Sunday, May 10, 2009


I am organizing and trying to pack up as much as I can before I meet up with the underwater archaeology group from IU tomorrow. I am only bringing a small bag, but would like to have everything organized. I am realizing that I brought way too much stuff! Where did I think I was going that I would need 6 pairs of pants and 5 sweat shirts? That's just an example...

I have concluded that I have two many shoes, pants, sweatshirts, books, and beads. I will keep all this in mind for the next time I study abroad so I don't find myself in the same mess I'm in right now.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pico Isabel

There is a hill/mountain in Puerto Plata that has a Christ the Redeemer statue at the top like the one in Rio de Janiero only smaller. To arrive at Cristo, you can either take a semi-relaxing Teleferico ride to the top or hike. I felt horrible... gripe got the best of me, and so Kori and I decided to take the Teleferico ride to the top and then walk down. The other group, who was walking up, would meet us at the top and we would then walk down together. There were all these guides bombarding us saying that we couldn't walk up or down the mountain by ourselves and continued to turn them down and fight to be able to walk wherever we please with out a tour guide giving us watered down explanations of what we were looking at. Eventually, the hiking group just left and Kori and I got in the teleferico guide-less and content.

We had shakey cell phone reception at the top of the mountain and it was taking the hiking group a while to arrive. I called John and he told me that they were somewhere in the forest, there was no marked trail, and they were completely lost. I told him I was going to blow my whistle to see if he could hear it and he told the rest of the group to listen. The heard my whistle and were extremely excited, but then realized that it was coming through the phone. They eventually decided to walk back down, defeated by the mountain.

Kori and I had a wonderful time at the top! There was a small cafe where we had a cup of coffee, we walked through a garden, a little trail, and talked the people selling souveniers. We saw the prettiest paintings we had seen in the entire country in a shop up there! When we decided to go down, we were pretty nervous since our friends had gotten lost, so we asked for directions and we were directed to a paved road and were told that it would lead us all the way back to Santiago! When we called to tell the other group that, they were sooooo mad and thought were just being jerks. We had a really beautiful walk through forest and then through a small, rural community. Eventually, someone offered to give us a ride and we hopped in the back of a pick up truck and they took us all the way to our hotel! When we offered them money, the laughed, turned it down, and told us that they hope we enjoy Puerto Plata and then left.

The other group, after getting down the mountain defeated got into a cab who couldn't find the hotel we were staying at and swore that it didn't exist, so he just dropped them off at a random hotel and left. They wandered around Puerto Plata and I tried really hard to explain where we were. It was well over an hour before we all met up and all of us had used all our cell phones had zero pesos left when we finally found eachother.

From that point on, the rest of the trip was great. Our hotel was the best value hotel I've stayed in here. It was 600 pesos (US$18) for a room with two double beds and the lady who ran the place was insanely warm and friendly and the atmosphere was just very relaxed and fun. We spent the night in Puerto Plata and met a really nice woman who runs a colmado out of her house. We spent about an hour there playing with her adorable, snuggly, itty bitty kittens and drinking cherry juice. The next day, we had a lazy morning and spent the day at the beach.

The dunes, San Cristobal, the cave, and Puerto Plata were all considered one trip and overall, pretty much everything that could've gone wrong did. Perhaps it was because I forgot my traveler's protection pendent at home. However, despite everything that went wrong, we were still able to see everything we wanted to see and had a great time!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reserva Antropologia

After hours in a gua gua and a painfully expensive taxi ride we arrived at a cave famous for its taino art work and... it was closed. Fortunately, our taxi driver convinced the guard to let us in if we bought a flash light and batteries. It was awesome! It was pitch black and we would shine a flash light on the wall and it was full of paintings. It was really really fun and I thought it was cooler with the lights out than it would've been with the lights on.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Castillo del Cerro

This a mansion that Trujillo built but never lived in. He would come here from time to time and stay for vacations. The house, though now used as a correctional institutional and school for adolescents. It was really interesting. There was a replica of a torture chair he used and a display of torture tools. It was awful. I can't imagine going through what those people did while he was in rule.
I thought it was really cool that now they use the building as a correctional institute. It's definately a step in the right direction. I feel like if Castillo del Cerro was in the United States, it would be perfectly preserved and beautiful, but serving no functional purpose. I was really impressed by the whole experience.

Caminar es muy buena para tu salud.

Sand dunes across the bay from the ugliest beach in the DR.

We went on a trip to the sand dunes in Bani and it was not the relaxing day at the beach we set out for. First, the gua gua ride was pretty long, actually it was longer than it had to be. We told the gua gua driver to drop us off at the sand dunes and they dumped us off at the ugliest beach we had ever seen. It was so wierd because there were all these buildings that looked like they should be restaurants or beach side bars, but they were completely empty and boarded up. We asked the trusty Politur where the sand dunes were and he pointed all the way across the bay and told us the only way to get their was to walk and he followed by saying it would only take us ten mintutes to do so. Never ever ever has a Dominican suggested that we walk and so we really didn't know what to think, but we were pretty sure that it would take us longer than ten minutes. We asked him he had any advice for us to find a ride to get there and he said to find a ride is really difficult, but "caminar es muy buena para tu salud" -- to walk is very good for your health!

We finally arrived at the sand dunes after getting a moto ride for the last kilometer. We were told that the beach was right over the side but all we could see was sand. We felt like we were in Aladin. The sand was also extremely hot and I was pretty sure my feet were going to melt off. Climbing up the final dune was really difficult, but we did indeed get to the playa. Not the prettiest playa I've ever seen, but a playa never the less. The wind was really intense so we were doing some pretty extreme sun bathing and dying in pain at sand being pelted at our faces. It was fun though and we were the only ones there which was awesome.

All in all, it was a really day though nothing went right.