It’s the end of the first week of the trip, and I’m still in denial. Denial that it’s halfway over. Denial that I’m even here. We moved on from the resort and moved into the Great Huts on Wednesday. Talk about a lifestyle change. While my hut has two bathrooms, one is completely outdoors and the other has open “windows” in the stone to the outdoors. Giant nets hang from the ceiling over our beds to keep out mosquitos (didn’t quite work for cockroaches, unfortunately.) To get to the bedroom, we have to climb a steep wooden ladder/staircase. We have very touchy internet (think Augie internet times ten only in one building.)
After our efforts in the ocean swim, Timko and I treated ourselves to breakfast at a local café which happened to be incredible.
Sprinting across the sand to join the plethora of red headed caps bobbing up and down in the ocean water in a conglomerate of hectic and frantic splashing, I flung my clothes off with little regard to where they landed.
Jamaica Blog Post 2:
The minute we arrived in Port Antonio, it was obvious that we were going to have a different experience than at the resort in Runaway Bay. However it wasn’t until the second night at Great Huts that I really started to get the experience that I had anticipated. The second night in Portland I went down to get a beer and play dominos with a group. I started out playing terribly, but picked up quickly and started to play better. After some drinks and some jokes, the locals that we played with were speaking patois and I was understanding (for the most part) what they were saying. I had a lot of fun with the locals as well as with the other students at my table. We were just relaxing and talking I was able to get to know the people a little better, which is what I wanted to do. I learned that I agree with Mike that Red Stripe is so much better out of the bottle! Even last night I had a new younger partner to play with who taught us some new tricks and joked with a bit more. I liked that I had the chance to learn and experience instead of America in Jamaica.
Something that stood out to me was our visit to the Seville house because the tour guide mentioned that Jamaican culture is slowly disappearing and being americanized. This kind of annoyed me in that I don’t like the idea that a culture is changing to please the business of another culture. I think that her comment brought me right back to Runaway Bay and the idea that most people have of Jamaica. I am excited. Though that we don’t have to be that group in that I think that most of us are here to learn about Jamaica, the culture, and probably the most important learning about the people and interacting with them. I am thrilled that the Great Huts was so different than Runaway Bay, but I am looking forward to Kingston so that we can really learn and experience as opposed to just being the van full of white people touring around the country.
The stay at the great huts has been a great adventure, not just in the places that we went but really experiencing the people of the island. We started out our stay by going to the market. When walking through the back of the market, we found a women there that we started talking to. She explained how she made a variety of things such as spices and coconut oil. She discussed how they make them and how the new applicants like choppers and benders do not do as great of a job as the by hand work. She then explained the process of making a form of pudding, which then she offered to share with us, which was her lunch. She then gave us free spices for talking with her and really interesting and listening, not just being the tourist that most people see as us. I fell like you might meet someone like this in America, but it would be rare for them to give you part of their lunch and the. Give you a free gift.
On Friday we went out dancing before dinner at the big speakers down the road and we got to dance with some children and their parents on the street. We did the same thing on Saturday after the cultural show. We got on the dance floor and were able to relate to the Jamaicans in a for that everyone can understand. Sometimes I have trouble understanding the patois, but the act of dancing together is a way that we could commute with each other in a way that language does not get in the way. This was also true when playing dominos wat the local bar since we could relate to each other through the game and learn more about them and their culture through what to some might seem like a simple game, which it is not.
The second stay on our Jamaican adventure was in Boston Bay at the Great Huts. This place is an adventure on its own, but the four days we have been here, I have done and experienced so many new things.
The first adventure was exchanging money. One U.S. dollar is 100 Jamaican dollars so my math skills are being tested just to buy things. Speaking of buying things, Wednesday we went to Port Antonio AKA “The Tone” and visited the market. I met so many people.
After leaving Runaway Bay, we moved as a group to Boston Bay, and are currently staying at The Great Huts, a series of open-air treehouses in a jungle-like setting, about three hours from the last stop. My current room has a full view of the ocean, and we’ve lived waking up to the sun and the sound of waves crashing against the rocks outside the hut.
I began the day with short but exhausting run along the beach. Shacks lined the beach as I left the resort behind. The vendors cheered me on as I ran by. Out of breath and hungry for breakfast I enjoyed a freshly made smoothie and before I knew it we were off the the Green Grotto Caves.
We embarked for the green grotto caves, used to film the James Bond flick, Live or Let Die, for rum storage, a Spanish hideout and a sanctuary for runaway slaves, these caves have a rich history. Although they have long been used as a speakeasy, the caves provided an interesting tourist attraction. our tour guide Calvin greeted us energetically as we doned the always fashionable hairnets and hardhats. Selfie taking ensued… Once in the caves we were educated on stalagtights and stalagmites and how after thousands of years they meet, forming rock Collumns which hl support the weight of the cave. Further in, we were introduced to some furry and not so furry friends. The green grotto caves are home to hundreds of bats! Our guide also introduced us to some of his dearest rock friends including, scooby do, bugs bunny, batman, and swiper! Some formed by shadows or the rocks themselves! One of exciting moments of the caves came with the exploration of the underground lake, where the was like glass, so still and clear. Down 65 stone stairs It was here we experience compete darkness, hand-in-front-of-your-face-but-all-you-see-is-black darkness, which was both terrifying and exhilarating. Next we ventured back up to the light to view the Wishing Well. The tress surrounding this sight has huge long roots and seemed to disappear in every crack or the rock. We soon learned that these were Fig trees and there roots would grow up to 7 miles in search for water helping the natives thousands of years prior for their pursuit of the most valuable resource on Earth. With a 100+ft drop, it was a long way for your wishes to fall. Many hard helmets and cameras had taken the plunge as well. Back into the light we went to finish exploring the caverns that led us back into the main cave.
After a couple games of sand volleyball we got ready for our formal dinner. A five course meal that had very unique modern/ Africana feel… Overall, delicious!
Welcome to Jamrock A journey marked by the bleep bleep of an alarm going off at 3:30 am. It was a brisk (to say the least) 2 degrees in Rock Island, nothing compared to the -10 I had left in Minnesota a day prior. I boarded the party bus at Centennial and I was off our the academic adventure of a lifetime. After a little hupla furious friends at Delta Airlines, we boarded our first plane to Atlanta and anther from Atlanta to Montego Bay Jamaica. Finally, I could see the ocean through the porous clouds, sparkling so far below. It is amazing that planes can glide through the air like they do. Just as my eyes began to droop and my mouth began to drool, we saw land! Beautiful, lush, emerald land. Paradise. Love at first sight. The plane screeched to the runway and we exited, greeted by a wave of heat, it was pure bliss compared to the frozen tundra that we far far behind us.
Our arrival at Jewel Resort in Runaway Bay was dependent on two white vans. Two paths diverge in the jungle and Dr. E’s van took the one less traveled in search of a cell phone and Dr. J’s van (my van) took the path most traveled, only having a minor encounter with a sugar can truck. All was well because we made it to the resort in one (sweaty) piece . Greeted with with a drink as turquoise at the Caribbean waters and a brilliant smile, we got a taste of the all inclusive lifestyle. I could definitely get use to it. Tearing through my suitcases to find my bathing suit I headed down the to get the first view of the ocean. Absolutely glorious.
All you can eat, surrounded by crispy White people I had my first taste of jerk sausage and fresh coconut! Karaoke ensued and dancing occurred….the frigid weather being only but a distant memory…
Coming into Jamicia I was ready to be in paradise to see the beautiful beaches and to be embraced by such a unique culture. As we drove to the resort we had the opportunity to see the beautiful land and see everything around us. It was clear that a large part of the area we were in was very touristy and geared towards Amaticians, but as you saw the touristy area you would see right next to it would be an abandoned house or a a house the clearly needs some repair. If houses looked the way they did in America you would assume it was impoverished. We also saw tiny shops for beer and other small items that did not look clean. Seeing this large contrast was very uncomfortable for me. They make there living off of selling things to rich white men and woman who have lived in excess their whole life while they must go back to their home with just enough to survive. It was hard to see and was discomforting as we headed to a resort the was all inclusive and drinking eating were going to be done in excess.