We just got back from a wonderful two-week holiday in Jamaica. We stayed at Kaibana, a fully-accessible villa in the Silver Sands gated community near Duncans, with a fabulous view over the sea as well as a lovely salt water pool. We were treated like royalty by the staff waiting on us hand and foot, so I had lots of people pushing me around! It was a great break for my husband as caregiver; he could indulge in his hobby of photographing all the flora and fauna, and enjoy being back in the land of his birth.
The best part for me was the pool. As soon as Beluga (my stump) hit the water, she was in her element, bouncing up and down for joy – I couldn’t keep her still. The feeling of weightlessness was absolute bliss, especially when I climbed into the lounger and just floated. Swimming was a bit of a challenge, but possible with the aid of noodles under my armpits to keep me balanced. And there was a ledge all along one side of the pool for sitting submerged up to my shoulders and soaking up the sun – heavenly!
Travelling was remarkably easy, thanks to wheelchair service at the airports. There are definite advantages to being in a wheelchair there: for one thing, I get special treatment to bypass the line-ups for security and immigration. They still check the metal leg and the chair for contraband, of course. We brought the transport chair, rollator and crutch with us, so that I could get around when we went sightseeing.
Accessibility is always an issue no matter where we go, both here and in Jamaica: few ramps, steps without railings and so on. Despite that, we managed to visit most sights, including Dunn’s River Falls, where they now have a viewing gallery perfect for watching people climbing the falls. I didn’t need to do that – last time I climbed the falls was 44 years ago with my parents when they visited after we got married!
It was a trip down memory lane for us in other ways too. With our friends we stayed overnight in beach cottages at Negril, our favourite beach, although I didn’t make it into the sea, unfortunately – too many obstacles to overcome without the leg, but I was sorely tempted to crawl over the sand anyway…
Then we visited the basic school we helped to build in 2009 at Retreat, Westmoreland, which is looking great and has since expanded. We stopped briefly at Mannings School in Sav-La-Mar, where I used to teach, moving on to visit the family business (now sold) in Petersfield where Dick and I met and lived before coming to Canada. Finally a stop at a lesser-known tourist spot, well worth the visit: Roaring River Park, source of the water for the plains of Westmoreland. It matches its name all right – the sound is incredibly loud!
All in all, the trip of a lifetime. In fact, now that we’re home in chilly Toronto, I want to go back – very soon!