So, where did we leave off? Ahh.... Daisy pooped. Bag with formula and diapers safely in our posession. Settled in paradise. What else is there to report?
Well, I did a quick post on Lazy Crazy Daisy about Daisy's experience in Jamaica. Needless to say that we fully expect Daisy to turn 18, move to Jamaica, and produce a beautiful mixed-race grandchild.. That aside, I'm left with reportage on things from the parental side. So, let's talk about high chairs.
Yes, these posts are about how travel has changed since we have become parents and the high chair situation in our hotel underscores one of the problems you just don't think about when you're packing your suitcase.
As you can see from this picture, Daisy had a lovely green, plastic high chair which she ate most of her meals on...
Unfortunately, there was only one of these high chairs in residence. Every other high chair in the resort was wooden and not one of them - that's right, NOT A ONE - had a restraint that wasn't broken. That includes no strap around the crotch area.
For the first couple of days, we made do, wrangling Daisy as she twisted and turned in the defective wooden high-chairs. Then, on our third night, while eating dinner, Ms. Daisy arched her back just the right way and went sliding down and underneath the front bar. THANK GOD, Hubby and I were seated either side of her at the time and reacted in unison, grabbing her just as her chin was about to get wrenched upwards on the underside of the bar. A second later and she would have been on the floor!
A sigh of relief was had by all that she was not hurt, although she cried with shock for a minute or two, but from that moment forward we obviously refused to use the wooden high chairs. Sadly, the "no problem" attitude we love about the Jamaicans, extended to their reaction when we told them what happened. There was generally a lack of concern that no suitable high chairs were available and a shrug of the shoulders - "those are the only ones we have" - when we tried to urge them to find something else. Despite our complaints, nothing was ever done to make those high chairs safe or to replace them. In looking around, most other parents either seemed to have lobbied for the green plastic high chair or fed their babies in their stroller (not do-able for Daisy who wants to be at table level.) As my Dad quite rightly pointed out, all he would have needed was some tools and some straps and it would have taken him 10 minutes to jimmy-rig something suitable.
So we resorted to heavily tipping the good wait staff who did seem to give a shit, making sure that the one green high chair (in 5 restaurants!) was set-aside and found for us each time. Sadly, money talks.
In the U.S., someone would have sued by now but in Jamaica I doubt most people working at the hotel have ever seen a high chair outside of the resort, probably think our kids are all spoiled and that we should be greatful they have a special chair at all. I was talking to the lady a the photo desk one day and she told me that just to buy a plane-ole run-of-the-mill umbrella stroller in Jamaica, it costs $200. Yes, $200 for that stroller we can pick up at BabiesRUs for $30-$50. Crazy. Based upon that, I can only imagine how much a high chair would cost.
We do plan to write to the Riu corporate office, however, because those chairs remain a danger. It's only a matter of time before someone's baby gets seriously hurt.
Who moves furniture at 11pm???
The only other complaint we had about the resort was how thin the walls and ceilings were and how loud (Holy Cow LOUD!), the hotel room doors were when they closed. Unless you took extreme care to close it slowly, there was pretty much no way not to close the door without making it sound like you slammed it. And with all the rooms and hallways having tile floors, the sound of doors closing in our block just constantly echoed around the hotel through the day and night.
Usually, when you're traveling without an infant, these are things you notice in passing. However, when you're thinking about getting your baby down for a nap, or keeping her down after putting her to sleep for the night, every noise becomes a nuisance. For the most part, we tried to keep a balance between understanding that people just need to get on with their business and being irritated when staff or guests abused the privilege - such as the turn-down maids that yelled down the hallway to one another at 10:30pm at night. What we learned for the future was to be adament about getting a room away from all major thoroughfares, at the edge of the resort, and ON THE TOP FLOOR. Because...
What we couldn't ignore, was the constant furniture rearrangement that would go on every single night in the room directly above us.
Every night, sometime around 11pm, the people above us would return to their room and would begin playing musical chairs with the furniture, scraping all manner of items across the tile floor for a good 30-45 minutes. After two nights of this, and after Hubby and I returned from our night time walk on the beach, I lost my cool. I flew through our hotel door before Hubby could say a word to stop me, ran down the hallway, flew up the stairs, and knocked angrily on the room above.
A guy answered through the door asking me what I wanted and I asked him exactly when he was going to quit scraping furniture across the floor and allow us to sleep. He opened the door a crack and said that he and his family were just getting out the trundle bed for his kids and were then going to sleep. There was no way on earth that this process would have taken 30 minutes every night and plus why couldn't they do this at 7pm before they went to dinner? Grrr! Unfortunately, despite my visit, this irritation continued throughout our vacation. Fortunately, Ms. Daisy slept through it all, although slightly disturbed from time-to-time, leaving us all to wonder why the hell we bother to creep around after she goes to bed at home. (We now don't, by the way.)
Tomorrow I'll quit the complaining and talk about some of the fun things that Hubby and I got up to, minus Ms. Daisy. Despite this vacation being about initiating our daughter into the world of travel, beach laziness, and reggae, we did find ways to enjoy the "other" Jamaica - the one with just the two of us and a gently lapping Carribbean sea. Ya mon!