The worldwide Augustana College experience

Adventures in Port Antonio

Yesterday I woke up underneath a bug net but with the sound of crashing waves just outside my bed. While the openness of our hut in the thick of the nature was an adjustment for most of us girls, waking up to that sound and the scenery was completely worth it. The water and sky are the bluest blue I’ve ever seen, and after a quick but rocky walk down to the beach, we swam in the clear, warm Boston Bay water. Later the group went out for the day and stopped at a beachside place for lunch. While we waited for our food, we went for a swim in the Caribbean, and I can’t even describe how wonderful the swim was; the water was the perfect temperature and you could see clear through to the bottom. It was the perfect swim.

As we sat outside eating our lunch, a bunch of stray dogs were wandering around us. Their company was fine until the three males began growling and fighting over the female under our table. Someone was able to shoo them away, but the fight continued, and I couldn’t help but feel badly for them. There are stray dogs and goats meandering about the Jamaican streets like there are squirrels and rabbits back home in the Midwest. When we first began to see them from the cars, we all oohed and ahhed and thought it was so cute, but now seeing that that’s their life… You feel bad for them, but at the same time it seems impossible to bring them as pets as we would want to do at home.
The afternoon was probably the biggest adventure of my life. We went to Reach Falls, a beautiful waterfall and park. Walking in, you hear the water behind all the trees and once you come around them, you’re at the top of it. As you go down the stairs, you end up at the bottom and can see the picturesque waterfall where it opens up on the bottom. Initially, I thought we would just be swimming around in that bottom area… Boy, was I wrong. We climbed up the the path along the side of the waterfall through rocks and water (essentially barefoot, as I realized my flip flops were only making the trek more difficult in most spots) and were told we were climbing towards some sort of “slide.” In actuality, it was a cave. The guides helped each of us slide a few at a time down into the cave where there was then another guide to help us swim under two rocks and then push us down into a spring. Everyone gathered down there and cheered each other on as we made our way out. Then we began our way back down, and as we reached the very top of the big part of the waterfall, many brave souls in the group jumped off. I, however, was not one of them. The trek alone was enough of an adventure for me!
After dinner we went to a local bar for a drink and talked with many of the locals there. It was an interesting experience. The only female in the place besides us was the woman working the bar; the rest were all men and they thoroughly enjoyed having a group of young American girls there. Talking with the locals is one the best ways to soak in the culture, but as a young woman, it is a little unsettling talking with some of the Jamaican men in the bar. They are very persistent in how they talk to women, which is something we are not used to and the conversations eventually seem to grow a little uncomfortable. I’m sure it’s something one would get used to and become better at handling over time, but for us only being here a short time, it’s a very difficult to get used to.
The first full day in Port Antonio was all in all a successful adventure that took me out of my comfort zone and got me to do things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise done. I think that is one of the biggest things I will continue to get out of this trip, so I am excited to see what the rest of our time here will bring!

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