Next Step Travelers in the Dominican Republic End 2013 on a High Note!
By Alicia Nelson on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
Kate Schwanhausser, our Membership and Development Assistant here at the National Peace Corps Association, recently stepped out of the office to take part in a Next Step Travel trip to the Dominican Republic. Our trips are designed with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer in mind, and while Kate hasn’t had the chance to serve (yet!), she had a great time connecting with likeminded people and experiencing the country beyond the tourism. Check out the second of four reflections below:
Happy New Year from the Dominican Republic!
Our original plan for the day was to drive up to a series of waterfalls that Peace Corps Volunteers have helped the local community turn into an eco-tourism destination. [Editor's note: That Peace Corps Volunteer would be none other than current member of Congress and RPCV Joe Kennedy III! Read about a previous next Step Travel visit to his project, 27 Charcos, here.] However, due to a sudden rainstorm in the night, most of the trails would have been unwalkable until it had a chance to dry.
So, instead, we spent the day at a “water resort.” The mountains in the are made of limestone, so after years of natural processes, huge caverns have formed that you can swim in. And of course, cliff diving! The top of one of these caverns caved in, leaving a natural lake. A zipline is strung over the water, and we all took turns sailing out over the middle of the water, calling up the courage to let go (this definitely some effort!) and dropping 25 or 30 feet into the water below. It was definitely one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done, but an exhilarating way to end 2013!
That evening, we rang in the New Year in style by joining the local community at the end of the road for a huge party. Everyone in the area turned out for an evening of talking, eating, and of course, dancing! Next Step Traveler Anne blew us all out of the water with the dance moves she picked up from her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica, but we all joined her and were given lessons in meringue and bachata by a few of the women.
NPCA’s Next Step Travel program features small group travel (up to 20), hands-on service projects, educational programs and a close-up view of the impact of volunteer service. Our all-inclusive trips are operated by Discover Corps, a program of Terra Education, an experienced leader in educational travel. Their CEO, Andrew Motiwalla, is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Honduras 1996-98)! Most trips offer both a 14-day and a 10-day option, unless otherwise specified. All trips are accompanied by an NPCA Host.
Learn how you can join future Next Step Travel programs in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Thailand: travel.peacecorpsconnect.org.
Join our Next Step Travel (NST) country groups: Dominican Republic and Guatemala. These are places to ask questions, get program details, & meet other Next Step Travel travel-with-a-purpose travelers. Alumni, future NST participants, and those who are interested in NST can have an open forum to share photos, videos, discuss programs details, and make new friends!