Sunday and Monday were our designated “free days” since the Dove Mission Center is closed on these days. On Sunday, we took the cable car up Isabel de Torres, which was 793 meters high, and it allowed us to see a colorful view of the beach and mountains of Puerto Plata. At the top of the mountain is a replica of the Christ the Reedemer statue in Brazil and symbolizes the protection of God over the city. In addition to the statue, there were beautiful botanical-garden trails that led to a cave and lagoon. Thankfully, we had clear skies and views going up the mountain; but, on our way back down, the fog was so dense that we could not even see out of the cable car! We ended our fun day by relaxing on Costambar Beach.
On Monday, we could not contain our excitement as we headed to the Manatee Preserve to paddle board in the protected waterways where 52 manatees lived. The sights were almost unreal with the water surrounded by mountains and land at every angle. We paddle boarded over four miles; and, unfortunately, we saw no manatees. This preserve is very new and not open to the public yet, so the manatees are still getting used to the paddle boards entering their homes. This was one of the reasons they were shy and did not come out to interact. We finished the boarding with a dip into a natural, clear pool that was surrounded by a small island with trees full of pretty white Dominican birds. We finished this exciting excursion with lunch on a breath-taking, gorgeous beach and then a two-hour drive back to Loase!
In the midst of all the beauty that surrounds Puerto Plata, it is hard to believe that so much poverty exists. While many tourists are relaxing on the beach, so many Dominicans and Haitians are living in conditions that are unbelievable to Americans. Living in huts with minimal food and clean water and fearing for the safety of your family are things that are hard for us to imagine. Every day here is a constant reminder of how blessed we are and makes us want to find ways to help improve the lives of those less fortunate.
Alex and Christie
Senior Nursing Students