How far did I travel this week?:
I traveled 64 miles to and from Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic.
How far have I traveled on this journey so far?:
I have traveled 12,308 miles in since September, 2012.
How did I get around this week?:
I took a guagua (gwah-gwah), or a large van that runs a bus service, to Jarabacoa. There were no seat belts in the guagua. Do you think public transportation should have seat belts? The guagua struggled up the steep hills to get to Jarabacoa. It took a much shorter time getting back down the hills when we were leaving.
What was the most interesting place I visited this week?:
My friend and I ventured on a 14.5 kilometer (9 mile) mountain bike ride to the Baiguate waterfall in Jarabacoa. Jarabacoa is a small town of nearly 57,000 people located to the south of Santiago. It has a lot of natural beauty because it is located in the Central Mountain Range and has three rivers that pass through.
My friend and I wanted to experience the Dominican outdoors during our vacation from work this, and we thought the wonderful mountain town of Jarabacoa would be perfect!
One of the activities we did in Jarabacoa was mountain biking. A guide led us along dirt roads in the countryside. We passed farmlands and small houses far from the city center. After what felt like forever, we finally arrived at the top of the access to the Baiguate waterfall. From there, we hiked along a narrow path, high above the river in order to reach a set of winding, stone stairs. We carefully walked down the stairs. Our legs still felt like jello from the difficult bike ride! At the bottom was the Baiguate waterfall and a pool of cool water that we could bathe in.
Other Travel News from this week:
While in Jarabacoa, we also visited a butterfly garden and ecological park. They were located at a ranch. While we were there, we learned about different animals and plants in the Dominican Republic. The next day, we walked 15 kilometers (or almost nine-and-a-half miles) to the Jimenoa Waterfall. The walk was long and difficult at times. The road wasn’t always paved and the hills were steep. But seeing the powerful Jimenoa Waterfall at the end was worth it!
Number of sunny days this week:
Number of cloudy days this week:
Number of rainy days this week:
Number of snowy days this week:
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What is the air temperature right now in Fahrenheit?
79 degrees (5pm on Sunday)
How was the weather this week?
The beginning of the week was beautiful and sunny. The day we went mountain bike riding was very hot, which made the trip more difficult. The end of the week, though, has been rainy and cool. Highs are only in the 70s and it has rained every day for the past three days. We walked over nine miles and three hours in the rain to get to the Jimenoa Waterfall!
What animals did I see this week?:
I saw a hundreds of fish kept in ponds at an ecological park on a ranch in Jarabacoa. Some of the coy fish were very large and bright orange. We tore up pieces of bread and threw them into the ponds for the fish to eat.
I also saw a horse and got a chance to ride it! I had to cross a small stream by walking across two logs. I was afraid of dropping my camera, so our guide called over a horse to lead me across.
What was the coolest thing I saw in nature this week?:
The Jimenoa Waterfall was impressive to see. Because it had just rained, there was a lot of water gushing through the waterfall. It came crashing over the rocks and was brown from the recent rain. In order to get to the waterfall, I had to cross a series of rope bridges. I was scared because the bridges were high up over the raging river. The wood planks were wet and slippery from the rain. My guide held my hand as I cross so I wouldn’t be so scared.
The waters from the Jimenoa River power a hydroelectric plant on sight. It’s no surprise give how powerful and strong the currents were!
What main languages are spoken here?:
People in Jarabacoa speak Spanish just like in the rest of the country. The guides that lead me on my excursions sometimes didn’t speak English. It was an excellent opportunity for me to practice my Spanish. I chatted with them about their lives, their jobs and their hopes for the future.
What type of money is used here?:
Dominican pesos (PAY-sohs) are the currency, just as in the rest of the country. $1 US is about $40 Dominican pesos. Things, such as a taxi ride, are a little cheaper in Jarabacoa than in Santiago because Jarabacoa is a smaller town.
How much does a bottle of water cost?:
A bottle of water can cost as little as $5 pesos, or 12 cents!
What was the best meal this week?:
After the bike ride to Baiguate Waterfall, I ate a large plate of rice, beans, chicken, and pineapple at the ranch. I had never been so hungry before! I ate everything on my plate very quickly. There’s nothing like a nine mile bike ride in tropical heat and sun to work up an appetite!
What music did I listen to this week?:
I listened to some Dominican bachata (ba-CHAH-tah) on the radio and at a restaurant in Jarabacoa. This style of music is slow and romantic, usually with very sad lyrics. I have learned a lot about Dominican music since I moved here in September. Before coming here, I didn’t know what bachata was, but now I can identify it on the radio.
What activity was the most fun this week?:
Mountain biking was the most fun this week. It was my first time in ten years on a bicycle. It was very difficult, especially when we had to go up steep hills in the hot sun. Still, I got to exercise, which always makes me feel physically and emotionally strong. I also got to know my guide, who is a very kind, interesting person.
What did I read this week?:
In addition to reading my book called The Law of Love by Mexican author Laura Esquivel (I’m almost done!), I also read my guidebook on the Dominican Republic a lot. I planned all the trips and activities we did for Holy Week, which took a lot of research!
What games or sports did I play this week?:
I went mountain bike riding and did a nine mile trek. It felt great to get some exercise and see the Dominican countryside!