The worldwide Augustana College experience

Getting Closer to the Real Jamaica

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.

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Even the Roads Have Rhythm

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.

 

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Day 2- Out of the caves and into the light

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!

Day 1- Welcome to JamRock

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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…

Stop One: Resort and happiness

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.

When we got to the resort I tried to put that behind me and enjoy the ocean and the resort. After checking in and having a drink we made are way to the ocean. After diving and feeling amazing from finally being in Jamcia my comfort did not last long as I look across the shore line just beyond the boarder of the resort I saw shacks and sheds assembled with tarps, wood, and what ever else we could get their hands on. Naturally I also spent time reflecting on how sad it is that the workers are trying to make a living workering at our beck and call while rich white men and women enjoy the most beautiful part of there country while they must live else where. These resorts just feed into the babylon system. I felt as if being at the resort that I was contributing to the destruction of the Jamaican culture. The more resorts their were, the more tourists there were the less Jamaica there would be and the more Americanized it would be.

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Yeah man, no worries!

The first two nights in the all inclusive resort of Jewel Runaway Bay has been amazing! Is all inclusive really all inclusive? You bet your bottom dollar that it is! (Don’t even have to take any out of your pocket ;) ) These days have been very relaxing and have been a blast. No worries about anything when you are here! You are on Jamaican time which I tell you, moves about a quarter of the speed of college time. It is everything you ever dreamed of with a vacation in a resort and more. Bar far a great time!

Yet, the thing that strikes me the most is the friendliness of everyone here! You turn the corner, someone is smiling and saying hello! You turn another corner and someone is giving you a high five or asking you to pound it! Everything and everyone here is just so friendly and happy about life. The true definition of no worries! And it is not even the workers that did this in the resort, but locals as well when my van was asking for directions to find Egan’s brother in law for a phone.

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Runaway Bay: All Inclusive

The first two days in Jamaica have been a unique experience. We are currently staying at a all inclusive resort and while all of my experiences have been amazing and no worries, some have also been uncomfortable.

We are currently experiencing how the good half lives, or one percent. We have been waited on hand and foot for every need or desire. All you can eat food and beverages. I am not accustomed to this treatment and it has caused some foreign experiences. For example, we were at a five course dinner, an new experience for me, and my table did not even know how to order. I have never been in a place so fancy before, and that made me uncomfortable considering all of the poverty in the country.

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Running Away from Runnaway Bay

The last few days our group has been staying at Jewel Runaway Bay all-inclusive resort. While the beach is lovely, and the endless food and drink is nice, this is not the real Jamaica.
Okay, so the people who work here are Jamaican, and they have been wonderful, but it’s terribly upsetting to sit around and be waited on by them with a hundred other white people who think this is what Jamaica is.
Last night, a man played the piano for everyone to sing along. He kept throwing out numbers of American songs that we already knew. It was a blast but we came here to experience Jamaica, so we kept requesting Jamaican songs when we had the chance.
Earlier yesterday, all of us were hanging out in the pool area and they kept playing Kesha and other popular American songs. I, along with many of my peers kept hoping they would play Jamaican music so we could delve into the culture a bit more.
I honestly felt like we could be anywhere in the world and it would feel the same, we would just be hearing a different accent or language, which is very frustrating to me.
Runaway Bay

The Jamaican Dream

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Arriving at stop one, Jewel Runaway Bay I thought that this exactly what people mean when they think Paradise. However, I am questioning which definition of paradise people mean. I see the obvious warmth, beach, and beauty of the country and its people. Though, I am thinking that other people are thinking more along the lines of paradise being the ability to do nothing, be constantly entertained, and be waited on hand and foot. I have found that I really don’t like feeling like a tourist, though I know that I am. The term tourist makes me think of the people I am surrounded by at the resort. The people around me seem to only be interested in laying out in the sun and eating a burger by the pool.
There were a few moments yesterday that I thought, this is not why I came to Jamaica. For example, when we’re sitting at the pool as a large group and talking to the lifeguard, she started to play American music. Several of us were thinking, and saying out loud, that we wished she would play Jamaican music. Eventually the change happened, but it took a long time. Later on in the day some of us were discussing how we could not wait to go to Port Antonio and get out of the tourist trap that we have found ourselves in. I hope for a more Jamaican vibe in an outdoor hut. I know that where we are going is still a vacation spot, but I hope to see more culture than I think I’ve seen so far.

 

Daylight Come and Me No Wan Go Home

Day three on the island.

 

It’s hard to try writing something that sums up my experience so far. We arrived in Montego Bay around 1:30pm on Monday, and then drove across the island to reach Destination 1: Jewel Resorts Runaway Bay, which is exactly what it sounds like ladies and gents, the honeymooners’ paradise, complete with a trio of sit-down restaurants, at least three public pools (perhaps I’ve yet to find a few), and a staff beyond eager to grant your every wish.

 

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