I had never been to the Dominican Republic before this trip. In fact, I had never been to the Caribbean or even been on an island! I’m glad my first experience was in such a beautiful place!
The Dominican Republic is on the east side of an island called Hispaniola – their neighbors to the west are Haiti. They are east and slightly south of the Cuban island, and west of Puerto Rico. I’m just explaining all this in case you are like I was – completely ignorant of the Caribbean and all associated islands. :-) The Dominican was settled by the Spaniards, so the national language is Spanish. I was really excited to use my Spanish again! Some of the words were different (as to be expected) but I was able to get by pretty easily.
Jarabacoa (pronounced HA-rah-bah-koh-ah) is a city in a valley nestled in the mountains in the center of the island. It’s known as the “city of eternal spring”. The weather seemed really hot to us, because it had been so cold in Atlanta, but we adapted quickly. Being a tropical island, the humidity was strong! It didn’t bother me at all. Though my hair…! I haven’t cut it since January of 2009, so it is really long and THICK and the humidity just adds volume and curl! I had to keep it in braids the whole time – even sleeping with it braided! I noticed Savannah’s hair starting to curl at the ends too, so it looks like she may have been blessed with her mama’s hair texture. :-)
Paul and I flew into the capital, Santo Domingo, where a taxi driver took us to a bus station. We then took a (nice) bus to Jarabacoa, where we met Tree and Daniel. It worked out pretty well, though our time in Santo Domingo was very brief. It reminded me a lot of Lima! All the traffic and the way the houses were built… I was getting nostalgic! It would have been fun to explore the city a bit, but we were also anxious to get to our destination. We had gotten up to catch our flight in Atlanta at 5:45am and met Tree and Daniel at 7:45pm!
Jarabacoa reminded me more of the jungle in Peru, except that Jarabacoa is in the mountains. It was so pretty! We were SO glad we didn’t have to drive there though. We joked about how we should make a video game that was “drive in the Dominican Republic”, with all the common things Daniel and Tree have seen during their time there. It wouldn’t have been so horrible except for the motorcycles! They zipped in and out everywhere, and didn’t bother to follow flow of traffic, or even seem to pay attention to what you were doing. It was like trying to drive with a bunch of kids running in and out of the road. There were a TON of motorcycles, especially in Jaracaboa. And they carried anything on the motorcycles â€“ bags of produce, natural gas tanks, multiple people, and animals.
Daniel works at a school called Escuela Caribe, which is a school for troubled kids from the States. The school is a bit out of the town on a side of a mountain, and on a gated piece of land. They have a house there, and we stayed in the guest house which was somewhat “across the street” from them. It was really steep – I think I lost 5 pounds just from walking up and down all the hills! Here is the house where we stayed:
I took the picture from the road which is as close to the house as we could get without walking. So, as you can see, there was no way to avoid those hills! A few times at the end of a long day I had to hand Savannah off to Paul and have him carry her the rest of the way because I was just too exhausted! The view was so pretty, though.
Paul and I tried really hard to make this whole trip an adventure, and when less-than-ideal conditions presented themselves to us, we tried to take it in stride and think of it as a blogworthy story to tell later. :-) The house where we stayed was less than ideal, but we didn’t spend much time there. We found numerous critters inside, both bugs and larger variety. We were visited by many little lizards, including one with two tails. We also saw a frog that Paul gently moved outside, only to never see it move again. It stayed outside for a few days and then slowly was absolutely disintegrated by ants (or some other type of creature). The last day we were there, we woke up to a horse in our front yard. (Okay…) Another time, we were looking out the front door and saw a monkey walking down the road. We were excited until we found out it was one of the resident’s pet monkey who was not supposed to be out of her yard. It was quite exciting (we had to stay indoors because the monkey had a history of biting) until she was caught and returned to her yard. One evening we came back to the house to be greeted by a snake:
Doesn’t he have pretty markings? We removed him and put him outside, and went to bed without thinking anything of it. Then a few days later we found out it was actually a baby boa constrictor… Whew! Glad we didn’t know that at the time. It was fun, though. All part of the adventure, right?