Note - Manchester University photographer Lucas Carter is also traveling with the team, documenting the trip, including service work the students are performing at the Maranatha School for the Deaf. Visit Lucas's blog here. Also photos in the above galleries were sent as low resolution so when opened in the galleries they will be blurry.
Members of the 2013 Manchester University men's soccer team are on a January session trip/class in Jamaica. Throughout the three weeks, they will provide glimpses of their experience ...
From assistant coach Corey Brueggeman: We are going to try and post one entry per day we are here.
Myles Curry: Today we hiked to a remote, yet beautiful waterfall and got to play in it for a few hours. During our time playing in the waterfall we got huge logs and pretended they were our boats. Also we threw these seeds at each other pretending they were cannon balls. It was a really fun time and I would love to do something like that again.
Matthew Jordan: Today, we went in a long hike to see a secret waterfall. While there, we had a big naval battle as we used bamboo sticks as boats. Next, we hiked to a beach where we had a lot of fun in the waves, and climbed a large rock. Lastly, we hiked back to the vans to have some good food back at the hotel.
Austin Finley: Today was awesome. On the way to Port Maria we stopped at the Maroon Museum to learn about the Maroon's history and culture. We got a chance to learn some of the dances they like to do. It was funny to see some of the guys out of their comfort zone and trying to move what their momma gave them. I found out that Coach Good has some sweet dance moves and he is the best dancer out of all of us. In the end, it was a cool experience to see how another culture has compared I what I am used to in the states. This trip continues to give me new experiences and memories that will last for my lifetime.
Connor Seavers: We stopped at the Charlestown Maroon Museum today. The best part about this stop was having a chance to play the drums that they used. When we finished, we had to walk around the drum so we did not disrespect their purpose. The drums were used for many rituals, and I had fun discovering that I did not know how to keep a beat.
Tyler Kuzdas: Today we went to Reach Falls. We jumped in the buses and made our way, which surprisingly took a lot longer of a ride than I thought it would. Eventually we arrived, then a group of guys came up to our windows and said Reach Falls us officially closed on Monday and Tuesday. Following that, the guys then said they give a "local" tour to Reach Falls. What was happening stemmed totally sketchy, but I just went along with it. In the end we had an awesome tour by a group of great guys.
Chris Hosier: This Jamaica trip has been very eye-opening for me. As each day passes, I learn more and more little details about this island. From climbing waterfalls to meeting local rappers, there are just crazy things around every corner. I think our whole group had an idea of what to expect, but the reality has sure changed. You see every little detail we read in the books in the every day lives of the Jamaicans. I have learned little details about all my teammates and leaders that only Jamaica could bring out. I am going to miss Jamaican time when I arrive home and I'll start being tied to the clock again.
Sebastian Enamorado: We did a lot of things. While driving through the Blue Mountains to get coffee, I constantly dozed off and head butted the window. I saw a river hiking trail sign on the way to the shop. It said, "start here", and it was near 4000 feet high. We also visited the Jamaicans for Justice headquarters and a local mall where I had Chinese food and ice cream.
Drew Vergonet: The highlight of my day was visiting Old Tavern Coffee Estate in the Blue Mountains of St. Andrews. We were given an informational tour of the mountainside farm. At the estate we were given the opportunity to try some of their coffee, and I can say it was some of the best coffee I have ever had.
Josh Plank: The game was against some 20 year olds playing with the U17 team from our first game. It was a tougher team than the first one we played, but there were times when you could see the potential our team has for the coming season. After the game we went to Sizzla's (international music star) house for dinner. The concert was cancelled because the police were concerned about violence breaking out, but we still had an enjoyable time just eating. One of the guys there was really funny and had the best rooster call I've ever heard.
Jorge Flores: We went to the primary school and the University of West Indies. At the primary school it was amazing to see the enthusiasm the teachers and students displayed towards learning. It was also fun to see the reactions of some of the kids towards our physical appearance (hair especially). The University of West Indies was very similar to a college in the U.S. ... it was a beautiful campus.
We spent the day visiting part of downtown Kingston which included a crafts market and an art museum. After that we went to a small island off the coast of the Kingston harbor.
Zac Hansen: Hands down the highlight of my day was visiting the art museum. I love art, especially paintings where were the vast majority. Later in the day we took a trip to Lime Cay and experienced quite a hectic ride on the way there. I think I prefer the eratic driving to hitting large waves in a small wooden fishing boat.
Josh Collier: This afternoon we played a game against August Town FC. They were a solid group of guys and put up a good fight, but we on 2-1. Friday we will play again, against August Town u-21 and u-17 mixed teams.
We finished this morning at Maranatha and headed for Kingston.
Mark Zinser: Leaving our new friends at Maranatha was very difficult. After spending true quality time with them this past week, it was definitely hard to say goodbye. But even though we are leaving good relationships in Top Hill for now, we find ourselves in Kingston to start another adventurous week. Along with meeting new people, Kingston will really teach us a lot about true Jamaican culture. Although we've changed places, Jamaica continues to be an extremely beautiful place with many great people.
Luke Scheel: The church was truly a unique experience. The congregation and church pastor accepted the entire team with open arms. I'll always remember the singing that took place. The singer would sign while Ms. Verica interpreted with her voice. It was fun and slightly embarrassing trying to sing and sign in rhythm. It was exhilarating to see the deaf gentleman increase both the frequency and magnitude of his signs to indicate an increase in both pace and pitch of the song. All in all it was a moving experience to praise The Lord in the company of such a friendly and respectful congregation.
The chapel Monday morning at the school brought a smile to my face. One of the girls was so excited to be back at school. Her brilliant smile and enthusiasm seeped into everyone sharing the warm Jamaican air. Each of the kids was eager to juggle a futbol and teach us basic signs. One of the children went window to window of our van giving all of us knucks! I couldn't express enough thanks to our temporary mothers. We may have fixed a roof and helped start the construction of the chicken coop, but that imprint on the school pails in comparison to the imprint left on me. Though names and faces may fade, the sprit of kindness and hospitality will not falter thanks to the students and staff at the Maranatha School for the Deaf here I'm Top Hill, St. Elizabeth.
Today we visited the local market in Santa Cruz which was about 15 miles away. After we went to YS Falls which had a couple of tourist waterfalls and also a rope swing.
Connor Seavers: Today we visited the market in Santa Cruz. It was a lot like a flea market where you could buy anything from A to Z. The best part was that no matter what you bought you could barter for the price. Some of the team were pretty good while others just didn't have the touch. It was a very cool experience and a lot of fun to barter.
Today we finished laying the foundation for the chicken coup and also had our first laundry experience.
Nick Walters: Today we finished building the chicken coop. We took about 2 hours putting down cement. I also wrote a song for the kitchen crew along with Plank, Jake, Connor, Eric, and Suderman. After that we did laundry and ate lunch. Around 3:30 we went to play 7v7 soccer with some locals. It was very fun.
We finished our main roofing project today.
Craig Thacker: Today we were able to finish out the main project, pouring concrete on the roof of the dorms. After an amazing day on the beautiful beach for New Year's Day the team spirit was high to finish the project. I am excited for what lies next on the trip!
Kolton Hawkins: This trip has been a great team building experience. We have all come together as a team to help these wonderful people. Over the course of the trip we have had some fantastic food cooked by our hosts. My favorite has been jerk chicken, fried dumplings, and jerk fish.
On New Year's Day, the team did an obstacle course challenge and then spent a day at Treasure Beach.
Austin Finley: One of my biggest fears is heights, and walking out to the sports park I saw a giant rock wall (40 ft). I was very nervous about it, but it was awesome that my teammates were there to support me through it. I never thought I would do something like that. If my teammates were not there, I would not have done it. After that, Treasure Beach was a perfect end to an amazing day. It was so beautiful, and it was so relaxing riding waves as a team. Overall, this day will stay in my head for the rest of my life. One of the most memorable moments by far.
Jacob Smith: I have fully enjoyed this trip thus far. Today I transported marl with a wheel barrel up and down the hills. The progress that has been made already is so uplifting. I love how eager and hardworking these local school kids are. I cannot explain how much this trip means to me.
The first set is courtesy of sophomore Eric Cupp describing our journey here to Top Hill and the second one done by junior Brian Kautz describing our first full work day which included cement mixing, carrying up hill multiple wheel barrows and buckets of rocks, and hauling marl up a giant hill to help with cement mixing. The guys are exhausted but we are having a blast.
12/29/13 - Eric Cupp: The journey to Jamaica was something I will never forget. My dad would say my driving style fits in well here, but even I was shocked by the speed and fearlessness of the drivers, given the road conditions. During the drive from Montego Bay to Top Hill, I observed almost no physical division between the rich and poor; huge, brightly colored houses scattered among the mass of wood shacks and concrete houses. Maranatha sits nearly on top of a mountain, sporting a view of the ocean on one side and a valley with mountains on the other. This place and these people are welcoming, and most importantly, WARM!
12/30/13 - Brian Kautz: Today was our first day at Maranatha School of the Deaf. The team's primary service project is to resurface the dorm's roof with concrete. We carried the wet concrete mix up a hill and ladder with buckets and a wheel barrow. I had to carry three 94 lb. concrete bags up the ladder. Yeah man, that was heavy!