Sin merengue, no hay fiesta! These words, sung joyfully and rhythmically by our group – actually mostly me, can easily sum up our Culture Day in San Juan. It was a day full of music, movement and dancing! 

We kicked it off with a typical Dominican breakfast dish: Mangu, which consists of mashed plantains, salami and cheese with a side of vegetables. Then, we hit the road to go to Maguana, to visit Aguita de Liborio, a site of rituals celebrating the memory of Mateo Liborio, a revolutionary and spiritual leader of Southern Dominican Republic from the late 19th century. Many of our Glimpsers participated in the rituals and made a wish to complete it. 

Afterwards, we visited Carmen and a group of paleros within the same community. Palo is an Afro-Dominican music which takes its roots from West Africa. Our group of paleros used percussions made of avocado tree wood and cow skin and a güira, an instrument which provides “the Dominican spice to the music” as one of the paleros said. What followed was an incredible dancing and connecting moment for all of us, following the rhythm and steps of Palo music. 

And then it was time for lunch! We headed to the restaurant Rosaura, owned and run by our daily food providers. The restaurant’s name goes after Rosaura, the owner of the restaurant. We gathered to eat another traditional Dominican dish, Sancocho, a flavorful stew made of meat and vegetables, served with a side of rice and avocado. It was so delicious that even some of us started to nap on the tables of the restaurant after eating seconds. 

From Rosaura’s, we walked to the theater of San Juan for our dance class where we joined a few of our DR Youth Ambassadors: Jason, Ricardo and Saory. Our incredible dance teacher, Maireni, taught us basic steps of merengue, mangulina and bachata. Personally, this afternoon filled me with immense joy as I love dancing as much as seeing others enjoying dancing around me. 

Back to our accommodation, after a well-deserved siesta time, Glimpsers attended their first English Tutoring training, led by the trio team of Youth Ambassadors. Thanks to Ricardo, Saory and Jason, the energy was so strong and collaborative! 

Then, we couldn’t be happier to have burritos and fries for dinner. We are so grateful to the team at Rosaura for cooking such healthy and tasty meals for us. As the Dominican proverb says: “Quien te da comida, te ama” – the one who feeds you, loves you. 

We ended our Culture Day with a prep seminar for Living Like a Local day and a very important Nightly Meeting: I passed the leadership torch to our two first Liders Del Dia – leaders of the day – for our next day: Betssy and Alicia! We also had an interesting conversation about what it means to experience a different culture. A beautiful comment was made in this regard: experiencing a different culture, whether it is a dance, a dish or a language, is an act of celebrating this culture. That’s what we did today, celebrating Dominican culture. 

NB: I am sorry for the delay in posting! I hope it is worth the wait!