Monday April 29, 2019
Today was our first full day in the Dominican Republic and it was a gorgeous, but busy day! We are starting to get in the routine of things, which includes helping some community members build their house. We started by mixing concrete, during which a young Dominicano took charge and told us exactly what to do. We were a bit shy at first, but the Dominicans were warm and the kids were adorable, which got us quickly out of our shells and talking some Spanish.
We did a great deal of work and are looking forward to more tomorrow! Good thing we had some delicious Dominican food to keep us energized and several “botellones” to keep us hydrated. We also took walks and runs on the beach, some of us swam in the ocean, but MOST of us spent some quality time in the pool at our home base.
Bonding has already begun – discussions about our pooping schedules has brought us closer than ever – papaya is the key to pooping! The bugs are mean… and everywhere… but Clara Aeder is a master bug removal service. Ernie, one of our guard dogs, will continue to keep us safe, but always remember, DON’T STEP ON HIM!
Tuesday April 30, 2019
We woke up to a rainy morning after a late night of conversations and Uno(Congratulations to Mr.Woods). Our breakfast consisted of fresh eggs and delicious mashed potatoes. We returned to the work site to continue working on the home. The masons were there and with our combined forces we mixed cement and applied it to the walls to help complete the home.
We talked with the community members, while practicing our Spanish. After a hard days work many of us wen to the beach and experienced the high tide and strong waves. In the evening we watched a video about the history between Dominicans and Haitians and the tensions the countries. Walner, our local director, discussed his experienced as a Haitian- Dominican. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s water adventures.
Wednesday May 1, 2019
Today, we woke up to a wonderful hot breakfast. It consisted of toast, banana smoothies, fried cheese and cereal. We went to gather our beach wear and towels and boarded the bus to “The lagoon”. On the way there, we stopped to exchange currency and get snacks. We were greeted by people standing around having conversations and shopping. We were also invited to shop at many of their stores.
Upon our arrival to the lagoon, we were all filled with excitement and quickly gathered into groups and explored the area. Our chaperones and guides did a great job a reminding us to apply sunscreen and encouraged us to stay in groups. We split the group into 3 groups; some at the small pool, some at a larger pool and one left to bath in the sun. We all gathered for a fried chicken, spaghetti, salad, and beans and rice lunch. We were also able to purchase sugar cane soda (Soooo good!!!) After we finished lunch we boarded the bus and headed to our next activity.
We drove abut 25 minutes to what we would describe as one of the most amazing beaches we’ve ever seen. We all agreed it was a lot different from our “beaches” in Chicago. Many of us ran into the ocean, body surfed and spent time bonding. It was great being able to connect with classmates we hadn’t had a chance to talk to. This activity , along with others gave us an opportunity to have fun in a way we’ve never experienced while at Wolcott. Later, we were able to purchase gifts and souvenirs for our family and friends. Venders provided a nice selection of jewelry, and homemade candy. Our chaperones also arranged for us to have fresh pineapple drinks with coconut!
After our time at the beach, we returned back to our camp site for dinner followed by a dance lesson. Our nightly group huddles culminated our night with friendly games of Uno, reflections and singing.
Today was another wonderful day of adventure and learning in the Dominican Republic! After breakfast, we met with our travel “families” to debrief on the trip thus far and to review the agenda for the day. After cleaning our cabins and packing our day bags, we traveled by bus for approximately one hour to Sosua, a beach town.
We were able to exchange money and meet our snorkeling guides for the morning. It was amazing! We saw beautiful blue tang, coral, sea urchins, sponges, and so many other beautiful fish whose names we do not know but are motivated to learn more about.
After snorkeling, we had pizza on the beach and did a bit of souvenir shopping. Ford got a fabulous hair cut – Dominican style – and Moriah practiced her incredible bartering skills with the local vendors. DIego helped shop for a pair of earrings for Sra. Winer and Seamus bought a boogie board to use later in the day and to donate for future trips. Many of us purchased local honey, which we plan to give as gifts (or eat ourselves!).
After yet another fabulous dinner, we engaged in a meaningful reflection about all that we’ve learned here in the DR – about humility, kindness, generosity, privilege, community, and friendship. As Danny mentioned, “this is the best trip of my life”.