stop, holding up his hand to stop the cars. No one blew the horn, and no one seemed to mind waiting for all 17 of us to get through the intersection. Not even the time we weren't actually AT an intersection but were crossing a 4-lane highway.

The picture above was at the Mega Mart. I didn't go in, because I didn't like the idea of being in there alone, and I didn't want to tag along with anyone else and be a nuisance.

I wanted to get a good picture of this guy and tell Hubby he looked like a Jamaican version of my ex. But short of going up to him and putting the camera in his face, I didn't know how to accomplish it.

The picture above doesn't show it very well, but this was actually a very nice sports complex. The roughness of it comes from the fact that they are doing construction, adding additional spectator areas. Our guide was very proud of this stadium, where they play "futbol" and cricket.

We rode a little bit more and stopped at a little place called "Jerkey's." Just like everywhere else we went, the people were very nice. I had no idea about the relationship of Jamaican dollars to American ones. I ordered a Red Stripe beer and a bottle of water, and the cute little waitress (pictured below) said, "Four dollars." I gave her a ten, and she said she would have to give me change in Jamaican dollars.

I got back $480 in Jamaican dollars. If you click on the picture above (and you may have to enlarge it as well), you can see that 6 chicken wings cost $300. I later saw the exchange rate posted in the casino. Each American dollar is worth $83 Jamaican. I brought back $450 in Jamaican bills, and it looks like a lot of money. Hubby is going to use it to trick his golfing buddies into believing he won so much money in the casino that he didn't even cash in $450. I doubt they'll fall for it.

The picture below was taken at our final stop, one of the ubiquitous souvenir shops. Prices are outrageous and you are expected to bargain (I don't do that very well), but I suspect that tourism is the major industry all over the island, so I played along.  Some of the tactics might be classified as aggressive, but you just had to be firm. Or tell them, as I did on a couple of occasions, that I just spent my very last dollar, and they were pretty quick at that point to leave me alone.

Several people left as soon as they had completed their purchases and headed on back to the resort. I was aghast, not only at the idea of riding unescorted in a foreign country, but at the fact that they KNEW where the resort was. (Have I mentioned lately that I'm directionally challenged?) I had the GPS with me, but still. I was willing to wait patiently until everyone else was finished. We weren't far from the resort as it turned out, but what if I lost my mind and forgot to ride ON THE LEFT?

I was pleased that not only did they have helmets for us to wear, they also provided the attractive (**ahem**) safety vests. 

I was very glad that I went along on the ride. The 5.91 miles didn't put a dent in my December cycling goal, and it looks now like I won't make my overall goal of 2010 miles in 2010. I have reconciled myself to missing the goal, and I have reminded myself numerous times that if I wait until October to make a dedicated effort to reach the goal, the likelihood of reaching it is slim. Still, I'm only missing it by 192 miles, and I may be able to log some more miles if the temperatures ever get back above 50 in the next 7 days. 

Or I could just go back to Jamaica. Now there's a thought.

Merry Christmas!

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