Arrival in Montego Bay

Published: March 20th 2010
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I recently returned from a service-learning trip to Jamaica, courtesy of a program led through the place I work (Preston College--a residential college (ie, super special dormitory) at USC). The following entries are from that trip. We spent 9 days in Jamaica, mostly working at a local high school. Hope you enjoy!

We got to the Charlotte airport today at an ungodly hour (pre-7:00 a.m.) after convening in Columbia at an even ungodlier hour (pre-5:00 a.m.). Things went smoothly at first, which should've made me suspect something amiss immediately.

Our plane should've taken off at 9:30 a.m. Alas, when we got through security with no problems or hangups, we found our plane had been delayed to 10:10 a.m.

And then it was 11:30 a.m. And then it was...

Two more hours, and two more hours, etc., until it was finally scheduled to depart at 5:30 p.m. Evidently, there was a mechanical problem on the original plane we were supposed to take, and then a mechanical problem on the plane they got to replace the first one. Whoops.

Fortunately, our flight was a direct one, so my main concern all day, as I shepherded my 8 students alongside two professors leading the program, was that the flight would get canceled (my roommate went on a mission trip to Brazil over spring break, flying out of Charlotte, and had loads of problems, including cancellation and rerouting issues). Yet, no cancellation, and we finally boarded around 5:15-5:30ish and got out of (the cold Charlotte) dodge.

The flight was only 2-3 hours, so it was quick and pleasant. Going through customs in Jamaica, they gave me a really hard time for some reason (probably because they were like, you're going to where? And why?). We were going to spend time in a rural community called Petersfield, and I imagine it isn't often trekked by too many foreigners, except those who go through this program. Plus, when the customs/passport official asked where I was staying, I said, "With Matthias Brown . In Petersfield." And she was like, "Are you related?"

Overly complicated.

Anyway, we finally made our way to our hotel (the Wexford Hotel) and checked in by 10:00 p.m. All of us were starving, so Dr. Kenney (one of the profs. leading the trip) took us to the Pork Pit where we had jerk chicken, jerk pork, fries, beans and rice, corn on the cob, etc.--real Jamaican fare. It was pretty delicious. I've never had legit jerk chicken/pork before, so I was psyched. Afterward, we went to a place called Blue Note, which had some nice Latin music going on but was way to posh for the kinds of clothes most of us were wearing (some of the girls on the trip had the sense to change into nice, non-travel-type clothes). There were tons of tourists there, though, so I was already looking forward to getting out to Petersfield and away from the crowds of non-Jamaicans. After Blue Note, we all went to Pier 1, on the recommendation of not only Dr. Kenney but also the Jamaican server at the Pork Pit who indicated that that's where the party's at on a Friday night. It's a dancehall/club, and, though dancing/clubs are not my thing, it was pretty cool because it was, indeed, actually a pier, and the night was lovely (and a lot cooler/more chill) out on the pier.

Despite my best intentions to get some rest after a super long day, we all got back to the hotel around 3:00 a.m. and finally hit the sack. Here's to finally making it to Jamaica!


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