Jardín Botánico Nacional de Santo Domingo (National Botanic Garden of Santo Domingo) was our first stop today. Here, we hopped on a “train” and got a guided tour across the garden. We learned all about the history of Botany in the Country, the various types of plants that grow, and other various neighboring countries and regions. In the middle of the tour, we got a guided tour of their Japanese Garden. The Japanese Garden was probably the best part of the visit for all of us on trip. It was amazing to see how plants and their arrangement could evoke a sense of peace and harmony in people.
On the road to the mercado we passed by a few Dominican impoverished areas which made us really think about the blessings we have and how other Dominicans live. We had a discussion on how they can dispose of their trash and how their lifestyles differ from our own.
Our second stop was to the Mercado in Santo Domingo. Here, we got to purchase souvenirs and practice our Spanish as we had to “regatear” for some good prices. The hardest part was fighting the relentless merchants in their quest for business. However, many of us left with some great souvenirs for our family, friends, and of course a little something for ourselves!
Our third stop was to Juan Dolio Beach. We ate lunch at a restaurant located on the Sea Shore and headed to the Beach. The water was very warm, crystal clear and shallow. It was amazing. We did activities from Jarel just sitting on the side and relaxing, to Sydney and Alanis riding horses on the shoreline, and Sam, Isaak, and Ashi rummaging through the water to find sea creatures; including our favorite, the Jelly!
Amidst the fun, one of the students stepped on a Sea Urchin. We worked hard to try to get the spikes out but, they just wouldn’t budge. We decided to take him to one of the Medical Clinics and the spikes were removed. He’s fine now and even wanted to go swimming later that night, so he was definitely up and on his feet for the next adventure.
Our final stop for the day was to the Quisqueya Stadium to watch the LIDOM (Dominican Professional Baseball League) Semifinals. The Toros del Este took on the Leones del Escogido. In the end, the Toros crushed the Leones, 6-0. The Stadium was very empty, which enhanced our experience further. We were able to talk first hand with the players, got autographs, and authentically used Game Balls. The memories from this game will stick with us for years to come.
It was a very busy day, and even though we didn’t do a lot of touring we were able to see and experience a lot of the culture in the Dominican, and no only that, but we were able to bond more as a group and really enjoy our trip together. Tomorrow will be even busier, as we have to pack up and check out of the hotel by 7:15, and travel across the country to Santiago de Los Caballeros. #Illinoisabroad #Acesabroad #Dr2016
-Abrielle Joseph (Freshman)