We had a beautiful sail from Dominica to the Dominican Republic. We sailed into the Dominican Republic on a beautiful calm morning and were welcomed by dozens of Humpback Whales! It was a truly amazing sight and we very happily ran from class hearing the excited calls of “Whale”. It was a truly breath taking sight and a perfect way to begin our stay in the Dominican Republic.
On our first day in the Dominican Republic we packed our bags ready for our homestays and began our Dominican Republic experience with a hike to the Limon waterfall. It was a half day hike and we all enjoyed the waterfall swim and walk back, with a pizza dinner by the beach in Las Terrenas driving us on. We arrived in Las Terrenas and split into different groups to enjoy pizza by the beach. The pizza was delicious and with full bellies and happy faces, we were ready to make our way to our homestays. We were all split up into different homestays staying in groups of two to ten.
While in our homestays (between being fed way too much delicious food) we helped out in the community painting colourful houses. It seemed like a small job but it was a way in which we could get involved in the community and give a little back. It was also a great opportunity for us to get to know our homestay family even better as they joined us to help with the painting of many of the houses. We all had a vastly different experience within our home stays. The experience that I had is one I will truly never forget.
Some of our painting was not very easily accessible and required different measures to reach the spots that were high up.
Throughout my time in the homestay I had the opportunity to get to know my host family very well and got to experience many knew things. The homestay that I stayed in with three other students was amazing. We instantly felt as if we had been adopted by the parents and son, meeting the extended family throughout our stay and feeling truly part of the family. There was not a moment that we didn’t feel welcome and never a minute that we had hungry tummies.
On our last night at our homestays we got together with students from other homestays and enjoyed a Dominican dinner at the local basketball court with many local children too. We ate lots, danced a bit and had heaps and heaps of fun. Although there was a language barrier between the children and us it made no difference to the amount of fun we had. The smiles on our faces and the children’s when we were dancing together and having piggy back rides is something I will truly never forget. It was the people of the Dominican Republic that made it such an amazing stay.
One of the most powerful parts of my time in the Dominican Republic was the time spent getting to know the people of the Dominican Republic. They were so welcoming and always introduced themselves to us. As many of them spoke very little or no English it would be guessed that it would be nearly impossible to communicate, but the people there were different; they welcomed us with big warm smiles. No words were needed and this made the relationships even stronger. Many of the family members of our homestay also could not speak English and, even though we were leaving having spent very little time conversing with them, I felt like I knew them so well. Even just a hug and a reflective moment when leaving showed the depth of our relationship and the sadness of leaving.
Having said a sad goodbye to our homestay families on the last day, we then spent the afternoon in Las Terrenas. We had one last buffet lunch and then spent the afternoon exploring and enjoying the beach. Catching the bus back to the ship preparing to sail out the next day, I reflected on the amazing time that I had and remembered the amazing people that made my experience great. The Dominican Republic is definitely a place I would consider returning to in the future and my homestay an unforgettable experience that I will hold dearly in my heart.