It's an unfortunate part of traveling that each trip has to begin with waiting in line to speak to a crabby immigration bureaucrat to exchange largely meaningless paperwork. The lines at the Montego Bay airport were long and unmoving. We heard whispers among the other inmates that there were some automated machines on the far end of the building that were dispensing immigrations like delicious gumballs. I left Lydia in line guarding our luggage and went to find an airport employee. She politely confirmed that yes, we could use the machines and that the line we were in was in fact a trap for Kafka fans and the unambitious. I cheerfully collected Lydia and our bags. Tales of my exploits spread quickly and I now had several followers. Only two out of 10 of the brightly lit, inviting machines were even being used. It was quickly apparent why: "You can't use these machines with the airline you came on", stated my new adversary standing next to the machines. When I asked for a list of what airlines were eligible, he rambled off a few airlines I'd never heard of from memory. That didn't sound right at all.
I gathered up all of my courage and... went and tattled to the first lady I'd talked to, and she came over and told the dude to step aside. My disciples and I were now liberated, and the day was won. Was I a Moses or more of a Gandalf? I'll let you decide.
I paid a dire price for my heroics that day. The machine printed out a little paper, a worker ripped the top off of it, and I was done. No. Stamp. In. My. Passport. I walked over to a different lady and politely asked for a stamp, and she told me no. I honestly wished I was back in that stupid long line with the other losers.
The passport stamp is the purest form of souvenir ever, bestowed directly by the people of a nation onto my official government document. They are two dimensional, nontransferable, free, and friggin' magical. Sometimes when I'm at home I crack open my passport and just look at them all.
Anyway so not getting my passport stamped was a little annoying but I think it was the worst thing that happened on the entire trip, so I can't complain too much.
Jamaica has a solid solution to the torture of constantly haggling with taxi drivers. There was a sign outside the Montego Bay airport with common destinations listed. Our resort's location, Rose Hall, was clearly marked with the price next to it in US dollars. Problem averted.
The most fun part of the gold status thing for me was the shiny gold wrist bands that we got to wear, while the "normals" had to wear plain white ones. It was helpful for the common folk to remember to avert their eyes whilst addressing me. I requested that Lydia call me "Johnny Gold" the whole trip. As you can see I am very easily amused.
Having a shiny head with the sun behind you is a great idea.
Food and booze was included, there was a beach and a little water park, and there was a live show every night. The "own little universe" nature of it did remind me of a cruise, which I hate, but with the important distinction that I could leave whenever I wanted. And we did leave. Often. For this first day though we just relaxed and explored the resort. The food was respectable, and they seemed to mix in a Jamaican dish and at least one weird fruit per meal which I greatly appreciated. We only ate offsite twice the whole trip.
There was this little promontory thing where you could look back at the hotel across the water.
We gave the bartenders plenty to do.
The fruit station was my favorite place at the buffet. The first time I walked over this guy was chopping sugar cane for guests to chew on. So awesome.
Soursop was my first weird fruit of the trip. It had a really strange consistency. I think Lydia compared it to a seafood mouthfeel. The taste was a little sour but still sweet enough to be enjoyable. It had lots of black seeds interspersed. Very interesting.
The night's entertainment was a steel drum band. It's funny because I had been actively looking for one of these throughout the last six Caribbean countries I've been to. I go to Jamaica one night and an awesome steel band just fell into my lap. They played songs that sounded pretty Caribbean but then mixed in some American pop hits. They did a Michael Jackson medley which was particularly fun.