What does New Year’s mean to you? Renewal, a clean slate, promises and resolutions? Well, after years of broken resolutions, I have created my own vision of New Year's. This version consists of one-of-a-kind experiences that allow you to get outside of comfort zones, relish in family and broaden your horizons. Now to convince my family to give up black-eyed peas, collards and cornbread. We sought an escape that would be an immersive experience. With seven adults and two kids in tow, we set off for Jamaica.
As most of our family vacations go, I needed to appease my mother with an all-inclusive. She loves the laid back mentality of not cooking, cocktails and chilling at the pool or beach. Thanks to my colleague, Cara, for making this happen. It was not the resort itself, but our excursions that we would be talking about for years to come. After being set up with an amazing tour guide, Cameron, we headed to one of the most beautiful waterfalls that you can climb, Dunn’s River Falls. Hand in hand, we ascended this 180-foot beauty.
Next was a local beach where we experienced kids in the waves, men cooking up some jerk fish after bringing in the catch for the day. On the drive to the final destination, Cameron taught Jamaican Patois in between singing reggae to the top of his lunges. As we entered the canopied forest overlooking the Blue Hole, we were mesmerized. We hiked and tasted local spice plants on our journey up the cliffs to reach the apex. From there, we leaped and dove into the crystal blue limestone enriched mineral springs. Refreshing water, 22-foot jumps, adrenaline-filled bodies and eyes wide open—we were one with our surroundings. I will never forget watching my usually timid niece attack the jumps and rope swings. I could vicariously feel her sense of accomplishment.
New Year’s Eve, and we were ready to celebrate. Our family dinner was pretty powerful as we wrote down on two pieces of paper things we wanted to let go of and things we wanted to bring into the next year. Burning the former and hanging on to the latter, we headed out for the best entertainment of our lives. The local Jamaican high school marching band came to invigorate our senses. With every drum roll, Paton twirl, and sip of champagne, we couldn’t escape the feeling that this year would be unlike any other. A toast to the last year of good, bad, and sometimes ugly and a toast to the new year of explorations and a much more confident and open outlook. I still have this little piece of paper that lists what I wanted to bring into 2019—adventure, new friends and most of all, family connection. And that is exactly what we gained. Thanks, Jamaica.
Laura Anderson with Blue Pineapple Travel