Time Capsule Letter
I’m sure you all miss waking up to the odd howling of Ernie & Oscar, our home-base mascots, as they MOOed like cows outside of our cabins bright and early each morning! Or waking up to the sweet melody of your top bunk roomie’s alarm clock going off for 10 minutes straight. How about our delicious breakfast of eggs, pancakes, cereal and toast every morning? Or the smell of bug spray and sunscreen blowing into our cabins by a rare but much needed breeze? Ohh, I know we all miss when the water pressure would go weak mid-shower because everyone else is also showering off the cement from their legs. Then, theres always the good old shower companion that startles you when you catch a glimpse of the lizard or frog on the wall!
Ahh, yes…do you remember seeing the giant Land Crabs being boiled after having their claws surgically removed one by one by our friend Mongo during our special Escabeche workshop? Who could forget the day we navigated the chaotic sidewalks and streets of Gaspar Hernandez in order to enjoy a local ice cream treat? Every moment of every day we were exposed to new experiences and micro challenges that no one can ever take from us! We came we saw and we conquered!
When we weren’t running around screaming our heads off from harmless bugs, we were swimming in the refreshing pool, cooling off from a hard days work at service. Or sitting pool-side chatting away with all of our new friends, especially the Danimals aka the Dan-ettes! Whether it was seeing the finishing touches be applied to the bottle house or arguing with William about the definition of a sitcom from a Breaking Bad perspective, we enjoyed ourselves and our time together and shared our experiences wholeheartedly! Our session was very fortunate to be the only session that did a Karaoke night, a visit to the caves with stalactites, and get to oversee the final stages of the bottle house: Where we met our greatest challenge, laying the floor of the bottle house in 87 degree sweltering heat and humidity!
Like many who visit the Dominican Republic, we enjoyed delicious beverages while relaxing in the sun, with our toes in the sand. But our experience was much more than that, our experience will live on in our hearts, our experience was unique and empowering. We traveled here to learn about WHO the Dominican Republic is. We witnessed a different way of living as local families in rural and small communities welcomed us into their homes and shared their stories with us. We saw the struggles and strides that people in the DR face daily.
We get to leave the DR with so much more then a sun tan. Our local Director and friends Walner, Junior and Loubens, shared with us the difficulties that Haitian people in the Dominican Republic face everyday. Our hearts and minds feel full and inspired to continue to learn about global issues and take action. We learned about how we allow inequality into our everyday lives and how people from all over the world are given different opportunities based on the color of their skin or the place in which they were born.
We hope you all feel empowered to make changes in these systems. Although you are home now, surrounded by all of your comforts, we hope you continue to travel and gain a worldly view. Continue to educate and inspire those around you. We hope you always carry an open mind and an open heart. Remember your goals of learning more about your identity through community service and also having 2-4 conversations with community members and classmates about the environment and world issues!
We all went to the airport as 1 because over the course of our program we had become a community of individuals who cared and esteemed each other; there was no way we were going to go our separate ways
as individuals, we left the Dominican Republic together forever!
Thank you for making this experience everything that it was! You have inspired and taught us along the way and we hope that you continue to BE THE CHANGE that you want to see in this world!
We wish you the very best and are always here for you!
P.S Dont forget to learn more about the Mirabal sisters and read, “In the time of Butterflies”! (William talking)
William, Walner, and Jackie!
Wednesday July 31, 2019
Everyone has arrived and we are so excited for the next 10 days here in the DR! Stay tuned for more blog posts about our adventures 🙂
Thursday August 1, 2019
Today we woke up by the sound of a rooster, which is the best alarm clock out there. A wonderful morning of toast and fruit, accompanied by a mocha was a great start of the day. A quick drive of around 15 minutes to Las Canas, we arrived to a little road filled with colorful abodes and friendly locals. We did a little teambuilding activity before we arrived to Johnny’s house.
There we hauled nearly 100 lb. bags of cement down a beautiful walkway to an unfinished house on top of a hill. We met the eventual owner of the house, Elizabeth, and her son. After that we got to work, mixing, shoveling and sifting dirt, after that we mixed in the cement. Then by making craters with our shovels, filled them with water to create wet concrete.
We then began to plaster the chicken wire / plastic bottle walls. What we called “slathing”, was an effective way of plastering the walls. Then we had lunch at Johnny’s lunch, in which a delicious meal of pork, rice, fresh fruit and amazing fried plantains filled our bellies before we continued with our service. Even though Dan spilled a bag of cement over him, and Lucas got his clothes unrepairingly dirty, this was an extremely effective, rewarding and exhausting day of work.
We came back to a cold shower, a pool, a light thunderstorm, and new friends aplenty. Here we met another student on this trip, Maya, who sadly had to go through the worst of Newark airport and flight delays. Even though she was tired, she came in with a smile, and so everyone was sure to make sure she was welcomed. After a wonderful dinner cooked by our chefs of fried fish, spaghetti, and fruit, we learned of what 7e really is about.
The eye-opening expierence taught us the 7 elements of human security. We better understood these topics through our mentors and peers, and ended the day in our mentor groups, in which we serenly opened up to each other about our values, excitement and expectations of our trip. Lucas turned 17 today of which we celebrated through song, laughter, and cake. Honestly one of the better days I have ever experienced.
Friday August 2, 2019
Everyones day started with some french toast this morning. And it was a great way to start the day.
We then returned to the same community we were in yesterday. after we got right into the work and
had a crazy productive morning.
We had a group that mixed cement in the morning and a group that pasted cement on the walls in the morning.
After lunch we switched. For lunch we hit some chicken and rice and pineapple and we hit it hard. After out work day
we took a short tour of the community and got to learn about the local culture by checking out the local school and church.
When we got back to home base we got in the pool immediately. For dinner we ate a typical dominican meal-sancocho which is a stew type dish. Afterwards, we had some ethical decision making discussions.
Until next time,
P.S. Apologies for no photos from today-we had technical difficulties!
Saturday August 3, 2019
Today, we started out the morning with a pretty great breakfast. Then we headed out to DuDu Lagoon. Once there, we toured the area, which included a soccer field, numerous swings and hammocks, a large cave, and a volleyball field. The lagoon was beautiful; everyone jumped into the water from an elevated platform. Near the lagoon was a large lake with numerous fish. The cave overlooked the lagoon and was filled with stalactites. Once everyone was done with exploring, we sat down for a very enjoyable lunch and headed off to the Preciosa Beach.
The beach offered (virgin) Pina Coladas, immense waves, and numerous street vendors. As a result, the time that was spent there focused on jumping over waves, negotiating with the vendors, relaxing and sipping our Pina Coladas. After that, we returned to the lodge to jump in the pool and eat dinner. The day was concluded with an insightful forum about the divide in the Hispanola island but also the hope for what may come for the two countries and all their people.
Sunday August 4, 2019
After a delicious brekky we headed out to the service site and started mixing cement. It was very hot, but soon the gods gifted us with rain for a few minutes. Although it was refreshing, we did not take it as a break and instead mixed cement even faster than before. After lunch we played Simon Says and basketball with some of the local children. Following even more cement mixing we had our mentor groups where we talked about people who inspired us; William’s mentor group was also greeted with copious amounts of mosquitos.
When arriving back at the logde we spent time reflecting on our own and then chilled in the pool where we had some interesting conversation with our neighboring program group (a.k.a. Dan made FRIENDS…and so did Lucas). Dinner we delicious as usual, and then we played a fun game that was similar to charades.
That was the extent of our day, and we are excited for what is to come on the hike tomorrow.
Monday August 5, 2019
We woke up at 7 today to have breakfast. We had eggs, bread, and fruit. We got on the bus around 740. The bus ride was about an hour and a half. We began the hike around 930. We stopped along the way for bread and juice. Their were also small things for sale that we were able to buy. We reached the top at around 12.
Overall the hike was challenging on the legs because it was partly uphill and the terrain was loose rocks. But in the end the view from the top of the hill was worth the pain of hiking to the top. We started our decent at 130 and got back to home base at 430. We had free time till dinner which was at 6. After dinner we had a very informative talk about our identities. Then we had free time till bed.
Tuesday August 6, 2019
This morning started with a later brekky (yay for sleeping in!) and then a van ride to the Cabarete Caves. After arrival, we spent about an hour cleaning up trash from the community where a few locals joined us.
We then headed to the caves and looked inside. William made an oopsie and stepped in one of the water holes. Also we lot about stalagmites and stalactites! Some of the local children helped us carry our things and showed us around their community. Mayah and I (Martina) had a lot of fun speaking and singing with the kids in spanish as well as teaching them some English (hello, water, and avacado were their favorite words).
We jumped into a water hole in one of the caves and swam around in the refreshing water. For lunch we picked up pizza on our way to Playa Alicia and ate it by the beach. The water was super salty but really nice and we swam for a while. To end our excursion we went to a super market and got some snackies for the rest of the trip.
We couldn’t use the pool because it was being cleaned but we still had fun talking and playing cards until dinner. For dinner we had tacos and it lived up to the hype of taco night. Instead of a lecture we did a debate about whether or not a sports stadium would benefit the people of the DR.
It was very interactive and everyone participated and shared their thoughts. Many of us agreed that today was one of the best days we’ve had as it incorporated all of the best parts of the trip. We are all super excited for our last 2 full days here so we can keep learning more about this amazing country!
Today we woke up at at 7:45 to eat breakfeast before embarking on our final service day in Cano Dulce. We mixed cement to finish the floor which was one of the only remaining aspects of the house that still needed work. We quickly finished the floor before lunch, which we ate at the worksite today.
After some time to rest after lunch we mixed more cement. Before going home we made a pit stop in Gaspar Hernandez, a local town where we crammed into a small ice cream shop for a much needed refreshment!
We then went back to the lodge and swam. After swimming we had a local come to the home base to help us cook crabs and prepare a local dish called encabeche, which we ate with our dinner that featured mac and cheese and french fries. Lastly, we had mentor groups and free time before going to bed. Hasta Manana! Our last full day!