Strap on your adventure shoes!

With breath-taking views, adventure shoes, and no time to lose we spent the past week exploring this incredibly diverse country. Four of us set out to Jarabacoa for a day of horse back riding. To get from Santiago to Jarabacoa we had to take a guagua from ILAC to Santiago, from Santiago to La Vega, from La Vega to Jarabacoa, and then a taxi from Jarabacoa to the ranch. I can’t even describe the immense feeling of accomplishment after navigating that many stops, having to ask strangers where to go, and ending up at our destination without a problem. The ranch we went to was located in a tropical jungle with colorful flowers and lush greenery covering every square inch of ground. The horses that we rode were pretty small, which was perfect for me because I could get onto it without a step stool! Riding through the country side felt like a dream. The picturesque scenery looked fake. I loved when my horse galloped, it was so freeing and majestic. Our guide let us ride the horses through a couple of rivers, although I had to forse my horse to get into the water! We rode to a hiking trail and then hiked through the jungle to a gorgeous waterfall. We swam in chilly pool gathering at the base of the waterfall. On our way back to our horses our guide let us rock climb up the side of the waterfall!

Carnaval is a country-wide celebration lasting for the entire month of February. Each city has a different theme with different costumes and traditions. Santiago’s Carnaval consists of a parade of people dressed up as colorful devils carrying very scary whips! Luckily, unlike in other cities, they don’t whip you they just crack the whip against the pavement. The entire city gathers in the streets to watch an endless parade of people dressed up in costumes dancing and putting on skits. Vendors sell delicious street food, including my new favorite snack, empanadas! Walking down the streets to a chorus of “Hola Americanos!”  and “Que bonita!” we attracted a ton of attention. Men line the street corners throwing confetti at all the women. After one confetti ambush, I turned to see my friend spitting confetti out of her mouth. I bent over laughing so hard and immediately a guy threw a handful of confetti into my mouth! Karma! The guy felt bad so he poured some confetti to throw at him! Carnaval is a gorgeous celebration everyone should experience!

In a mere 30 minutes we will be heading to the campos for our 10 day immersion. We are going to Los Tres Pasos to build an aqueduct for the community. This will be a challenging growing experience that will take me far outside my comfort zone. We will be living fairly simply because the community does not have running water or electricity. I am most excited for getting a first hand experience with living in poverty. I think it will be a life-changing and very  centering experience. I am sure I will have a ton to write about in my next blog post when I return. Until then adios everyone!

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