Constanza is a valley in the middle of a very mountainous region in the Dominican Republic. CIEE had our first whole-group excursion to Constanza, leaving early Friday morning and returning Sunday afternoon. Constanza is unique because it has a cooler climate and has really fertile land. These two characteristics make the valley home to lots of farming and one of the only places in the country where cooler climate crops can grow. We stayed in villas with beautiful mountain views and our hotel had a playground, zip line, and horses. On the first day, we had a choice of going on a hike or going to flower greenhouses. I went to the greenhouses and we got to see the process of growing flowers that are put into bouquets and sold at stores. We saw how they dye the flowers different colors, the planting process and lots of different flowers! The company also has a huge greenhouse where they grow green tomatoes. After we finished our tour, we took our bus to the ruins of Trujillo's (dictator of the country from 1930-1961) private hotel. After his assassination in 1961 the place was completely trashed but still stands today. We went to dinner at a restaurant after and then got spend the rest of the evening relaxing at the hotel. Saturday, we took off early for Aguas Blancas, the tallest waterfall on the island of Hispaniola. It was an hour and a half, extremely bumpy ride up the mountain in "safari" trucks. We finally made it near the base of the fall and we hiked up to the top and saw the pool where the falls start. After, we hiked back down, and had the opportunity to swim at the base. As it turns out...the water is FREEZING. I was really brave and put my whole foot in! A bunch of people jumped off the rocks and swam (quickly!) at the base. Our tour guide was climbing up the falls and standing on the rocks where the water was coming down. Pretty impressive. The way back down the mountain was even worse in the trucks than the way up. We were all sitting on these benches and gravity made things fun on the way down (think the scrambler ride at carnivals when someone gets squished against the side). Everyone was exhausted by the time we got to lunch. After returning to the hotel and napping we had a barbeque and bonfire. Sunday morning was a free morning for visiting the market, mountain biking, zip lining, or relaxing at the hotel. I went zip lining and walked around the grounds of the hotel before we had lunch and boarded the buses for the 2-3 hour trip back to Santiago. All in all it was a great trip and a very welcome break from the heat of the city.