It was an early start to the day with a wake up call for 5:30AM, but everyone managed to get up with a positive attitude for the day to come. The bus ride to San Rafael was long, but we all got some extra ZZZ’s in to give us some more energy. Upon arriving to the coastal town, we saw the breath-taking shore of the beach. The water was the bluest most of us had ever seen and we were in awe. Before meeting our tour guide for the hike, Raylin, we got to walk along the shore of one of the beaches in San Rafael and collect rocks. After that, it was time for the hike. Much of the hike was a steep uphill climb and it was difficult in the thick of the forest, but nonetheless, it was filled with encouragement and smiles. Before the group got too far, we received our trees that we would then plant later in the hike. Something really interesting that we got to see, was one of the locals climbed a coconut tree and gave us the chance to drink the water and eat the coconut meat. As well as that, the view from that point in the mountain was captivating because we could see the vast ocean and the forest. After we planted our trees, everyone was very excited because we got the chance to go to the river and swim. This river was crystal clear: one of the most beautiful places we had seen that day, and was so refreshing after the hike. Then came lunch and the chance to buy a rare stone only found in the DR, larimar stone, and then it was time to go home. This experience was so unique, and despite it being difficult, it was worth it.

Hola, Diego here! Today I had the privilege of being co-lider del día with my buddy Rachel. The day was filled with many laughs, sweat, and firsts. I got to experience the tropical sites that San Rafael has to offer, and I was not disappointed. The clear, blue water of the ocean differed greatly from the cold, green waters of New England. Although the hike was beautiful, I do not think I am used to the tropical climate, as I was very hot. Alongside Rachel, I got the chance to connect with my newfound friends in a transformative way. By incorporating our theatrical energy and antics, leading the group was made fun and filled the day with much laughter. Being in the DR has made me more aware of the environmental issues many developing countries face, and has inspired me to take action through the decisions I make.

We cooled off in the river after the hike

Have coconuts, will climb

Hello! It’s Rachel’s turn. Today was one of the most beautiful days I have experienced on the trip so far. Being leader of the day allowed me to express a positive and enthusiastic attitude toward the group with hopes to keep them feeling the same way. There were many things I had to keep track of and although there were minor slip-ups, as any one leader has, the day ran smoother than I could have ever expected for my day as leader. I could not have done it without the support of Diego. He helped keep me in a cheery mood with endless laughter throughout the day. I learned that partnership with equal responsibility helped keep the day running smooth. I am grateful for what this experience has taught me about being a leader as well as what I can do to help my peers and the environment. Research what you can do to reduce the negative impact you have on the environment! XOXO

With big love, Rachel and Diego (No me diga!)

P.S. Shout out to my family and friends back home. I love and miss you! – Diego