Community Service in the Mountains of Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic

Just yesterday, memories of last summer flooded back into my inbox when Katie Nicolaou put a video together for our group from our Rustic Pathways program in August 2012. In the program called Latin Beats and Caribbean Sights, the group of 11 girls, along with guides Brielle, Kayley, Eduardo, Cayce and me, learned an intro to Dominican music, dance, Spanish language, and culture.

With co-leader Kayley at gorgeous Playa Sosua on the northern coast of Dominican Republic.

With co-leader Kayley at gorgeous Playa Sosua on the northern coast of Dominican Republic.

We stayed in a gorgeous base house up in the mountains of Jarabacoa in central Dominican Republic, hours away from any ocean. On our “beach day,” we drove 3.5 hours to Playa Sosua- just west of Cabarete- up on the northern coast. Playa Sosua is also where the group had its first experience eating limoncillos, buying bunches of them on the beach.

When eating a limoncillo (called quenepa in Puerto Rico), crack the skin with your teeth and eat the pulp from off the large pit.

When eating a limoncillo (called quenepa in Puerto Rico), crack the skin with your teeth and eat the pulp from off the large pit.

Gorgeous swimming holes were just a short hike down the massive hill from our base house.

Group members cooling off in the crisp mountain stream.

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Photo of the mountains surrounding our base house in Jarabacoa by Vanessa Coliver.

Our group went whitewater rafting down the Río Yaque del Norte, the longest river in DR.

Our group went whitewater rafting down the Río Yaque del Norte, the longest river in DR.

Watch group member Katie Nicolaou’s video to see the group’s success in bringing water to a remote village via aqueduct in the mountains of DR. The group performed hours of grueling community service, digging trenches and laying and connecting PVC piping to transport the water. The video contains a lot of footage from the village’s celebration ceremony when the aqueduct was finally completed by this particular group, the last Rustic Pathways group of the summer. Thank you, Katie!

Rustic Pathways’s programs are the best mixture and balance of fun, adventure, exotic locations, and service! Looking back a year later on my experience working with Rustic Pathways, I appreciate how much I learned about another country and also value the ways in which my experiences leading trips abroad translate over to the way I teach Spanish in the classroom, the way I interact with young people, and the way I lead trips abroad at Menlo School.

A big thank you to Rustic Pathways for the training, guidance, and experience!

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