Originally posted on my blog January 26th. Someday we´ll get you all caught up I promise!!!
This week was more play hard than work hard. There were national holidays Wednesday and today, Monday. But, a little update on the school front, all my classes are set. They are: Advanced Spanish II, Socioeconomic and Political Processes in the Contemporary Dominican Republic, Afrocaribbean Cultures, and Dominican-Haitian Relations, Intro to Singing, Dance for Foreigners, and Theater Arts. Woo! So much fun to be had. And an ultimate frisbee update - I have practice tomorrow!
Well that was my "work" update and it doesn't really sound like work. Well here goes the fun update:
Wednesday a group of exchange students from CIEE and ISA as well as PUCMM students hopped on a couple guaguas and made our way to Playa Alicia. This is close to Playa Sosua but is less populated and has bigger waves. It was a fun day complete with Spikeball, frisbee, and a pair of sunglasses lost to the joys of body surfing.
Saturday was a planned CIEE day trip to Playa Ensenada but Brianne had been doing some scheming and the two of us headed North a day early. We left Santiago around nine on a public guagua to La Isabella. From there we took a motoconcho to our hotel - Casa Libre
. The journey was relatively easy. Definitely could have been a lot more interesting! We got to Casa Libre and promptly realized we were in paradise. The place consists of three cabins on stilts overlooking the beach. There is greenery everywhere except for a little path that connects the cabins and winds down to the beach.
View from the room
Pathway to the beach
Super fancy hotel sign
The cabin's porch
Once were a bit settled in we made arrangements to get to the manatee reservation. Turns out the best option is to rent a 4x4, a deal which also got us a guide and some side stops to even more remote beaches with coral cliffs that had once been under water. It made for quite the adventure, especially since we were expected to drive, which we did quite capably upon receiving some instruction.
Here I am enjoying the vistas.
The manatee reservation was cool, quite rustic, but had lots of mangroves and our guide was able to tell us quite a bit about the ecosystem. The manatees showed their noses here and there but were not very photographable. After all this we made our way back to Casa Libre and with a few hours before dinner we went for a sunset walk. It was beautiful!!!
Dinner was pork tenderloin with a white wine sauce and mozzarella for Brianne and potatoes, broccoli, salad and french bread for me (and Brianne). We were joined for dinner by a Swiss man who had been living in the DR for 11 years, his Ugandan wife, and the man who was currently filming a documentary of the couple. I failed to accurately extract the reason for the documentation. Dinner was a mix of French, German and English, with English being the most successful common denominator. (Breakfast the next morning was enjoyed with a french couple that knew little Spanish and less English, so French became the common denominator for that meal.) Brianne accurately pointed out that it felt a lot more like we were in Europe than the Caribbean. After dinner we headed back to the beach for a late night dip and some stargazing. The water was a tad chilly so I only floated and stargazed for a minute or two, but the view was just as epic lying in the sand. The stars were visible from horizon to horizon as there is very little light pollution. I saw two shooting stars. I had not seen shooting stars since I was on the shore of Flagstaff Lake with my FOP trip freshman year.
This is the sunset from that night in Maine - remarkably similar, but a lot colder...
After our star gazing we went to bed. Breakfast the next morning was eggs, wheat toast, fresh fruit and tea. We went for a post breakfast walk up to the fishing town of Punta Rucia. Then we came back to collect our things before walking the other direction along the beach to Playa Ensenada where the rest of CIEE had arrived. We joined them for the day, shich included lunch at Teo's - typical Dominican fare - yum! And snorkeling at "Paradise Island" which is essentially a sand dune six miles off the coast where you can snorkel. It was nice. Not the most colorful reef, but there were lots pretty fishies. It was a pretty touristy event, but other guests at Casa Libre said it was less crowded other times of the day so that would be something to keep in mind if I were to return. All in all it was fabulous week full of fun in the sun!