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.


Something to cheer about!

I heard a lot of cheering coming from my neighbor’s house last night but didn’t know what all the noise was about. Bau later proudly announced that Dominicans had won a gold medal in the Olympics as well as a silver medal. Lots of people are very, very excited about this!
Here’s an article from a local newspaper…..

DR1 Daily News -- Tuesday, 07 August 2012

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Felix Sanchez again wins gold
It is the Dominican Republic's third gold medal in an Olympic Games.

Felix Sanchez, a 34-year old athlete who was born to Dominican parents in New York City and lived most of his life in California, chose to represent the Dominican Republic at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but failed to qualify for the 400m hurdle finals. Four years later, he dominated his event, the 400-meter hurdles, and brought incredible joy to the country, winning gold at the Athens Games.

The nation was so grateful that the National Olympic Stadium in Santo Domingo was named after him.

Then came a series of injuries and personal losses that led to a poor showing at Beijing in 2008. Many said that his career was over, but Sanchez continued to train hard and compete on the international track scene. The Diamond League and other track meets were a series of ups and downs but he worked hard.

Yesterday, Monday 6 August in London, Felix Sanchez became a sporting immortal: He won the 400-meter hurdles at the XXX Olympic Games in London. He made the best time in the qualifying heat at 47.76. In the final, he led the field - including United States runner Angelo Taylor who won gold in the Olympics in 2000 and 2008 - to the finishing line in an emotional run, clocking up the exact same time he ran in Athens: 47.63 seconds.

To top off this victory, Sanchez became the oldest athlete to win a speed event in Olympic history at 34 years of age. He will be 35 on 30 August 2012.

The entire Dominican Republic shook with the shouts and cries of joy.

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Less than an hour later, Luguelin Santos, on the other end of the age spectrum at 18, brought more precious metal to the Dominican Republic, coming in second in the 400-meter event. Luguelin, a homegrown athlete from Bayaguana in Monte Plata province, represents the future of Dominican track.

With these two medals, the Dominican Republic climbs to the 33rd place in the medal standings among the 204 countries taking part in the London Olympic Games.


Fun with Family and Friends

As I already mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I had the privilege of having my nephew, Forest, visit me this summer (together with my friend Julie). His dad and I had been talking about how cool it would be to have him come down here for years, and we finally made it happen! I also finally got my friend Ben to come down and visit me just a week after Forest and Julie left. I’d tried to convince him to visit for twelve years without any luck, so I was a little surprised when he actually got his ticket to come down this summer!  I had such a good time with all three of them and even got to see and do new things with them. Here’s a few pictures!

Dominican Pizza with corn on it served by my buddy Ydekel.

Hike up the hill above the barrio.

The two of us crammed into the front passenger seat of a public car. Forest acted like he’d done that before.

Hanging with the cute barrio kids.

A typical Travesia meal at my friend Mari’s house; stewed salmi, boiled green bananas and fresh picked tomatoes. I don’t think either of them were as excited about the meal as I was.

Exploring mountain trails and digging up sweet potatoes with Moreno.

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Forest showed off his dance moves; Julie and I got out of dancing despite all the peer pressure.

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We made a quick stop at the Monument in Santiago.

Then finished up our time with a few days at the beach!!!!



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Just a few days after Ben arrived we went on a very long journey to the mountain village my friend Dilenia grew up in. Roughly 1 hour in a van, about 2 hours waiting for the next bus, over 3 hours in the bus, and then roughly 30 minutes on mules. (my last post talks more about this village).

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Ben helped with the El Camino youth camp and even showed off his talents at eating napkins. No one even came close to beating him!

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After the youth camp we hiked up to the Travesia and hiked down with 29 pounds of coffee for the team from South Carolina (they had to cancel their trip up the mountain but still wanted coffee).

We went to a Monkey Jungle. It was amazing…. the monkey’s crawled all over us and ate from our hands.

Ben convinced me and everyone at Minerva’s house to put on mustaches. Minerva’s neighbor came over right after she put hers on, she was so embarrassed and started laughing hysterically. I’ve never seen her laugh so much!

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Ben and I went all over the place in Ydekel’s pink scooter! Ben’s a good driver but I was still a little bit terrified to ride with him (all three motorcycle accidents I’ve been in have been with Americans).

Overall I’m really grateful to God that I was able to share a bit of my life in the D.R. with Forest, Julie and Ben. I’m also really thankful that He kept them healthy and helped them have many good experiences!