Goodbye D.R.

Yesterday was my last day in the Dominican Republic. I spent most of the morning packing up my bags and my house (one of my least favorite things to do). I went to visit with a few people in the afternoon and gave out a bunch of random stuff (toys, aprons, pictures, etc.). In the evening I had planned on going to Minerva’s cell group, eating dinner with her and then some friends were going to come over to see me off. Those plans got canceled due to two hours of heavy rain. Instead I finished packing in candle light and had a late dinner at Minerva’s. Around 11:30pm Bau and Idekel and some of Bau’s college friends drove me to the airport and we said our goodbyes. Those last few days were sad days for me but I am thankful for all the good times I had this summer. 
(I didn’t take many pictures of people I saw today, I forgot a few times and some of the ladies didn’t want their pictures taken because they had curlers in their hair, but here’s a few).
Fey in his new hat.

Rosa and family.

Yuneris and her baby girl, Anisha.

Me and the boys at the airport.


Last Travesia Trip of the Year

With only about a week left in the country I made a quick trip up to the Travesia all by myself. One of my Travesia friends had their nephew, Edward, meet me at the bottom of the hill with a bestia (female mule). (He laughed at me when I called it a mulo, a male mule). Once at the top I had a great meal, took a nap and then visited about 6 homes, drinking coffee in most of them. As always it was great to get away from the city for a little bit and enjoy the calm of the mountain life as well as some quality friend time. Here’s a few pictures!



A Bike Ride to Moca

I’ll start this off by saying that the longest bike ride I’ve ever been on is about 10 miles. Usually I just ride my bike to get from point A to point B and that’s rarely more than 5 miles in each direction. So when I heard that most of the avid bike riders here in La Vega go to Moca and back a few times a week, roughly 30 miles, I thought they were crazy. I was a little intrigued by the challenge, so when I found out that a father and son from my barrio regularly made that bike ride to Moca I made plans to join them. DSC_0158Just before 6am I met up with Miguel and his 12 year old son, Luis Miguel, at their house. From there we headed through La Vega and then on a nicely paved country rode. I rode in the middle because they had lights on their bikes and I didn’t. At first they were going at a leisurely pace and I felt confident that I could keep up. Little did I know that they were waiting to hit the hills before they went full speed. Luis Miguel left me in the dust, but his dad patiently rode with me. The scenery that early in the morning was amazing! I took lots of mental pictures but didn’t want to slow everyone down even more by stopping to use my camera.
DSC_0165It took us a little over an hour but we made it to Moca! I really couldn’t believe it. Moca used to seem like such a far away town…. but not anymore!DSC_0178DSC_0174On the way back to La Vega my foot started to go to sleep and almost all my leg muscles ached.When we got to Santo Cerro I was happy that the boys decided to go on a four kilometer loop up a very big hill while I rested at the bottom. I took advantage of that little break: stretching, drinking water, and buying donuts for the boys. The last five miles back went smoothly and once back in the barrio I quickly started bragging to all my friends about what I’d done that morning.


The Waiting Room

My friend Maria moved to the capital a few weeks ago, just weeks before she was supposed to have her third baby. She asked me if I could be there with her at the hospital when she got her C-section because she didn’t have anyone else who could come and look after her. I was honored that she’d asked me and made the 3 hour trek to Santo Domingo. DSC_0163 

I arrived after 5pm and ate the lunch they’d saved for me, then they took me around town. We went to China town and the historical district.

The next morning Maria, her oldest kid, her husband and I all went to the hospital early in the morning. The doctor she had consulted with twice told her to go to the emergency room of the hospital on that Wednesday at 8:30 am. That’s what we did but the doctors in the emergency room told her there wasn’t enough surgical gowns to operate on her. By 1pm Maria got one of the doctors to sign her name on a list so she could get a C-section the following day. DSC_0203DSC_0210

So once again, early in the morning, Maria and I went to the hospital. This time we went at 7am. When we arrived at the emergency room the main doctor told her that there wasn’t enough surgical equipment to give her a c-section and that the doctor who’d signed her up on the list didn’t have any real authority. While Maria complained and made some phone calls, I sat in the waiting room. They wouldn’t let me go where Maria was so all I could do was wait. At noon I saw her get rolled out in a wheel chair. The nurse made her give all her belongings to me. And then I waited some more.

DSC_0214DSC_0215DSC_0217By 5:30pm I was starting to get worried because I hadn’t heard anything. I started to ask around to find out when they were going to let me see my friend. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to and that in the capital they don’t let people stay the night to look after patients. (Maria had invited me to the capital because she thought she needed someone to stay the night in the hospital like they do in La Vega). That’s when a nurses aids did me a favor and went and found out that Maria had gotten her C-section. Then he took me back to see her even though visiting hours were over. (He later asked for a small amount of money because of the favor he’d done for me).
It was good to see her but I was only allowed to visit for 30 minutes before I got kicked out. Not exactly how I pictured the night going.

The next morning I hung out with Maria’s mom, kids, and husband. Visiting hours are only from 1 to 3 so we got there right at 1pm. Unfortunately they don’t let kids under 13 into the hospital to visit, so I spent most of the visiting hours outside with Maria’s son. Again, not really what I’d expected but it was fine because Jesus Adrian and I played lot of games and met a lot of people. Then finally I got to hang out with Maria and her new baby Greisy Angelina! 


A Birthday Party

My buddy Ydekel turned 18 this month so we decided to celebrate by going to a movie in Santiago. We started the party by covering the birthday boy with silly string. DSC_0019DSC_0022

Then we went and got Papa Murphy’s Pizza. (Santiago is getting more and more American restaurants…. Including Tony Roma’s, Friday’s, and now Papa Murphy’s). DSC_0025DSC_0026

We watched a 3D movie about space travel and aliens. It was Ydekel’s first time ever watching something in 3D. He loved it!!!

After the movie we tried on some mustaches and went home the long way.

It was a fun night with lots of laughs. I still can’t believe my little buddy is 18, and is about to go to college!!! It’s been fun watching him grow-up.


The Hill

I’ve walked up “The Hill” many times. Last year a group of friends and I would get up early in the morning to make the 90 minute trek there and back about three times a week. Yet it never crossed my mind to bike up it until now.

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The difference this year is that I have a buddy to go biking with, Brent. (He was an intern last year and this year he’s the TEARS School English teacher). Brent bought a bike right about the time I decided I needed to do at least 20 minutes of cardio exercise a day. Why did I decide I needed to do some exercise? Well, besides that fact that I know I should, I got inspired by my friend Ben who ran at least a mile a day while he was here visiting. (Even when it was super inconvenient).  I’m not much of a runner but I figured I could ride my bike instead.

Being that Brent lives right next to base of The Hill (La Loma), it seemed like a good challenge for the two of us. It took us seven attempts to make it up to the top, which happens to be less time than either of us thought. Since then we’ve made it up to the top two more times and gone on a number of other adventures on the outskirts of town. We’ve made friends with a few local cyclists and I’m hoping to go on a biking adventure to another town with some of them before I leave.

Not only was “the hill” a big challenge for me physically, but also mentally. It took me a while to actually convince myself that I wanted to be challenged; sometimes it just easier to stay in the comfort of my home instead of getting on my bike. However, in the end I’m so glad I kept getting on my bike and hope I can make a habit of challenging myself more often.

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At the base of the hill and at the first viewpoint.

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Our tired red faces.

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Finally at the top!

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The little store at the top of the hill…. lots of bikers stop there to buy a bottle of water.

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Some of the other cyclists. (Brent and I are still working on getting spandex shorts and matching shirts).

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biking up the hill  (53)The view on the way down (back at the first view point).

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Back at the TEARS Center just before the sun went down.