Date: July 24th
Author: Alex Sanchez-International Director
Our last Sports Service Adventure group arrived in the Dominican Republic today! After picking everyone up from the airport, we traveled to Las Canas to get settled in to Home Base and took our first team picture on the beach. Dinner was a traditional Dominican meal of chicken, rice, beans and delicious fruits and veggies. We continued the evening with orientation to the program and some free time before bed. Looking forward to a challenging but fun hike tomorrow in Brison!
Date: July 25th
Authors: Cole & Racquel
Today we woke up to the great smell of eggs, toast, bacon, fruit, and homemade juice. At 8:30 we took an excursion to Brison. We enjoyed a hike to the top of a very steep mountain, and halfway through, we met a lady selling limoncillos. In case you are unfamiliar, limoncillos are fruits that have a hard green casing. Once you break through the shell of the fruit there is a slimy seed covered with a fruit that tastes like grapefruit and lemon. As we continued to walk up the mountain, we saw clay/rock terrain and the people of Brison. We learned that kids walk 3 miles up a mountain every day to get to school. After reaching the top of the mountain, a family provided us with fresh chicken and vegetables. Once we finished, we took a photo atop the mountain and started back downhill to the. We learned about the reforestation project that 7 Elements is implementing along the way. Once we got to the bus, we took another long and hot ride back to our beautiful camp.
One we got back to home base, we went to the beach and got our first dip in the insane 75 degree ocean water. In the water, we body surfed and found sand dollars. Although the beach was a great bonding experience, going back to the camp afterwards was even more rewarding. We ate dinner and had some exquisite fried fish, lemonade, potatoes, and locally grown fruit. Afterwards, our mentors read us our guardian angels. Guardian Angel is an exercise we do each day to provide positive reinforcement to each other. We finished today with free time and team bonding around a bonfire at the lodge. This day was a surreal experience for all of us!!!
Date: July 27th
Authors: Lauren and Ethan
This morning we woke up to the sound of roosters and the fresh aroma of local food. After the delicious breakfast, everyone applied sunscreen and bug spray as we prepared to go to Caño Dulce. At the service site we spent hours mixing concrete and finishing the rebound wall from the previous day of work. We dripped of sweat and hard work. As the service day was coming to an end, we had fun playing sports with the locals such as basketball and baseball. This included playing on the new basketball court that the previous GLA groups built. After working we came back, ate lunch and prepared for the water sports activities that soon followed. Our first activity was surfing where we shredded some gnarly waves. In particular, Ethan was able to get the wave of the day. Then we practiced some kite surfing with local instructors. Afterwards we cooled off in the pool before dinner. For dinner we had a traditional Dominican meal with a chicken and rice stew. Following dinner we had a great leadership lecture and identified our personal leadership qualities. After the lecture we enjoyed some free time and went star gazing with our personal photographer Mike.
Date: July 28th
Authors: Griffin and Jordyn
Right from the start, we embraced the day. From the get go, kids went out to enjoy the sunrise and surf the awesome Dominican water (shred the gnar). During this time, Mia and Jordyn accomplished the ever so difficult Wave of the Day™. We then devoured the delicious pancakes with honey from the local bee farm. Included with our lovely pancakes, we enjoyed fresh fruit and loveable bacon. We then lathered on our sunscreen and bug spray and set out to Caño Dulce. At the service site we finished almost all of the panels of our wall we have been working on to protect one man’s land from the neighborhood basketball court. Many kids played with the members of Caño Dulce community and enjoyed a game of basketball. Peter’s squad, including Jose, won against the powerful team of Zeke, Samuel, Edwin, Ethan, and Griffin. We then took a quick bus ride back to the home base to scarf down some grub (spaghetti, plantains, potatoes, and luxurious fruit). After, we went to the beautiful beach, swam in the crystal clear water and continued to learn how to kite surf. After the learning experience, we made our way back to the lodge and ate seasoned fish, rice, potato salad, ripe fruit, and avocados. Then a group of us went to watch the exquisite and beautiful stars. And now we write this eloquent blog post.
Date: July 30th
Authors: Mia and Payton
This morning we woke up to hot sunny side-up eggs, potatoes and fruit. Next, we headed down to the beach for surfing. The sound waves were calm, the sun was out all morning and a fantastic opportunity to get a tan. We went back to the lodge for a pre-lunch swim. For lunch we had chicken wings, broccoli and more potatoes. Then, we hopped on the bus to drive over to Caño Dulce. At Caño Dulce we finished the wall by the basketball court and threw cement on it. Some of us played basketball on the court with the local children. We came back after service for some down time and smelled the cooks preparing dinner. Dinner consisted of mushroom sauce chicken, mac and cheese, plantains and fruit. Soon we read our guardian angel messages and listened to Walner’s life story. We ended the night with a nice walk on the beach under the stars.
Date: July 31st
Authors: Rocky and Payton
This morning several of the GLA students went out to catch some gnarly waves and watch the sunrise while the others stayed asleep. For breakfast, we had eggs and Frosted Flakes (which Zeke argued weren’t actual “Frosted Flakes”). After breakfast, we loaded into the bus to continue our work in Caño Dulce. Once we arrived we began to sift sand so that we could put a finishing coat on the wall we had been building. While certain students worked on that project others began painting a new backboard for the basketball court. After a long day of work, we went back to the camp so that we could fill our tummies with grub before heading to play baseball with some of the locals. Two hours of bad bat swinging, lizard bites and laughter there was a torrential down pour. Those of us that had enough energy ran back to the camp while others walked in the rain. When we got back to the lodge we had the option to get our hair put in cornrows by a woman and her daughter who had been working in the area. Not only the girls looked cute with their braids but Kyle and Luis rocked their individual cornrow as well. After dinner and a lecture, the photographer who had been capturing our memories this past week came to say his fair wells as he gave a heartwarming speech which brought tears to our eyes. In conclusion to our great day we walked along the beach and gazed upon the stars.
Date: August 1st
Today, several GLA students went surfing at 6 AM. They enjoyed watching the sunrise while improving their surfing skills. We said “hasta lavista” to our favorite photographer Mike as he left us. Following a delicious breakfast, the gang journeyed to Cano Dulce to work on our service project…The Bottle Wall. Our hard work and skills have started to pay off as we finished the whole front side of the wall and most of the back. Once lunch time came around, we gathered all our tools and headed back to the lodge. The cooks prepared a delicious meal of rice, beans, chicken, potatoes, and fruit. After some downtime, we all headed to the beach to go kitesurfing. While some were kitesurfing, others were playing in the ocean, throwing the football, and playing soccer. Once the lesson was over, we chilled in the pool for a while and then got ready for dinner. It was a classic American dinner consisting of French fries, chicken tenders, plantains, pasta salad, and fruit. After dinner, we had our daily lecture which consisted of a documentary about baseball in the Dominican Republic. After the blog was written, the GLA students headed down to the beach to look at the stars and take pictures.
Date: August 2nd
1 am: It was the 4th day before leaving the ecolodge. Not a cockroach nor ant was awake. Yet Mia was screaming at the top of her lungs. No longer was the camp asleep, even those across the way woke up to the scream. Her sister said shut up Rocky asked if she was ok, but back to sleep Mia went without anything to say.
Today, we woke up once again at 7 to have a classic breakfast of some cereal. We got ready to go to 27 charcos, aka 27 waterfalls. Sadly, before we left we had to say our final goodbyes to our good friends Cole and Payton. We then took a very, long strenuous bus ride to the falls. At the waterfalls Ethan rented some ugly dad shoes to use in the water. He looked like Peter Pan with ankle socks. We took a short hike to the top of the waterfalls. At the first water fall there was a ten foot drop and we heard the first set of Lauren’s screams as she jumped from a rock. Our next jump was about twenty feet and silly Walner would not attempt the jump, but it’s ok he’s still the best. Numerous slides and jumps later and sadly Ethan had to leave his dad shoes behind. We ate a delicious lunch at a local buffet and drove all the way home. We played cards and hung out in the pool. Then we had some pasta for dinner. We then read guardian angels and many jokes were made. And now we are obviously sitting on this laptop typing the daily blog. Goodnight good fellows don’t let the cockroaches bite.
-Sofia and Joey
Date: August 3rd
Authors: Zeke and Kyle
Today we started with a flash of home, with pancakes straight from the cooks’ pan. Then we returned to Caño Dulce and finished cementing our wall. While we were gone the local mason came and installed the backboard that we painted. One on the local men also bought a net to attach to the rim, and the court was finished. We are looking JUAN MARICHAL forward to tomorrow, which will be our last day in the town when we will be painting the wall and then playing basketball for the last time with the locals. We also took our last turn at kite surfing, another reminder that our trip is coming to an end soon. After a dinner of rice and chicken, we piled some of the wood that we have been gathering and had a bonfire so that we could mix with some of the other groups staying in our compound. After the fire burned out we split up back to our areas to get ready for bed.