The year of 2021 has been a year of many firsts for me. In January, I had what I’m affectionately naming my first “mountain experience.” My last living great grandmother passed in February and I am actively still recovering. I entered my first adult romantic relationship in March and ended it in August (more on that later). I also worked as a temporary Reference Librarian from May-September for the first time since earning my degree in 2016. For the last nine months, I have experienced emotional growth and understanding of myself and others. All these firsts weren’t monumental moments, but they all matured me in ways that I never thought I needed.

With that said, it brings me to taking my first international trip. When I first got my passport, my plan was to travel in 2020 and then COVID happened and changed everything. I had been saving to do something special for myself and then I had to pivot. The last two years have been one big pivot after another. Anyway, this year I decided that it was going to happen with or without COVID running ramped. For the last 30 years of my life, I haven’t had much opportunity to travel because I had “responsibilities.” Whether or not those responsibilities where mine to handle is not the point of this blog, but I haven’t had much of an opportunity to explore the world. So when a friend of mine suggested a destination trip for her birthday, I was here for it.

This trip required me to stretch my faith. I didn’t necessarily have the money for it anymore because in a COVID center world your savings go toward essentials but I knew I wanted to go and as a result the doors begin to open; I got the temporary promotion and some new clients for my publishing company. Everything appeared to be aligning itself until life started happening…AGAIN!

My car broke down, my relationship started crumbling, and I was still grieving the death of my best friend (2020) and my great grandmother at the same time. However, I was determined to make this trip because I needed this trip. I know a lot of you are probably like “why mention all the bad things, focus on the positive.” I would answer by saying, I like to be realistic. Both good and bad things happen to us everyday and I believe that acknowledging them both keeps me grounded. I’m not for faking it until I make it because, for me, that only leads to depression. Acknowledging the chaos makes me feel human and not like a robot but I digress.

September arrives and two life changing things are ending while something new begins. In my personal life, I’m separating from a man that I love and thought would be “the one.” Professionally, my temporary position has come to an end and goodbye Librarian title and temporary pay increase. Welcome back to the bottom. Talk about humbling! Back to questioning if I’m good enough to be more than a worker bee for the rest of my career. All these things happening the day before I get on a plane and travel on a 4-hour nonstop flight to “paradise.” Welcome to the land of adulting were you have to compartmentalize your feelings so you don’t ruin everyone else’s vacation with your self pity. Was I fully successful? Ehhh. Still, I had to show up as my best, well organized self to get some comrades and I in and out of the country during the middle of a “paranormal” (pandemic, lol).

Can I be honest, Jamaica is not even in my top five of places I would like to travel internationally. However, it was a solid introduction into international travel. The island is beautiful! The ocean was like a dream. Standing on that beach as the waves of water rushed across my feet brought tears to my eyes. That first day I stood there so still and silent and just breathed in an out deeply as I listened to the sounds of the island. That first day solidified for me that God is real. Only someone with an infinite mind and imagination could create something so remarkable and endless. I was experiencing heaven on earth.

This photo does the water no justice!

The people were so kind and it didn’t feel like a manufactured kindness, but a genuine curiosity and concern for my person. Even on the days where my attitude wasn’t the best because that island is a different kind of hot and I don’t like to be hot, the workers of the resort and local sellers exhibited kindness and trust in ways that I probably will never understand. Also could be that as a tourist, they want me to keep coming back. Either way, they were nice. They also stood their ground when necessary. It made me not want to come home. Despite getting sunburned and heat rash, I had a great time. Word of advice, please consistently reapply your sunscreen each and every time you get out of a pool or the ocean. Also, here are some other things I learned about myself while there:

  1. I prefer solo and/or duo trips more. I believe that it provides a more intimate feeling for me given my top love language is quality time.
  2. Praying for grace and mercy during travel is essential and knowing when the grace is lifted is key. Traveling is stressful for everybody involved and nothing is more irritating than trying to get yourself back home and through customs. Take frequent breaks to just breathe deeply because you’re bound to get on your own nerves or get on each other’s nerves as a group. Also, turbulence is scary!
  3. Itineraries are necessary and I should make one separately for myself and one for the group. It’s okay to do things alone on vacation, after all you paid your money to enjoy yourself too.
  4. I am pretty conservative when it comes to behavior on a trip and my convictions are not a collective and that’s okay. Mind your business, drink plenty of water.
  5. Having time to spend alone is necessary. See #3.
  6. When traveling with a group, it’s okay to do the things you want to do even if everyone doesn’t agree. It does not make you less of a team player. Again, #3.
  7. When traveling in groups of 3 or more, limit my stay to 4 days or less. Know your social limit. My introverted side shows up quickly after about 72 hours of socializing.
  8. Never leave home with less than $500 for activities. Because all-inclusive doesn’t mean all-inclusive.
  9. Eat, drink, and be merry! Do you boo boo! Do YOU!

White Sands Resort, Trelawny

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