These last two months have been crazy, exhausting, and so fulfilling. It was time to visit my babies in their new sites and see how they were doing. 19 in total and then 2 more visits to 1-yearers. I started out in the campos of Elias Piña which is a province in the middle west of the country. Where luz, transportation, and cell-signal are scarce but the views are like this:
Despite the lack of amenities these girls are kickin it, loving the kids, finding their purpose, and delving into dulces, chocolate milk, and laughter.
Next was the south where the road is literally lined with the beach on the right and the mountains to the left but believe it or not, it is the poorest area in the country. Depending on your definition of poor. The views were breathtaking and inbetween singing at the top of our lungs, buying a bottle full of a stone called Larimar (this precious blue rock can ONLY be found in this country-nowhere else in the world has it-the story behind it and the reason for its name is beautiful, look it up!), Keila and I stopped every few kilometers to take pictures like this:
Where a girl has found her passion outside of the pressures from the top and is genuinely happy.
Then I headed to Samaná, northeast, where beaches are a plenty and the lushness of the land look like this:
And the girls are battling comparisons, stereotypes, and certain realities but still finding the time to open a library daily, spend time loving on the chubbiest little one year old alive, and making waves at the district level where the possibilities of change are widened.
Vacation time was spent not far from there where we caught a bola (free ride!) and celebrated the 4th of July together like a bunch of crazy Americans like this:
Next up? Home. To Dajabón I went up in the northwest where I spent all my time visiting and just spending time with those I love. Lots of porch lying, coffee drinking, hugs, about 20 runs fetching water and singing at the tops of our lungs down the dirt road, and reminiscing. I didn't even take the time away to take pictures believe it or not. And where those babies are already holding literacy and art classes, allowing their imaginations to run wild against all odds, playing sports, and volunteering to help working women just because.
And finally, I took a day to visit a nearby volunteer from the capital (where he fights a tough comparison but holds beautiful and fun English classes for all ages) and then up the middle north to Puerto Plata. I stayed with 3 different volunteers and saw my final 6 in their crazy reality of tourism, big pueblos, NGO partnerships, and prostitution. Their overwhelmingly big communities and struggles with the language are so real but their hearts are even bigger. They might not be able to see it quite yet but I already know who will win that battle.
It was on my bucket list to travel more throughout the country. But I'm not a huge beach person; going to the touristy areas is not what I mean by traveling (though yes, there are a few famous places I'd still like to see-like the magnetic mountain that literally pulls your car upwards when it's off and in neutral, or climb the tallest mountain in the Carribean). I had wanted to travel the campos: meet more people within this beautiful country where no luz means more meaningful moments, where long bus rides mean hearing incredible life stories, and where the many differences but oh so many similarities mean enchanting realities for all. And I did it. To 3 corners and around the middle I went and headed back again. 25 communities total in just 33 days. And the love, passion, and drive I saw from my newbies backdropped against the selflessness, generosity, and love returned I saw from their new neighbors and friends was....