Independence Day

Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
Trip End Apr 06, 2008

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Hello and Happy 4th of July!
Greetings from here in the Dominican Republic. I am back in the capital for a day after my adventures in the southwest celebrating the independence of our great nation. It turned out to be quite the adventure, some of which I will try to relay here. First of all, on Saturday a group of us who live up in the north headed down to the capital from Altamira after a night out celebrating Lauren's birthday on Friday. We got here midafternoon and took advantage of the airconditioning, hot showers, and cable tv available at the pension. I also picked up many many many care packages at the Peace Corps office from my friends and family, and was completely spoiled for my birthday was snacks, new clothes, and other treats. I can't tell you how much some Hershey's kisses and fresh underwear brightens up your day here in the Peace Corps! On Sunday morning we loaded about 12 of us into taxis to get to the bus stop to catch an 8:30 am bus to Pedernales. The bus was jam packed to the brim, and the driver had to lash all of our backpacks on the front and back of the bus with rope. Now, never in my life have I heard a Dominican say "no, we are too full." So, as a result, the guagua was packed to the brim with sweating Dominicans and Peace Corps volunteers for the six hour ride down to the southwest. The bus has an aisle with two seats on each side, but when it is really full they have these little cushions that they put across the seats to make a 5th seat in the middle where the aisle should be. Needless to say it was a pretty uncomfortable ride but we made it in one piece. On Sunday we hung out in Pedernales and on Monday morning went to the Haitian border market, which was pretty interesting. They sell food and clothes, most of which are donations from the US that have somehow made their way to be sold in the markets. After the market, we all loaded onto the back of two Diahatsu flatbed trucks, which took us to the drop off point where we then had to take fishing boats to the actual Bahia de las Aguilas. It was absolutely incredible and beautiful. The water is crystal clear turqoise, and the whole area is completely undeveloped. We swam, played some frisbee, and cooked rotisserie chickens on the beach over a fire (after bushwacking through the cactus to find firewood). It was great fun but the next morning we had to turn around and do the journey in reverse, but this time instead of getting on flatbed trucks we packed 53 people (half of whom were SOAKED because it started raining on their boat ride) into a bus that could fit 45, along with all of our luggage and fifteen 5 gallon water jugs. From there we took a 2 hour ride to another place called San Rafael, where more than half the group got off to continue the revelry, while the rest of us stayed on the bus to go to Santo Domingo. The bus was a charter and we got the driver to take the rest of us to the capital for the bargain price of 200 pesos, which was a Godsend as otherwise we would have had to look for a bolla (ride) to another town and catch a public bus from there to the capital. The final event to top off the journey was the blown tire at 9 pm when we were a mere 20 minutes outside of the capital. By this point we were starving, dirty, sandy, salty, and a whole lot of other unpleasant emotions but we maintained composure as the driver put on the spare tire (meanwhile, we are in the median in the middle of a Dominican highway in the dark - not necessarily the safest place to be). Finally, we were on our way, and the night concluded with more showers and pizza. In all seriousness, there is nothing to make you appreciate the US of A like a long journey on public transportation through a developing nation. I do love it here, but things do seem to take much longer and I miss the convenience of getting into my air conditioned car and zipping around the country!
I am going to wrap this up now and surrender my computer to one of the other volunteers who are waiting. I miss you all and hope that you had a happy Fourth celebrating the freedom of our fathers! Take care.

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