The worldwide Augustana College experience

Jamaica-Conquering Fears

Staying at the Great huts may be one of the most fascinating experiences I have ever had. I am constantly surrunded by birds, dogs, hermit crabs, big bugs, and lizards,and it is awesome! Back home, I spend the night outside once a week on a picnic table, but this is totally different than the Midwest! We did not get to explore too much during our first night since it got dark so quickly, but we did go for a late night swim in the pool at the top of the cliff by the boys’ hut. Being outside on the top of that cliff where you can see nothing but the ocean and the moon was indescribable and something I will never forget. It was as if I could not even be nervous that I was at the edge of a cliff because I felt so at ease with my surroundings. As plans changed the next morning, we headed to Reach Falls for a little waterfall climbing. 

On the way to Reach Falls we stopped at a small local restaurant on the beach for lunch. By now, we have all noticed that there are stray dogs everywhere. However, I do not feel bad for the stray dogs here in Jamaica because they are not looking for a home, and neither is anyone else. These dogs are completely fine with surviving on their own and playing on the beach everyday. When we finished lunch, Dr. Egan told us that we we could feed our left over chicken bones to the dogs. Of course our dog expert Susan jumped in and explained that dogs cannot eat chicken bones because they will splinter in their throats. Dr. Egan then explained that this is only the case for “pampered” U.S. dogs, and that these dogs would be fine. We all had a great time feeding the dogs our left overs and watching how happy they were to get some food. It was at this point that I realized how spoiled I can be back home, and that I really need to start relaxing more if I want to gain knowledge about the Jamaican culture. I realized that worrying over something like chicken bones only exists because we make it exist; I am sure the people of Jamaica have never thought twice about feeding a dog a chicken bone, because that is just what makes sense. My mom even mentioned in an email that I should relax more, and I am glad that feeding stray dogs (of all things) helped me to finally start adapting to the culture s little bit better and calming down a bit. However, these feelings of peace did not last too long. 

When we got to Reach Falls, I was feeling pretty excited and confident. I had climbed a water fall in Jamaica when I was 16, and I have to do creek study with the kids every week at camp in the summer. When we first got there, I immediately felt safer by seeing the police officers at the gate. as we walked down the stairs, I saw a huge waterfall and became extra excited. We began our tour of climbing the waterfall and I was second in line because I was so pumped. The rocks were a bit slippery at times (I actually fell twice) but the gorgeous views were worth it. At one point, the tour guide mentioned to Issac and I that there would be a point where we needed to swim under a rock. This did not sound too bad, and I was ready for it. We reached a point where it looked like there was a small opening in the waterfall. The guide began to tell Issac that he was to go down in the hole and wait for further instructions. We were all getting very confused as to what the tour guide meant, and at one point we all thought the hole was a natural water slide within the waterfall (we figured since we were in Jamaica, anything was possible). I looked down into the hole, and realized that it was quite a tight fit. Katie, and the tour guide were just waiting in the hole. I really did not know what to expect, but Katie reassured that I could trust the man, so I went down inside. I can finally say that we were sitting in a cave in the middle of a waterfall. At first, I felt really overwhelmed and my claustrophobia started to kick in. But, as I saw more people entering and realizing that we were not in any danger, i started to relax. However, my next question was how we were going to get out of this thing. Suddenly, a man entered the cave from a different entrance. We explained that we would be swimming under the rock and coming out on the other side. I was extremely scared to do this, but I figured it was the only way to get out. After watching Tyler and Issac do it, I figured I could too. I made the guide promise he would help me through, and he most certainly did. We made it under one rock and I thought I was finally out, but the guide explained that we had one more rock to swim under! At this point I was ready for anything, and I held my breath and kicked my legs as fast as i could and made it out alive. 

Although the cave experience was a bit frightening, I am happy I did it and proud of myself. I have been letting my fears take over some of my decisions, and I am glad I completed the task, along with everyone else in our group. Many of us were terrified to go in that cave, but we all encouraged one another and we all made it out alive! I realized that these Jamaicans would never try to put us in danger, and that we would all be ok. I am so glad we went to the falls and completed something that was a little scary together because it brought us closer and made me see how we all care about one another. After the tour was over, many decided to jump off of the waterfall. I decided that going inside a cave was enough for me for one day, and I enjoyed watching everyone jump. I feel that i truly grew stronger from this Reach Falls experience.

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