So we got the lucky chance to have myself and my two friends I work with (Meredith and Jessica) to get off for a whole day so that we could go to one of the DR’s treasures, 27 waterfalls or Damajagua in espanol.
We took what are the equivalent of Dominican buses called guaguas (guhwah guhwah) which are 15 passenger vans that they try and pack at least 15-20 people in. We rode one to La Vega and then into Santiago, which is the 2nd largest city in the DR, where we got out at another guagua station and immediately caused an uproar because everyone was trying to fill their buses and we were prime passengers because we were American.
Once we got off our second guagua outside of Santiago, we tried to catch a ride with anyone who picked us up and of all things, a tiny Dominican ice cream truck pulled over so we piled in the back and after a few stops, one where Jessica bought a coconut, and two where we helped sell ice cream. We arrived at 27 waterfalls.
We then got situated with our lifejackets and helmets and met our guide, Pablo, and set off to conquer 27 waterfalls. To describe it, it’s basically like a really large naturally occuring waterpark complete with slides, wade pools and 30 foot jumps. It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I got to go.
After we got done with the waterfalls and fun, we changed and headed back to the road to find a way back to the guagua stop. A bunch of cars went by and we took a taxi to the next little town to where we hoped to catch a ride. On a whim I threw my arm in the air as I heard a semi approaching and they pulled over! The cab door opened and a small man gestured us to get in. We thought we’d like to ride in the back but no, the three of us piled in with the driver and his co-worker. It was a tiny cab and I ended up sitting on a 120 lb. man’s lap. It was quite a ride!
We then made it in to Santiago and were excited because a TGI Friday’s had just opened up there and we decided to review it. So we had dinner at TGI Friday’s and it was AWESOME! Then we took a taxi ride home and were EXHAUSTED but happy and full!
I love the consistency of the weather here. Mornings are typically sunny and hot, afternoons get real humid and then it rains and evenings are cool. It’s delightful really and after the hellish summer weather I endured in Las Vegas, it’s a nice change! I’m lucky to be off for a few days this week and boy did I need it. I spent a little time pampering on my time off including the best $6 pedicure ever and dying my hair!
We have been busy lately with many different activites including a trip to the Capital, Santo Domingo! It was an awesome city, bustling with activity and home to a few American conveniences as well. We spent the beginning of the day in the Colonial District which is home to some of the fortresses dating back to the 15th century! We didn’t tour it but Columbus’ son had a house there and I would love to see it. Apparently one of the streets we walked down, called Calle de Las Damas was the street that Columbus’ wife walked down each day. She was so beautiful that it became a daily event as people would line the streets just to see her walk by. It’s an awesome feeling to walk in places that have such historical significance. We ate Pizza for lunch which was a nice treat and spent the afternoon shopping in the touristy section of town. Then we headed to Carrefour which is like the DR equivalent of Walmart. It was nice to see familiar products and foods. Then we headed back to Jarrabacoa, a 2.5 hour drive, and then hiked back into Boma. It’s funny, We are fairly consistent in our patterns and it feels like the locals are getting wind of it because each time we arrive back at the drop off point, the number of men sitting watching and waiting grows. I swear the store owners of the little store where we get picked up and dropped off are saying, “hey, if you come back tonight about 6ish, they’ll be a van full of American girls who will arrive, they’ll get out, change their shoes and then walk down the road.” It makes me laugh that we are so interesting to them. Here are some pictures from Santo Domingo:
In other activies, we’re just 10 days away from the beginning of Pico, which is the highest Mountain east of the Mississippi that we will be climbing. We’ve been trying to train to get ready for it, but I’ve heard it’s hard no matter how good of shape you’re in. Black Tuesday is affectionately known as the day we will hike uphill for 8 hours. I’m pretty stoked and a little nervous that I may in fact be walking towards my death. Training has been everything from hiking straight uphill numerous times, to running, to exercises and long walks. The girls have it built into their day but staff has to make time for it on their own.
In other news, I’ve been learning more how to drive the Concho, which we’ve dubbed Eugene, and Jessica actually took her life in her hands and rode with me today! I think it’s a good sign that she agreed to jump on the back! I must be getting safer!
I’m sorry I haven’t been exactly giving full disclosure in terms of what I’ve been doing down here but part of my job, the girls and some of their activities, I’m not allowed to discuss due to privacy issues.
I’ve always thought people who die in strange, sudden and freak ways to be those I find rather interesting. What was going through their heads as that car came plowing into them? or when the plane went down? You often wonder that their last thought might not have been anything significant but rather a shopping or to do list, an embarrassing moment relived or the even more serene thought of simply being exactly in the moment thinking that they’d be granted another moment and yet they weren’t.
I tried my hand at driving a scooter again tonight. I buzzed along through an onslaught of lighting bugs and mosquitos, thinking about the laundry I had to do and the emails I needed to send etc… at school. As I prepared to make the scary left turn onto the school’s driveway, I noticed a light behind me in the distance and slowed to make the turn and the car coming out of the driveway instead became my focus. Looking briefly back at my blind spot I didn’t see the concho bearing down on me and proceeded to make my turn. In what I consider to be an enormous grace gift, I somehow managed to not hit the car turning out of the school driveway and the concho managed to somehow not hit me. My heart stopped and the wind whipped across my face causing the only damage in what should have been a catastrophe. I am so thankful that moment sitting on the road thinking about my laundry wasn’t my last.
This week was long and tough as I am getting more accustomed to working here but not yet familiar entirely with my role. It’s hard to think the worst of people but these kids unfortunately can not handle trust and manipulate any chance they get. I love them all dearly and want nothing more than to see them succeed. Here a few more pictures of late!