FLIP – Dominican Republic Experience (Part 3)

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
DAYS FIVE, SIX, SEVEN AND EIGHT
From scraps to something beautiful. A bunch of lovely, vibrant, energetic young ladies made it their pleasure to invite us into​n their homes and literarily their homes, we tore up discarded papers, washed it in a machine, blended for purity, then made into brand new paper for books, necklaces, rings etc. which they sell to visitors who take advantage of this tour, the prices are very reasonable and for a community asset based experience that revolves around the community, creating employment for the community members (one who lives over the river, who travels by boat every day to get to work). Walking through a “BARRIO” “Ghetto” as we may call it, was exciting, it reminded us of the gifts that we have and must cherish. We saw a baseball field that many of these children use for their enhancement of the baseball skills, Baseball is the most profitable, popular sport here on the Island. Many local youths have become popular through this sport. We saw small houses, un-employed persons just sitting at home and some very idle hands that may not be useful due to many reasons surrounding their situations.

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Growing chocolate YUMMMMMM. Eating the natural real fresh coco plant was awesome, even Hassan made good use of the entire plant!!!! I left my mark on mother nature as I planted a tree so within the next 3 years I will return to reap my fruits of my labour. This tour is operated by UMPC Guananico and is certified by Turisopp, the local Tourisim Ministry and this tour is also a part of the community and its mandate. Volunteers like Felix, lives in the community and spends most of his time with tis valuable community development experience. It has clear family connections which makes it stronger and viable. And if planting a tree, eating a scrumptious lunch, getting a coco facial service was not enough then we had to go dance up a storm….MERENGUE. hips were oved, legs were twirled, oh YEAH. This additional tour of Dominican’s history is again done under the umbrella of the community, the contributions are endless, hence making members own their history will make history!!!!
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Happier times after MERENGUE.
DIAMONDS are a girl’s best friend but after that trip to the AMBER MINES, we want no more diamonds. Amber is the way to go. Open back truck, fresh air, waving to natives, holding the sun in our hands, looking at God’s creation through the lenses of mother nature and just taking in the serenity of the countryside was a breath of fresh air, as we made it to the Amber Mines. Short but sweet visit. This tour had started out as an active experience, however as time elapsed it has dwindled into a less attended experience, reasons surrounding this experience varies. Bad roads, long journey (Even though it was very refreshing and community oriented), unsafe mines, and some amount of neglect are visual indicators of the low attendance. Our presence was needed as we did continuous evaluations on all these community-based experiences. So again, Thank you Centennial College and all other stakeholders on this mission.
Embarking upon the final days ahead we became celebrities. Just take a look!!!!!, we met with Senor Juan Pablo, who gave us an in-dept look and well explained presentation on all those experiences we experienced, and how they came about, how we must use the different eyes, hands to make the community stands out, the inclusion of the members in every community and the heart of what community-based assets are and they do for everyone. Adventure called. Damagua falls, 27 waterfalls, can you believe it, all of 27 waterfalls in one location (however we did 7). The adventure was awesome, sliding, gliding, jumping and just splashing in God’s creation, no artificial inseminations. This tour is one of the most popular tour for the cruise ship passengers and this too started out as a small community-based experience.

The last supper!!!!!!Playa Cabarete, was our final night destination, eating fish, lobsters, burgers and shrimps, then we hit the dance floor. Dance we did. Dominicans had noting on us!!!!

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Spending our last moments with one key individual was not to be missed. Juanin’s mountain tour made the trip a worthwhile experience, a long but rejuvenated walk to two most breath-taking waterfalls was worth the walk. This tour is tied to the Coffee experience, and it provides employment for the operator Juanin and his family, as sometimes his nephew and his brother tags along with him. He told us of the benefits of this tour, as for the community and who benefits, the land owner who gives and charges them to walk through the land, the host of the tour and the coffee host. This is a small tour but the community is well a part of it.

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THANK YOU, CENTENNIAL COLLEGE, FOR THIS FIRST-HAND CONNECTION TO WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED AND WHAT WE WILL BE EXPERIENCING IN THE FUTURE……!!!!!

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Departing Moments at the Lodge. Thanks Tim and the crew!!!!!

FLIP – Dominican Republic Experience (Part 2)

DAYS ONE, TWO, THREE AND FOUR

We landed in Puerta Plata/Dominican Republic on the last inbound aircraft in La Aeropuerto, on route to our lovely Eco-Lodge in the serene hills of Tubagua. The immense culture shock was felt in a profound way. Rustic, natural, open, sentimentally attached bungalows were our home. Not many amenities we were used to back in the suburbs or back in the city, but still we were captured by the atmosphere.
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February 25, breakfast (fresh fruits, scrambled eggs, sausages and fresh toast), then a coaster (15 seater) bus emerged for us to live the day in the life of a tourist. Just a peek into the day’s activities: one of the most amazing, breath-taking, exhilarating, well-maintained​ tours here in Puerta Plata was called the Cable Car (aka. El Teleferico) tour, which is located on the mountain of “Isabel de la Torres”. That left us speechless. Touring the city of Puerta Plata was a reminder of back home (Jamaica). This city has all that is needed to survive in a thriving country. The newly refurbished, open, free, accessible zone on the waterfront boulevard called La Puntia (an old fort built by Columbus) was just another prime example of giving power to the people. This park hosts a gigantic dome, play area overlooking the ocean and an old fort that has so much history (sad, but owned by the people) behind it. The day’s activities culminated at the Sosua Beach, which is described as the heartbeat​ of the city; the active, fun mecca of Puerta Plata, a beach (playa) designated for tourists and locals alike.

 

Caves we discovered!!!!
When we speak of community-based assets and how community members own them, then we speak of what’s developing now in Puerto Plata. Listening to a refreshing, enlightening explanation of how many of those excursions came to fruition by Senor Juan Pablo, Director of the Chamber of Commerce for the province of Puerto Plata. In his elaborate presentation, we were engulfed in how the formation of groups, organizations, and community leaders that have shaped community development projects and products such as: Rincon Caliente and Hacienda Cufa among others. We were educated by Dominican’s elite. This educational value cannot be bought.

 

Ingles professor y professora’s we became, teaching our native tongue and learning or for me brushing up on my Espanol, was the order of the morning. In an open truck,​ we travelled down the countrysides​ to this well-organized Escuela (School), well behaved (Students) estudiantes. Bueno estudiantes.!!!!!! A part of our learning experience was to ensure sustainable learning was imparted, and impart we did with a lot of fun!!!!!!, meeting up with two of Centennial’s best SSW students, who are currently in the ​Dominican Republic carrying out their mandate of creating sustainable, beneficial projects for the community of Tubagua.

Day three, in the classroom again, as our well-spoken guest speaker Mrs​. Amber Ahus-DeAbbot, told us on the many contributions that her company FATHOM has made and is continuing to make to the sustainability of community-based assets. FATHOM which once operated an exclusive cruise for community-based excursions directly impacting the communities, due to challenges which we will face in our future endeavours, had to abandon ship!!! FATHOM is still in the business of creating projects that are not dependent on any particular company/organization for its survival. HATS off to Amber and her Carnival Cruise Lines Company. One of their projects that they oversee is the Coffee tour right there in Tubagua, where guests are able to experience coffee at its finest. COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE, “from the ​ground to the tree and from the tree to the cup!!!!!!. One of FATHOM’S babies!!, that they maintain and continue to nurture.

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We had our class moments, completing Reflections, blogs and evaluations amidst all the experiences.!!!!!

FLIP – Dominica Republic Experience 2018 (Part 1)

Hola/ Hi everyone, come with me on this reflective journey as I share my first-day experience in the Dominica Republic FLIP 2018. We arrived at the Eco-lodge in the hills of Tubagua, it was the most natural place I have ever been in my whole life with a beautiful breath-taking view.

The day begins with breakfast: fresh fruits, homemade granola, yogurt, eggs, sausage, and toast. Next is our coastal drive in the town of Puerto Plata where Alexis, our amazing tour guide, shared short enlightening anecdotes of the country’s history with us along the way. First stop was the cable car ride in Puerto Plata, this service fully funded by the government 60% of this profit given back to the community and 40% use to pay staff and maintenance. The day was full of awe-inspiring moments, but one of the most highlighting moments for me was the cable car ride up to the mountain of Isabella de la Torres. Why? This mountain is about 2,225 ft high, yes!!!!!! It’s that high. In my opinion, it was a frightening and exciting moment all at once for most of us including myself. However, once we arrived at the top of the mountain all that changed as we disembarked from the car and started taking pictures of the beauty in sight. The atmosphere was welcoming both by local vendors and local peoples. The use of local goods and services was fully evident they use the local resources to create some form of short/ long term employment by building on their natural resources. For example, we bought from the local vendors stalls souvenirs such as jewelry made from local material called larimar a rare blue stone found only in the Dominica Republic. We then made our way down the trail stopped at a cave (yes ppl a cave),  which appears to have been there since the time of the Tainos.  I would say my day was a full course meal and i enjoyed every moment. multiple stops between but this is just a taste for you.