Le Honeymoon

Although Daniel and I got married last year, we just took our honeymoon this year for our first wedding anniversary.  Like the Jamericans we are, we visited Ochos Rios, Jamaica for 5 glorious nights.  Because we had many family members who came from out of town to our wedding we didn’t just want to jet off the next day for our honeymoon. And even thought we definitely aren’t the richest people in the world (probably not even Bill Gates is by now) we knew that if we didn’t take our honeymoon now, we probably never would. 

When we were first flying into Montego Bay it was apparent that Jamaica is a lush, foresty, mountainous country. I guess in my head I pictured it more hot and sandy. Once in customs I thought I had lost a very important document and would be stuck in Jamaica forever. My face turned super red and then the lady at customs told me even if I had lost it they could give me another one….Needless panic, one of my best traits. The transfer from Montego Bay to Ochos Rios was quite the cultural experience simply because I haven’t left the country in 3 years. There were goats everywhere along the side of the highway ( I use “highway” loosely here).  Probably about 2/3 of the buildings and houses we saw were unfinished (we were later told by a tour guide that this is due to 25% interest rates on loans). Once at the hotel we discovered that the couple who got off the bus at the last stop mistook our luggage for theirs. Luckily we got our luggage later that night.  Also, it was about 7:45pm by the time we arrived at our hotel and we still wanted to walk by the ocean.  The sun set very early in Jamaica so it was dark on the beach.  We were walking along when out of nowhere we heard, “Hey! Wanna buy some smokes?” I grabbed Daniel’s arm and told him we should swiftly get the H outta there. A security guard overheard what was going on and told us that the locals are separated from the resort’s private beach by a fence and not to worry–that guy was just a local trying to sell some “smokes.” Pretty sure that means Maria Juana.

The second day/first full day was our first anniversary.  We spent it by the beach, swam in the ocean, and enjoyed the swim-um bar. The beach was very clean-very little seaweed, no jellyfish, and the water was warm. It was about 88 degrees each day and cloudy.  The staff was friendly and eager to talk with the tourists. They also had a fancy chocolate cake dessert with “Happy Anniversary” written in chocolate waiting in our room.  Probably the fanciest gift we’ll ever get for our anniversary, Gracias Jamaica.

The second day we did a tour to Kingston, the capital city. The tour included a stop at Juicy Patti-a Jamaican fast food joint that serves fried tortilla-like pockets of “beef” (again, used loosely). The “beef” was seasoned pretty good and we didn’t get sick so I’d say it was a win.  We also toured Bob Marley’s home where he wrote “Three Little Birds.” Did you know that Bob Marley was the victim of an assassination attempt? I did not.  But now I’ve seen the bullet holes.. it really happened, ya’ll. I’m a Bob Marley fan and reggae fan in general so I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, minus the fit as many people as we can in Bob’s house part. We also ate d-lish-us ice cream at Devon House. Other than that I wouldn’t recommend spending your money on the Kingston Tour.

The third day we sat out by the ocean, but this time I had a brilliant idea. Let’s forgo the lounge chairs in the shade and get tanned! I have red hair and freckles and Scottish/Swedish blood and not the tanning gene.  What a great idea. We got totally burned, but only on our front side. It is now 3 weeks later and my shins are peeling. That’s how I roll…or peel. We ate dinner at Moonstone Italian that night and it was pretty good.

The fourth and final day there we hiked up a waterfall- Dunn’s Falls. If I would have known that you hike UP the WATERFALL instead of next to it like people who want to live, I never would have signed us up…and paid to do it. Alas, we lived and didn’t chip a tooth so I guess it was fun, minus the pebbles in my chacos every other step. After that, and because we hadn’t had enough thrill for the day we rode the Mystic Mountain bobsled (look it up!) and ziplined through the forest. We loved ziplining. It was much better than hiking up a waterfall. But, then again, isn’t anything better than hiking up a waterfall? On the way home our bus driver obliged our request to stop at Scotchy’s, a local smokehouse that sells wonderfully amazing jerk chicken. We ordered half a chicken and 2 festivals (like a cornbread stick) and ate with our hands on the balcony of our room admiring the beautiful view of the mountain.  It was one of my favorites.

We also played tennis with the resort tennis pro and got lessons 2 days.  The Jamaican humidity is much worse than the humidity in the Southern state where we live. I could barely hold the racquet I was sweating so bad. Still worth it.

Overall, Daniel and I made memories to last a lifetime. We relived our wedding day and reminisced about the best day of our lives.  Hopefully, we can make it a tradition to wake up on our anniversary in a new destination every year. Oh, and it’s not a stereotype–Jamaicans really do say “Ya, mon” to everything.








7QT: Snow Cones, Donuts, and Mai Tais…Not in that order.

1. We are moving to a different city/state tomorrow.  Eeek! I have lived in this same small (relatively small-70,000) town my whole life.  I consider myself more of a “city” person so Daniel and I wanted to explore life in an unfamiliar place.  Complacency has a way of snuffing out the wonder and excitement of ordinary life.  So, in the spirit of kicking complacency here we are–moving about 2 hours away. The first time I’ve ever lived anywhere other than this “small town.”

2. I don’t know if I said this last week or not, but if you ever think you’re “low maintenance” or “slightly minimalist” pack all your belongings. Pack them and then look around at all the items you haven’t used or could do without.  I’d say about 60-70% of our belongings get used regularly..maybe even only 50%. Moving has been a reality check–no, we’re not “low maintenance” in case you were wondering.

3. The USA is still in the World Cup with a tough match on Sunday with Portugal. Which reminds me–I love soccer so much. I started playing at age 4 and then on a traveling team at age 11. At age 14 I quit soccer because we got a new coach who made us bring our running shoes to practice. If there’s one thing that I do not like to do it’s running. So I quit. I took up tennis instead. The court’s smaller = less running. Oh, and you don’t have to have 21 other people to play tennis.  But I still love soccer. I remember the glory days of my soccer-filled youth. I have fresh in my mind the feeling of kickoff at the first game of a tournament.  Early morning, slightly chilly, dew on the ground, excitement in the air, my stomach would always fill with butterflies and I could never eat breakfast. Then, the whistle blows and we start running down the field and our jerseys would be blowing in the wind.  I’ll never forget it.

4. I’m interested in genealogy and I always try to guess what nationality someone’s last name is.  It’s also interesting to hear all the different countries that make up a person’s heritage so I’ll share mine.  From what I know so far, my maiden name Kirkland is Scottish of the Maxwell clan. My father’s family has Scottish and Native American heritage (again, what I know so far). My mother’s side has Swedish, Belgian, and German ancestry. Imagine all the people that had to be born and come together so that I would be here today.

5. Snow cones are in season! Last summer I didn’t eat a single snow cone. Yesterday I had my first snow cone of the season and I’ll definitely be back. I had Cactus Juice, a mix of mango, pineapple, and blue raspberry. So delicious!

6. For some reason donuts just came to my mind. I’m getting a hair cut today so maybe I’ll grab a donut afterwards.  That’d be a nice reward for not crying during the hair cut. Even thought I haven’t done that since I was 2. But alas, still a reason for a donut.

7. Last night we went to a Japanese hibachi restaurant, though we never dine at the hibachi-just the regular seating. Daniel ordered a bottle of sake and didn’t finish it all so we put it in my purse and snuck it out.  That’s probably the riskiest thing I’ve done in a while.  It probably helped that I had a quite strong Mai Tai so I didn’t care too much about being “risky.”

Linking up with Team Whitaker

Mai Tai- mai favorite

Mai Tai- mai favorite

Handsome with his sake

Handsome with his sake

Our view from the restaurant patio

Our view from the restaurant patio

everyday life, Uncategorized

7QT: Random in Tandem- Thoughts from my mind (cause where else would they come from)

My nephew-cat when he was a kitten. Disclaimer: Not related to post.

My nephew-cat when he was a kitten. Disclaimer: Not related to post.

1.  World Cup, ya’ll! I haven’t watched any of it yet because I don’t have cable and I can’t find it on any of the 9 channels I get. Don’t feel sorry for me, I could look up the live stream online.

2. We’re moving and packing is not fun. I’m staring at 7 boxes, 4 trash bags, and 3 luggage pieces full of about 1/13th of our possessions and wishing it was all of them.  If you ever start to feel that you’re a minimalist or at least not high maintenance just pack your stuff.  Then you’ll  see how many things you don’t need, you don’t use, and you actually don’t find sentimental.

3. Jamericans. That’s what we were for 6 days last week. I’ll write more about the Ja-honeymoon shortly.

4. Edy’s Drumstick Ice Cream. If you like Drumsticks (the ice cream cone with a chocolate-dipped vanilla scoop covered in nuts) then you’ll love this ice cream even more. Not kidding, I’m not the biggest fan of ice cream but this…This was the best ice cream I’ve tried to date (not as in I tried to date the ice cream–as in it’s the best ever and I could eat the whole carton with no hands/bobbing for apples style).

5. Let it go! Let it goooo! That song from Frozen isn’t so annoying now that I’ve seen (most of) the movie. It’s actually really good, but I have a bad habit of falling asleep during movies we watch at home. The music is nice and well composed.

6. Ginger ale is mucho delicioso. Especially from a can and poured over ice.  It’s crisp and refreshing and I recommend enjoying a glass at least once a week. Whenever I drink ginger ale and eat pretzels it reminds me of flying on a plane and going on vacation..all happy thoughts.

7. Speaking of vacation and traveling, I have always felt that I’d rather live in a smaller home and take more vacations than live in a large home and rarely go on vacation. Next up on my wanderlust list are (in no real order): Italy, Thailand, Sweden, Laos, Japan, Bali, India…the list could go on forever.

Linking up, of course, for 7 Quick Takes at Team Whitaker today.

culture, everyday life

Hopping on the Tour Bus: My Writing Process

Bee yourself

Bee yourself

Today I’m linking up with Noony at From Laos with Love for a Writing Process Blog Tour. She has become a fast friend through blogging. Her blog immediately caught my attention because she writes about Lao culture in the diaspora and gives readers a glimpse into her family’s immigration story as refugees from Laos.  Being that Daniel is Laotian, I hear similar stories from my mother-in-law. However, not many people are documenting these stories from an insider perspective the way that Noony is on her blog.  I look forward to reading her posts and am thankful that she writes about her experiences as a Lao refugee. What I’ve come to find out is that not many people know that Laos is even a country, let alone that the Laotian people suffered so much during the Vietnam War.  Props to Noony for telling her story with eloquence and candor.

And the bus rolls on….


The Questions

1) What am I working on?
I don’t know that I would say I’m “working on” anything really. I began this blog because I love to read blogs and because, at one time, I liked to write.  I still do like to write (sort of) and this blog is my space to document life as I live it. I tend to have a bad memory so I want to remember the mundane and the not-so-mundane happenings in my life.  As an anthropology major I consider culture my first love. Marrying a Lao guy gives me a bicultural perspective from which to write and my next project for posts involves examining how we navigate these two cultures in our everyday life. So I guess that’s what I’m working on.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My work is different from others of autobiographical writing because of the various lenses I view the world through.  The lenses of anthropology/culture and faith shape the way I see the world and, consequently, what I write about.  As a Catholic married to a Laotian, I have a unique perspective (as does everyone else–Ironic, huh?) on life and I infuse my writing with these themes.

3) Why do I write what I do?
Writing about the mundane is important to me. Perhaps it’s the cultural anthropologist in me that is more interested in everyday life than about the extraordinary parts of life.  This is why I write about the everyday happenings and milestones in this life that I share with Daniel.  I want to remember what it felt like during our first year of marriage to be able to take a road trip at the drop of a hat and not worry about the laundry or packing for a baby.  I am nostalgic like that and it breaks a little piece of my heart when I throw away a birthday card from two years ago–even if the sender simply signed their name and didn’t offer any personal greetings.  It is this yearning to remember simple things that drives my writing.

4) How does your writing process work?
Being the rebel that I am, I have never really embraced a writing process.  The only time I willingly used a formalized writing process was as a second grader learning “rainbow writing” where you use green, yellow, and pink strips of paper for the introduction, body, and conclusion of an essay.  Once I got to high school my “rough draft” was simply the first time I wrote my paper and the “final draft” was the second time I wrote it paying more attention to my penmanship or grammar. I write exactly what I think.  As I think, so shall I write.  Any other way doesn’t feel authentic. Some teachers/professors would say “Your writing has great voice” and others would say “This isn’t how you write a professional, collegiate paper” and I would say “frank you” (substitute another f word, substitute I don’t care, but mostly substitute- I do what I want.)  Once I’ve written what I have to write, I read over it and if it sounds weird in my head, I change it. I know–fancy, and complex. Two words I’d not use to describe my writing or my self.