Posts from the ‘ELAP℠’ Category
Graffiti has always been an obsession of mine. There’s a sort of resourcefulness and a certain passion that is displayed in various types that just screams the human need to be heard, to be remembered and to express oneself. Perhaps this is why, in places where expression is regulated or suppressed, messages spring up like weeds in a garden. Read more
Welcome, adventurous souls, to paradise. Whether you are a surfer, a hiker, a photographer or just an adrenaline junkie, I guarantee you can get your fix in Costa Rica. In the past month I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel from the Caribbean to the mountains and across the country to the Pacific. I have been able to fly through Costa Rica’s bio-diverse forests and crash into its waters. Therefore, today I thought I’d take a moment to share what you have waiting for you here in my beautiful host country. Read more
A little while back I had the opportunity to visit Monteverde, a destination at the peak of the continental divide, rich with adventure and beauty. During our trip, we decided to tour a local coffee and sugar cane plantation called Don Juan. Though the company does not grow cacao on site, with the cooperation of nearby farms, Don Juan is able to dedicate about half of their tour to the processing. Read more
I walk along the backstreets of Cusco, and I find half-finished houses that are being occupied by full families, culture that isn’t for sale, and people who are nice to me because I am another person and not because they hope I will give them money. My housemate and I hike up nearby mountains that loom over our neighborhood, itching for adventure and the peace that can only be found on a mountaintop. We play in Incan ruins and take naps in a hammock overlooking suburban Cusco. We buy water in jugs bigger than our torsos and sleep way more than we’re used to because being two miles up in the air isn’t a joke, after all.
Mayrenes Figuereo is a student at Norfolk State University and an ISA guest blogger. Mayrenes participated on the ISA Summer 2 2014 program (Study Abroad + ISA-ELAP Service-Learning and Internship) in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The reflective essay below was submitted to ISA-ELAP as part of her program portfolio and is being republished with permission.
Somebody asked me about what I do at the Comedor Infantil (Dining Hall for Children). Basically, here’s how the conversation went:
Me: Well.. I just kind of watch them and make sure they don’t fight, and I play with them and stuff..
Cara (a very good friend I met in the Dominican Republic, who was also interning/ volunteering): She’s being modest. She’s kind of like Steve from The Jerry Springer Show… except for she’s breaking up fights between little kids.
I have spent countless hours fantasizing about travel. I was the girl, staring out the window of my classrooms, imagining how many countries I had yet to see and the adventure of digging my toes into each and every one. The girl who had the National Geographic subscription and the world map on my dorm room wall, and who was seriously considering getting “Wanderlust” tattooed on my skin before it became a Pinterest and Tumblr phenomenon. I had so frequently and so vividly imagined myself on foreign soil that it felt vastly strange when I landed on this Chilean dirt six weeks ago and moved from romanticized daydreams into real life. Read more
It is challenging to imagine a lifestyle that is not your own until you have lived it. I have been a functioning member of the Costa Rican society for the past two weeks, and I am proud to share that I may just have made the leap from a girl from the U.S. to a full-fledged Tica. The journey has had its challenges, but it has taught me to see our world in a different way. Here are some tips for those planning on going to Costa Rica, as well as some general advice on going abroad! Read more
I wanted to share some of the interesting facts that I learned about the Dominican Republic during my time there!
Used Tissue in the Trash?
In the Dominican Republic, the sewage systems are really old and don’t function as well as they do in the States. My first couple of days here I put tissue in the toilet without knowing that I shouldn’t do that. I was then told that because the pipes clog up easily, you have to throw the used tissue in the trashcan. Weird, right?!?!
Toyotas Are The New Lambos
Here, most of the cars and conchos are Toyotas. I’m not sure why most people have this specific brand of car, but apparently they are very well made and very reliable. Almost every form of transportation in the Dominican Republic is a Toyota! I have seen car brands other than Toyota, but they are not as common. I just assume that you’re a cool kid if you have one of these.
The Gas Tank in Cars Is Missing
You may notice that your host family will stop for gas for the car and you might begin to wonder where the gas tank is. Another weird thing about the DR is that the gas tank in most of the cars is in the trunk of the car and not on the side like in the States. This is because the DR has switched from regular gas to diesel gas (also used in the stoves here). I also noticed that there are people who pump the gas for you, and when they do everyone has to get out of the car. I guess this is for safety reasons.
Currency Rate Exchange
The money here is beautiful! Every bill has a different face of a person who has influenced Dominican culture or made history, and the colors range from pinks and oranges to blues and greens. Also, the rate exchange in the Dominican Republic is 40 RD to 1 USD! Everything here is very inexpensive, but don’t go spending like crazy because it all adds up really fast. Take it from me! In 3 1/2 weeks, I have learned to do the conversion rate in my head. If it costs too much and I wouldn’t pay for it in the U.S, I won’t pay for it here, thus my newest skill of bargaining. Overall, I have enjoyed shopping here at one of the most familiar and popular stores called La Sirena. I would compare it to a mini Walmart because it has everything from food to clothes to household items!
Whew, That Stinks!
While Santiago is beautiful, the city kind of stinks to put it plainly. Along the main streets of Santiago, the dumpsters are filled to the brim and trash spills over onto the sidewalks and streets. Nine times out of 10, I’m walking in the street to avoid flies, trash, bugs and dogs that are scavenging for food. Now, with that said, this country is beautiful! However the trash compilation is a problem. Even though it doesn’t do the people any good, it sure keeps the dogs alive and kicking!