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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wednesday in the DR: Truck Safari

On Wednesday we got up early to go on the truck safari tour that we signed up for. It was an all day event. We all loaded up onto the big safari truck,there were about 20 of us in our group, and off we went to see the countryside. Here is another picture of the massive potholes on the road. They do act as great speedbumps because a lot of them are as big as the cars.


Here is a little food stand we passed. I thought it was interesting how nicely painted all of their houses were. Our tour guide told us that it's a Christmas tradition to paint your house. So every Christmas they go through millions of cans of paint in the DR and everyone gets a fresh coat on their home in a bright new color.


The countryside was very pretty - lush and green. We headed towards those mountains in the background.


This is a city we drove through.

Another interesting thing to me is how many people we saw just sitting around. It was like they were all just waiting for something, or waiting for nothing, just sitting here and there doing nothing.

Our first stop was to visit another school. This school was sponsored by the truck safari tour group we were on so it was fixed up pretty nice. They had nice desks, notebooks, and backpacks. It was just one room. The man and lady in the background are giving the kids some candy that they had in their bags with them. Jeremy and I didn't have anything to give them. I wish I would have known to bring some school stuff with me. Maybe some art supplies or something.


After going in the school, Jeremy and I walked out back to see what it was like. We found their bathroom in a little building in the backyard. Here are the toilets.


This is the playground for the school. Yes, this is IT. There wasn't anything else in the yard except mud or weeds.


After visiting the school, our next stop was in a little neighborhood. The homes were government owned because the people were farmers. As long as they farm the land they can stay in those homes. The kids here were all just playing in the dirt. That is a picture of our truck on the side.


As soon as we unloaded off the truck, all the kids came to beg for whatever we had. I felt bad for them, but at the same time I was really concerned over how much the kids beg. They seemed to have been taught really well. The moms all just sat in front of their homes while the kids came running.

We went inside this lady's home. Each month the tour sponsors one family to help them out and the tour stops at that person's house. She was selling all kinds of things - art, jewelry, little souveneirs, etc. This is her dining room. Most of the rooms didn't have windows on them.


This is a really pretty pepper plant that was in her yard.


I gave my water bottle to these kids and made them share it. The little girl didn't want to share, but I let her take a drink, then showed her that she needed to give it to her brother too. I was also wishing I had brought a bag of clothes for these kids to wear. Their clothes looked really roughed up.


More pretty countryside as we head to our next destination.


Our next stop was at a huge farm where they grow coffee beans, cocoa beans, sugar cane, pineapple, vanilla, and other things I can't think of right now. Jeremy took this picture of this perfect flower.

We went inside this lady's house and she offered us a hot drink she made with cocoa beans, cinnamon, and sugar cane. It was really good. There were little pieces of the crushed cocoa beans in the bottom of my cup.


Then we got to walk through the orchards to see what she grows. This is Kevin, our tour guide. He's holding a cocoa bean fruit (is that the right terminology?). I didn't know it was a fruit, and I didn't know it was that big!

He talked about the fruit for a minute, then he cracked it open and let us taste it. It was certainly not what I expected! It looked like a spine inside. We each took off a piece of the "spine" and it was a slimy fruit that was kind of slimy, but tasted tropical. In the middle of each section, after you suck off the fruit, is the nut. That is the chocolate. It's like the seed in the middle. Very odd.


This is a pineapple plant.

Here I am eating a piece of sugar cane. The sugar cane looked like bamboo only it was red. One of the workers carved off the trunk with his knife and we ate the inside. It was really stringy.


This is the lady who lives here and made us the drink. She also cut up a bunch of fresh fruit for us and served it on a big platter. Then she was selling fresh spices, alcohol (rum and mamawanna), and brown or white vanilla extract.


This is Kevin, our tour guide, again. He is smiling so big because Jeremy gave him his Utah Jazz hat. When we first got on the truck he saw Jeremy wearing this hat and he said, "Oh! The Utah Jazz!" When we were here at this lady's house, Jeremy put his hat on Kevin's head. He seems pretty excited about it.


As we were leaving this stop, a guy was driving around on a scooter with all these snakes around his neck just for kicks. He was putting them on people in hopes of getting tips. What a job, right? He was going to put them on Jeremy and Jeremy and I were standing next to each other. All of a sudden he came and plunked them around my neck. This is the picture of me smiling. I'm not posting the other ones.


Jeremy didn't have a problem with it.


Here are the sugar cane fields 1/2 harvested.


This picture below is a sight we saw all over the place in the Dominican Republic. A whole family on a scooter. They don't have many cars there and gas is really expensive (over $7.00/gallon). A lot of people have motorcycles or scooters and they pack as many people on them as they can. This lady had just picked up her 3 kids from school. They are still in their uniforms.


For lunch we went to a ranch in the countryside. In the brochure it states that as part of the truck safari we will eat among the wild animals that are indigenous to the area. I thought it was funny because at the ranch they had a few cement pits in the backyard that held these animals.
Iguanas.

Crocodiles.

Jeremy has a little gecko on his shoulder. It was running up and down his arm.


This is the Dominican lunch for the day. It was quite tasty - especially if you enjoy flies for seasoning. I didn't dare try the meat because they cook up all the parts. I tried to stay safe.



The sign for the ranch. We got this picture as we were driving away.


After lunch we stopped in this little town for one last bathroom break and souveneirs if you want. I just walked out to look at the town. It was really interesting and kind of creepy to me. Again, there were just people standing around doing nothing. I don't know what they do. Here is a picture of the hotel here.


This is the dentist. I don't think I'd ever complain of a toothache if I lived there.


This part is what grossed me out. Right next to where we were was the butcher shop. This guy was hacking away at the rest of the meat on that bone. His butcher block was a tree stump and I wonder if it ever gets cleaned, and if so - how? We watched him hack off all the meat, and when the meat was off the bone, he just started hacking away at the bone. Little pieces of bone chunks were flying all over the place. Then these ravaged looking dogs came scrambling for the bones, picking them up in their teeth, and running away. When the butcher had the bones broken up how he wanted, he put them all in a black plastic bag and gave them to a kid who was waiting. The kid took off running towards home. I think I was right to not eat the meat.

We left the town and passed a bunch of rice fields. I've never seen how rice looks when it is growing. This was neat to me.


For the next leg of our journey we got on a boat to ride down the river. As we were loading up we noticed this rickety bridge behind us. We watched a few construction trucks go over the bridge and the whole bridge would wobble and bend. Yipes!


This is Jeremy and I on the boat, ready for our little river cruise. :)


What a beautiful view from the river!


These are mangrove trees. My first time seeing these too!


The river led us right down to the ocean.


Then we got off on this dock.


I'm glad everyone made it after having to scramble ashore.


We walked through this little trail that took us to another beach.

At that beach our horses were waiting for us. Hooray! I love to ride horses, it's fun. I'm not real great at it and have done it a handful of times, but I've never rode horses with Jeremy. We rode for about 45 minutes along the beach, through the jungle, and along the beach again. Very fun.


Then it was back to our resort. It took us about 1 1/2 hours to drive back to our resort, including the traffic jam we were stuck in for a little while. I guess no one gets out of those. This is our last picture with Kevin. He was really cool and was a nice guide for the day. Jeremy has his safari hat on. He bought it when we were at the school because the proceeds from hat sales help the school.


Once we returned we hit the pool to cool down and then got ready for dinner. It was nice to be clean again after a day in a dirty truck. It was a good day, though, and worth our time. I ate at the pasta bar Wednesday night. This chef sits there and makes your pasta for you while you wait. You choose your sauce and everything you want in it, then you choose your pasta and he puts it all together for you. YUM!


Every night after dinner we would sit and talk for an hour or more with our group. It was a really relaxing way to enjoy the evening and let our food sit. The waiters got to know us throughout our stay and we had fun with them. They were dancing around our table, so I decided to get up and dance with them. We saw these same waiters several nights.

That is the end of Wednesday! After dinner we hung out with our friends for a little while and then Jeremy and I walked along the beach before bed. What a perfect day!

2 comments:

Megz said...

I too feel very strongly that you made the right choice on the meat.
I also am pretty sure there would be no smiling pix of me w/ snakes around my neck.
And look at you dancing w/ the waiters! Are you sure didn't finally give in to some rum?

Chinchia said...

I know I keep saying it, but it looks like such a fun time. I wish I could get one more getaway in before the baby comes.

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