Culture

Food:

Rice, beans and fresh fruit such as melon, pineapple, plantains, banana and avocado were enjoyed regularly.

Fruits and vegetables at the market.

Language:

I had a limited Spanish vocabulary to communicate with the people I met but at the end of the week had learned a few words and phrases such as “Ola”-Hello and “Como se llama?”-What is your name?. Even though I wasn’t able to communicate with the children very well, we were still able to play and enjoy our time together, which makes me think of a quote from a Justin Bieber song, “U smile, I smile”.

Playing with the children at Gorge’s school.

I also found being the minority in the Dominican Republic to be an interesting experience.  As a group, we definitely stood out because of our skin colour which gained a lot of attention from the locals.  I personally liked this because I have never experienced this type of attention before in Canada.

I learned a lot about Dominican culture in the week there and got to experience it first hand by trying the food, speaking the language, going out dancing and interacting with the people.

 

 

Beach Day

On Sunday, we had a break from our usual busy routine and had a chance to experience the Dominican Republic as a tourist.

In the morning we walked to a local Catholic church in San Pedro.  For me, I thought the mass was similar to one I would go to at home except that I could not understand the language and children singing the hymns added to a more lively atmosphere.

Then we packed up our bags and headed to Santo Domingo.  We stopped in a tourist area and visited a building called the Marcado Modelo which was full of little shops containing lots of souvenirs.  Many people were eager to sell you things and I think everyone learned to bargain a little.  I ended up getting a magnet and a small painting of a sunset as souvenirs of the trip.

For lunch we ate at Pizza Hut then went to a beach in San Cristobal called Playa Palenque.  All the Dominicans were very curious about us.  We were at the beach for about an hour and enjoyed the beautiful view of the water and warm weather- perfect swimming conditions.  At the end of our visit we walked over to the concrete pier and took a few pictures with the locals.

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At the beach. (missing Sabrina)

That night we went out dancing at a disco called La Fama.  We had the opportunity to practice the bachata, salsa and merengue dances.  I definitely had a lot of fun even though I couldn’t get the dances quite right and it was great to experience Dominican dancing; a perfect ending to our tourist day!

Accomodations Throughout the Week

Each place we stayed at was simple but nice in its own unique way.

For the first two nights we stayed at a teacher’s college in San Pedro called Juan Vicente de Moscoso. We stayed in a dorm where students from out of town would normally board. The campus way very pretty with lots of flowers and trees, a cage of birds, a basketball court and outside benches and tables to enjoy the nice weather.

This is a picture of the room I stayed in at the school and shows a mosquito over the bed.

This is a picture of the room I stayed in at the school and shows a mosquito over the bed.

For the next two nights we stayed at a former resort called Boca Canaste Caribe in Bani. This place was very quiet and serene and after a long busy day we had the opportunity to relax by the pool. We were right on the beach and could here the crashing waves as we slept at night. We learned to make do without electricity and found the light of our candles created a very peaceful atmosphere.

View of the beach at sunrise.

View of the beach at sunrise.

For the last two nights, we stayed at Manresa Altagracia, a religious place where nuns and priests lived in Santo Domingo. I don’t think we had ever been so thankful for hot water and electricity before. The grounds were very sunny and offered a beautiful view of the houses in the city below and and the city lights at night from the rooftop.

My room at the religious house.

My room at the religious house.