Yesterday, we spent the day being tourists, but not quite in a typical way. No, we didn't spend time hitting up Margaritaville or any of that sort of thing. We went to a sugar factory.
The sugar industry is big in Jamaica, and we've spent a lot of the week watching the sugar cane fields burn (as part of the harvesting process, I think?). Yesterday, we got the chance to visit the Frome Sugar Factory in Westmoreland Parish (the same Parish as Petersfield).
The tour was quite intense. It's indeed a factory, and it's loud, and it's hot, and there's sugar particles floating in the air everywhere, and it has this rotten-sweet smell about it, like spoiled fruit that might almost
still be good enough to eat. We got the full tour of the place, all of us with our yellow hard-hats on, and I can't even describe the whole thing to you, except that I didn't hear much of what the tour guide said (thanks to the loudness) and that we climbed a lot of rickety metal stairs and that we all got to taste sugar at various levels of processing. The coolest part was probably the end,
Frome Sugar Factory I
Outside of the Frome Sugar Factory, preparing to walk over for our tour.
where we walked up this giant chute where processed sugar was being carried via conveyor belt, and then once we got through the chute, we emerged into this giant warehouse room where the sugar was being dropped into giant mountains of sugar, where it was then scooped up by huge mechanical jaws and sent out another chute to be bagged/sent away (is what I figure). Craziest. Thing. Ever.
After the Frome tour, we took our sticky selves out to Bluefields Beach, where we enjoyed a more local beach experience (far less touristy than Negril) and were able to relax together. That night, we were supposed to go to a meeting at the AOC, but the power went out at the meeting place, so they cancelled it.
As far as today goes, the morning started out with a trip to Matthias Brown's backyard, where he has an awesome garden in which he grows tons of fruits and veggies, including bananas, mangos, coconuts, breadfruit, ackee, cabbage, etc. Most of the fruit wasn't ripe yet, but he did cut/knock down the first coconut of the season for us, and we drank the water/ate the flesh inside. Delicious and awesome. Then Matthias
proceeded to explain to us some more about the community, the formation of the AOC, and what's up next for the AOC.
We then went back to the high school to finish up some interviews and say goodbye to everyone. The principal and some of the teachers saw us off and wished us well, and we were able to say goodbye to some of the students, too. After finishing up there, we went to Savanna-la-Mar (via pickup truck), the capital of Westmoreland Parish, to roast--er, I mean to look around and do some souvenir shopping. (It was hotter than Hades today. I AM SWEATING UP A STORM AS WE SPEAK--partly because of the party tonight, partly because of the weather, and possibly because of the bunch of pushups and crunches I just did.)
Then, this evening, after dinner, we all went to the AOC, where they held a farewell party for us, replete with cultural exchanges of dances, songs, and games, which included musical chairs, limbo, and a bun-eating contest (these thick, sweet, bready buns--I lost, unfortunately... or, perhaps, fortunately...) The party was fun, and I got to hang out some more with the local students. One in
particular was extra helpful in teaching me how to dance, and I think largely that was because I worked one-on-one with her to teach her how to do the Electric Slide. Yeah, culture.
And now, time for bed. Tomorrow, breakfast, and then back to Montego Bay to fly away home. Farewell, Jamaica!
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