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· December 2, 2007 11:04 AM by Blogger Jenny B
· December 2, 2007 2:30 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· December 2, 2007 5:38 PM by Blogger Dain

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Travel: Jamaica
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, December 01, 2007 1:40 PM (Eastern)

jamaican coat of arms

I recently returned from Jamaica; it's been my third time going there. It's odd, but it's hard for me to imagine any place on Earth I'd rather visit. Living there would be difficult, there's no doubt about it, yet it is a place that becomes a part of you, or else it's that you leave part of yourself there every time you go.

Americans particularly would do well to add Jamaica to their vacation possibilities list. Not only is English the official language of Jamaica (never mind that no one there speaks the Queen's English, since we don't either): Americans will instantly recognize a fresher version of the same former-English-colony hangover.* As far as the weather: the American South is hotter and comparably humid. If you can survive that, Jamaican weather is something of a reverie. (Okay it isn't like that all year, check before you book.)

There have been improvements over the past three years...much more new construction, a renovated airport. The people you see on the street are better dressed, year by year. There appear to be more primary education students (noticeable, since they wear uniforms). Overall there is less formality, more of a driving energy.

The photos in travel brochures really don't do the place justice. They're hopelessly airbrushed; you're left with a bizarre impression of a high-gloss resort, where rich people sit and scrutinize your shoes. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jamaica is a fabulously hot, sweaty kind of a place, where you spend much of your time in the sea. Artifice isn't a big component here...makeup melts or washes away, you live in a bathing suit, your hair is beachy, only in the literal sense. You need bug repellent and sunscreen, but you don't feel like sitting wearing a hat. At night it cools off and people dress up, but it's tropical dressing up. There isn't a corresponding style of dress here; it took me the three times to suss it out. But I like it.

river maid

Here is the view from my room. Someone comes every morning to take the boat to the water sports part of the beach. I got to snorkel almost every day...and this is a really cool boat, it's got two outboard motors in the back and a glass bottom...snorkeling in Jamaica is otherworldly. You'd think it would become humdrum, doing it every day, but it's unique each time, a different set of fish and corals, large bright starfish one day, a ginormous fish with jaws the next (okay I didn't stick around to investigate that one too closely).

hi!

Here I am looking kinda wasted...sorry about that...but everything they say about Jamaican rum is true; it's excellent. They also make a decent beer (Red Stripe).

Even if you don't consider yourself the greatest reggae fan, reggae music is omnipresent, only here it's alive and breathing. Its rhythms belong to an island nation...the one accurate aspect of those airbrushed travel-agency pics is Jamaica's exquisite turquoise sea.

Debated a bit as to which song to include here...so many good ones, from Three Little Birds to Stir It Up to Pressure Drop :) Can't beat this one though.


Bob Marley Is This Love

Here I'm leaving...you can always tell who's arriving or leaving, because they're the only folks wearing anything other than bathing suits. I didn't go for a deep tan, but I can say this was the first time in...years, easily...that I didn't always feel bone-tired. In fact I didn't feel tired at all.

last day

Edited: ahahahahaha! Just going back over my previous posts on Jamaica.

You do need two bathing suits, because how well the day's suit dries out depends on the given heat and humidity (some parts of the country are considerably hotter than others).

This time I went, I saw dental floss suits, some toplessness...more sophisticated, but it will depend on your resort.

Still, skip the short-sleeved tee shirts, socks, etc. Again we brought one of those travel steamer/iron things; again it languished in the suitcase.

Do research something called a "no see um". Think DEET, in the highest safe concentration.

Hopefully there will be more choices in coral reef safe sunscreens soon. The lone one I saw in shops (stateside) was Ecolani, at nearly $20 for 4 oz. That would amount to a c-note's worth of sunscreen for us.

And what's up with all these expensive sunscreens lately anyway?

I got to sniff two Jamaican scents, White Witch (by Parfums Jamaica) and Forget Me Not. There's little information on the Net about either.

White Witch smells kind of neat, it's spicy...I'd like to say ginger and cinnamon...with an overlay of a narcissus-like flower. On me it wasn't that great, but I did smell it on others; it's a young scent imo. The staying power didn't impress me much, considering I'd tested the eau de parfum, but then it is reasonably priced, so I can see applying it fairly lavishly.

Forget Me Not was an old-fashioned blended floral perfume, like Creed's Fleurissimo. The staying power here was pretty good.

* Jamaica attained its independence in 1962.

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December 2, 2007 11:04 AM, Blogger Jenny B said...

Thanks for your travel report! It was a lovely read. Jamaica looks great, and so do you! I'm glad you had such a fine time.

 
December 2, 2007 2:30 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

You would love it. Because it's a small island country, it's all about the sea and swimming. They have scuba diving as well as snorkeling, but you have to take lessons for scuba diving so we didn't bother. Maybe next time.

The snorkeling...it's like those fancy aquariums, only way better!

The sea is the thing...that's one thing I really miss living here. The Pacific Ocean is too cold to go swimming in, in the main...there are a few beaches around, like Stinson Beach or Alameda, but it's not the same. When I lived in Virginia, I was half an hour's drive away from the beach. Even though we did have jellyfish the size of dinner plates. lol

 
December 2, 2007 5:38 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Cool. Glad to see you back. : )

 
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Notes on travel to tropical climes...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, July 01, 2007 4:21 PM (Eastern)


I've been to Jamaica a few times. It's gorgeous, frankly, with the world's most magnificent coffee and rum; it is a striking place, with the resort life one way, and everything outside the resorts 180 degrees different.

It's been a bit tricky to pack for this kind of vacation. Each time I go, I learn from my mistakes, so here's a compilation thus far:
  • Clothes. Jamaica is hot and humid. Not quite as humid as the American South, perhaps more similar to the general East Coast/Midwest type of humidity. But it is as hot as the South.

    Short-sleeved tee shirts don't work. I brought a bunch the first time I went, and they sat in my suitcase. Cotton tank tops are good, or sleeveless, thin cotton or rayon tops (I have a couple East Indian ones I bought there). If you've got to do short sleeves, make your top loose-fitting and as lightweight as possible.

    Generally, you wear a bathing suit all day. The styles tend to be pretty modest, no thongs or teeny strings, just regular one- or two-piece bathing suits. Along with this, you'll need a skirt or sarong or something similar to stash in your beach bag...some restaurants don't consider you "dressed" in your bathing suit alone, you have to put a skirt over it. (Men are considered "dressed" with a shirt over their swim suit.)

    You can carry one bathing suit and just wash it out at night. No one seems to notice if you wear the same suit every day. Swim suits take up little packing space however, so throw in another if you like.

    You do need to bring a couple of long-sleeved shirts just in case. It got "chilly" last time I went, and I had to wear the same solitary long-sleeved shirt I'd brought.

    No one irons there; some wrinkles in your clothing are okay. I brought one of those travel clothing steamers...it sat in the suitcase along with the tee shirts!

    Evening wear...you dress up every night. Again, it's hot, so "dress up" does not mean the same thing as it does here. Something like a pretty, sleeveless, lightweight dress, or similar top and skirt, would do it. You can switch out your tops and skirts somewhat, but try to think in terms of clothes that don't wrinkle, so's you can squash more of them into your suitcase.


  • Shoes. It's too hot generally for stockings and pumps, although you can wear them in the evening if you want to. Sandals are accepted footwear day or night; make yours lightweight sandals. Bring some water socks (in a pinch, you could buy them at the resort).

    You will need a comfortable pair of "walking sandals" for jaunts outside the resort; wear these on the plane coming and going.


  • Hair. You will need to put up your hair unless it's short enough not to hang on your neck. Bring enough hair doodads to keep you happy putting up your hair each day.

    You will need to bring a mild shampoo as you will wash your hair once or twice per day. I washed mine in the morning and evening (you could skip the morning wash, but you will need to wash your hair after going in the sea or pool). The complimentary resort shampoo ain't going to cut it.

    Likewise, bring a sufficiently rich daily conditioner.


  • Umbrellas. Some resorts have umbrellas, some don't. If yours doesn't, bring a travel-sized umbrella.


  • Makeup. During the day, forget about it. Eyeshadow instantly melts; blush is unnecessary; no one seems to wear makeup anyway. If you like, a little waterproof eyepencil or mascara and lip balm (tinted or un-).

    In the evening, you can wear eyeshadow, blush and lipstick as you please, but you won't feel like heavy or dramatic makeup.


  • Perfume. This is like the South: light scents disappear within half an hour. That's why Southerners bring on the heavy, sweet scents, stuff that might well knock you on your head in drier, cooler climates.


  • Jewelry. People don't wear the flashier, more conspicuously expensive pieces. You'll see a little gold, maybe small gemstones, but just as much "bridge" jewelry. Silver and semi-precious are fine.

Some things I'm still working on...no see 'ums. These are tiny, biting flies or "midges." They're worse than mosquitos in the sense that the bites don't start itching insanely until a few days after you've been bitten. And the no see 'ums are tiny, unlike your big, slappable mosquitos.

From what I've read, the no see 'ums live in the sand on the beach. When the sand cools off later in the day, the no seem 'ums come out and bite you. It seems as if DEET is the choice repellent for these, but the DEET spray I'd brought last time didn't seem to discourage them much. Thinking of a higher-concentrate DEET lotion, unless there's something better around.

Of course there are the obvious things to carry: sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, et cetera. The sun isn't as strong as it is on a hot day in California, but, as soft as it feels, you'll still burn without sunscreen.

There isn't much shopping in Jamaica. They have little malls with some jewelry, clothing, of course the coffee and rum...well worth visiting, but you won't bring back bags and bags of stuff.

On the other hand, prepare to lose some weight and get more buff, as most of what you'll "do" over there is physical: swimming, "kayaking," walking on the beach, pedaling an enormous sea tricycle, scuba diving, and so forth.

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Makeup for Jamaica, part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, November 29, 2006 10:36 PM (Eastern)

Hey, I'm back. I would have written earlier, but the place in which I was staying didn't have Internet access. It's not unknown in Jamaica by any means--the resort I stayed at last year (see part 1) had high speed wireless, free, in every room--but this place didn't have it.

This was my second voyage to this country--which is a great country--okay, there is much about Jamaica that reminds me of the 1970's Virginia in which I grew up...because there still were people back then and there, that didn't have running water, and large expanses of kudzu-enveloped trees, plants, the occasional car (it's not kudzu in Jamaica, but something remarkably similar)...bad plumbing, the kind where you had to jump out of the shower spray any time someone flushed the toilet...heat, humidity, mosquitos...and the most intense, almost palpable, beauty, to be found everywhere around you.

In Jamaica of course the extremes are far more opposed than in the merely pre-central-air-conditioned South of my youth. Step out of the resort and there are shacks, the kind that look like, well, abandoned shacks, until you glimpse the clothesline out back with its neat row of freshly-hung laundry. No dryer, no washer, no...a lot of things are missing. No public schools that I could see; a few private ones. A couple of traffic lights. Even on the resort, the electricity crapped out in a storm (this one had a generator; the other one didn't). But outside the resort, who even has electricity? Some do, many don't.

Tons of bars, clubs and restaurants (as you would expect...again, reminiscent of my Naval home town), a lone Chinese market, a Jockey factory, many of what appeared to be overgrown plantations: a sudden field carved from the tropical vegetation, with what I'll guess is the remains of sugar cane, with a large colonial style house mounted in the hill in the back like a fantastic gem. New construction everywhere: grey concrete with a bit of a Moorish look (okay, more of an Indian style, and pretty cheesy at that). Coconut palms, resort after resort, cruise ships, bauxite mines (if hematite is your stone, it's omnipresent here), the sea of two distinct hues: turquoise (over sand) and deep blue (over coral reefs) wrapping the coastline.

Um, makeup. I brought a slightly different set this time, but it's not a makeup place. You don't need much. It's too hot and humid, too...hard to put a finger on it. In the South, it's been well said, we wear way too much makeup. It's not the climate per se. It's the culture.

I had my usual tinted sunscreen, Nars the Multiple in Malibu, MAC Blot pressed powder, MAC Permaplum eyepencil, Prestige Expresso eyepencil, Nars Babylon eyeshadow duo, Dior Beige Massaï eyeshadow quint, MAC Sophisto lipstick (I'm using this up, made a good dent in it here), MAC Strawberry Blonde lipstick. I wore all of these. Didn't need more, would have been bored with less.

Also, I brought Etro Heliotrope eau de cologne (shouldn't have bothered, it faded instantly in the heat) and Armani Code (this held up better but still conked out after a time). The kind of perfume you can wear in this weather is entirely different: it has to be strong and sweet. Something that smells "too much" in any other place is ideal here.

Hair things: I brought my "octopus" (perfection!), black velvet scrunchie, "geo clip" (only wore it once), and headband with teeth. That's about right although I would like to have some fancy little decorative clips next time.

Clothes: I'm still getting the hang of this. You can't pack minimally, the way travel guides always tell you to do. You run out of clothes. This time I didn't, and I did manage to scoop up some excellent summer clothes, like a turquoise skirt (tiered, but with a pattern of gathers rather than just plain old gathers) and a chartreuse one of the same design, couple of Banana Republic skirts (both white with a print). It'll sound insane but that was not enough skirts for ten nights. I wasn't happy enough with the skirts on sale there to buy them (the good ones were expensive, the more reasonably-priced ones had beads sewn on that I knew would pop off at the drop of a hat). The separates idea is good though, since whatever tops you bring are going to fold up small.

Tops...anything more formal than a tank top will work. I bought a couple of tops there actually, from the shopping mall. Since all of the stores in the mall are owned by Indians, there are some nice Indian clothes there.

I brought a travel size clothes steamer and never used it. The humidity softens the majority of wrinkles out of your clothes.

Shoes...again I just brought my Okabashi sandals. Not the height of shoe fashion but Jamaica is not a shoe place much more than it is a makeup place. You can bring nice shoes but the Okabashi's did me good this time as well.

It was "cold" there for the first few days (not actually cold, but not sweating hot) and I regretted bringing only one long-sleeved shirt. I could have used several. Last time I went, it was hot all the time except the couple of times it rained. So bring a small range of clothes just in case.

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Makeup for a holiday in Jamaica
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, November 29, 2005 6:16 PM (Eastern)

Hi there, I have recently been to Jamaica on a holiday. I'm going to blog more about it in our Fashion Blog and my own Adult Acne Blog, and I'm also going to set up a Travel Blog to replace our current system of using regular HTML pages for travel-related articles.

The cosmetics angle...well...not much. You don't need that much makeup in Jamaica. The climate is hot and humid. Not as hot nor as humid as the American South in the summertime, but definitely hot and tending towards the muggy.

  • Blush


  • The first day I was there, I kicked myself for not bringing any blush. I don't normally wear it every day here (California). After that one day, I completely forget about blush altogether. Imo, you can leave your blush at home unless it is your essential cosmetic and you would feel at a loss without it.

  • Eye liner/pencil


  • I did bring my MAC Powerpoint eye pencil in "Permaplum." Here I would advise bringing at least one eye pencil or liner that you consider very water-resistant. For me this would be a MAC Powerpoint or a Prestige Waterproof Automatic eye pencil. The former has better colors and is somewhat easier to blend. The latter is somewhat more waterproof so it might be handy if you're going to do a lot of water activity.

  • Eye pencil sharpener


  • I actually remembered to bring this. :)

  • Eyeshadow


  • During the day, I never felt like wearing eyeshadow. Why bother? With the heat and humidity, plus water activity, there would hardly be a point.

    In the evening though it does cool off enough so that eyeshadow is possible. I brought my Nars eyeshadow duo in "Babylon" and my Urban Decay single in "Kiss." I ended up using both and was glad I'd brought them. I didn't miss any of my other shadows.

    I did however neglect to bring my eyeshadow lining brush and that would have been nice (I paired the orange shade in the Nars duo with the Permaplum rather than its own purple shade).

    So, my advice is to include a few of your favorite shadows but don't be surprised if you wear them more in the evening than during the day.

  • Foundation products


  • Likewise, make sure you bring foundation products that can stand up to heat and moisture. My regular tinted sunscreen and MAC Blot powder both worked fine.

    If you're new to Blot, the colors run light.

  • Sunscreen


  • Bring it and use it. The Jamaican sun feels nice and soft but you can't stay an hour in it without sunscreen unless you don't tend to burn.

    The sun seems to concentrate on shoulders, chest and back areas so do be sure to automatically apply a good water-resistant sunscreen in the morning before you go out.

  • Lipstick


  • The heat softened my MAC Lustre lipstick in "Sophisto" but didn't melt it.

    I advise to bring as moisturizing a lip product as you have. Not only for your stay in Jamaica, but also for the airplane trips.

    How many lipsticks do you need, well again I feel that heavy, matte, highly pigmented products would have seemed out of place. Something sheer and shimmery, that you don't have to constantly touch up, is best. I was happy with Sophisto. I like the MAC Lustres anyway, that is the formula I would personally recommend.

  • Lip balm


  • I forgot to bring this!!! Put it on your list. I didn't miss it during the day but at night you really want something moisturizing on your lips.

  • Night cream


  • The heat semi-melted my usual Heather Loraine jojoba butter but it was okay, it didn't leak or anything.

    Now here is some more advice.

    If you're going to do any waxing or shaving, don't forget to do it before you go. As far as I know, it is difficult to find a salon that does waxing? As far as shaving, you won't feel like doing it over there unless it is necessary.

    Likewise, trim your finger- and toe-nails beforehand. Why? Again there is that factor of not feeling like doing it. Of course you can bring your manicure stuff in your checked-in bag.

    Because of the climate and activities, be prepared to take two showers per day. So carry enough of your favorite shampoo, conditioner, and other bath products.

    Do your haircolor and haircut fresh before you go.

    Jamaica uses different voltage so double check electric shavers, hair dryers, etc. beforehand.

    Here is a short list of other items you might want to bring along with the above-mentioned stuff:

  • Tweezers

  • Cotton swabs

  • A good deodorant

  • Money! I kicked myself for not thinking about duty-free airport shopping.


  • I'll add more to this later if I've forgotten something.

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