Thanks for checking up on us everyone! It was a glorious moment in the early morning of Sunday, June 12 local time when we made it to our Bed & Breakfast in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We quickly got our room assignments, checked in everyone’s phones and money, and headed off to sleep (and some much needed showers). By the time we had arrived in the B&B, we had been traveling for over 12 hours. We were pooped. We were sweaty, but we were ready.
We had a 5 AM wake-up call this morning with Nicaury as our fearless Líder del Día. We boarded our little bus with Cristian at the wheel and drove for 3 hours to San Juan de la Maguana.
Our hotel is awesome. We have the 3rd floor of the hostel for our delegation. There are about 2-4 people per room and each room has a bathroom :O. Some of us definitely have been making use of the cold showers. Jackie and Nicaury got us started with some ground rules, expectations, and culture norms for the Dominican Republic and San Juan de la Maguana. We also had an opportunity to finally meet everyone officially through an energizer.
After the orientation, we grabbed our first real meal in the Dominican Republic! Sheila’s has amazing vegetarian and meat options and the meal was much needed after our long day.
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to energize and have our first academic seminar: History. Erik and I led this short segment to review the importance of history and the impact that history has on the present. We also provided a crash course of Dominican history since it is often under-emphasized in our own education system. Following the academic seminar, Jackie and a few enthusiastic and helpful youth ambassadors supported us in giving us a tour of the city. We started with the statue of Caonabo.
Caonabo was a Taíno (indigenous) chieftain of the Maguana region during the arrival of Christopher Columbus. He was known for his fighting skills and his ferocity. He refused to surrender to Columbus during this time. For that reason, Columbus sent him as a prisoner back to Spain. Before he was able to arrive in Spain, a hurricane took his life; thus, he died in chains. The statue that stands in the middle of the city, however, shows Caonabo with broken chains–emphasizing his resolve in fighting for the freedom of his people and his refusal to surrender to outside forces.
After a powerful tour of the city, our delegation will be heading to bed in preparation for an exciting Culture Day ahead!