The Amazing Race and the Phantom Puppy Theives

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

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hello All!
I am in the capital doing some work so I wanted to take advantage of the free internet to give another update on life here in the DR. My most recent adventure referred to in the title was a bola race from Santiago to Samana. In Dominican Spanish, a "bola" refers to a free ride. So, a few of my friends and fellow volunteers got it into their heads that we needed to have a bola race. Santiago is the second-largest city in the country and the closest major city to my site. Samana is on the northeastern tip of the island on a peninsula jutting out into a large bay, situated close to some of the best beaches in the country. Participants were recruited, teams formed, and strategies planned. There were ten teams of two (male/female) because it isn't very easy for two men to get a ride and it was determined that two women wouldn't be safe. We convened in Santiago on Friday night for a cookout and a "charla" (Spanish for chat) on the rules and regulations of the bola. The rules were simple - no rides with anyone you know, no paying for any ride, and no using your real name. The race started Saturday morning, with teams leaving every fifteen minutes. My partner and I drew the first start time of 7:00 am, so off we went. The hardest bola to catch was the first one to get out of Santiago, and we ended up waiting about a half an hour. After that it was relatively easy, and we got rides in everything from air-conditioned SUVs to the back of pickup trucks to huge dump trucks. We caught a total of eight rides and made it to Samana in five and a half hours for a 5th place finish. Now, I have a wide competitive streak in me so I can't say I was too happy about not coming in first, but it was all in good fun and we are gearing up for a bola race across the country in 2007. We spent the weekend in Las Galeras, which is a small laid-back town outside of Samana and on Sunday went to Playa Rincon, which is supposedly one of the best beaches in the DR. It was picture-perfect, and we spent the day swimming, listening to music, and playing Scrabble in the sand. We were the only people on the beach, so it was pretty amazing. Next up on our reality-tv-ish agenda is a Iron Chef-style cookoff using only ingredients found at a local colmado. Colmado supplies can be pretty limited, depending on the size, but are usually limited to rum, whiskey, powdered milk, tomato sauce, margerine, salami, and things of that nature. Should be pretty interesting, so stay tuned for more stories!
After a weekend of fun and adventure it was hard to go back to my site, but knowing that I had a small fluffy ball of enthusiasm by the name of Stella waiting for me made it a lot easier. She came running out of my host family's house to greet me and covered me with kisses, which was a nice homecoming. I had been worried about her because my host family told me that people steal puppies all of the time. Apparently if they are driving along and see a puppy they will snatch it up and take it away. I was worried that I would come home to news of a puppy theft (I mean, Stella is pretty darn cute and who wouldn't want her?). But alas, she was alive and well and escaped the puppy theives for the time being.
Lest you get the wrong impression of my life here in the DR, my work is coming along and I seem to be getting busier and busier. I wanted to start off my youth group with a big fundraiser but I quickly realized that first we needed to be organized before we could attempt anything of that nature. We have been working a lot with concepts like what it means to be a leader, how we can be an example for the community, etc. I am really excited to work with these kids - they are pretty amazing and I know that eventually we will get a lot done. Next Saturday we are commencing with the gardens at the early hour of 6:00 am, so I will post pictures as things progress. For pictures of the bola race and the beach, check out my Flickr site at

Hope all of you are well. I miss everyone and am looking forward to coming home for the holidays!! Take care and stay in touch.

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