Service and Relaxation Start Off the New Year
By Guest Contributor on Monday, January 7th, 2013
National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) board member Sharon Keld (Morocco 2006-08,
Peace Corps Response Philippines 2009-10, Peace Corps Response Armenia 2011) is currently in the Dominican Republic, serving as the NPCA’s host for the our Next Step Travel trip. While there, she’ll serve as a resource about the NPCA and also provide photos and updates on this trip that takes participants beyond the usual tourist destinations.
On New Year’s Day, we visited Cano Dulce, a community that the October Next Step Travel group trip visited as well. Where we saw the beginning of the process at La Boca, here we were helping at the end – the school was more or less finished. We worked on the kitchen, which is behind the main building; many of the 400 children who will attend the school will do
so in large part because of the promise of getting a meal. Part of the group helped with the roof and with cementing the walls. Others cleared some land for a future hydroponics pond, and others laid stone for a cement walkway that will encircle the school. We also played with some of the local children and talked with some of the community’s women and men.
We walked with one man who keeps bees nearby; part of the proceeds of the organic honey he makes goes to the school. We had had some of the honey at breakfast and it’s delicious; most of us bought some! To get to the hives, which are made out of hollowed-out coconut logs, we had to cross a bridge made of wire — thick wire, but wire all the same.
Perhaps I should mention that it rained on and off for much of the day, and that the day itself started with a power outage at our hotel, but we didn’t let either of those things stop us; we even had our daily late-afternoon beach time. Note, we do have non-beach people on the trip, and they’ve been reading, shopping, going to an Internet cafe or enjoying happy hour at various Cabarete establishments.
Wednesday was all play and no work (although an early version schedule called for us to go back to Cano Dulce, and I think we would have been happy to!). Snorkeling was on the revised schedule, but Tuesday’s rain begat 15-foot swells, so the catamaran couldn’t go out. We’re a laid-back group; we can adjust. Some people chose to stay on Cabarete Beach all day. Others found fair-trade coffee and bags made out of recycled kitesurfing material (Cabarete is known for its kitesurfing), both of which help the Mariposa Foundation and other causes.
The rest of us went to Puerto Plata – we took a cable car up to the top of the mountain that Columbus saw when he first arrived, and we toured an amber museum. And then we all went back to Cabarete for a relaxing afternoon. Tuesday evening we had a talk about development issues in the Dominican Republic, and Wednesday evening we watched a movie called “Haiti and the Dominican Republic: Roots of Division.” Very complex and fascinating issues; no easy solutions
> > See more photos from this Dominican Republic Next Step Travel trip HERE.
Learn how you can join future Next Step Travel programs in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala: travel.peacecorpsconnect.org.