Meeting My Readers

I asked this of you guys in our Facebook group on September 11, 2017: “If I have met you in real life as a result of Jamaica or this blog, please reply below with a YES!”

It is now October 22 so I feel like it’s time to write this post.  I’ve been avoiding it because I didn’t realize how many of you I’ve actually met over the years and I had to collect my thoughts for a while.  So here are some of the most memorable meetings of readers I’ve ever had over the last nine (gulp, nine??) years of blogging….in no particular order.

Back in the day, around the beginnings of this blog I also ran a Jamaican chat forum called Jamaica Our Way.  It was a nice, tight little cluster of Jamaica lovers like myself who all knew each other from a previous chat forum and migrated to our own.  We were all like family and TONS of us met in real life in Jamaica.  We actually did planned link up dinners on the island since I had my own apartment in Ocho Rios and another us lived in Negril at the time.  We called ourselves the “Farrin Alliance” and in real life we actually called each other our screen names LOL!  I miss that chat forum.

JOW team

 

To this day I know that several of us are still online friends even though we haven’t seen each other in years.  Some see each other more than others but the memories will last a lifetime!  There were some crazy times with those ladies back in the day, such as marching around Ochi in the middle of the night taping up Farrin Alliance posters all over the backs of trucks and walls.  Or jetting off to the island for  “48 Hours On The Rock” for no reason other than it was our birthdays.  Good times.

Spawning from that chat forum and this blog some of the people I’ve met have literally turned into family, particularly a Toronto chapter of them.  Over the years we’ve met many times in Jamaica and in Canada.  We’ve met each others parents and kids, stayed in each others homes, planned trips around each other, etc.  I wouldn’t trade them for the world!  And as an added bonus they are all dancehall sound systems so I get great mix tapes on the regular and have attended a few of their gigs in Jamaica.  See them at Urban DK Sound and Supermix Sound.

Below is Urban DK playing a show in Ocho Rios.  The kid on the right is my son.  If you can get your hands on any of their mixtapes, do it.  They’re flawless.

 

Below is Supermix Sound at their own bar in Ontario.  This brother and sister team are the best hosts ever!

 

And this is all of us at Caribana in Toronto, looking for brunch after zero hours of sleep.

 

Then there’s Irene.  She’s known to most as the Vacation Guru but to me she’s more like a partner in crime.  Irene is a travel agent and we have met in Jamaica on a couple occasions.  If I ever make a Jamaica video series with anyone, it will be her.  Why?  Because although she’s a little on the stoosh side she acknowledges that and she’s down for literally anything!  She has shown me her world in Jamaica by letting me in on a Sandals resort experience and I have shown her my world by plopping her on the back of a country motorbike with a stranger on a dirt road.

She introduced me my first Jamaican butler experience and was with me when I had my first taste of Jamaican chocolate LOL.

 

 

Another one that is near and dear to my heart is Kelly.  Kelly and I live in neighboring provinces in Canada but have only ever met on Jamaican soil.  She was my VERY FIRST airport pick-up after I started driving in Jamaica and she friggin arrived at 7:00 am.  A real pain in my ass from the first time we met but she was worth it!  I’ve picked her up at the airport twice now and done a few different road trips with her, the most memorable being our drive to the RumBar rum factory at Worthy Park Estate in Lluidas Vale, St Catherine.  We (along with her friend Kim) spent an afternoon on the estate, played in the sugar cane fields, received a private tour of the plantation, and then had dinner cooked for us by locals who live and work on the estate.

 

 

This next photo is BY FAR my very favorite photo in the history of meeting my readers in Jamaica.  Although I only stay in touch with one out of the 3 women in the photo (yes Jamie, that’s you!) this trip has a lot of fond memories attached to it.  This picture was taken at a random beach party on the south coast, which was actually a pretty lame party but the group made it more fun.   Of course there were no public washrooms and squatting behind this boat is what we actually had to do but we decided to mock the fact that all men can pee where ever they want!

 

beach party in jamaica

 

I also dropped Jamie and company on the back of motorbikes on the south coast and I’m not lying when I say that Jamie was PETRIFIED to get on the back of a bike and go anywhere.  It took a LOT of coaxing to get her to join us but by the end of the day she looked as though she was president of the bike gang.  Below was one of our rest stops on the ride….priceless.

motorbikes in jamaica

 

Erica aka RandomRae aka Raediant Movement – Erica is super awesome!  I got to meet her more than once in Jamaica and she’s great to hang out with.  Erica is a trained dancer who specializes in Jamaican dancehall styles.  She teaches classes back home and shows off her stuff in Jamaica.  We’ve had the opportunity to do a bunch of stuff together in Jamaica like karaoke and most notably, teach Jamaicans how to play UNO and have an UNO throwdown on Hamilton Mountain.

Nancy is next up and I think of all the readers I’ve met she was the easiest.  It was like we’d known each other for years even though we rarely spoke on social media.  We just knew we’d both be on the island at the same time so I called her up and swooped in for our first date.  The first time we met was at Hotel Gloriana in Mobay, where she was staying at the time.  I picked her up there, we headed to Dead End beach and she bought me lunch and drinks for my birthday.  We chatted a LOT about our separate Jamaica experiences and she’s definitely WAY cooler than me!  I even told her that.  Nancy is a full-time motorcycle rider, like she doesn’t even own a car back in Canada.  She just rides a motorbike.  Plus she has done a cross-island bike ride with stories that top all of mine!

The second time we met she made her way by route taxi from Mobay all the way to Middle Quarters to hang out with me for a few days.  During those few days we hooked up with my bike friends in St Elizabeth and it was Nancy who facilitated my first attempt at driving a motorbike in Jamaica.

 

motorbike in montego bay

Moving on to some of the random meetings which always make my day.

Shawna and Aaron – I met this husband and wife at Flavors beach in Runaway Bay.  I was hanging with some friends minding my own business when I notice this couple who kept staring at me.  It was weird but they just kept looking.  FINALLY I think it was Shawna that piped up and asked, “Do you have a travel blog?”  It was so funny and I’m laughing as I type this.  I know you guys are reading this and you’re still one of my favorite random meetings just because of the creepy staring hahaha.

Wendy, who decided to knock on my front door based on a picture that I shared on Facebook.  Here’s the story about how that went down and it is still one of my funniest meetings to date.  And in fact it was Wendy who I was with at the beach when I met Shawna and Aaron from the above paragraph.

Shuna is another lady I met through Wendy while staying in the Club Caribbean condos.  And Shuna was also with us the day we met Shawna and Aaron.  Jeez the circle is pretty small around this story!

Kim B – She’s the lady I made plans with online, to meet up with for the Jah Cure show in Negril earlier this year and we had a great time!!  As with so many of the readers I meet, it never seems awkward or weird.  We meet like we’ve known each other for years and often end up sleeping in the same hotel rooms the same night we meet!

Mike – Mike is a Treasure Beach guy and we made arrangements via Facebook well in advance of him arriving at a Knutsford bus station in the south, for me to pick them up and drive them to Treasure Beach.  I showed up at the bus stop on time but they were a no-show, only he had no wifi to communicate with so I just chalked it up to being stood up and I drove home.  Hours later that same evening I got a call from a friend who works at the Knutsford station that there are some Americans there who needed a ride to Treasure Beach.  I had to laugh because I’d been picking up and dropping off people at that station all week so the guy who works there was starting to think it was funny.  Anyway, Mike it was awesome to meet you and a shame it was so brief but YES….we will have a do-over in 2018!

Marla – You’re my most recent meeting!  And I think one of the very few meetings on Canadian soil!  Marla lives a neighboring province to me in Canada and coincidentally I had to fly over there for other reasons just this past summer.  Marla and I have been Facebook friends forever but never had the opportunity to meet.  Well, ladies and gentlemen….this lady is the BEST hostess ever!  She cooked a full meal, made homemade rum punch, and her little Jamaican son is one I’m gonna steal next time I go visit them.  We only got to spend one evening together at her home but it was enough to know she’s pretty awesome and we want to meet in Jamaica next time!

Sandie – Its funny that we’ve only met once or twice I think??  But I feel like she and I are kindred spirits in many ways.  All I can say is that we WILL be collaborating on a book in the future.  She’s one of the ladies in the group photo below, as is Irene who was mentioned way up top.  I remember meeting this group for drinks in Ochi and they were all so wonderful!  One of the brightest rays of sunshine I’ve had the pleasure of meeting is pictured below and has since passed on.  Rest in peace Kathy, the pleasure was all mine!

 

Valerie and her family were another random meeting.   I don’t think she was a reader before we met but she has since joined our fan page.  It was at a bar in Belmont, Westmoreland that I just started talking to her and her husband.  I found out they’re from a city right next door to mine back home.  Small world.  They were staying at a guest house at the top of a mountain and somehow convinced me to come all the way up there and join them for dinner that night, so I did!  It was a lovely evening of beautiful scenery and good company.

Sarah and Maurice – what can I say about these two except that I love them and have mad respect for them!  Years ago I interviewed Sarah for this blog.  She moved to Negril and started up what turned into a very successful business with her husband.  We made arrangements to meet in person earlier this year (2017), ironically at the same bar I met Valerie and her family from the previous paragraph.  I’m SO glad we met when we did because they have since sold their business and moved back to Canada.  I hung out with these two on a few different occasions before they went back to Canada and they’re just good, good people.  I wish them so much success on their new path and I will definitely make the effort to see them again when I’m passing through Toronto.

Jenni – I met Jenni earlier this year as well.  It almost didn’t happen because she accidentally gave me the wrong phone number to reach her, but I kept trying and trying lol.  Finally I connected with her online and she realized her mistake.  She was in Treasure Beach while I was staying in Middle Quarters so it was a pretty easy jaunt to go see her.  We had pizza and drinks at Jack Sprat and chatted about everything Jamaican and life in general.  She’s such a calm spirit and was great company.

Murray – I met Murray billions of years ago in my hometown because our kids went to school together.  Somehow we figured out that we had this mutual obsession with Jamaica so when I dropped his daughter off one day he invited me in to look at photos.  We lost touch as our kids grew up but reconnected again because of Jamaica, of course.  He now runs a little guest house up in the west end of Negril and we’ve gone for drinks on plenty of occasions over the years.

Dyana – Even though  her and I lost touch years ago, she and her husband are one of my coolest stories.  When I lived in Ocho Rios, Dyana came down to Jamaica to stay with me for a week.  It must have been her first or second day on the island and as we were turning into my driveway a man was crossing in front of us.  The two of them totally checked each other out, she got out of the car to go talk to him and the rest is history.  They got married and currently live in Montreal….all because they met in my driveway in Ochi.

I have now spent all day working on this post.  Some of these meetings go so far back that it took me a while to locate the pictures.  I know there are a few that I forgot or didn’t include but as long as Jamaica My Way exists I’m sure there will be plenty more opportunities for meeting you guys!  I hope you enjoyed reading because I sure enjoyed recalling all these moments.

And now the Walking Dead season 8 premiere is starting so I must leave you.

 

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