Dominican Field Trip

12 Sep

I recently went on my first Dominican field trip sponsored by Naturaleza, a government program in charge of agriculture and farming initiatives. A couple of times a year, Naturaleza funds activities as a reward for its participants. Six months ago, when Manuel, the guy who runs the program, asked me to go on a trip with them, I said no. I didn’t participate in any of the projects and frankly, I couldn’t see the fun in spending the day with a group of 50+-year-old farmers. But when Manuel asked me this time around, I jumped at the opportunity. A mid-week beach day with my neighbors/family/friends seemed like a treat.

We woke up early to wait for the guagua (bus) that was supposed to pick us up at 6am sharp. Two hours later, we hopped on board and made the rounds to pick up people in surrounding communities. Around 10am we arrived at the Naturaleza office where we had butter and white bread sandwiches to tide us over before lunch at the beach. Around 11:30pm, we were close enough to smell the salt water, only 7km away, when all of a sudden smoke starting billowing out from underneath our guagua. Luckily, I had great company to help pass the time as it took nearly two hours to get the bus back up and running again.

Burning Guagua

Jenny & Maritsa

We finally arrived to the beach at 1:30pm where we spent the majority of the day in the shallow waters of the ocean. Filled our bellies to the brim with rice, beans and fried fish and capped off the afternoon standing in a group singing songs before boarding the bus to head back to Santiago Rodríguez.

Living in a mountain town with limited transportation and even more limited resources, this was many people’s first trip to the beach. This is not the case for me. I grew up going to the beach every summer and the bulk of my Thanksgiving breaks traveling to tropical islands with my family. In fact, I was at the same beach several months ago with volunteer friends staying at a nice hostel and checking out private islands by boat.

A few people in my town knew that I had been to that beach before so naturally asked what I did during my trip. I obviously can’t tell my community that I spent more than two days pay on a boat ride but I also hate lying to them. So.. where do you draw the line on disclosing information to your community? Is it best to follow in some Peace Corps volunteers’ footsteps and pretend that I only ever leave my site to go to a conference? Or is it possible to maintain my current relationships with people in my town knowing how different our financial resources actually are?

As for now, I have landed somewhere in the middle of this argument—lying by omission. Maybe my entire Peace Corps service will be filled with white lies and leading a double life but hopefully will be filled with more beach days with my community. Next time, I’ll remember to wear my camouflage one-piece 🙂

All my single ladies

 

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