…or “what’s going on?” for those who are unfamiliar with some of the slang used daily here in Jamaica. Our lovely dive instructors, Dr. Buddo and Mr. Trench, have been teaching us some basic Patois phrases, a dialect that is influenced by English and West African languages. The more time I spend down here, the more I am amazed by the people and culture of Jamaica. Recently Shay and I went into town to pick up some things, and everyone in the store greeted us warmly and joked with us easily. The woman who offered her pool for us DITS (divers-in-training, that is) made sure we were more than comfortable, treating us like friends rather than the complete strangers we were. If someone says take your time here they really mean it, unlike in New York where if you take longer than 5 minutes to complete a task you risk getting annoyed looks and quiet complaints. We have all had time to stop seeing our days as a big to-do list and to start appreciating the natural beauty (we’re even starting to like the little lizards who get into our room!) and amazing culture that we are immersed in, and it has been amazing.
By now, my fellow DITS can shed their title in preference for PADI certified open water divers. Unfortunately, I have come down with a cold and the congestion has prevented me from being able to withstand the pressure diving puts on you. In a few days, however, I will get my chance to call myself an open water diver as well. Today we snorkeled at Rio Bueno where we saw a lush coral reef with a lot of the organisms that we have been learning about in class. I’m really enjoying seeing the behaviors and habitats we are studying first hand. Later we will be counting fish, invertebrate and algal populations along a transect line, an experimental technique we will use all the time later in our careers. More to come in a few days!