The worldwide Augustana College experience

Jamaica Journal 1

 It took us quite a while to get here…the plane was delayed about 40 min in the runway, customs is a pain, the vans took over an hour to get, and the hotel had to find everyone a new room…but everything worked out and we were able to get to our rooms around 6:40pm! Our 6am meeting time at baggage claim at  O’Hare made for a long day, but we’re in Jamaica now, so as the locals say “No problem mon!”

Our first stop was Jewel Runaway Bay, an all-inclusive resort on the north side of Jamaica. Upon arriving we immediately walked to the beach and were all in awe of the beautiful, bright blue water. I also had hoped to hear some Reggae music playing, but was instead surprised to hear “Gangnam Style”. Throughout our stay at Runaway Bay I caught glimpses of the Jamaican culture, however there was an overall “touristy” feeling seen in the food, activities, and people. For example, the patois language we heard in the videos we watched in class was minimized, and the song selection played by the pool was a repeated playlist of “Gangnam Style” and “I’m Sexy and I Know It”. My favorite moments at resort were with the island locals, including the staff, guests, and special visitors.
After eating lunch on Friday afternoon a small group of us noticed the empty sand volleyball court and decided to just hit the ball around. A few hours later we were playing with a large group of people from all over the world, including our new friend Alton Bailey from Jamaica. Alton was a guest of the hotel, with his annual family vacation at Jewel Runaway Bay, which they call their “Home away from home”. We spoke with Alton after the game about his life and Jamaica and found out that he is study architecture in Kingston and loves to draw and design buildings. He then warned us of the “crazy” people we may find in the capital city, but if they’re anything like Alton or his little brother Joel I think we will be just fine.
While watching the Runaway Bay talent show on Friday night both guest and staff were encouraged to preform. Although none of our group made an appearance the managers , guests, and the talent show MC were incredible! My favorite act was a woman who was visiting Runaway Bay, who was originally from the area. She got up on stage and acted like a natural, joking with the audience, dancing with the band, and, and encouraging participation in a call and response song. She sang 4 songs in total, including two Jamaican folk songs and two songs sang by local Jamaican artists. The applause from the audience and staff was incredible as she took her final bow.
Another amazing experience was before dinner Friday night when Mike brought his sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and 2 year old nephew AJ, to visit us at the resort. I was fortunate enough to get to hold AJ for the short time they were there. Although he was shy he was able to capture all of our hearts with his smile, lighting up the whole room when someone said “Cheese!”, Then would reach out his hands asking to see his picture.. Mike had told us while at school that many students would be fascinated with our hair, especially if it was blonde, and although he was hesitant at first AJ is a great beautician.
These simple interactions were so meaningful and made me even more excited about the days to come as we venture into the heart of Jamaica, with our last stop in Kingston!

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