The worldwide Augustana College experience

Jamaica at Last!

 

Last December was when I applied to be accepted into the Jamaica program. A year later and I am finally here. It seemed so strange packing shorts and tank tops in the middle of December. The flight was amazing! I have flown once before but this was my first time out of the country. When the island finally came into view I was amazed. It was so green and lush with hills and mountains. The best way to see the island is from the air. I must say the island appeared much bigger than I thought it would be. When the wheels of the plane finally touched down all I could think was “Wow I made it. I am really in Jamaica and these are actually Jamaican people that I see all around me”.

The first place we stayed was Jewel Runaway Bay. A Christmas tree greeted us as we walked in along with complementary drinks. This resort was all inclusive so we could get food and drinks for free whenever we wanted. I loved going to the buffet and trying a little of everything. The different types of rice were by far my favorite. On our first full day at Jewel Runaway Bay I went kayaking where we tipped over just trying to get out into the sea. I also went snorkeling and played beach volleyball with a couple other Augie students, some Jamaicans, some other Americans, Canadians, and a man from Norway. I blocked one of the more intense players on the opposing team and it felt great. We later went to dinner at a restaurant in the hotel and then we all headed over to the talent show. In the talent show were some guests staying at the resort along with some of the staff members. The staff members were very impressive with their singing and dancing and it looked like they were having a lot of fun. Later that night we all went to karaoke and sang a song all together. I believe it was “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” by Aero Smith.

The next day we packed up and headed to the Great Huts. I was so sad to leave the beautiful resort. I got to meet some of the employees and I got to talk to and hang out with Alton, the Jamaican we played sand volleyball with. Everything was so nice and relaxed there. You never knew what time it was which was surprisingly nice, and you just ate and drank when you felt like it. There was no busy schedule that had to be followed. I must say that leaving the resort was not all bad though. I did not feel like I was really in Jamaica, but rather on vacation. I was excited to get outside the walls of the resort where I could start to experience Jamaica. At the resort the employees were so nice, but in a way they were too nice. The way they treated me made me feel almost superior to them. All I wanted to do was to sit down with them and to have a conversation and get to know them and hear what they thought about Jamaica.

The drive from the resort to the Great Huts has to be one of the scariest drives I have ever experienced. The roads are narrow and twist and turn and there are mountains and hills so you can’t see what is flying around the corner at you. At one point there were these people dressed up in costumes with toy weapons in the middle of the roadway. As our van approached they did not move. We had to swerve and go around them. I guess it was part of some African tradition. Overall, Dr. J did a great job driving and we finally arrived at the huts. When we first got to the huts all I wanted to do was go back to the resort. My roommate and I have the Gate Hut which is where I am right now writing this blog. At first I was a little uneasy because our hut is wide open and there are lizards and bugs everywhere. At dinner that night we ate while some Jamaicans preformed and played music for us. After they preformed they invited us to get up and dance with them. The first night was rough and I did not get much sleep. The next day was a lot better and I was starting to like the huts a lot more. We went swimming in the morning at the local beach. The water was crystal clear and the sand was so soft. The waves were really big and people were surfing. Later we headed to Reach Fall. Again the driving was an experience all in itself. At Reach Falls there was an amazing waterfall. Our guide, however, made us climb up the different layers of the waterfall past what we could originally see. Some parts we had to swim across. When we finally got to the top there was a hole that the people in front of me were going down. Someone said it was a slide that lead all the way down to the bottom. The hole, however, lead to a cave that was partially filled with water. To get out of the cave we had to swim under two ledges. There was a guide there to help push us down under the rock. It was cool and I am glad I did it, but it was a little terrifying. We returned to the huts and walked down the street to a local place for dinner. After dinner we went to the bar across the street and that is where I learned how to play dominoes. At first I just watched a game. Then Dr. Egan taught me how to play and a few Jamaican boys came over to learn how to play too. After a while the kids left and a Rasta that I had met the day before on the beach took their place along with other Augie students. I am proud to say that my partner Tara and I beat the Rasta and Julia. You are supposed to get to 6 games in a row in order to win. Tara and I got to 5 before we finally lost. Then Dr. Egan took Julia’s seat and we were finished. I am sad to say the student cannot beat the teacher. Not yet anyways. It was nice just to sit and play dominos in a bar with Jamaicans to end the day.

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