In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the KUSis sleep tonight

Have you ever searched for an opportunity to ride a rollercoaster without standing in line for at least an hour? That is what we experienced on our bus ride in Dominica!

After crossing the Atlantic ocean and celebrating our arrival in the Caribbean we got the chance to stay in host families for four days. The trip to our new homes was already exciting to say nothing of the adventures we faced the following days.

After all of the 34 students were placed in one of three busses our trip to the rather small town of Marrigot on Dominica could finally begin. We all carried our luggage for three nights. The trip to our new homes was very funny. It was a bit like riding a rollercoaster because of all the curves. The driver was very nice and even gave me his card because he was very interested in learning more about companies in Germany. He played local music which we all loved and we showed him some German music, too, that he enjoyed.

After about two hours most of us were already dropped off at their host families and we reached our last stop. Me and three others were lucky to stay with a host family in the middle of the jungle in a small, cute house. When we got out of the car we were surrounded by plants, I felt a bit overwhelmed because I had never been to such a tropical region before and everything seemed new and exciting. Our host father welcomed us very warmly and showed us our beds. He was a bit scared that we would not feel comfy but for us the rooms felt really luxurious and we enjoyed that we had so much space to ourselves.

The long bus ride was rewarded by a very tasty dinner in the evening. During our stay we tried new food like cooked roots, which tasted similar to potatoes, curry with bananas or a special fish sauce which was delicious. For breakfast we always had a hot drink we really enjoyed, which tasted like a mix of hot chocolate and Chai tea. However, the culinary highlight of our stay where all the fresh, tropical fruits we ate. Immediately after we arrived we tried starfruits right from the tree in front of the house and the following day we took a walk around the few houses and the people gave us a lot of different fruits to try. I loved the fresh coconut, cocoa beans, sugar cane and that we made our own juice out of golden apples and passion fruits from the garden. Back on the ship I will definitely miss the variation of all the intense, exotic and refreshing flavors.

As well as eating good food we did some cool activities during our stay. Right in the morning after we woke up from our first night in the jungle we went to the nearby river to go swimming. Together with the five year old daughter of our host family we made our way through the maze of plants and trees. The little girl was our guide, she told us where to go and where to jump into the water. Sophie even did a backflip from a very high rock in the middle of the stream.

Another memorable experience was crafting our own bowls from natural materials. We learned that our host father had been chief of the indigenous people on Dominica so he knew a lot about traditional crafting methods. He showed us how to make bowls out of plants, which were similar to watermelons only with a slightly more solid shell. We cut the fruits open and removed the flesh at a nearby river, then we let the shells dry in the sun. Afterwards we decorated the „calabash“ with woodcarvings and my guest father even carvend my name for me. Making these traditional bowls felt really special and made me feel even more connected with the incredibly beautiful nature around me.

We spent the last evening with our host mother and her two daughters Inika (eleven years old) and Latisha (our age) and they braided our hair into lots of small braids. Our different hair structure turned out to be a bit of a challenge for them but we had a great time together. With our amazing time in mind the farewell after four days was very hard. We all wished that we would have been able to stay longer and promised to come back one day. In particular the parting of the three girls was kind of emotional but we exchanged e-mail addresses with them to keep contact.

As you may have noticed our stay at the host families was very successful. We had a great time trying new food, exploring nature, learning about other cultures and making new friends. Being able to spend time in other families and learning something new about a place is a great privilege. Happy about the unique experience and a bit sad at to be parting with our hosts, we are now leaving Dominica making our way to Panama where other adventures are already waiting for us.