Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jamaica: Amazing Places and Amazing People (1/20/14)

     Our last full day in Jamaica. It has been so amazing. It's going to be so hard to say goodbye to this incredible place. So how did Post Oak High School decide to say goodbye? With a beach day! We had a spectacular free day of relaxation on a private beach by the same owners of the  Good Hope property. For seven hours, we splashed in the crystal clear waves, laid out in the sun and tanned, built sand castles, and whatever else we decided to do on our free day. Emily and Isabella went on a nice walk on the beach. Ian, Jodi, and I spent quite a long time sculpting Megan and Riane into sand mermaids. We ate until our bellies were full of Miss Barbra's amazing Jerk chicken. Today wasn't all about us, though. Isabella, Iris, Emily, and Dr. Lee took a chunk out of their beach day to go buy a cake and some supplies. When they got back, we gathered around a table writing letters to people who have impacted us during our time in Jamaica. Then we surprised them all with the letters and offered each of them a piece of cake. We wrote letters to Miss Barbra, Aldain, Bev, Patrick, Mr. Harding, Dr. Conolley, and Blaise Hart. Miss Barbra is the main cook at Good Hope, who cooked us the most amazing food everyday for our entire stay. Bev and Aldain work at Good Hope, too. They help with cooking, cleaning, and anything else they can do in order to make our stay comfortable. Patrick was our driver who took us everywhere we needed to go. Mr. Harding is a Coordinator of Architectural Resources at Falmouth Heritage Renewal who gave us tours around Falmouth and taught us everything we needed to know about Falmouth colonial architecture and history. Dr. Conolley is the Executive Director of Falmouth Heritage Renewal. He shared with us his knowledge about the Taino, who were the native people of Jamaica, and took us to see petroglyphs. Blaise Hart is the owner of the Good Hope estate who was kind enough to let us stay here and use their private beach. None of the incredible things we have done while in Jamaica would have been possible without these amazing people. I am so thankful to each of them, and I know the other students feel the same way.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Our Automated Computer Aided Design/Drafting Experience (1/20/14)

While in Falmouth we worked on the house located at 27 Newton Street that was constructed pre-1850. It consisted of a main house and two additions to provide more living space over the year. Half of the group took in the task of measuring and drawing two of the walls in the house. The first group consisted of Ian, Emily, and Isabella, who drew the interior elevation of the north-south partition wall. The second group consisted of Megan, Kirby, and Jodi, who drew the interior elevation of the east wall. After all of the measurements had been taken and the wall drawn in a scaled image it had to be constructed of the computer. Ian and I took on this task using the program Automated Computer Aided Design/Drafting or AutoCAD for short. This worked basically the same as drawing the picture on a piece of paper, except all the lines were automatically straight and instead of having to draw the line down to the millimeter the computer would do the measuring. The basic process was creating a horizontal line as the floor, which was the length of the wall, and a vertical line connected to the left end of the line, which was the height of the wall. Then that line was offset either up or to the right depending on the line. The basic structure was done with thin black lines, the wall boards and boards that were pieced together to create a larger piece of wood were done in with thin light grey lines, and boards that we imagine to be cut through for the sake of the drawing were down in thick black lines. Putting this all together we ended up with the two drawings bellow. It turns out that atleast on one of our drawings, the one Ian and I measured, was was only 1/8 of an inch off of the measurements from the already completed drawings of the house. Because of this our drawings will be incorporated into the official documentation that Falmouth Heritage Renewal will submit to the Falmouth building authorities when the house in complete.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Photos: Beach Day (1/20/14)

No explanation needed.

The Good Hope Beach view.

Jodi, Riane and Megan jumping in the water.

Thank You cake and cards for everyone that has helped us on our trip.

Isabella hugging Barbara, our cook.

From left: Barbara (cook), Dev (maid), and Aldin (maid) accepting their thank you cards.

Riane, Megan, and Jodi looking out on the lifeguard stand.

A local painter making merchandise in his store.

Observing the view and helping make sand mermaids.

Riane and Megan… Sand mermaids

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Photos: Windsor Cave Hike (1/19/14)

Students learn about the native TaĆ­no people from Dr. Conolley. 

Dr. Quillin compares his hand to the print left on the 1936 generator.

Students and Dr. Quillin climb the steep trail up to the Windsor Cave entrance.

Mr. Harding and Dr. Lee discuss the landscape.

Rim, our guide, clears the trail with his machete.

Grace, Megan, and Elizabeth climb the steep trail.

Dr. Conolley climbs down into the cave the secure a rope railing.

The petroglyph that guards the Windsor Cave entrance. 

Brayden listens as Dr. Conolley explains the placement of the face on the petroglyph.

Jodi and Dr. Conolley sit inside the cave to look at the petroglyph.

The Amazing Hike (1/19/14)

When the teachers said that we were going on a hike I took a deep breath because I knew it would be a long day. After church we got our long pants (a.k.a. Jeans) on and went out. Not knowing what to expect, I prepared myself for the worst. We hiked a little with a guy named Rim, but people called him "Caveman". He is an archeologist with a machete. We stopped at a old ruin which was a building but got demolished. It was used for mining the bat guano for export. We went up the mountain and then started to hike. Dr. Conolley taught us how to hold a persons hand when helping them up. He said, and I quote, "it's not nice like the movies, you have to grab them by the wrist to get a nice grip." That's exactly what Jodi and I did the whole way up. I loved how we all helped each other make it up the mountain. I looked back and I saw everyone helping each other lending a hand. Finally we got up to the cave where the Taino artifacts had been spotted. The Windsor Cave (which is the one we went to) which was near the source of the Martha Brae river that ran throughout Trelawny. Looking down at the cave you think "oh, it's not that deep," but then you lean a little closer and see it's like a dark hole of nothing. The petroglyph we went to go see  was of a woman and a snake, which was weathered quite a bit. Even though I was all sweaty I felt a sense of accomplishment, and I loved the hike going up. Going down was a different story. It was fun because it was down hill, but Brayden was making it like Temple Run and putting tree trunks and rocks in our way. After we got through the live Temple Run, we ran all the way back down. It was amazing seeing nature at its most dangerous , and to see every one working as a team.

The Glowing Lagoon (01/18/14)

Today, the entire group went to a dock a few miles out of Falmouth to take a twilight swim in the bioluminescent lagoon. Upon arrival at the dock we noticed several tables set up in the center and a bar located on the far left wall. If you were to look to your right, you could see stairs outlined with vibrantly lit lights which led you up to a small eating area. Forming a picture of this area would only lead you to one conclusion- that this place is a restaurant on the water. Indeed it was, the entire area, both restaurant and dock, were called Glistening Waters. A very understated name because the water did more than glisten, it glowed. Before too long, our boat pulled up to the dock. It was small and wooden, but not in a bad or unnerving way that would give one the feeling that it would break apart. It looked sturdy yet ancient, like something out of an old novel, like we were just about to step into another amazing adventure. The group loaded onto the boat and upon departure, the captain of the boat had already started to shower us with information. He was a very outgoing person, and I think everyone could tell that he was anything but shy because of his booming voice and jolly spirit. He informed everyone on the boat that the water had a bioluminescent microorganism living beneath the depths of the lagoon. He said that in the 60's, a scientist named John Hopkins came to Jamaica to study this lagoon. He collected the obvious facts that it was bioluminous and was living in the lagoon, but he hadn't made any exemplary discoveries. All this while, we were drifting to the center of the lagoon where the captain then told us that if someone was eight feet tall and was to stand in the water, the mud on the bottom would come up to their knees. He then proceeded to stop the boat and twirl it around making a major disturbance in the water. After a few spins, he then shouted to us to look out of the sides and back of the boat. Upon doing so, we saw the glowing in the water; the bioluminescent microorganisms were creating a glowing aquamarine trail behind the motor of the boat. After a few more spins, the boat stopped, and everyone was told to go jump in and swim. The entire group jumped into the water and immediately said that it was warm and began to wave their hands, feet and legs under the water making the surrounding areas of the water light up like a light blue UV light. The water was indeed warm, and the glowing-effect spread everywhere. Despite the darkness of the starless night sky, you could easily tell who the person was that was swimming in front of you. The reason for this was that every time someone moved, the aquamarine lights would show you who they were. Feeling the mud on the floor of the water felt like the ground was quicksand and you had but minutes before you went slipping through it. Before long, we were all called back into the boat to leave. Everyone had their final swim to get to the small, wooden ladder to climb back onto the boat. After everyone was comfortably seated on a seat and wrapped up in a towel, we sped off back to the dock leaving a trail of beautiful glowing lights behind us in the water.

The Elizabeth Somerville House (1/18/14)

This morning, given it was a free day, instead of sleeping in like everyone else, Jodi, Riane, Isabella, and I went into Falmouth to get our hair done near the headquarters of the Falmouth Heritage Renewal, at 8 Trelawny Street. The braider was referred to us by KeVaughn, who, when asked by his students to have their hair braided, takes them to her. The lady that did our hair was named Rosie. It is common for Jamaican people to have their business in the front part of their house, then have their living quarters in the back.  She has lived in the house since the mid 1990s. The house isn't just an ordinary house, as it is an important piece of Falmouth history. Called the "Elizabeth Somerville house", it was built by Elizabeth Somerville, who was a freed colored slave in the 19th century. She built the house in 1836. Falmouth had a high population of their community that were free colored slaves--as high as 40%. Elizabeth Somerville was one of the first women to buy property after emancipation in 1834. Currently, Rosie lives there, but doesn't own the house. Someone else bought it in 1996, and allows her to live there for free. Its interesting how in Jamaica, its common for people to live in a house under someone else's name.

The Elizabeth Somerville House

Riane getting a wrap put in her hair

Isabella getting braids with beads at the ends

Jodi getting a red and blue wrap in her hair

Last but not least, Megan getting braids on the side of her head.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jamaican Time: A Poem by Hanna Harris (1/18/14)

There are 1,013,913 words in the English language 
Yet I couldn't string any of them together 
To properly describe this beauty 
Sensory intake has interrupted my soliloquies
Red dirt on skin turned to tea leaves on rust
Time took a break to look around

Veins run like rivers 
Dumping into the ocean 
Poetry flows from waving fingertips 
Voices are ballroom dancing with each other 
And we all realize 
Time is a nasty little habit 

Everything has become animalistic 
Like there's a primal urge to be happy 
Forget the iPhones 
Nothing compares to the imprints on my palms 
From pressing my hands on the collar bones of

       This is a poem I wrote as a part of my final project for J-Term. I wrote it here in Jamaica while I was sitting on a porch in Falmouth. I was looking out at the town and thinking about what I've seen here and the culture as a whole. People here are always talking about "Jamaican Time" as opposed to regular time, because no one here gives much thought to punctuality. Everything is very relaxed, which is one of my favorite things about Jamaica. This poem was very fun to write because it means a lot to me and it sums up my feelings on the subject very well. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

The All Age School Experience (1/17/14)

This morning, we went to the All Age School. We arrived and were immediately viewed as if we were zebras in a crowd of a horses.  The children were reluctant at first to approach us, especially since most of them were much younger than us, spanning from about ages 6-14. Our guide, KeVaughn Harding, told us about the history of the school and about how the younger children's part of the school (like our elementary school) used to be army barracks, which were built sometime in the early 19th century. About 50 feet away from the lower school was a concrete building, which we learned was a storage facility for the guns, ammunition, and explosives. The walls were about 3 feet thick to prevent damage if any of the contents were to detonate. The upper school (like our middle school) was set next to the lower school in a separate building, built in the late 1960s. All of this is was built on a sandy ground, overlooking ocean as far as the eye could see. 
We were split up into three groups, one going to the first grade classroom, another going to the sixth grade classroom, and the last going to the ninth grade classroom. I went into the sixth grade classroom and interacted with the 12 year old students. In the morning, we sat in on their class and helped them with their work. They were learning sentence structure as well as multiplication. In the afternoon, we returned and played games with them, as their WHOLE afternoons are "game time". *cough cough* feel free to follow their lead Mr. Moudry... Anyways, we played dominos and cards, while they were fascinated with playing games on our iPhones. It was an interesting trade of technology, as American teens are stereotyped as being so attached to their technology. It was a lot of fun to get to know the kids and compare our lives to theirs and see how they were so different. The students seemed to be really excited to be able to spend time with us.  

Photos: Falmouth All Age School (1/17/14)

Everyone posing at the Falmouth All Age School.

Ian, Emily, Riane, Brayden, Hanna, and Falmouth teacher Mr. Morris interacting in a classroom.

Megan smiling with a sixth grade student at the school.

Jodi helping a sixth grader with her work.

Dr. Quillin and Dr. Lee agreeing with a sign outside of the school.

Kirby and Grace playing card, while Falmouth students play on the girls' phones.

Liz helps a first grader with her work.

Jodi and Liz raise their hands as they interact in a first grade classroom.

The Falmouth students play with Grace's hair as she attempts to play cards with Kirby.

Hanna and Falmouth student Armando compare skin colors.

Brayden is discussing Jamaican culture with a ninth grade student.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Photos: Rainy day (1/16/14)

A photo taken from the morning walk.

The oranges that make our orange juice every morning.

Students and Ke-Vaughn on the bus going to Windsor.

The Great House of the cattle overseer built by John Tharp in 1795, now owned by Mr. Schwartz.

Student Jodi has got her working hat on.

Students Jodi and Megan listen to Mr. Schwartz explain the history of the estate.

Students Jodi, Megan and Brayden were successfully photobombed by Hanna.

Mr. Schwartz shows us how the shutters they used in Jamaica in the 1900's were made.

Our Time in Jurassic Park (1/16/14)

Today we went to another work site in Windsor, Jamaica to switch jobs. Those who were working on limestone and doing physical labor would now be drawing architectural models and those drawing last time would be washing limestone. It was going to be a difficult job because this house was inhabited, as opposed to the last site, and the man who lived there did not want to be disturbed. At least that's what we planned on.
After a long bus ride through a beautiful forest and up and down rocky hills, we arrived at the house. It was very different than the previous worksite because the one in Falmouth was about the size of a large living room and this one was huge! We walked up to the house hesitantly, being bit by mosquitos with every step we took and saw the ruins of a brick archway directly across from the house. Suddenly, an older British man emerged from the house with open arms, a huge dog, and a vague resemblance to the genius doctor from Jurassic park. He immediately began giving us a history lesson on what the ruins were and how they relate to John Tharp, who owned the house. Apparently, it was a military base for the British, stationed there because it was next to the Martha Brae river and in the hills, which made it good for countering guerrilla warfare. 
He was asking us questions and keeping us engaged, we all agreed that he was great to listen to and we could do it all day. We had to go inside after a few minutes because it started to rain really hard (the first time since November). So the man, who's name turned out to be Michael Schwartz, told us that he was who lived in the house and started to give us a tour. He showed us the crack that runs down one side of the house because a corner is sinking and gun slots in the bedrooms left over from it being a military base. He explained a lot of stuff to us about architecture and it turns out he thought we were college students majoring in it. He was so surprised to find out we were High School students! He took us down to his shop which he built himself and explained the mechanics of the lever windows he was making.
Next he took us into a room in the shop and told us the story of who all had owned this house after it was John Tharp's overseeing house. It was owned by a few people, but most notably it was owned by Miriam Rothschild, a very wealthy and important British woman. She had married a very, very attractive naval officer who had to move to a tropical climate because a lung disease. He moved to Jamaica and stayed at Good Hope, where he met more than a few wealthy divorcees and young socialites. Soon, sheer proximity took over and he had several secret lovers to keep up with. So, he used the house we were at to house his mistresses. People who lived in the area claim to have seen a woman named Sally ride there on a horse every day.
After the tour, it was time for lunch so we had to head back to Good Hope. We couldn't stay and work in the heavy rain. So we took the bus back through scenery that the Rain Forest Cafe would murder for, everyone sleeping along the way. Even though neither drawing or working happened today, I was really glad we got to listen to Mike because it was a really great experience and one of my favorite things on this trip so far.  

Photos: Local (And Not So Local) Interaction (1/15/14)

Ian and Emily import their sketches from the house on 27 Newton Street into AutoCAD, a design and engineering program used to create blueprints.

Liz, Riane, Jodi, Isabella, Iris, Dr. Lee, and Brayden listen to an older woman preach to us about God, while Shelby taught us how to mix the limestone mortar.
A mother and her child walk down the street; their gazes fixed on the towering cruise ship above.

Due to the tunnel winds formed by the mix of cruise ships and coastal gusts,  it was extremely windy. In order to adapt to this, Grace, Liz, and Hanna attempted to turn into birds.
Dr. Quillin amusingly mimics Usain Bolt in "Falmouth Historic District."

Riane and Megan looked through a shop run by a local, ultimately ending in Riane's purchase of a bracelet.  

Grace bought some sugar cane from a street vendor and kindly gave a piece to everyone.

I happened to stumble upon these two Jamaican women selling clothing in a market.

A handicapped man agreed to let me take a picture of him in the market square.

A local spice seller joins in on cheerful conversation in the market.

The students pose for a photo in front of Falmouth Heritage Renewal's office.