The All-Inclusive Experience

Sunrise in Jamaica

We are freshly back from our week in Jamaica, where we took part in our friends’ destination wedding. We had a great time! It was fun to travel with so many friends. Now that we are back in Ottawa, the planning for our big adventure has begun in earnest. It has been interesting to reflect on and compare the trip that we have just taken to the trip that we are leaving on in less than two months. Clearly the purpose and aim of the two trips are vastly different. This trip was lavish, luxurious, relaxing, and focused on good times with good friends. Our big adventure will be about challenging experiences, great unknowns, and about Meg and I facing it all together.

The wedding had been planned for over a year and was initially intended to take place in Tulum, Mexico. The pigs conspired against us, however, and H1N1 forced a last-minute rebooking of 50+ people, which is why found ourselves in Montego Bay, Jamaica. This was the first all-inclusive resort vacation that we have ever taken. We flew from Ottawa to Jamaica and home again; these were likely the last flights we will take for a very long time. Airports are one thing that I will not miss! Upon arriving in Jamaica, we were shuttled from the airport to the resort. Aside from two brief guided outings, the entire week was spent on the resort grounds. There was no shortage of things to keep us busy. The pools were nice, the beach was relaxing, and the water was soooo warm! We sailed, played tennis, swam, and ate and drank more than I care to admit. It was a great way to catch up with friends that we hadn’t seen in ages, and a great way to make close friends even closer. It was a vacation we won’t soon forget.

The key thing that I’ve taken away from this trip, however, is that there is a very big difference between vacationing and traveling. For all of the fun we had, we left with the unfortunate feeling that we hadn’t truly experienced Jamaica. Yes, we were told “ya mon” and “no problem” by many resort employees, but we suspect that much of this was put on for our benefit as tourists. The only taste we had of the world outside the resort was through the window of our airport shuttle as we drove past hand-made shelters built on top of each other as homes. There was a sense in the back of our minds that the line between wealth and poverty was drawn right along the property line of the resort. It becomes very easy to push these thoughts away when they build a high wall around the property to further emphasize that separation. This was a vacation: we have not truly traveled to Jamaica. When we arrive in the UK later this summer, there will be no airport shuttle waiting for us. We will be forced to jump head-first into the places we visit, instead of skirting around the perimeter to find familiar and safe zones.

Meg and I struggled with how to write about our Jamaican vacation without casting it in a bad light. We truly did have a fantastic time, and we especially valued the time that we got to spend with our friends. I think that we realized that this type of trip is neither better nor worse than any other, as long as it is taken at face value. Any world picture that we create should include all manner of experiences, not only those that we select as “authentic”. It must be acknowledged that this type of tourism has embedded itself in Jamaica, so in that sense, perhaps it isn’t fair to say that we haven’t seen the real Jamaica. Rather, we should say that we have seen only a fraction of the whole picture. I guess that means we’ll have to go back someday soon…

Congratulations Mike and Sarah! We had a great time at your wedding; thanks for making us a part of it!

We're in Jamaica!


    Aww you all look so great! Sounds like an amazing time. Congratulations Mike & Sarah :)

  1. Jess Gough

  2. Wow the sky is like baby pink – beautiful! And you guys are too :-)
    Congrats Sarah and Mike!

    Thanks Jessy Wessy.

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