Last night after all of the hullabaloo getting into Santo Domingo, we had a two and a bit hour van ride to the ILAC Mission. Peter and I, being the only two male students, were placed in a dormitory all to ourselves. This room is rather large and spacious for the two of us, beds were stacked three high, we only took up the bottom two on the far side of the room. We both fell asleep to the girls clamoring next door catching up, and woke up for breakfast four hours later around 8am.
The coffee was excellent and the food was simple but good. The fresh fruit is going to be a bonus every morning. This morning was cantaloupe and watermelon.
After breakfast we went to change out our American money into Dominican pesos. As we were standing exchanging money, a truck with a forklift on the back drove past and the tall part hooked on the power lines above our heads and the truck kept going. Two telephone/power poles cracked and wires snapped, leaving power lines in the streets. All the while, our class was trying to convert money and not look too out of place. We looked out of place anyway.
Following this power line fun, we could not walk down that section of the street as there were lots of people milling about and a truck that was stuck in the middle of the street with wires all over it. Kyle Woolley, our tour guide, translator, and leader extraordinaire, took us on the scenic tour to get back to the ILAC Mission. We saw many houses and got to see another section of the Dominican life.
After this fun tour, we regrouped and got in a van to head to the Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration to get a small history lesson and overview of the next few days of travel. We got to see where Cien Fuegos is located and saw plenty of the city. We walked down into the business district for a few minutes to get a little slice of life and then we headed back to the van.
The van ride to and from the monument and from the airport last night showed me another fun aspect of the Dominican culture. The drivers drive in whatever lane they feel is necessary and from what I can tell, at least at night, road signs and red lights are very optional. During the day there is more order to the road but it has been interesting to see the drivers drive wherever they want and rules get made by each individual driver.
As for overall atmosphere, it is hot and humid here in the Dominican Republic. I somewhat expected this but I don’t know if you can ever really fully prepare yourself for the stickiness. I will try and find some way to remain cool, but I am not minding the weather too much as of yet.
The plan for this evening is to check on baggage arriving today for the six people who have yet had any luggage in the DR. If the baggage does not arrive then we are going to go on a shopping trip at La Sirena, the local Wal-Mart type establishment. I lucked out and had all of my luggage arrive but I am hopeful that everyone else’s luggage arrives soon.
I am writing this during our siesta time, in the afternoon, and may actually go take a nap if get around to it, otherwise I may be touring the grounds of the ILAC Mission. It is truly beautiful here and hopefully some pictures will find their way up onto the blog soon to show off the Mission.