May 31, 2009

A Blustery Day at Fort Clarence Beach, Kingston

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Blustery Day at Fort Clarence Beach, Kingston

A year abroad is the perfect time for new beginnings. So, there are a couple of things we decided to change for this year. The first was to leave behind Raymi’s sippy cup. I mean, she’s five, and doesn’t really need a sippy cup. By leaving it behind, we can begin a new phase in her life, right? The other thing we decided to do was to institute a family budget. Last night, Nando and I agreed on how much we would spend in each category, and committed to reporting our expenses to each other.

Yesterday, I went to the bank, and took out half of our budgeted money for this week, and gave Nando his portion of the cash. Nando is in charge of entertainment expenses, since he will be in charge of entertaining the kids most days while I am out doing my research. (Yes, I will be starting that any day now!)

This morning, we decided that we would take the bus to Hellshire Beach. I looked up the schedules, and found that there is a bus that leaves from near our house at 11:36am. Nando asked if he had time to go to the grocery store beforehand. It was 9:10am, so I agreed, although I suspected he might take longer than he expected, since that is his normal M.O. But, I wasn’t worried about it, because Nando is in charge of entertainment expenses. Nevertheless, I got the girls ready and straightened things up around the house.

Nando rolled up at the house at 11:10am, and we put away the groceries. By then, it was 11:20, and Nando asked if we still had time to catch the bus. We didn’t so he suggested we take a taxi. Again, I am cool with that, because we have a set amount, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

To my surprise, Nando negotiates with the taxi driver and he agrees to take us to Hellshire Beach, which is 40 minutes away for 1500 Jamaican dollars, about US $20. On the way, we agree to go to Fort Clarence Beach instead. Fort Clarence is a National Park, and I have heard that it is cleaner and safer than Hellshire Beach. So, the taxi drops us there.

Once we arrived at the beach, I was so glad I decided to come. I really love the beach! The girls ran straight in and swam in the water. As can be expected, the water was not exactly crystal clear, but it was as warm as bath water and suitable for swimming. The only problem really is that it is very windy at the beach. This certainly helps cool things off, but, makes it a bit hard to just chill. I did manage to get a chapter read of a book I am supposed to be writing a review of, though.

After a bit, Tatiana, Soraya, Raymi, and I decided to walk down the beach to see what was there. Turns out not much. The beach to the left was strewn with trash, and completely devoid of any shade. After about ten minutes of walking, I asked the girls if we could turn around. I remembered I hadn’t put suntan lotion on their backs and thought we should go back and get lotioned up. Of course, they didn’t want to go back. We lingered for a bit. Then, I pointed to a yellow piece of trash in the distance and said: “I think I see a sand bucket.”

They bolted towards it, and it turned out to be a broken yellow sand bucket, but at least we were on the way back to our place on the beach. When we were almost back to where Nando was, Soraya was lagging behind, and Raymi and Tatiana had gone ahead. I yelled to Soraya to catch up, and went to direct Raymi and Tatiana to where the suntan lotion was. When I turned around, Soraya wasn’t behind me. I asked Nando to go back for her.

Next thing I knew, he was way down the beach and there was no sign of Soraya. I panicked and yelled for Nando to come back, as surely she had gone the other way. I asked a couple we had passed by if they had seen her. The guy told me a girl with a stick had passed by. So, I began running in the other direction, and told Tatiana and Raymi to stay put. Then, a woman came up to me and pointed at Soraya walking towards us from the far right end of the beach. When Soraya got to me, she began crying and said she hated getting lost. Fortunately, that was just a scare, and Nando came back and all the kids got their suntan lotion lathered on. Me too, even though I was in the shade most of the time.

At Fort Clarence Beach, there is a place called Tianna’s shack, where the owner roasts up delicious fresh fish. Nando ordered a plate of roasted fish and festival – a sort of delicious fried corn bread. Mmmm, mmm, delicious.

Nando had brought some of his jewelry with him to the beach, and set out to sell his wares while we waited for the fish to roast. He came back 30 minutes later, and had made a few sales. After eating, he went back out for another 20 minutes, and sold some more. In less than an hour, he made back the round trip taxi fare, the money for the fish, and then some. Not bad, eh?

After lunch and jewelry-selling, the girls were tired and ready to go back. We set back out on the road, and the security guards at the beach offered us a ride out to the main road. So, we hopped on the back of their pick up and came out to the main road. They then hailed a taxi for us. Actually, they yelled at a driver to come back for us, even though he was headed in the other direction. They told him to just let us ride with his other fare and then take us where we need to go. The driver explained that he has been driving for 24 years, and is the most trustworthy driver there is, and that is why they wanted him to take us. Nice to know someone is watching out for us.

We arrived back at the house without incident. Nando decided he wanted to venture out to Trenchtown, so the taxi took him back downtown after dropping us off. I came inside with the girls to relax after a long day.

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