Today we rose early before the sun with flits of nervous energy settling in our stomachs. Anticipation and excitement begin growing slowly as we make our way through security, sleepwalking in a state of perpetual drowsiness. We board our plane and an unexpected feeling of awakening sets in as we realize how surreal the moment has just become. After hours filled with packing peanuts and clear plastic soda cups, the wheels of our plane landed.
Upon leaving the airport, there’s an overwhelming sensation of stifling heat. We squint to find our way over to a sea of blue shirts and duffel bags. We toss our bags into a small trailer and pile into the bus attached to it. The windows are down and the breeze is warm as the small modest bus winds through the dirt roads of local villages.
Home Base is rustic and beautiful with a Caribbean charm that easily makes us feel at home. Meanwhile a few of us had encountered a few issues caused by a flat tire on a busy city street. Despite the sleep deprivation, the pressure to make friends, and unexpected car trouble a feeling of community and friendship resonates throughout the camp.
Today we had an early morning with breakfast at 7 and boarded the buses to ride inland to the mountain community of Brison.
The buses dropped us off at the bottom of the mountain and we proceeded to take a 3 mile hike up the mountain. We stopped along the way, interacting with the welcoming Dominicans and learning about their culture as they allowed us to take a step into their homes and experience their way of life.
Although our shirts were dripping and our breathing was heavy through the tough, steep hike, when we got to the top we felt very accomplished and got to experience an absolutely incredible view of the Dominican mountains. A woman at the top of the mountain cooked us a delicious lunch and taught us about her life. A heavy rain shower caused us a bit of a delay, which cooled us off.
After coming back to the lodge and eating another great meal, we had a leadership lecture and learned about how to create and communicate a vision.
-Michaela, Emma, Megan, Sam, Sofia and Jacob
We started the day off with breakfast at 8am and went on our adventure at 8:30am.
We went to a community not too far from the lodge to work on a bottle house. The house was on a really steep hill. So to begin, we all spread out on the hill and created an assembly line to bring up the sand and concrete. All of this was passed on to the group that was physically working on the house. The walls are filled with bottles and it was our job to compact the walls with concrete for insulation.
At noon, the woman who owned the property kindly fed us lunch and we played games with her children and grandchildren. Then we resumed work afterwards.
When we returned to the lodge we went swimming at the beach and learned to make tostones. For our leadership lesson we talked about the meaning of Human Security.
We started the day off with a refreshing breakfast, which included fried cheese. Then we started our journey to Dudú Lagoon, a national park. There, we spread across the park which consisted of a zip line, a cenote, and a cave. The zip line went over a deep pool of water where we plummeted into the cool, refreshing water. After a big splash, we ventured to the cenote where we swam in crystal clear water under stalactites. The cave also had stalactites as well as stalagmites. It was a cool area to explore, recreating a sense of mystery and awe. Meanwhile others relaxed under the warm sun and played volleyball and soccer.
After our adventures at the lagoon, we took a short bus ride to Playa Precioso. Any droopy eyes immediately popped up as the beach fell into view. The water was an array of blues and greens, framed by silky sand and palm trees. While some hurled themselves into the waves, others enjoyed fresh nonalcoholic piña coladas or picked out some jewelry and wooden figures to bring home.
We all left feeling satisfied and excited for another delicious dinner together. Riding back, we bonded as we sang and danced. Overall, the day was yet again full of new experiences and memories to be kept forever.
-Megan T. and Sophie S.
We started off this Wednesday with a delicious breakfast as always, thanks to our amazing kitchen staff!
I woke up to the sounds of Ben’s glorious guitar playing, and some of us sat with him as he serenaded us before we headed to the community of Severe. There, we worked on a local school where groups were designated different positions, consisting of cement mixers, sifters, bucket haulers, and more. Once it became hotter, and as we grew tired, some of the schoolchildren kindly helped us with our jobs. As cement was splattered across the walls of the school, and all over us, I can surely say that this was the messiest workday of the program.
After lunch and some more work in the afternoon, we started to head back to the compound, but first, we headed to a little market just about 20 minutes away from the school. Street vendors were selling paintings, bracelets, necklaces shirts, etc. And from this excursion, many of us were able to practice haggling with the vendors. On the way back to the compound, we stopped for ice cream at Bon, which was the perfect way to beat the warm weather.
With not much time left, we headed to the compound for a fantastic dinner. Then, after that, before our mentor groups, Cameron walked us through the True Colors test, which we used to discover more about our personalities, and more about our strengths and weaknesses as leaders.
This morning we awoke to rays of bright sunshine and the smell of pancakes and fresh mango. Around 8:30 we left the lodge and headed to Sosua, where we were greeted by some locals and gathered gear for our snorkeling adventure.
After many coats of sunscreen, we put on our life jackets and hopped on a small motor boat. After a short and thrilling ride through the crashing blue waves, we got onto a larger motor boat, big enough to fit all 36 of us.
Once everyone was on board we headed out to sea. The waves grew wilder and rocked the boat up, down and back and forth. Many of us snorkeled, swam and jammed out on the deck of the boat and in the water.
The water was so clear that you could see schools of fish and even the coral reef below. After a few hours off the coast, we returned to the shore where we spent the rest of the day on the beach, in the market, getting our hair braided and enjoying the local culture.
-Carmen, Casey and Nora