Day: September 4, 2016
As each day begins we really don’t have a set plan, and end up filling it will one adventure after the next. It’s how we roll. We heard that there was going to be a Gringos vs Locals softball game, and set out to find it. Town was busy with people walking all about, and loud music was blaring from several stores. Old men slept on park benches, women swept their front steps and dogs scrounged around looking for scraps.
We found the baseball field, and a game for kids team was in progress. Aidan and Glade watched for a short while.
We were told the Gringos game was at the field 5 minutes away. We have come to realize the Dominican 5 minutes is far longer than the 5 minutes we are used to. After 5 minutes pass they usually call out that it’ll be 5 minutes, and that is repeated several times. Our sweet little friend that has adopted us (whose name none of us can ever remember), showed up, and sent Marci, Glad and Aidan on to the game in a car with a man we know. And and the rest of the creatures, Danny and I began walking in the direction of the field.
While walking a cute little man named Luis, grabbed by arm and excitedly told me to come see what he had on a table across the street. We all followed to find the most delicious roasted pork under banana leaves.
He chopped up a pound of it for us and placed it in a bag for later.
With pork in hand we continued on and our friend told us that we would need to catch a ride. About 10 seconds after calling out to a family member passing by on a motorcycle, she had a flock/gaggle/pack of motorcycles ready to give us rides out to the ball field. Emma and Sierra gave me the look of ‘is this safe?’, and I reassured them, smiled and said how fun this was going to be.
The ‘5 minute’ walk to the field would most definitely have been a 2 hour walk! We rode out through the country side, passed a couple tiny towns and out into the middle of nowhere.
Everyone cheered as we approached, and Glade and Aidan were already almost done with a game.
All the little kids were gathered around Emma, wanting to play.
Glade caught the ball for the winning point, and his team raised him up on their shoulders, cheering him on and giving him high fives.
The following game was one almost all of us played in.
We had tons of fun as team Tanda Malaika surprised themselves with talent they never knew they had! At one point I was in the outfield not far from Danny, and a ball was hit and headed our way. I began to run toward it’s direction and out of the corner of my eye saw a cane toad the size of ridiculous, galloping through the grass towards me – it fangs exposed and eyes fixed on my jugular! I sent my mitt flying in the direction of Haiti and sprinted to safety on the other side of the fence somewhere. I looked back to make sure it hadn’t followed, listening to my heart pounding 300 beats a minute in my chest. That was a close one.
Luckily the game ended soon so we could leave that eerie, dangerous place and head back to Luperon. The Gringos won for the first time in history!
At 2:30pm we met with Altagracia so Danny and Allen could look at her roof. I am going to write a separate blog on that, but we feel like we can help her so much.
The town square was busy with children playing, people selling hotdogs, cotton candy and popcorn, and lots of people watchers. Music boomed from stereo systems and I played with a cute little girl who was very interested in my sunglasses and camera. I gave her the sunglasses and some guavas we’d picked and she excitedly retreated.
Marci had some little kids gather around her too – all interested in her cellphone.
Glade and Aidan attracted a swarm of kids and they played with them on the penny boards.
So many curious little midgets and lots of gringos in our group to entertain them!
We finally made our way to dinner at a local place that serves a plate of fried chicken and yucca for $2 a plate. It was delicious. After that we stopped at ‘Wendy’s’, a gathering place for cruisers, and watched as our creatures stole the show with karaoke and their ukes.
Glade sang ‘Big green tractor’ with amazing talent, and Emma’s song to ‘Black Betty’ had everyone standing, clapping and cheering her on. She even played the air guitar with fantastic style.
The Dominican dance is called the ‘Bachata’, and several locals grabbed some from our group and taught them how to do it.
We played until we were so tired and sweaty, we just had to finally get our exhausted bodies home. We have been accepted into the community, and people are begging us to never leave. As I walked around barefoot yesterday, someone pointed to my feet and in broken english said,’See, you are with no shoes because you are home!’ I love these people and this place.
Our day exploring the beautiful mountains of Dominican Republic was something none of us will ever forget. It began with us meeting Allen and Cheri at the dock where we joined ‘Handy Andy’. Andy has his black belt three times and is retired from professional boxing. He lives here now, working hard doing everything and anything, including arranging our trip for us.
We loaded into a 15 passenger van and set out through gorgeous countryside, passing farmland where sugarcane, watermelon and mahogany is grown. I kept thinking how I wish I had the Harley here so I could cruise around and take photos at my own pace.
Once we arrived we were each fitted with life jackets and a sweet looking helmet, and followed one of our two guides across the bridge and up the mountain.
Our guides names were Gary and Agusto, and they joked around with us constantly. Sometimes Gary wore a leaf on his head to be goofy and made hilarious sounds with his mouth.
Parts of the trail were steep and slightly grueling, followed by even stretches and a few dips and climbs. Finally we made it to the top where we began the descent down Rio Damajagua, and from this point on we were constantly drenched to the core. We jumped and slid down waterfalls, immersed ourselves in natural pools of water that cooled our bodies and washed away all fatigue and sweat.
In some of the pools, crayfish and crabs could be found.
All while hiking we were shaded under a beautiful tropical jungle canopy.
At times the river took us into pools with little caves where our guides would hide and jump out to scare us.
Parts of the trail took us through areas that were so picturesque, I just wanted to stand and stare for a long time, breathing in the beauty.
Waterfall after waterfall never got old and each pool was just as beautiful as the next.
In some places the limestone and sandstone walls were such amazing colors.
At one point it began to rain, which only added to the intense beauty.
Finally after 27 waterfalls of breathtaking beauty, we arrived back where we began, and only at that point realized how tired we were. But, a beautiful big all you can eat buffet was waiting for us, and we enjoyed rice, beans, yucca, fried chicken, pork, salads, and rolls.
We gave our guides big hugs and thank you’s, then returned to Andy and the van, and excitedly spoke about the incredible experience we had just had.
On the way home we were passed by a rowdy street gang of crazy teenagers…
Another day in an amazingly beautiful part of the world. We have so much to be grateful for!