The worldwide Augustana College experience

Kingston: A City Overshadowed

We arrived in Kingston on Sunday night and began the second portion of our trip. From Monday onwards, I have been teaching math to the students at the Alpha Girls’ School, an academy in inner-city Kingston, and, during this time, it has become obvious that Kingston is a city overshadowed, both literally and figuratively.

 

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Great Huts, Boston Bay, Jamaica

After our first few, spoiled days in the resort, we moved to the Great Huts in Boston Bay. I was so excited to arrive at the Great Huts! They are all without windows or real doors so you are basically sleeping with nature. I can’t lie, I was really nervous about sleeping with bugs and other creatures, but it has been fantastic! When we arrived, the entire place was gated with a bamboo fence which I was not expecting. Myself and five other girls stayed in the hut called The Queen of Sheba. It was huge! It had a large open window shaped as a star and all of the walls were made of beautiful stone. The door was heavy, which reminded me of the old Nickelodeon show Legends of the Hidden Temple. We all claimed our beds and were off the explore the huts! Every hut and even the lobby was beautifully crafted from stone and bamboo. I thought the most interesting aspect was that the huts were truly built around nature. So if there were a few trees blocking a path where they wanted to build a hut, the tree would just sit in the middle of the hut! They didn’t knock down hardly anything to build the huts which made me feel right in the middle of our own paradise. We ate dinner and breakfast the next morning at the huts, both of which were delicious.

The second day, we headed to Reach Falls where everybody (except myself) went on a tour of the underwater caves! I was too scared so instead, I enjoyed swimming around the falls for about an hour and then was able to watch everybody jump off the cliff at the end. Every night we stayed at the huts, I joined a group who went into town and played dominoes with the locals. We learned how to play in class and I was excited to play with the professionals! I played with a few people from class and a few locals over the three nights we went. Roger was my favorite local and we kicked some serious butt when we played! We played Dr. Egan and Kelsey where the game lasted two hours because our teams were so evenly matched and the game kept breaking! Hanging out with the locals was an extremely unique experience that I am ecstatic to have had.They talked to us about their lives: family and friends and troubles in their lives. They talked to us about the importance of education and why what we were doing mattered. They even told us random stories that we could relate to and made all of us realize that we may have had more in common with these locals than we may have originally thought.

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A Beautiful Island

It is ironic that the views from the resort would be far less breath taking than the views from many of the spots out in the real Jamaica. I was astounded by how beautiful everything is. upon arrival to Boston Bay we are all a little tired and get shown to our huts. After seeing where I would be living for the next 5 days and 4 nights, I was not the least bit tired. The view from the great huts was indescribable. The hut is on a bluff overlooking the ocean and another bluff. If you were to look strait out of the shower the first thing that you would see is a soccer field on top of another bluff. Kids would play soccer on this field all the time. The view from our hut with the sun setting as the Jamaican kids were playing soccer on the bluff was unbelievable. Pictures did not do it justice in the least bit. This is the first time that I really realized how beautiful the island was. As I was looking through music videos of Jamaican artists I found a song called no lipstick by Proteje. The huts are such a beautiful place that Proteje chose them to be the setting for this music video. It is really cool knowing that we have been somewhere that was thought of as beautiful by such an influential current Jamaican artist.

The time that we were at the great huts we went on a few excursions. The ones that really stick out are Frenchman’s cove, Dun’s River Falls, and the blue Lagoon. One thing that all of these places have in common is how amazing the water is. I have never seen water as clear and as blue as the water in these three places. At Dun’s River Falls the water was so clear that you could see the fish swimming around as clear as day. I made it my goal to catch one of the fish with my hand because I don’t know where I would ever be able to see fish through the water like that again. Sadly I did not ever catch one, but being able to chase the fish around and being able to see them swimming away from me together the way that they did was very entertaining and very cool looking. After I failed catching the fish we began to climb the waterfall. The waterfall was formed from all of the water in the mountains coming down. The water that we were seeing had been filtered through the mountains and was just about to go to the ocean. The water was so clean looking that I wanted to drink it. In fact, I’m sure that I could have drank it and I would have been just fine.

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Jewel Runaway Bay Resort

Hello from the wonderful and sunny island of Jamaica!

Our early morning flight (6:00 AM) on Monday was totally worth coming here! We connected in Atlanta and arrived on the island around 2:00 PM. As we flew over the ocean, all I could think was that I had never seen water so blue before in my life! It was turquoise and so clear I felt like I could see all the way to the bottom! Once we landed and got through the airport (with everybody’s luggage successfully with them, might I add) we arrived at our resort. The drive was beautiful, full of green trees and mountainous views from the road. The resort was even more beautiful! There was a water fountain in the middle of the entrance and there were no doors leading outside in the entire facility. Everything was open to the warm breeze and Jamaican air. As we walked into the resort, we were greeted with a cool towel and a refreshing beverage. I could get used to this! We went upstairs to settle into our rooms quickly before heading to the infinity pool and the ocean. We all ran into the ocean, happy to be out of the cold mid western air. Dinner was around 6:00 and it was our first taste of the delicious Jamaican cuisine on the island. As we were all exhausted from traveling, we headed to bed.

The next day we woke up early to explore the Green Grotto Caves which were above ground caves about a fifteen minute drive from our resort. The tour was about an hour and our tour guide was awesome! He told us about the caves and the history behind them such as how the slaves had used these caves as escape routes from the abusive king back in the day. We also got to “experience” how the slaves felt as the tour guide brought us down fourty feet  underground near an underground wishing well where he turned off ALL of the lights and told us that this is how dark it was when the slaves had to travel through the caves. After our morning exploration, we went back to the resort to relax by the pool and tan for the rest of the day. Some of the group had a volleyball game with our professors which was entertaining! We also played some minute-to-win-it games which were fun as well.

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Day 3

Day 3- the drive of a lifetime
We left the resort and we
          drove
                      and
                                drove
                                               down
                       winding
              and
     hilly
             roads
                          until
                                    we
                                          reached
Seville where we were able to explore the old plantation grounds and recreated Taino (natives to Jamaica) huts. Who were given a tour of the museum which had be refurbished into a museum dedicated to the history and heritage of Jamaica. We were also introduced to one of Jamaica’s national foods, ackee, a fruit that when ready to pick, breaks open to reveal a lush yellow inside which then needs to be boiled and prepared proper in order to consume. After the stop we,
                 drove
                  and
                 drove,
Till we reached the Great Huts, ate dinner, went into town to get our butts kicked in dominoes, and then crawled under the mosquito netting and fell asleep quickly and all at once to peaceful chirping of crickets and ocean waves.

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Ackee Fruit

Colors of the Wind

Great Huts, Port Antonio

All I have to say is, “WOW”. There is honestly no other way to describe my experience here at the Great Huts. When we arrived here a few days ago, it was after dark and I couldn’t see much, then I got in bed and was surrounded by bugs. I thought that this was the worst possible place to spend my time in Jamaica; however, once the sun rose and I woke up to the sound of ocean waves crashing against exposed rock cliffs, I realized that this is actually the most amazing place to experience the tropics of the island. The nature is so rich and surrounds me completely, from looking over the edge (with no fence) down hundreds of feet to the ocean, to sleeping in an open and exposed hut, I have fallen in love with my surroundings.

In just 3 short days, I have experienced more than I could’ve imagined. I have never been so adventurous or blown away. Blue Lagoon is a place that really deserves its name. This 200ft deep paradise was bluer than blue, and the brackish water made for an amazing swimming experience. Because there was both fresh water and ocean water meeting in once place, the water would quickly change from very cold to warm in an instance. The experience of swimming in Blue Lagoon is one that I will not soon forget. Another unforgettable experience that I had was at Reach Falls, a waterfall system in the mountains. Climbing these falls, swimming in the refreshing water, and jumping from heights that terrify me made for one of the best days of my life. Reach Falls had instantly become my favorite place on earth.

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All the Pretty Colors

The Great Huts was an experience that is almost impossible to describe, almost. Being that close to nature was something I had never done before. There were no windows! I was honestly terrified that bugs would chow on me all night even with the bug netting, but I walked away with only a few bug bites and no real sun burn. The scenery surrounding the huts cannot be captured in a photo, I’ve tried.

 

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Total Jamaican Immersion

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.)

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Spit to Manly Beach Walk

After our efforts in the ocean swim, Timko and I treated ourselves to breakfast at a local café which happened to be incredible.

Gobbling down bacon, eggs, chorizo, spinage and much more with as much water as we could stomach to override the salty taste of ocean water, we recovered some of our energy.w1

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Bondi Beach Swim

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.

Bondi Sunrise

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