The worldwide Augustana College experience

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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Improving My Dominos Game

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 people of Jamaica

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.

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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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