Sunday, December 30, 2012

121231 The Site and Sounds of the DR

                                 Map showing where we traveled this week
      Report from Wallace:
We all went to the same places, but each of us had our own personal experiences this week.  It was a whirlwind of traveling and activities.  We are exhausted, but happy to have spent this time together.  We drove through or visited at least 30 different cities, visited two different potential humanitarian projects, and gave Wesley and Sheredith the experience of a lifetime.  They handled the cultural shock pretty well.  It was a delightful time with them, but I will let them tell their own story.

Any of the rest of the family who want to visit us are welcome!


Wesley’s Report:
This was an extremely tiring week in the DR. There was a lot that was seen and heard while on the run through this crazy little Island.

The first thing that really stood out to me was how the people were driving everywhere. They were crazy! What made it even better was the fact that dad was driving just like them! I really got a kick out of it. He would creep out into the street into on-coming traffic to the screams of Sher in the back seat. Mom didn’t complain very often about this she mostly yelped at on-coming buses or cars that would constantly slide over (called “squeeze” equivalent to using the blinker) into our lane while coming toward us. I am really happy that I survived this trip in one piece.

            The beaches were just like a paradise vacation. The palm trees and pleasant breeze allowed for me to have a perfect vacation experience on a beach. We went to look for shells and fish but there weren’t too many shells or fish to see. We did see a few and it still was a fun experience.

Everyone here in the DR is always trying to find ways to get a buck off of you. I noticed a bunch of seats at the beach but as soon as you would sit down on one someone would run up to you and say it would cost five American Dollars to reserve two of them. It is funny honestly because people would hold traffic for you to back out and you would think they were just being courteous until they come up to your door and ask for some money. There is almost not an hour when we were walking around that someone wouldn’t come and ask for a couple of bucks.

            Overall this was an amazing experience! I got to see a completely different culture in a completely different place. I am glad I had this opportunity. This would not be a great place to go to if you don’t have a translator, like dad, to lead you around. Without translation taking place every day there is no way that we could have possibly seen half of what we did, let alone get anywhere.
-          Wesley

Sheredith’s Report:
Well, Wesley said most of it, but I’ll add a few things that we did.  The cities are crazy here.  The front doors of the houses are right up on the street; motorcycles and cars are zooming in, out, and around the streets.  The cities are noisy with traffic, booming speakers, and people shouting; but you don’t hear sirens of ambulances or police cars (probably because the police don’t have cars and never chasing criminals or speeders).  If there are traffic laws, nobody obeys them.  When you come to a red light, wait for a little while; if you are tired of waiting—just drive on through! 

Some other things we got to see were a Cacao Farm, Haitises National park, and Jarabacoa.  At the Cacao Plantation (cocoa farms), a member gave us a tour and showed us the trees and how chocolate is made from the cocoa bean. 

The Haitises National park was interesting.  We took a boat ride to the park where they first showed us a group of tall, tiny islands,  These islands were the nesting grounds for pelicans and some other special type of bird that was unique to the area (I didn’t quite catch it in SpanishJ).  Apparently the birds only nest on these specific islands, and nowhere else in the DR.  Then they drove us over to the “caves”.  I say “caves” because they were more like holes in rocks with graffiti on the walls (that they claim are ancient petroglyphs left by the Taiano Indians).  They would take thousands of tourists to these “caves” to talk about the history of the island. However after the caves they took us to a beautiful island beach and feed us lunch.
 Jarabacoa is a beautiful back country with lush, green rolling hills.  In this area of the island, I saw quite a few large homes and resorts. 

We had a little time to relax.  Dad taught us how to play Dominican dominoes. 

We stayed at this resort in Jarabacoa for $70/night/room
While in Jarabacoa, we visited the “Salto de Jimenoa Dos” which is waterfall.  The hike to the falls took us across suspension bridges to a platform to view the falls.

That is the week in a nut shell.  I think Mom and Dad will need a month to recover from our adventures.  If you plan to come to the DR, stick with the tourist.  Stay at a resort and ride a tourist bus.  Never think you can get around the island on your own!  You may go insane, get lost, and most assuredly get in a few accidents!
Report from Edith:
From the two previous descriptions of our week traveling around the Island you can tell that we have had a truly Dominican experience this week.  Being a tourist is slightly different from being a missionary.  As a missionary you concentrate on the needs of others, as a tourist you concentrate on your own needs and sight seeing adventures.   We actually got a feel for both this week.
Sunday, Dec. 23rd we visited the hospital in Consuelo.  This small public hospital has SO many needs.  They do not have a lot of equipment, but they do have some basic medications and caring doctors and nurses.  If the hospital needs another type of medication, they ask the patient to go find it at a pharmacy.  It was a holiday when we visited.  All the patients were sent home for Christmas!  Families care for the sick during holidays.  The emergency room was open, but only one person was allowed a bed in the hospital with a family member there to care for them.  As we walked in the doors for our guided tour, Sheredith commented that it looked like a condemned building!
(A typical room 15 x 20 has 8 beds, no individual privacy, a common bathroom where the toilets don’t have lids, the plumbing doesn’t work and there may or may not be toilet paper and paper towels.  Each patient must bring his/her own bedding and pillows.)

On Saturday, Dec. 29th we visited the small community of Las Cuevas as part of a humanitarian request.  It is next door to the Bonao Girl’s Camp.  This little community has a river that is threatening to destroy several homes as it is changing its course with each new rainstorm.  They were appealing to us for blocks and cement to keep the river from eating away any more of the earth as it erodes.  Is it really possible to change the course of this river?  What do we do for a community that builds right on the edge of a river bank?  This is a difficult situation.



  1. How wonderful! We enjoyed your different versions. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for visiting your parents. They needed to get out and about. Wesley and Sheredith, I loved your driving summaries. Now that your Dad has a big truck, he pretty much owns the road--and the intersections.

  2. Great report. I'm glad that you are safe. I enjoyed the different versions.