Today was a very exciting day – adventure day! The topic we explored today was the question of whether or not it’s possible to preserve natural areas while obtaining profit from them at the same time.
The first site we visited today was the Cuevas de Pomier (caves). There were 55 caves in total, 30 of which contain ancient art of the indigenous culture of the Tainos. We toured the first cave, which is over 300 meters large, and contains the most cave paintings in the Caribbean. The tour was really cool and informative. Alex and Jose, our tour guides, really got through the importance of what we were seeing. It was fun learning about the indigenous history portrayed through the art. The paintings symbolized many of the Tainos’ rituals, and also served as signs showing where entrances to the caves are, or where people might be buried. In the cave, we saw a lot of life. There were a lot of bats, that are actually really important to the environment, for they are responsible for 40% of the area’s reforestation. In the cave, we took a moment of silence to really embrace and pay respect to the Taino culture held in the cave, and to feel what it is like in the cave when we are not there. It was truly an amazing experience, because it seemed so still, and we couldn’t see anything, but at the same time so full of life and and importance. Definitely a very memorable experience that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.
Our next stop was the Najayo beach. La Playa!!! The first thing we did there was eat. Many of us said that the fried chicken we ate was the best we’ve ever had. After that, we had the chance to buy jewelry made from a semi-precious stone called Larimar, which is only found in this specific region of the Dominican Republic. It’s cool because we know that if we ever see this stone anywhere, we know exactly where it came from, and that we got the chance to buy it directly from there. The stone is a beautiful blueish green, and many families make their living off creations they make from the stone. We then got to swim in the Ocean, which was super fun! the water was warm compared to the beaches in California, but very refreshing. Some of us played frisbee in the water, while others swam around, or collected rocks.
After the beach, we went to our second day of English tutoring. Today went much smoother than yesterday for most of our classes. The students seemed to really learn a lot, and enjoyed doing so. After tutoring, we also got to go to a little store, and buy some snacks, which a lot of us had been looking forward to.
At the nightly meeting, we discussed the question of the day, and decided that it is possible to preserve natural areas while using them to create profit, however that it is important that that profit is used towards a good cause, the way it is at the Cuevas de Pomier (to show the importance of the site and why it should be preserved). We also discussed who’s responsibility it is to ensure the preservance of the sites, the government, people, businesses, etc. We are unable to come to a set conclusion, but the discussion was very engaging, and it was interesting to hear everyone’s opinions. Overall, today was very enjoyable and adventurous, a day we will never forget…