Into the bay we sailed. Wind so intense it could capsize the unprepared sailor; I was greeted to the Dominican Republic.
Our passage was filled with great surprises that kept the anticipation of our first official port at ease. The rigging provided the best view of our new port of call. I was given the task to furl the top gallant sail. I climbed aloft and after reaching the peak was I breathtakingly amazed. The water so lightly blue I gave serious consideration into harnessing my inner Olympic diver.
After doing multiple spins, which I am secretly convinced was to show off, we arrived at dock. The sail here was rocky giving our newcomers a real test of their sea legs. As soon as I stepped onto the harbour I was greeted with the stability that only solid ground could provide. Our first day exploring the island was a spectacular performance of confusion forcing many of us to improvise our way to and from the ship. Myself and a large majority of our crew found passage through a touring truck already heading toward the city. Arriving at the city gave opportunity for many to feast at restaurants, spoil themselves with the delicious Kola Real, or find serenity in the colourful sunset many of us were rewarded with.
The next day we prepared for our home stays. We packed enough clothes to last us three days and three nights but were unprepared for the environment. We started with a hike that to enjoy required you giving up the idea that your shoes would not be destroyed. I was sporting a new pare of Vans that are still sitting in a plastic bag waiting to be washed. The destination was worth the journey as we were given the opportunity to play in one of the most exquisite waterfalls many of us have witnessed.
That night we were introduced to our home stays. Our sleeping arrangements were simple but held more value to us than ever before. I slept so comfortably that night.
That next day we went and painted houses for the community. We went from house to house painting them bright colours. We saw the work of other Class Afloat students from other years. Generally speaking the Dominican Republic receives a frequent amount of small storms. While we were painting it would start to rain despite the blue skies close by.
The evening after painting we where treated to a karaoke party that had some people confidently showing off their mediocre voices. Everyone had a great time that night. Before going to our home stays we were split up into groups and so this party almost acted as a one day reunion.
We spent one more day painting, but this was not the highlight of my day. Some of the locals invited a few students and I to play some basketball with them before the sun had set. I confidently agreed to the game thinking we had a decently high chance of winning. It was as we got to the court and began to play I had finally realized who I was up against. We ended walking away defeated.
Everybody's homestay trip was amazing, each with their own stories to be told. Even though the homestay experience was over we drove to a beach resort where we could all have the chance to relax without worry. Later that day we were driven into town where we had one last chance to walk on dry land. Myself and a couple of friends walked to a small carnival, some choosing to fly and others choosing security. We headed back towards the ship saying our goodbyes during the drive.
The Dominican Republic port offered us so much more that what many of us are used to. The generosity of the locals helped solidify this everyday. The port was so significantly different from others due to the focus of the port programming. Overall I left satisfied and content carrying the newly acquired teachings I now hold.
Until next time!
Written by: Class Afloat Student, Evan Da Re