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Kingston, Jamaica, Spring 2003

My uncle works for the US Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. I spent Spring Break 2003 with him, my aunt and my cousin.

Photograph of the ocean off the coast of Jamaica, focusing on a rock formation

The resort we stayed at promised a one hour tour of the Jamaican countryside with a guide.

Four and a half hours after leaving our room, my aunt, uncle, cousin and I returned. We had hiked up and down the hilly landscape, following our Rastafarian guide, Johhny. He picked guavas and coconuts straight off the trees for us to snack on. He twisted wicker bracelets for me and my aunt. He told us what leaves to chew if we had a toothache, which fruit to eat if we were feverish. With Johnny leading the way we walked among ancient Spanish ruins, swam under a waterfall, and chatted with Jamaican loggers. We saw the island through the eyes of a local, and it was breathtaking. As we ended our walk I took a photo of the crystal clear water. I could see the rock formation just off the coast. Johnny said he and his friends go pearl diving among the rocks. I felt that my four years of college education couldn’t even begin to compare to the education Johnny had. His charge for four hours of his time and all his insight? Ten American dollars.

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