Sunday, May 10, 2009


I am organizing and trying to pack up as much as I can before I meet up with the underwater archaeology group from IU tomorrow. I am only bringing a small bag, but would like to have everything organized. I am realizing that I brought way too much stuff! Where did I think I was going that I would need 6 pairs of pants and 5 sweat shirts? That's just an example...

I have concluded that I have two many shoes, pants, sweatshirts, books, and beads. I will keep all this in mind for the next time I study abroad so I don't find myself in the same mess I'm in right now.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pico Isabel

There is a hill/mountain in Puerto Plata that has a Christ the Redeemer statue at the top like the one in Rio de Janiero only smaller. To arrive at Cristo, you can either take a semi-relaxing Teleferico ride to the top or hike. I felt horrible... gripe got the best of me, and so Kori and I decided to take the Teleferico ride to the top and then walk down. The other group, who was walking up, would meet us at the top and we would then walk down together. There were all these guides bombarding us saying that we couldn't walk up or down the mountain by ourselves and continued to turn them down and fight to be able to walk wherever we please with out a tour guide giving us watered down explanations of what we were looking at. Eventually, the hiking group just left and Kori and I got in the teleferico guide-less and content.

We had shakey cell phone reception at the top of the mountain and it was taking the hiking group a while to arrive. I called John and he told me that they were somewhere in the forest, there was no marked trail, and they were completely lost. I told him I was going to blow my whistle to see if he could hear it and he told the rest of the group to listen. The heard my whistle and were extremely excited, but then realized that it was coming through the phone. They eventually decided to walk back down, defeated by the mountain.

Kori and I had a wonderful time at the top! There was a small cafe where we had a cup of coffee, we walked through a garden, a little trail, and talked the people selling souveniers. We saw the prettiest paintings we had seen in the entire country in a shop up there! When we decided to go down, we were pretty nervous since our friends had gotten lost, so we asked for directions and we were directed to a paved road and were told that it would lead us all the way back to Santiago! When we called to tell the other group that, they were sooooo mad and thought were just being jerks. We had a really beautiful walk through forest and then through a small, rural community. Eventually, someone offered to give us a ride and we hopped in the back of a pick up truck and they took us all the way to our hotel! When we offered them money, the laughed, turned it down, and told us that they hope we enjoy Puerto Plata and then left.

The other group, after getting down the mountain defeated got into a cab who couldn't find the hotel we were staying at and swore that it didn't exist, so he just dropped them off at a random hotel and left. They wandered around Puerto Plata and I tried really hard to explain where we were. It was well over an hour before we all met up and all of us had used all our cell phones had zero pesos left when we finally found eachother.

From that point on, the rest of the trip was great. Our hotel was the best value hotel I've stayed in here. It was 600 pesos (US$18) for a room with two double beds and the lady who ran the place was insanely warm and friendly and the atmosphere was just very relaxed and fun. We spent the night in Puerto Plata and met a really nice woman who runs a colmado out of her house. We spent about an hour there playing with her adorable, snuggly, itty bitty kittens and drinking cherry juice. The next day, we had a lazy morning and spent the day at the beach.

The dunes, San Cristobal, the cave, and Puerto Plata were all considered one trip and overall, pretty much everything that could've gone wrong did. Perhaps it was because I forgot my traveler's protection pendent at home. However, despite everything that went wrong, we were still able to see everything we wanted to see and had a great time!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reserva Antropologia

After hours in a gua gua and a painfully expensive taxi ride we arrived at a cave famous for its taino art work and... it was closed. Fortunately, our taxi driver convinced the guard to let us in if we bought a flash light and batteries. It was awesome! It was pitch black and we would shine a flash light on the wall and it was full of paintings. It was really really fun and I thought it was cooler with the lights out than it would've been with the lights on.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Castillo del Cerro

This a mansion that Trujillo built but never lived in. He would come here from time to time and stay for vacations. The house, though now used as a correctional institutional and school for adolescents. It was really interesting. There was a replica of a torture chair he used and a display of torture tools. It was awful. I can't imagine going through what those people did while he was in rule.
I thought it was really cool that now they use the building as a correctional institute. It's definately a step in the right direction. I feel like if Castillo del Cerro was in the United States, it would be perfectly preserved and beautiful, but serving no functional purpose. I was really impressed by the whole experience.

Caminar es muy buena para tu salud.

Sand dunes across the bay from the ugliest beach in the DR.

We went on a trip to the sand dunes in Bani and it was not the relaxing day at the beach we set out for. First, the gua gua ride was pretty long, actually it was longer than it had to be. We told the gua gua driver to drop us off at the sand dunes and they dumped us off at the ugliest beach we had ever seen. It was so wierd because there were all these buildings that looked like they should be restaurants or beach side bars, but they were completely empty and boarded up. We asked the trusty Politur where the sand dunes were and he pointed all the way across the bay and told us the only way to get their was to walk and he followed by saying it would only take us ten mintutes to do so. Never ever ever has a Dominican suggested that we walk and so we really didn't know what to think, but we were pretty sure that it would take us longer than ten minutes. We asked him he had any advice for us to find a ride to get there and he said to find a ride is really difficult, but "caminar es muy buena para tu salud" -- to walk is very good for your health!

We finally arrived at the sand dunes after getting a moto ride for the last kilometer. We were told that the beach was right over the side but all we could see was sand. We felt like we were in Aladin. The sand was also extremely hot and I was pretty sure my feet were going to melt off. Climbing up the final dune was really difficult, but we did indeed get to the playa. Not the prettiest playa I've ever seen, but a playa never the less. The wind was really intense so we were doing some pretty extreme sun bathing and dying in pain at sand being pelted at our faces. It was fun though and we were the only ones there which was awesome.

All in all, it was a really day though nothing went right.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bahia de la Aguilas

This is what I woke up to after spending the night right outside of the bay. ^^^

Paraiso y Los Patos

San Juan de Maguana

Taino sculpture. The whole park isn't finished yet, but it looks like it will be really cool when it is.

The center of town

La Botanica de Santa Marta

La iglesia

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Semana Santa

For Semana Santa (Holy Week) we had Thursday off of school (it was more like a fin de semana santa - holy weekend) and so John, Jacob and I took off for the south. The southwest part of the country is the least travelled as we were super curious about what was down there.

Thursday, we went to Bahia de las Aguilas, which is the most isolated beach in the country and it was absolutely gorgeous! The water was incredibly clear... it felt like we were in a swimming pool and not in the ocean. Getting there was an adventure (and really stressful at some points) but everything worked out and it was totally worth it. I brought my snorkeling gear and I'm so glad I did. Right off of the beach was a small reef and then behind that the sea floor was full of enormous beautiful starfish! That night, we camped and it was pretty scary, but a lot of fun. It was also great to wake up and be right on the Caribbean Sea.

Friday, we went to Paraiso and Los Patos. The beaches there were closed in by dramatic cliffs and the were full of really smooth, beautiful rocks instead of sand. The water was incredibly blue and full of waves. In Los Patos, we went to the shortest river in the country where everyone was swimming and it looked like uttered chaos, however, when we got in it was more organized that it seemed. The older people sat in the back where it was calm and peaceful drinking and chatting. Then the center was where the younger hooligans splashed and played and the third portion was for the little kids. It was so much fun!

Saturday, we took off for San Juan de la Maguana which is more in land and famous for its mix of religious influences from Haiti and the Dominican Republic, so we thought it would be interesting to spend Easter there. We had heard that the city was alive with festivals. When we arrived, we got of the bus to find three masked people with whips and that made us so excited! Then for the rest of the day, the people we saw were all really "normal" and we couldn't find a procession or festival. The city was really tranquil and relaxing, but if the city is alive during Semana Santa, I can't imagine what it's like the rest of the year!

Getting home was rediculous! The bus station for the busses back to Santo Domingo were more chaotic than anything I've ever seen. John and I got on one bus, but Jacob didn't make it and had to take a different bus to Santo Domingo. We hated splitting up, but it would've been impossible to find a bus for the three of us, so it's a good thing we did.

I can't possibly convey how awful the weekend was in this blog. We didn't see any other tourists the entire time we were gone and feel like we celebrated Semana Santa the "Dominican way". The south was also really beautiful... definately the most beautiful part of the country I've seen so far.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Lundines!

Jenny, Mark, Owen and Mark's parents came to the DR for the week so I went and spent a few days with them. It was really fun. Mark's brother and his family live in Santo Domingo and we all stayed in a house in Juan Dolio, which is a beach town in the south east part of the country. It was my first time in the Caribbean Sea because every time I've gone to the beach, it's been on the northern Atlantic coast. I spent most of my time lounging around by the pool and John, Mark and I went to Bayahibe to go scuba diving, which was really fun. It was so great to spend time with family. :) Also, for the first time since January, I was able to flush toilet paper.

Coming soon to a store near you...

The men of CIEE Santiago Spring 2009 calendar!

Las Terrenas y Samana con CIEE

I am way behind on my blog, but here are photos from our group excursion to Las Terrenas and Samana two weeks ago and it was so much fun! When we arrived on Friday, we went on a hike to a water fall and it was so pretty and so much fun to swim in (but the current was really stong) Saturday, we went to the national park Parque de los Haitises to see a cave with Taino petroglyphs and kayak through the mangroves. We also had plenty of time to lay around on the beach.

A couple of us took a walk that we were told was really easy, but reality was not at all There were literally baracades blocking the path to the beach that we were trying to find. Luckily, we made it and the beach was, just as the name implies, bonita. :) We ate lunch at a hotel and it had a litter of kittens that were absolutely adorable. I wanted to steal one so bad!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Week with Casey

The rest of my week with Casey was wonderful and we were so lucky that it only rained right after we had finished an activity and never during.
We arrived in Santiago Monday night after a full day of diving and riding in a really cold bus and just went to bed. Tuesday, I had a pretty full day of classes. During my break, we went to my host family’s house for lunch and to just relax. We were both feeling incredibly lazy on Tuesday.
Wednesday after my morning class, we went to the Central Leon, which is a museum of Dominican art and anthropology. There is also a cigar factory, but by the time we made it through the museum, the factory was closed. Casey did buy a box of the cigars though. That night, we ate really bad Chinese food and went to bed early so we could be rested for 27 Charcos on Thursday.
I had so much the last time I did 27 Charcos that I just had to do it again. We had a blast! It was amazing though how much more calm the water falls were this time as opposed to last. Last time I went, it was right after the week and half of rain so the river was crazy. While last time I felt like I was going to die, this time I did not. That night, we also went to a liquor store/bar and a discoteca to celebrate my friend Adam’s birthday. The next morning when we woke up at 7:30am, we were really regretting staying out dancing until 2, but it sure was fun!
Friday we went to Charco de los Indios with my program. Only like 8 people signed up for the hike and it was so much fun. We went to the only monumental artifact left of the Tainos. It is in ruins, but you can still easily see that it was once a face. The place we went was considered sacred by the Tainos and it was absolutely gorgeous. Casey, Nathaniel, Erin, Kori and I figured out a way to climb to the top of the face. I’m kind of scratched up from it, but it was definitely worth it. The view from the top was wonderful. After the hike, we stopped at a place where you can find clam and tube worm fossils that are between 55 and 100 million years old. It’s amazing because we were way up in the mountains. The clams are from the time millions of years ago when the island was under water. It’s amazing to me how much the world has changed since it first began. Friday night, we went to Santo Domingo. We checked into our hotel at 11:00pm and fell asleep pretty much instantly.
Saturday, we walked around Zona Colonial for a couple hours before heading to the airport. Getting to the airport was a frustrating, expensive process that I’d rather not discuss because it makes me so mad. Casey barely made his flight on time, but now he’s back in Savannah. I sure miss having him here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sosua with Casey

Casey arrived on Friday and I love having him here! We had a wonderful weekend in Sosua snorkeling, laying on the beach and scuba diving! We did four dives in two days and had the best time ever! We had a very international group leading our dive, taking photos and giving instructions. Everyone was super nice and hillarious as well. Casey got his open water certification and I was finally able to do my deep dive for my advanced certification. :) While diving, we saw a ton of fish including a sting ray, a spotted eel and a gorgeous lime green moray eel. The coral was also gorgeous.