Today is exactly a week since we said goodbye to Beaches Sandy Bay on Negril Beach in Jamaica.  How much do we love that resort?  I think our nine visits in the past ten years speak for themselves.  It is not a glitzy place–it’s comfortable, homey, intimate and located on a seven mile strip of white sand, the best beach I’ve ever visited.  It’s perfect for full-out relaxation and we did a lot of it.

The island where I nearly lost it

My first full day at there, I opted to do one of my favorite things, snorkeling.  My quiet little excursion out on the boat turned more adventurous than I’d planned.  I had snorkled so many times here that I got a bit complacent and was not as cautious as I should have been.  I lost track of where I was and ended up being sucked into a current.  I should have headed the other way the moment I felt it but I didn’t.  It intensified and smashed me onto the reef around a tiny island.  When I tried to get back, I panicked.  Instead of swimming across the current, I headed straight into it.  The waves were breaking on my face.  For a moment, I thought I would not make it.  Then I had one of those silly thoughts that often race through your mind in a crisis: if I didn’t get out of this mess, I would ruin my husband’s vacation.

That was all I needed to give me the drive and energy to surge forward again.  Suddenly and surprisingly, I was free of the current but exhausted.  I saw the boat ahead and didn’t look forward to the long swim back but knew I was capable of doing it.  That’s when my rescuer arrived.  I didn’t object when he offered to tow me back with the strap of a life jacket.  The result of the experience, two skinned knees, scraped legs and embedded black sea urchin spines.  It took me a few days to get the courage to go back to snorkeling again but I did it and it was worth it.

When I arrived, I had a mission: find the two women I knew from the Facebook page, We Love Beaches Sandy Bay.  I spent a couple of days asking every blonde I saw if her name was Emma. I’d just about given up when I found myself sitting at a table for eight outside by the ocean.  Across from me was a blonde with a British accent.  At first, I thought that it was too much of a coincidence.  It couldn’t be her.  But I asked if her name was Emma and she responded with a question: “Are you Diane?”  Ahh, at last… Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same luck locating Stephanie and we never did meet.

Stephanie was there for a wedding–as were a lot of people.  Most of them were very happy.  But we met the mother of a groom who was stewing.  After all the family–including some from the UK–had arrived, the bride announced that she wasn’t ready to get married yet.  Then, she stayed at the resort–in the room with her fiance–and told everyone to have a good time.  Personally, I can’t criticize her for calling off the wedding.  If it’s not right, it’s just not right.  But to have the audacity to stay there and not slink home after everyone else had incurred so much expense–I just didn’t get it.


Photo Op with the Lobster guy’s catch

One day at lunch, we followed the guy hawking life lobsters down the beach.  He took us to a little restaurant where for $20, he’d split it in half and cook it on his grill. Wayne loves that crustacean and couldn’t resist.  Not being as keen on it as he is, I opted for grilled fish for $15. That was cooked with peppers, onions, okra, herbs and spices, all wrapped in foil.

Most of our time was spent swimming in the Caribbean and lazing in lounge chairs reading books under a thatched hut.  At one point, we looked like the Jason Pinter promotional book tour.  My husband was reading The Guilty and I was reading The Stolen, side by side.  On the plane and on the beach, I also read Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais, The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid, Still Life by Louise Penny, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larson and started Confessions of a Modern Dentist by Dr. Sherman Shinn, founder of  A copy of the latter was given to me by the author-dentist from Gig Harbor, Washington, who was staying at the same resort while volunteering at free dental clinics on the island.

Massage on the beach

In between books, we squeezed in a couple of massages–my favorite was the one right on the beach.  But the highlight of our trip was our return visit to Happy Hearts School–I’ll tell you about that adventure in my next post.