Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Year, New Adventures!

Hola Mis Queridos Amigos y Amigas de los Estados Unidos...

Feliz Año Nuevo - 2009!! Happy New Year, Everyone!

I know that I have been rather flojo about posting to my blog - my resolutions for 2009 include more frequent postings and more communication with friends and family back home. To start off, here's an update of all that's happened in the last few weeks...
Christmas and New Year's Vacation:
My Christmas and New Year's vacation was spent here in the DR, hangin' with fellow PCVs and seeing some of the most exciting sites the DR has to offer: Here're the details and some pictures...

December 23-25th - Santiago

Started my vacation off with a trip up to Santiago, the DR's second-largest city and one of the most progressive cities politically and culturally. My friend Espie's birthday is the 25th, so we spent Christmas Eve cooking delicious vegitarian fare topped off with a decadent chocolate ice cream cake for her birthday. Feliz Cumpleaños, Espie!
December 25 - 29th - Pico Duarte

My fellow PCVs Jenn and Kim joined me for a wet, muddy trek up the Caribbean's tallest mountain, Pico Duarte (Duarte Peak). The view from 10,127 feet above sea level is amazing, although my boots definitely paid the price...

Tod and Juan Pablo Duarte, chillin' at 10,127 feet

Jenn, Kim, and Tod with West DR and Haiti in the background

Tod catching some sun after a muddy descent

Our boots and shoes, post-Pico (can you guess which pair is Tod's?)

December 30th - Marathon in La Vega

I attempted (but did not finish) the only full 26.2-mile marathon offered in the DR. An out-and-back course between La Vega and Moca (two smaller cities in the DR's central valley), the 4:00pm start time didn't allow me to make it to the cut-off point in time, so I was pulled from the course after running about 14 miles. Guess you need to be at least a sub-4 hour marathoner to run a race in the DR... Bummer! Still, I was proud that I was able to get past the half-way mark more or less on my pace, considering the total lack of training, diet, and having just summited Pico the previous day.

December 31 - January 2nd - Juan Dolio Beach

Fourteen other PCVs and I meet up in Juan Dolio, a funky beach community just east of Santo Domingo on the DR's South Coast. We stay at a funky hotel with kitchenettes, allowing us to prepare more delicious homemade vegitarian fare, drink cheap wine, dance to bachata, salsa merengue music until midnight, and top it all off with a bottle of champagne and a midnight dip in the Caribbean Sea. A few of us brave souls get up early on the first day of the new year to see the first sunrise. Then a warm, sunny day of sun-bathing, swimming, and frisbee.

January 3 - 6th - Santiago and
Los Marmolejos

Final few days of vacation are spent back up North, first in Santiago at the HUB - a home-away-from-home for PCVs living up North. Fellow PCVs from all over joined up for a night of sushi, popcorn, and competetive board games. Next day it's off to Los Marmolejos, the small campo community of my fellow health PCV colleague, Maryam. We spend the next two days visiting her neighbors, going to the río to cool off, practicing guitar (which we both need to work on), and making easy-to-make Trader Joe's Indian food (thank God for care packages sent from the USA!)
For now, I'm in the Capital (Santo Domingo), catching up on e-mail, blog-postings, and pictures. I'm back to my campo tomorrow, and back to the work-a-day world of the Peace Corps Volunteer.

Best wishes to all for 2009! Take care, keep in touch... y como siempre: un abrazo muy fuerte desde la República Dominicana.