Exploring Dominican Culture and Attractions

It has been a while since my last post.  School has been incredibly busy.  I essentially had midterms this past week.  For the next 10 days, I will be in a compo building an aqueduct.  The aqueduct will be over 2 miles long!  Last weekend we took a student life trip to Isla Saona.  On the way there we went to Cueva de las Maravillas National Park or Cave of Wonders.  The caves were quite amazing.  The caves are significant in Taino origin mythology.  Distinctive drawings were made by the Taino people and are etched on rocks around the whole island of Hispaniola.  One of the main viewing areas for these drawings is in the Cave of Wonders.  It is an 800-meter cave but only 200 meters are walkable for tourists.



We took a speedboat ride from Bahahibe to Isla Saona.  On the way there we stopped in an area known for its starfish and saw with starfish and stingrays for 15 minutes.  Then we made the last leg of the boat ride to Isla Saona.  It was a beautiful beach.  I made friends with 7 Columbian men.  They were so funny because they barely spoke English and I barely speak Spanish.  We both spoke really slowly in Spanish and I ended up being able to talk quite well when we were talking slowly.  After 3 hours on the beach and lunch, we took a catamaran back to Bahahibe.  It was a 1 and a half hour boat ride but it was full of dancing and singing.  I learned how to dance Bachata, Marange, and salsa from Dominican women from the university in Santiago.  It was a blast.

The rest of the week consisted of classes and studying 24/7.  On Friday, we went to Cienfuegos which is the poorest area of Santiago.  We took a bus tour with a local deacon from a church.  The neighborhood of Cienfuegos was created when cien fuegos (100 fires), burned down 100 houses and the government moves them to the outskirts of town.  Those 100 families have turned into over 200,000 people in 40 years.  They are a quite remarkable neighborhood who is currently trying to become an independent city.

For the next 10 days I will be living in Canafistol, a compo just north of Pico Duarte.  There, I will be living with Ana, my host mom, and her husband if he is going to be in town.  He works in a different city.  It will be a great experience.  We will be working on the aqueduct from 7 in the morning until 5 at night every day except for Sundays.

After the 10 days in the compo, we have a 1 night retreat and then it’s fall break.  We will be climbing Pico Duarte, the Caribbean tallest mountain.  I will not be posting for about 3 weeks but will have lots to share in my next post.

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