Our flight into Santo Domingo was absolutely beautiful! After getting our bags, tourist cards, empanadas and some pesos, we were on our way to San Francisco de Macoris. There was a van…and all of us would squish in for a two hourish drive. It made for an interesting trip. When we arrived at Rosa’s house, we were relieved to be able to stretch out and we were welcomed to a delicious meal and a home brimming with hospitality. The students who were staying in other places met their hosts at Rosa’s over food. We retired to the upstairs porch where we enjoyed a breeze and a random guy playing a guitar. After a day of traveling, we went to sleep and had brief interruptions of confused roosters at random hours throughout the night and a group of dogs starting their own orchestra.
The next morning, we again woke to a great spread of food. We crowded into a van and headed to the hospital. What a culture shock it was for us to see. The hospital had a home feel to it. Many family members seemed to have brought items from home and were involved in taking care of the hygiene of their ill loved one. Everyone was very welcoming to us and we got to see the entire hospital. Because it was a Saturday, things were not as busy. We left the hospital and headed to the market. The market was an experience in itself. To see all of the fruits, vegetables and spices in a small, but bustling area was amazing and overwhelming at the same time. We walked back home, but stopped to have juices and smoothies. We arrived at home for yet another amazing spread of food with steaming hot rice and beans stealing the show. Many of us needed a quick siesta after that meal! At about 2pm, we headed in two small cars to the community health center. Manhattan, and not in NYC, was a completely different world. The roads were not paved and were rocky and filled with potholes. The community health center there serves about 600 people in the area and helps with the management of chronic illnesses and general health concerns and directing them to the hospital or clinic. We were able to visit the neighborhood and visit the homes of patients that had some concerns about their health. This We were able to try new fruits along the way. Everyone was so nice. We left there and went to La Sirena which is like the Spanish version of Walmart. We ended the day back at Rosa’s with another spread of amazing food. Today was Christy’s birthday, so we were able to celebrate it with a cuatro leches cake.