The worldwide Augustana College experience

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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Jamaican Me Crazy!

Jewel Runaway Bay Resort

THE BEAUTY! Jamaica has blown me away already just in the first two days. The weather, the landscape, the everything is absolutely breath taking. I have laid on the beach, crawled my way through caves, and gone snorkeling in a near by coral reef. I’m actually writing this blog entry on the beach, in the shade of Palm trees and to the sound of waves crashing. I have never seen such blue water. I didn’t know this color of blue existed! Two days, and Jamaica has proved to be paradise.
This all-inclusive resort really knows how to show someone a good time; however, I don’t like constantly being waited on. The employees (all Jamaicans) wait on the guests (vast majority white) constantly and I’ve observed the guests just expecting it. I understand that these people are tourists and feel that they deserve this treatment because they are paying so much, but the employees are people and it seems like the guests don’t realize this. For example, my friend/roommate/fellow lover of Jamaica was having a conversation with an employee (a Jamaican man) about Illinois, an area that the employee has lived in before. After the short conversation was over, a man (white/tourist/guest/ignorant and rude man) leaned in to my friend and said “wow, he’s educated”. This appalled me. This man probably has no idea what Jamaica is actually about. I feel very fortunate that my group and I were able to really learn about Jamaica (outside of the tourist traps) before coming to the island. Actually, because I have the knowledge that I do, I hate feeling like a tourist. The employees treat me like every other guest, but I’m not every other guest. I didn’t come here to sit on the beach and drink fruity drinks (however, it is very nice), I came to Jamaica to experience JAMAICA.

I am beyond excited to go to the Great Huts in Port Antonio (our next stop) but I’m even more anxious to get to Kingston and begin teaching.

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Seems like Paradise

On our first full day in Jamaica, I woke up refreshed and ready to take on the world. I knew we had a day full of plans. I got to breakfast and walked around looking for whatever sounded good. I went up to the egg station where I had the pleasure of meeting Egg Boy, yes his name is Egg Boy even on his name tag. After he asked me where I was from, he told me that he lived in Illinois 15 years ago and the different places in Illinois he went to. For it being early in the morning, Egg Boy was perfectly chipper. There was another man, a guest at the hotel, who was standing next to me hearing the entire conversation. As Egg Boy turned around to get more eggs, the man turned to me and said “Wow, he is really educated” with a very condescending tone. My mouth dropped as I was rendered speechless. The man took his eggs and walked away. As I stood there dumbfounded, I could not believe what I had just heard. The man acted surprised that a Jamaican was educated and knew anything about the world outside Jamaica. Just because Americans focus only on America, doesn’t mean the rest of the world is uneducated. The white tourist assumed and through that assumption, showed his ignorance and acted superior.

While this resort is a dream spot; this is not reality. The beaches are whimsical white sand right next to gorgeous blue water. With the palm trees on the beach, this resort is right out of a commercial. An all-inclusive stay is the paradise most people dream of. Drinks at the pool and employees to wait on you while you bask in the sun sounds like the perfect winter get away.

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Being a tourist

The resort is interesting. I have found it hard to be a tourist while here. Not because I am not enjoying it, but because I know of so much of the history and current situation of the island that I am too educated to be a tourist. We talked about how the island has many tourist spots and how the money does not necessarily stay on the island so is it good for Jamaica?

Just seeing the people and the Staff, they are excited for their jobs and this shocked me. If I had to serve people who knew nothing about my culture and had no conscious desire to learn about it, I would find my job miserable. But instead they are fun and joking, and personable. The piano player was even appreciative for us singing with him. With this I realized that while not all of the money is benefiting Jamaica, these people have jobs, jobs that would not be available to them otherwise.

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Living in Paradise

Today is day two at Jewel Runaway Bay Resort, and it is the definition of paradise. We began our journey to this amazing destination at the airport in Moline at 6am Monday, and arrived in Jamaica around 1:30pm. I have never traveled outside of the country before aside from when I was younger, so I had no idea what to expect going through immigrations and customs. Many of our experiences though were a breeze, and we made it through both in a relatively short time. As soon as we got out of the airport and began driving towards Runaway Bay, everyone in my van had their faces practically glued to the window and taking in the beautiful environment and scenery. The first big adjustment we had to get used to (and to be honest, I dont think many of us are still used to this) was that in Jamaica people drive on the left side of the road. Needless to say, many of us had mini heart attacks as we drove around curves and saw cars coming towards us, thinking we were going to get into a head on collision! Secondly, there are goats, Literally (for my Parks and Rec fans out there, think Chris – aka Rob Lowe) everywhere. They just wander the side of the road, trying to find food, I’m assuming. Also, there are many stray dogs along the side of the roads as well, which is pretty sad to see since in the US, dogs are pets for us, and we don’t often see dogs along the sides of our major roads unless they got loose from their house. Another thing I noticed on our drive was the types of cars that were being driven. Essentially, I have only seen toyotas, hondas, and nissans – all asian car brands. Overall, the drive to the resort was beautiful and it really opened my eyes to some of cultural changes that make up Jamaica.

Once we got to the resort, we were practically treated like royalty, as we were greeted with cold, wet washcloths and a refreshing beverage. After this we quickly settled into our rooms, changed into our swimsuits, and made our way to the beach. This was especially enjoyable given that a few hours before that we were having to brace the frigid cold at Augie. The rest of the evening was filled making the most out of our all-inclusive resort, eating delicious food, and doing group karaoke. The one big thing we had to adjust to – and are still adjusting to is having no cell phone service and only having limited wifi. It’s really helping to open my eyes and make me realize how much our American culture relies on our phones.

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Living Jamaica

Oh hey there, Jamaica.

I am here. This is Jamaica. I have tried to snap myself out of this beautiful illusion so many times, but I am beyond grateful that this is reality. Leaving campus at 4 am, getting on the plane, and even flying over the ocean didn’t make it hit me. Living Jamaica did. After the long lines of immigration and customs, we eventually left the airport and split up into our two vans. Then, I finally started fully realizing I was about to immerse myself into the very world I had been reading books and watching documentaries about.

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Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright

“Three Little Birds,” unquestionably one of Bob Marley’s two or three most famous songs, is so popular and so overplayed that it might be considered cliché. Of course, it wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t a genuinely great song: simple yet catchy melody, feel-good reggae music, and an important message that everyone needs to hear now and again: “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” But, again, the potency of the message can weaken when the song is played too much.

Every time I return to Jamaica, though, I’m reminded of the song’s simple truth. Yesterday’s drive from the Montego Bay airport to our current stop at Runaway Bay provided the latest example.

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October 18th-October 23rd

This never posted so it is a little late. Oops.

Day 1 in Salvador

Saturday October 18th

First things first, we had class early. Luckily, our Brazilian mommy made us a delicious plate of fruit, grilled cheese and something I had never had before Tapioca powder. Basically it is a tapioca powder that she heat up in the skillet it is kind of spongy and she put butter on it. It was delicious! In class we discussed women-space, power,and the Afro-Brazilian culture. There is a strong African influence here due to the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. After class, we had a special lunch to celebrate Sao Cosme and Sao Damiao who were two Saints. They are celebrated by distributing food to poor children. We ate caruru which is a veggie (okra) stew. There was enough food to feed a whole circus. We were able to eat with our moms and meet some of the children. One of the little brothers of my classmates sat with me for a lot of the lunch. He is 5 years old and adorable. He also LOVES hugs, and of course will squeeze during hugs. After we finished eating, a group of us decided to go check out the beach. Sadly, the beach is not as close as it was in Rio to our residence but we had the rest of the day off so that helped. I have never seen a beach so crowded. I could barely see the beach because of all the people and umbrellas on the beach. Since it was just my roommate and our neighbor, we managed to walk down a ways to find space on the beach and get some sun. We came home for dinner then went back to a little outdoor diner by the beach where we could all meet up and talk about  our home stays so far. We have to call a taxi to get back up the hill at night since we did not want to risk getting mugged.

Twin Saints

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Viver Salvador!

Last night I was talking to my mom on Facebook and she told me she hadn’t seen any blog updates lately. I told her I would get some posts up by today so here we go!

20 October 2014

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Gardens and free days and statues, oh my!

11 October 2014

This was a free day, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t do anything all day. Well that’s a little bit of a lie. I did laundry, I cleaned the hotel room, I Skyped my family, I bought some groceries, but other than that I did nothing.

12 October 2014

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