Happy New Year! Feliz Ano Nuevo!
Trip Start Feb 28, 2008
6Trip End May 10, 2010
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Happy New Year! Happy Holidays! I hope you enjoyed some special holiday moments this season. I'm doing pretty well. I've been in my site for the last couple of weeks spending Christmas, New Years, and tomorrow's holiday, Day of the Kings where I understand we will have party for the children. I was unsure how the holidays in the campo would go. Generally, there are many adventures outside of their sites that volunteers take this time of year, but in the end, I'm glad I opted to stay around and partake in the festivities here in my campo. Some of my highlights were enjoying a wonderful family feast with friends, helping one of my muchacha's prepare for her 15th birthday celebration cooking lots of good food for the volunteers who make the trek to come and visit me, getting a little painting done in my apartment, and sharing homemade pancakes with my kids on New Years Day. I also recorded some really cool video footage on my camera of how we rang in the New Years. We passed the midnight hour in a special church service in the Evangelic church. After, we hugged and kissed each other while singing rounds of their traditional song, "Pass a Happy New Year," in English.
Now, I say all that to say my holidays weren't without my usual flair for adventure. I did have an exciting adventure this week where I visited the town at the end of the road of the peninsula, Las Galeras. I found that Las Galeras is a beautiful, precious little town at the end of the road. The long stretches of beach are amazing and, whereas I live in the bay area where the waves are small and calm, in Las Galeras one can watch the waves roll in breaking over and over again before they hit the shore. The distance from my campo to Las Galeras is short, it's a world away in terms of culture and economic status, and even way of life. It's more the hippy international community of French, Germans, few Americans and Italians that one might expect from an island community. It's easy to see their attraction to the area. The water is gorgeous in color, in deep blues and turquoises. Hanging out in the town of Las Galeras, I befriended some interesting Americans who have relocated from Boston. They are a married couple, in their sixties, who have purchased land and built a home and lovely guesthouse in the Las Galeras area in the last ten years. The next day, Katie and I went to Samaná (the town/pueblo) to do a little shopping on the grand market day, Saturday, and to introduce me to a friend of hers, Kim Beddall. Kim Beddall is a whale specialist who lives in here in Samaná teaching about and studying the whales. The humpback whales are probably the most famous visitors to Samaná and they winter in the warm waters of the Samaná Bay and birth their baby calves. Ms. Beddall is well known for her work with whales and has her own tour company, but she's also a dog lover who takes some of our many street dogs to care for them, spay/neuter, give them their shots, and try and find suitable homes. I'm interested in taking home a little girl dog. ˇ Vamos a ver! (We will see.) Google Kim Beddall and one of her site's is http://www.whalesamana.com/home.html.
This month, I am entering my ninth month of service in site. The more time that I spend here learning about the Samaná , the more I realize how fortunate I have been to be placed here. I live in, arguably, the most beautiful province on the island. But, there are no pretenses here; there is need and my work is cut out for me. In my opinion, the folks in my campo are paying the price for tourism. The type of tourists that visit us in Samaná are push "development" in our area and have caused tremendous changes to occur in a very small period of time; the poor cannot keep up without support. Basic necessities of food, water, and health care are unstable as in all over the world, the costs are rising. Yet, through these tough times, there is great a strength and backbone in this community. The family and church continues to be the rock here. As one of my friends put it, "it is one of the last puritan strongholds in Samaná ." I admire the strength of my community and hope through working together in the new year, our projects will continue to develop and empower us all.
To all my friends and family that I did get to see during my trip home in November--Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I had a wonderful time.
Love & Peace,
Health & Wealth,
P.S. Check out the photos and video footage in my web album.