We woke up for an early breakfast of pancakes before hopping on busses to travel to the market on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic called “Dajabon”. The market was incredibly chaotic with people selling everything from toiletries to clothes to food. We walked first to the bridge between the two countries, maintaining a single file line among the thousands of people hustling through on motorcycles or carrying overflowing bags on their heads. The market is set up on every Monday and Friday and is the primary option for many Haitians and Dominicans to buy food for their families or to buy things for distributing farther in from the border. It was incredible to observe the people passing between the two countries and how they interacted with those around them. Then we walked through the market some more before heading back to the buses. On the way home, we stopped at the house of Maximo Gomez. His house is now a museum dedicated to his legacy along with that of José Marti. They were two major leaders in the Cuban revolution; you can now find them on the Cuban currency notes. Then we stopped at a cemetery, where all the graves were above ground and some were very colorful. Then we visited a souvenir shop before heading to a buffet style lunch at Comedor Adela’s. After a delicious lunch, we drove to the mountain Murrito where we embarked on a short hike to the top which overlooked the bright, blue Caribbean Sea. We took some pictures and then hiked back down to the beach where we played some ultimate frisbee and 500. Two hours later we drove back to the house for dinner where we had the traditional, Dominican farewell meal of San Cocho, white rice and a beef stew. After dinner, we sat around and talked about our experience this week, sharing memorable moments and tautologies we’ve learned. This was a perfect way to end the week because it allowed all of us to reflect on our time here and appreciate the lessons we’ve learned, the impact we’ve made, and the self growth we’ve all experienced in our stay here. –Peyton Tysinger
On this our final day in the Dominican Republic, we had the chance to immerse ourselves in Dominican life with a “Culture Day” planned by the Outreach360 staff. Breakfast was served earlier than usual, around 7:30, and by 8am we were headed to Dajabon, the Dominican/Haitian market that unites the border between both countries. First we made our way through the endless crowds of both Dominicans and Haitians to a bridge that crosses the Haitian border, standing about fifty feet away from Haitiand overlooking Massacre River. In the market, walking single file to avoid the endless traffic of motorcycles, vendors, wheelbarrows, and eighteen wheelers, we were immersed in a beautiful, somewhat structured chaos. Haitian “runners” bought stocks of Dominican goods to bring across the border and sell while other Haitian vendors sat before piles and piles of flip flops,sneakers, and stilletoes, calling over anyone who happened to meet their eye. There was a certain awe in the disorganization, because at the same time, the market wasn’t disorganized at all, and every person there served a purpose that contributed to an intricate connection between Dominicans and Haitians. By the end, everyone was left wide eyed and amazed.
We rode back to Monte Cristi on the bus, stopping to visit a Cuban Musuem and to learn about the Dominican role in the Cuban revolution. Stopping by the Outreach360 house to grab our money, we walked across the street to a souvenir shop, and bought gifts for all you parents out there, including paintings and Dominican coffee (by far the best coffee in the Caribbean). When we returned to the house, it was time for lunch. However, we went out to eat at a family restaurant, friends of Caleb, Aidiil, and Miguel, for a tremendous buffet style meal. The cooks served us just about every infamous food Dominicans have to offer, including white rice and beans, steak, fried chicken, and empanadas. They also threw in some “Dominican spaghetti”, and of course, for the Americans, some classic Mac n cheese. The meal was fantastic, topped of with some Kola Real (Dominican coke) and everyone was just about stuffed by the time we returned to the house.
Shortly after, we geared up for a hike up “El Morro”, the mountain that shadows the town of Monte Cristi, followed by an afternoon at the beach. The trail up the mountain was incredible, equipped with a breathtaking, overwhelming vibe of the entire town of Monte Cristi and the coast. We stopped at countless points to take photographs, as any tourists would, and took in some once in a lifetime views. Coming back down the trail, we came to one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Monte Cristi , surrounded by cliffs and the backside of El Morro, and spent most of the afternoon surrounded by saltwater and a claylike caramel sand. The scene screamed paradise, and the perfect ending to such a week.
We came back to the Outreach360 house around five, and by six we were eating our last dinner of the trip, a “farewell stew” over rice, filled with delicious chicken and plantains. Jackson talked with us about what we learned during our “Closing Ceremony” and everone discusses things they have learned throughout the week, as well as what they would take away from the trip. After one last ice cream trip, everyone settled down for card games, conversation, and quiet time. –Emma Somers and Mia Gilley