The day before we left for Jamaica we got hit with about six inches of snow, courtesy of Winter Storm Nemo. Newark Liberty International Airport was closed and we were a bit worried our travel plans might get scrapped. As we shoveled snow and scraped ice off the windshield on Saturday I wondered if this trip, which I have been looking forward to for two months, would be cruelly scrubbed at the last minute.
Sunday morning it was 23 degrees in New Jersey. A quick check on our airline’s website indicated that our flight was on schedule. We made it to the airport and checked our bags without issue. One of the nice things about traveling with children is that most times airport security is sympathetic and will allow you access to the premier lines. You still go through all the same screenings, but usually in a fraction of the time. Two years ago at the airport in Bangkok, a guard let us through a line reserved for diplomats; I think in large part so he could carry Finnegan. He then proceeded to put on a puppet show and entertain Finnegan while another guard took care of our entry formalities.
For the first time on this trip we gained access as a family to the heretofore forbidden world of the elite via the United Airlines Club lounge. Never before I had I been inside one of these lounges, typically utilized by first-class travelers and those with elite status. Jennifer scored us access to the lounge through means of which I am not entirely certain, but it was pretty cool. What is so special about the lounge? Perhaps it is the free food, magazines and newspapers or the showers and workstations, or maybe it was just the relaxed atmosphere that made being at the airport more tolerable. As much as I liked being in the lounge, I knew that I was an interloper, a temporary visitor likely not be granted access again for a long time to come.
We timed getting to our gate perfectly because as soon as we arrived, they began boarding our flight. When traveling with children you are allowed to board the plane early, usually right after the first class and business class travelers. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand it is easier to board a plane with children when you don’t have to fight the masses ahead of you. But on the other hand, the earlier you board, the longer you wait until takeoff. So if your children are already feeling cooped up, sometimes it is wise to wait until the end to board.
The flight landed on time and it was 83 degrees in Montego Bay when we touched down – sixty degrees warmer than New Jersey. A driver from Bluefields Bay Villas was waiting for us with a car at the airport. Our driver took us on a shortcut through the mountains to get to our villa, which saved us an hour of driving, but the bumpy and winding roads cost Declan his lunch. After a quick stop to change Declan’s clothes and mop up the back seat of the car, we were soon at the villa. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by a phalanx of staff: the manager, the cook, the nanny, the butler and even the gardener. They gave us a tour, offered us snacks and drinks and carried in our luggage. Before we arrived, I thought the nanny would be overkill as I did not think Finnegan would leave our side. I was wrong – within 30 seconds Finnegan disappeared and was walking hand-in-hand with the nanny down to the beach while the manager gave us a tour. That did not take long.
The villa is very private, with its own pool and access to the ocean. Unlike a typical resort, you do not see any other guests. The villa sits atop a hill with a staggering ocean view. We enjoyed a spectacular sunset last night, right before we were served a scrumptious dinner of red snapper, steamed vegetables and Caribbean rice. The point of this place is to be waited on and relax. But how do you relax with two little ones along on the trip? That’s where the nanny comes in and so far she has been a big help. With three adults watching Finnegan and Declan, it’s like going from a man-to-man to a zone defense. My hope is Jennifer and I will be able to catch some breaks this week with all of the help. So far so good.