The theme for today was Adventure Fun Day and the question of the day was what are the positive and negative impacts of tourism on local communities? Some of the negative effects on tourism are that tourists can often look down upon people who actually live in the country trying to make a living selling things to outsiders just to survive. When tourists begin to come in, a lot of trash also accumulates which affects the communities around them. I also think that many tourists do not understand that people who live in these communities also want respect, they don’t want photos to be taken of them as if they are zoo animals. Sometimes it can also feel as if tourists invade communities when they are not mindful of what is happening around them. They might only be concerned about the nice view around them for their pictures and at the same time, shut out everything that’s around that view. I think a lot about the locals we’ve met and built relationships with and the homes that outsiders might judge or even feel pity for without having any compassion for their circumstances. However, there are also some positive impacts that tourism can have. For example, if there is a community that is still being developed and people begin to come and consume more products in those areas then the economy might begin to increase. When more money is coming in it helps that community to grow finically but it is still not right for the people who live in those communities, working in tourism areas to be treated as if they are nothing, this is where mindful tourism comes in. Not only is that happening in the Dominican Republic but it is also happening in the areas like Hawaii. So I realized that tourism can have both positive and negative effects, it just depends on what point you are looking at.
As far as how our day went, today, we woke up at 6:30 and started that day off with a nice breakfast and then we all got on these cool the safari buses to head to a waterfall called Aguas Blancas. The journey to get there was a bit bumpy, literally, but so fun. The road got us jumping out of our seats as we all sang songs that we requested. The view throughout the ride was also incredible. We were so high up in the mountains that we could see all of the agriculture that the people across the communities in Constanza survive from. We passed by so many animals also, we saw chickens with their baby chicks, dogs, kittens, pigs, horses, donkeys, and ox. After a long ride on the safari bus, we finally stopped and began our hike to one of the highest peaks in Constanza. It was a hard hike up the woods but it was really worth the struggle. We stopped at two places, first, we stopped at halfway through the waterfall and we took pictures to capture the amazing scenery. Our second stop was at the very top of the waterfall where we saw the mountains and the farms across Constanza. It gave us a good sweat but it also deepened our bond with each other as we each helped one another through our fear of heights and through the physical struggle getting up there. When we walked down to the safari bus, our next stop was at the bottom of the waterfall which was where we were able to dip our feet into the water. The water was ice cold, people warned us that it was going to be cold but we didn’t expect that it was going to be freezing like that. A couple of us submerged under the water and had to get out because it was too cold to handle. We took some great shots at the bottom of the waterfall and just relaxed as we laughed, sang and ate snacks.
After we were done, we headed back to the hotel for lunch. While we were headed back we had a little karaoke session in the safari bus, someone would think of a keyword and then we would all think of a song that had that word in the lyrics. We had no music to play, just the music we had in our head. After lunch, we freshened up and we went to the north side of Constanza. We were able to see the sign that said Constanza, which was an amazing view to see and we took pictures. The sun was out and shinning over the city. We then went to the south side of Constanza named Divino Nino. That was where we saw the whole city of Constanza because it was the official highest point in the city. After we took some more pictures we rushed to the Gaston Deligne School to do our English tutoring. During English tutoring, we got a lot of work done with students. Even though it is only two-hour sessions, many of the students I have taught have improved with their pronunciation and that feels really rewarding. After our class was done we began to prepare for our next class. I also was helping one of the GG ambassadors to pronounce some of the letters and words that we were struggling with. After walking back to the hotel we had a delicious dinner and then we had our nightly meeting as usual.
As the leader of the day, I learned a lot about myself and others during this trip. I was able to memorize the agenda and was prepared for any questions my fellow peers asked me about what was coming up next throughout the day. If they needed me, I tried to always be available to them. I tried to be on schedule because a lot was happening. One of my responsibilities that I needed to do was make sure that everyone had the chance to enjoy themselves so I checked in a lot with my peers. Today was a day to explore, appreciate nature and have fun. I also made sure that everyone was feeling okay because I knew the hike was a challenge for all of us. On the bright side, everything turned out to be great and we had a blast. I feel grateful that I got the chance to bond with everyone throughout the day, while also having a little swim at the waterfall and see the whole city.