Today, we woke up at 6:30 am and went to Los Calabazos, a community that is extremely isolated from other towns, people, and communities in the Dominican Republic. It took us about 20 minutes to drive from outside Jarabacoa to get there. Our driver, Samuel (and his son), took us up into the mountains outside of Jarabacoa. Once we got to the community entrance, we then had to go down a lot of stairs, since Los Calabazos is between mountains at a much lower elevation than where the road is. This is one of the factors that contributes to them being so isolated. We played a fun warm up game with the families once we got there, followed by a tour of the community in order to understand how the community lives and functions. They make their own electricity using water. The river that they live by provides them electricity through the use of a hydroelectric generator. After the tour of the community, we split into three groups to speak to some of the people in the community and ask them questions about their community to figure out what they most need and how we could best address those needs. We then headed to the comedor area to eat lunch that the wonderful people of the community made us. We ate pollo asado, arroz, habichuela, and tostones. With lunch done, we were able to buy beautiful bracelets and necklaces that were hand made in Los Calabazos. We thanked them and said goodbye, and went back up the difficult stairs. When we got back to Quintonido Hostel, we had some free time, as well as our scheduled meetings.
This trip was extremely significant to me personally. I felt a very strong emotional connection to the women in the community, and most of it was because of how welcoming they were and how much they reminded me of my own family. All in all, the day was very impactful to us, and showed us a different way of life.