So I am going to dedicate several posts to my time in the Dominican Republic, and this one is going to be about what our week consisted of!
We left SMC at 4am on Saturday and traveled to the Burlington airport for a 6am flight. We had smooth travels all the way down to the DR, and arrived to beautiful weather and 80 degree temperatures. We all changed into shorts and had a two hour bus ride to our first stop, San Jose de Ocoa. The bus driver blasted bachata music (try it out on pandora.com...it brings me right back!) and took us through the city of Santo Domingo and through the rural area around Ocoa. Once we arrived in Ocoa, we settled in at the volunteer house, went to church and had our first Dominican meal.
The next day we took a great ride to two different communities that ADESJO (the organization that we were volunteering with) serves and saw completed houses and other projects that previous volunteers had worked on. We learned that we would be serving a community called el Rifle, which was about two hours from Ocoa. We traveled there on Monday and began work on Tuesday. Tuesday through Friday our group worked on building a house for a couple whose home was being threatened by erosion. We worked on the foundation and began building the walls with cinder blocks. Check out the amazing view that we had each day from our work site!
Each day after we finished work, we would have a delicious dinner (usually rice and beans, fresh pineapple and other delicious fruit) and spend time with community members at the community campfire. Despite the fact that we couldn't always communicate with the community members flawlessly, we all made amazing connections with different community members and were completely embraced by everyone in el Rifle. After a very moving goodbye on Friday, we headed back to Ocoa for a final night and then traveled to the beach on Saturday before our flight at 4:20.
Our flight ended up being delayed getting out of the DR, which caused us to miss our flight back to Burlington and forced us to spend the night in a hotel near JFK without any checked bags and only a few hours for sleep. We made the best of the situation, however, and convinced the kitchen (which was closed for the night) to make us salads and sandwiches at 1am and made it back to the airport for our flight in the morning. We got back to a snowstorm in Burlington around 11am on Sunday and finished up an amazing week.
More to come soon....