All 26 students have arrived safe and sound to this beautiful island of the Dominican Republic. Today has been all about settling into the lodge, meeting new people, making new friends and the beginning of creating wonderful memories for this life changing experience.
The DR leadership team
July 3, 2017
Dominican travel is very different than what most of us are accustomed to. For example, the bus we took today to Brison was jam packed with 30 excited and energetic passengers, along with blazing heat that made the bus feel, quite literally, like a sauna. The drive itself was hectic. Drivers were honking excessively, and were not afraid to take risks on the road, to say the least. Views along the way were spectacular, and it only got better once we arrived at the mountain.
The gradient of the hike was extreme, with the majority of the trek being an uphill battle. This fact was not complemented by the extreme heat and sun that everyone was walking in. The road we hiked on led to the house of Dona Maxima, where we were graciously served delicious local foods (we recommend the chicken). There was also an opportunity to buy some homemade bracelets and rugs, as well as delicious ice cream and popsicles from a local vendor. Unfortunately, the ice cream and popsicles had to be enjoyed hastily, because the heat of the day got to them quite quickly. The way down was much more enjoyable; in fact, in some areas, it was possible to run/slide/skip down the path, leading to a much quicker return to the bus. The ride back was exactly the same as the ride there, except this time, it was even hotter, making everyone somewhat impatient, and eager to get home.
Overall, the trip provided interesting insight into the lives of the people living on the mountain. We were shown around 2 different local houses, both of which gave examples of how the people’s lives are different from those in the United States (an example would be the kitchens, which did not have an adequate chimney.) The experience was a great way to kick off the trip, and we are all looking forward to more experiences like this one.
Written by Nick, Eva, and Allie
July 4, 2017
Today we went to the community Cano Dulce, where we helped build a home for Williams Family. William has four children who we spent a lot of time with whilst working on the project. Everyone was really motivated and we managed to make a lot of progress in such a short amount of time. We allocated different groups to certain tasks, such as: Mixing Cement, Applying Cement, Lining the walls with bottles (used for sustainable insulation), and finally lining the bottled walls with wire and hammering them in. All the bottles used to create this house were recycled in order to make an increasingly positive impact on the environment. When we weren’t busy cementing the walls we thoroughly enjoyed meeting and spending time with the children of the community. Everyone was so welcoming and on the whole it was an incredible experience. We are looking forward to going back tomorrow!
Written by Alexia, Yas and Sasha
The site was very different when we arrived this morning due to the rain despite the tasks being the same the tasks seemed to be more challenging. The cement was harder to mix as there was more water weight and the house was more crowded as a result of the very heavy rain. Putting on cement on the outside of the house was much more challenging due to the slipperiness of ground outside. However no ones motivation levels faltered and everyone worked extremely well together and intuitively. The family members of the house that we were building and some other locals put in very hard work everyone interacted brilliantly. The tasks appeared easier once the rain had let up after lunch and one half of the group went for a community tour and to see the bee hives, being shown how the honey was made and tasting the delicious honey. Overall it was a wonderful experience being able to revisit and help the community today, especially seeing the immense progress that had been made compared to yesterday morning.
Written by JJ, Charlotte, Lilly
Today we were woken up by the smell of pancakes and eggs, as we got ready to work on reforestation in a local nature preserve, Las Cuevas. We arrived and loaded plants into a boat, then separated into groups of plant-planters and hole diggers. We planted 150 trees along a river while fending off fire ants! We then ventured into the forest and saw the deforestation we were working to restore before cooling off in subterranean aqua holders (caves.) We then left the nature preserve and picked up pizza before heading to Playa Alicia. At Playa Alicia we refreshed ourselves with virgin cocktails and spotty wifi. Later we headed onto the beach for tanning and lounging as well as swimming in the clear Caribbean water. After catching some waves we headed back to the lodge where a group of us engaged in a pick up game of baseball with some locals. We headed back to the lodge to grab dinner and watched a inspirational and educational environmental documentary, “Before the Flood”, starring the esteemed Leonardo DiCaprio, John Kerry, and Elon Musk. Then we headed off to write this blog and enjoy our one hour of freedom!
Written by Kate F., Hope Y., & Tobias B.
Today we woke up to a ten minute rain storm. Fortunately, the day took a turn for the better and the sun was shining for another service day. The group traveled to a community called Severe which houses both people of Haitian and Dominican descent. Once we got there, half of the group began mixing cement immediately to begin repairs on a local school while the other half went on a tour of the village led by two mentors. On the tour we learned about their surroundings such as how close the nearest clinical was, their agriculture which is based off of cattle, chickens and pigs and their education system. Upon returning the group continued to work in the scorching sun. Despite the heat, the group accomplished a great deal of progress. During the breaks, we enjoyed playing with a group of kids who gathered at the site.
After a long day we enjoyed some free time either lounging by the pool listening to music or enjoying the ocean.
Written by Stephanie, Kate, Alex
While a few of us woke up early to frolic in the morning sunshine, most of us got to sleep in and rest up for our exhilarating day at Dudu Lagoon. We relaxed and swam in the beautiful blue waters, and some of us even dropped from the 30 foot zip line. Later, we explored a dark, ominous cueva and practiced using eco location. We utilized the volleyball court and soccer field, too. After our adventure, we trekked to Playa Preciosa and enjoyed the incredible scenery. We took lots of photos and supported the local vendors by buying handmade jewelry and delicious pina coladas.
We went full send today and really bonded with each other. After several days of working as a team in our local communities, it was nice to take a step back and just enjoy each others’ company. These are the events through which we filled the majority of our day.
With reserved love,
PS Sophie, Tucker, and Anna crafted this message
Today was the final day of service at Cano Dulce, we were sad to leave the community and the bonds we made with the people, but we all worked hard in the heat to complete as much work on the house as we could. We continued to work on the bottle house and began cementing the walls. We also started a side project of repainting the front of the school, which was a map of the world. It was great for us to see how much progress we made on the bottle house and it taught most of us that if you work hard, and work together you can get a lot done.
During the past 5 service days we have experienced in the Dominican, many new and meaningful relationships were made with community members, and we were exposed to lots of new environments. (one more sentence please ☺)