Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Exploring Jamaica

While we were hard at work for the majority of our trip, few could resist exploring Jamaica on our free time. With so much to do and so many beautiful sights to see, we spent our free time enjoying the Jamaican culture, or doing activities such as sightseeing, surfing, and scuba diving.

Scuba diving was our first excursion, and it was amazing! We first received training in the pool at the resort to familiarize ourselves with the equipment and underwater signals, as well as key skills such as sharing air and proper breathing techniques. After training was complete, our dive instructor Frute, took us to Heaven's Reef. When we arrived at the site, the water was so crystal clear it looked as if the water was only five feet deep. However, once we entered the water and began to descend down the anchor line, we realized that the clarity was misleading. It was a slow descent to the ocean floor which was roughly 30 feet below the surface, but once we reached the bottom it was like we were in a whole other world. We were surrounded by all types of fish, and the coral reef was absolutely stunning. We all wanted to stay down in the reef all day and keep exploring but unfortunately our air tanks ran low in the blink of an eye.

Spending time with the man who saved my camera from being stolen while we were out surfing!

Many of us also attempted surfing while we were in Port Antonio. Though few succeeded, we all had a great time. Prior to hitting the waves, we had put all of our belongings on the shore. A local man said he would look after our things for us while we were out in the water. But John stayed back on the beach to make sure things were okay. At one point, there was actually a tourist who ventured over to where our things were and had picked up my camera! As soon as he was spotted, John heard the local man assertively tell the tourist: "Put the camera down! That belongs to my friend."
Another one of the beautiful sights in Jamaica is the Blue Hole: a series of springs connected by waterfalls and streams, with each spring being roughly 19 ft deep. It was perfect for swimming and cliff jumping!
From left to right: Zach, Matt, James, Shelby, and Astoria
When we heard that Jamaica was one of only four destinations in the world to possess a rare phenomenon known as a luminous lagoon, we had to go. A luminous lagoon is formed when salt water and fresh water meet, creating an ideal temperature for the micro-organism known as Dino-flagellates. At night, when disturbed, these micro-organisms glow. The effect causes a bright glow effect that outlines fish or any person who swims in the water. We were amazed at how bright the water became when we all swam in it. If the lagoon itself wasn't beautiful enough, since there is less light pollution in the middle of the bay, the stars filled the sky, causing us to be amazed whether we looked up or down!