In the Zone
Today was one of my favorite days of the program so far. We went back to the bottle school at Las Canas today to continue construction on the walls and the septic pit. The Las Canas site is a really nice location, because everything is close together and it’s all in the shade. Like yesterday, we made a ton of progress on everything, and the septic pit has gotten four or five feet deeper in the last two days. A lot of us just sort of lose ourselves in the work… somebody was joking that if there was a whole day in the schedule just for digging holes, everybody would enjoy it.
Later in the afternoon, we walked down the road to play some kickball by the beach with a lot of the local kids. The field was beautiful, and the wind made the game a lot more difficult and interesting. After the game, we brought a lot of them back to the Home Base and danced to some Dominican music with them. Our leader, Dave, got pulled into an arm wrestling match against this huge guy and totally obliterated him, and everybody was being challenged to little contests by the little kids. Afterwards, we gave them the donations we brought and sent them on our way. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here a whole week. It feels like it’s been longer than that, but in a good way. I’m going to miss chicken, rice, and beans when I get home.
Keeping the Ball Rolling
We began our fabulous sixth day in La Republica Dominica with our usual breakfast of eggs, toast and pineapple before heading off to a new Dominican village, Las Canas. Loaded up with bug spray and sunscreen (you’re welcome, moms), we piled into the bus where we got to experience Cameron navigating a dirt road made for motorcycles and mules, popular modes of transportation here in the DR. Luckily, the ride was only five minutes, and we quickly got to work building a bottle clinic in this new community. Now that we’ve been working with bottle building for a few days, we’ve mastered techniques and we used up all of the bottles on the site by lunch time! We were served a delicious lunch of the chicken and rice variety, a common and tasty meal here.
Since we finished our work for the day early, we split into groups for some quick comedic relief and prepared funny skits about our time here. We all battled ferociously for an ice cream prize, and although neither of our groups were victorious, we enjoyed watching all the skits as well as the tiebreaker, a joke off and dance battle. After cleaning up the site, we headed back to camp and got to spend an unexpected afternoon relaxing on our beach at the Home Base. Following some swimming, tanning and beach volleyball games we cleaned up for dinner and leadership activities. Tonight, we discussed privilege with Kala and global health security with Drew. We’re certainly feeling grateful for all we have, especially to be in such an amazing place right now surrounded by such an enthusiastic group of people!
Signing off (a little too sun-kissed),
Sarah Kersting and Wallis Herzog
Today was awesome. After being able to sleep in a little later, we headed off to Dudu. Following the hour long drive, we were greeted by a zip line overlooking a 35 foot drop to the water! Once the nerves passed we enjoyed zip lining, cliff jumping, playing volleyball, and exploring and swimming in the caves. We were able to walk among ostriches, turkeys, and peacocks on the Dudu property. After a while, we all chose something to do and by the end of the day everyone was happy and proud of themselves for conquering their fears. By 4 PM, it was time to go– even though most of us wanted to stay! Later, after dinner, we finished off the day by watching a documentary called Food, Inc. and learning about the food industries.
During our third day in Dominican paradise, we continued our work in Caraballo. We constructed more of the bottle school walls and mixed cement to coat the outside of the bottle walls to make the building more durable. The mixing of the cement was harder than we expected, and as Cameron would say, it “gave us big guns.” After our filling lunch made by the locals, we visited the market in Ascension. The vendors sold beautiful bracelets and decadent artwork; however, it was very overwhelming because of the need of the families there, and their want for money and us to buy their products. Most of us felt empathetic towards the families who were working towards a better living.
After this eye-opening experience, we visited a more touristy beach where the water was a beautiful turquoise blue and we competed in multiple beach volleyball games. We then headed back to our Dominican Home Base, where we showered, ate dinner and continued leadership exercises with Kala. We took a personality quiz and discovered what attributes we possess the most and learned how to feed into these values. It was an overall amazing and enjoyable day and we look forward to the rest of our life changing experience here in the Republica Dominicana. We’ll be keeping you posted!
-Morgan Demboski and Jade Paquette
Welcome to Caraballo
Today was an awesome day! We went to Caraballo to work on the Bottle School, which will be the biggest structure built using this technique in the world! It is such a cool thing to be a part of. We worked on making the walls by recycling used water bottles to fill them. Our favorite part was the people we worked with: Dominicans and Haitians of all ages from the area. We got to play with the little kids, who loved taking photos. Especially selfies!
We ate a traditional dish of chicken and rice for lunch in the community and had a leadership meeting about self-awareness and the Johari window. After a couple more hours of work, we went to the beach near our Home Base. The beaches here are beautiful and blue, with huge waves to swim in. Dinner was delicious, as usual, and then we set up our hammocks (easier said than done) and played with them. To finish off the night, we watched a documentary called “The 11th Hour,” which was about environmental issues, awareness, and solutions. Overall, another fabulous day in paradise!
Up the Mountain
Today we started off our day by waking up at 6:30 to get ready and eat breakfast. The fruit here is delicious, and every meal has been wonderful! At around 7:30 we hopped on our big bus, squished into the seats, and headed off to Brison for a hike. When we got to the trail head, a local man let us use the bathrooms in his home. It is very welcoming how happy and friendly the Dominican people are!
We started hiking around 9:30 and hit our first hill right out of the gate! Little did we know the whole hike was uphill…it was a challenge to say the least. Dave and Cameron showed us around a typical village in a developing country, which was an eye-opening experience. We continued our treacherous hike until we arrived at our lunch spot. The people were once again very welcoming and gave us a delicious lunch, including this amazing chocolate ice cream!
Following our lunch, we continued our uphill hike. On our way, we stopped to plant cacao trees as part of a reforestation project in the area. These trees will be ready to harvest in two years and will provide the communities with a sustainable source of income. After planting more trees than we could count, we started our trek back down the mountain and got back in our big bus. We returned to the home base to shower, eat dinner, and enjoy the night’s activities.
All the participants have arrived safe and sound. After dinner, students had orientation and learned more about one another by participating in team building and leadership activities.