I Wish Everyday was Like Today

Every Saturday we have an excursion planned, but out leader was unable to take us anywhere, so we decided to plan the day ourselves! Our first stop was 27 Charcos--a beautiful collection of 27 waterfalls nestled away in the mountains behind sugar-cane fields. We took a gua gua, a public transportation bus, for 60 pesos, which is less than $2. On the way there, I was sitting across the aisle from a guy, who was probably about 27, who would not stop telling me how beautiful American girls are and how badly he wanted an American girlfriend. After I made it clear to him that I had a boyfriend, he asked me if all the girls in our group had a boyfriend. I then tried to explain to him that if he wanted an American girlfriend so badly, he would have to just go the US.  Luckily my stop was shortly after this.

The gua gua dropped us of off next to a dirt road that lined a sugar-cane field and ran into lush green mountains. Chad and Andrew pulled a stalk of sugar-cane, which looks kind of like bamboo, broke it into smaller pieces, and passed it around. Not really knowing how to eat it, I just took a bit out of it, and it was sweet and juicy--and was soo good! Eating it made me feel like I was indigenous. :]
After a short walk down the road, we come to the entrance. It cost 250 pesos, about $7, to see seven waterfalls, 310 pesos, about $9, to see 12 waterfalls, and 460 pesos, about $13, to see all 27 waterfalls. We originally thought it was going to cost a lot less, and we would be able to to how ever many waterfalls we wanted, so many of us did not have enough money. A lot of us borrowed money from each other, and we were all able to go to the seven. After we paid, we were given helmets and life vests, and started our on journey!

A guide leaded us over a bridge, and through the river, about thigh high, and onto trial into the lush green tropical forest. We were all so excited. This, by far, had been the most adventurous thing we had done here. The trail took us through the river several times, which was a bit cooler than the beaches, but very refreshing.

When we arrived at the first charco, there was a guy there that would watch our stuff while ventured up the waterfalls. It was absolutely stunning. We had two guides help hoist us up from one to the other, and good thing, because it would have been almost impossible without them. The current was very strong, and climbing up waterfalls isn't exactly an easy task. I was definitely bummed when we reached the 7th one because I wanted to keep going, but we still had the way down :] Slipping and sliding was great, and we were able to jump off the last one.

Everyone wants to go back to see all 27, and I'm definitely going to buy a water proof camera so I can capture all of its beauty! If you come to the Dominican Republic, this is a must see. Just make sure to bring tennies that can get wet, and board shorts are always better than a bikini.

We followed the trial back into the forest, through the river and over the bridge. We took a pit stop for lunch and decided we wanted to go to Puerto Plata, a beach not too far away. After hiking back up the dirt road, we waiting for another gua gua to come by.

While waiting, a red flat bed truck pulled over to the side of the road. I don't know who ran over first, but everyone followed! We all climbed up and got comfortable. It was our first bola, or ride, and it was pretty exciting :] The kind man who picked us up took us straight to another gua gua, where we climbed aboard. For 30 pesos, about $1, we got dropped off in Puerto Plata. The walk to the beach was a little further than we had expected, but it was well worth it. The Amber Coast was gorgeous.

After enjoying the warm waters, much-needed sun rays, and friendly dogs, we headed back. Not looking forward to the walk back, we hitched a second bola to the main road where we got on the gua gua for Santiago. This adventurous fun was just what everyone needed. We were missing the fun and exciting part of studying abroad because all we were really doing was our daily routines of going to school, doing homework, eating with the family and going to bed. Today was a blast, to say the least, and I wish everyday was like today.
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Sick as a dog

That night, I had such a hard time staying asleep. I kept waking up throughout the night feeling nauseas. Saturday morning, I threw up twice. Unfortunately, we were checking out of our hotel at 9am so we could do more sight seeing before heading back to Santiago. I really wanted to stay behind and sleep in one of the rooms occupied by the missions team because they were at our same hotel, but they were leaving at 9:30 that same morning. We headed to Dumbo’s for breakfasts, the same sandwich place we ate at the morning before, and the Bri’s convinced me to lay down on a few chairs they had pushed together in a corner. I was content laying there in the air conditioning while the group ate their breakfast. Once they were finished, we headed to the museum Las Americas. I was feeling too sick to pay attention to the Spanish-speaking guide, so I don’t know much information about what I saw. I do remember a pope-mobile though. I guess the pope came to visit and he rode in style—bulletproof car! They have it on display in front of the museum. After the long tour, we headed over to las Tres Ojos, three underground lakes. It was SO beautiful, but I was feeling so under the weather, I only took a few pictures. At around two o’clock we headed home. I was in the front seat; sitting on Cecilia’s lap, for the three-hour drive home. When I got home, I crashed. I slept for about two hours, and my mom woke me up for dinner. She made me soup. I felt bad that I was only able to eat about five bites, but I think she understood. After I was done eating, I went straight back to bed; it was about 8:30.
My mom woke up the next morning at 8:30 with breakfast. I gave my mom a bracelet with 5 silver crosses on it; it was Mother’s day. I felt better, so I ate the pancakes she made me. After I took a shower, I felt nauseas again, so I went back to sleep. I got up around 12 and got ready because my dad was coming to pick me up. I went to Bri’s house for lunch, where many people were gathered. My plate was already served, like it always is, with heaping amounts of food. I didn’t want to eat at all, but I ate some to be polite. Bri’s dad kept telling me I needed to eat more, so I ate a little more. When I stopped eating again, my mom told me I ate nothing, and needed to eat more. Praise God Bri was sitting next to me, and came to my rescue. She told my mom is was okay that I wasn’t eating because I was sick and that I would eat more, little by little, as time went on. My mom took my plate, giving about half of the food on it to Bri. Not only did she eat my left over food, but drank gulps of a Gatorade that my dad had bought for me, when no one was looking, because apparently Gatorade is good for a sick stomach. She is such a blessing. :] After that, we all went to another family-friend’s house. I didn’t get much homework done at all that weekend because I left it all for when I got back from Santo Domingo, but I wasn’t expecting to get sick. I stayed up late Sunday, doing what homework I could.
I had a long week of studying ahead of me. Test in all my classes!
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An Unexpected Adventure continued...

Sorry the last post stopped so abruptly. I had to go to class.

...Boca Chica was great. Andrew, mister adventerous, decided he wanted a coconut. So what does he do? Climb the tree, of course. I wasn't there to watch him do this, so I don't know exactly how he managed, but I saw the scrapes along his sides as a result. He's crazy.

After Boca Chica, we went to a couple different museums. They were really interesting. I didn't really understand much of what the guides said, but they were visually appealing. [the museums, not the guides.] One of them had peacocks! :]

After touring the city, we went back to the hotel and had a couple hours to wash up and rest. At 9pm we headed out to the boardwalk. It was the first time we had been outside at night as a group. There was live music playing, and I enjoyed watching the natives dance. Even though it started to rain, we all couldn't help dancing. It was great :]
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The Unexpected Adventure

Last Wednesday, the professors in charge of our program, Guerrero and Reyes, had a meeting with us about our break, Aug 23-30. Once that was done, Guerrero mentioned that the DR/Haiti team from APU would be arriving in Santo Domingo the following day and he was going to take three students with him. Obviously, everyone in the group wanted to go, and we found out it would only cost about $12 in bus fares for us to get there and back. Reyes, being the generous man that he is, offered to take his car as well, so we could go as a team, free of charge. Sweeeet. We planned to head out at 6am the following morning. It was about a three hour drive, because early morning traffic entering into the city was awful, and becuase Guerrero didn't know where exactly he was going. My car, the one Reyes was driving, found it quite comical that everytime Guerrero stopped to ask someone for directions, they pointed the opposite way than the person before; but we made it!

The missions team from APU raised money to buy medications so they could host free clinics to those who coulndn't afford it. The clinic was set up in a church, with a Pharmacy table in the back, and different stations set up throughout the church. Our job was to translate! Fortunately, there were more of us than there were stations, so i was able to listen to someone else translate. Some of the people from my team played outside with children while their parents waiting inside to be seen. It was great. This was the first time that I felt like I was being used to do ministry here. Even though I personally didn't do much, our team was actually helping people. It gave us a greater purpose of just learning Spanish. And it was great to see some familiar faces. :]

After the clinic, we went back to the hotel and rested. That night, we had a big dinner with the head director of the university we attend here. From what I understand, there are many branches of our university throughout the country, and this guy was the head honcho. There was also other important people there, but I don't really know their titles. They brought in a photographer, videographer, and an interviewer as well. The university is trying to promote this program to other universities around the world, so they wanted to know what our experience had been like so far. I think it made us all feel pretty important. We didnt get our food until about 10:20, and we had had a pretty long day already, so we were exhausted.

Friday morning we went to the beach, Boca Chica. Beautiful. It had small islands of trees that you could practically walk to. The water was only about waist deep for most of the way. Once you got closer to the islands, it was really shallow and rocky, so floating the best way to go. The water was so clear, I saw a good amount of fish.
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