Constanza

18 02 2011

I had promised this post earlier in the week, and I swore that I had time, but somehow it is already Thursday…

This past weekend we went with the program to Constanza, which is a mountainous town in the region of La Vega characterized by gorgeous vistas and the coldest weather on the island. Excursions with the program are always well planned and enjoyable because it’s like being on a tour for three days. Everything is included: a nice room in a hotel, three huge and wonderful meals per day, and well-scheduled activities. The ride to Constanza was windy and steep, some of the girls took Dramamine to make it through, I am lucky that I don’t get any sort of motion sickness. The vistas along the route were just incredible; I couldn’t help but get out my camera and start snapping even through the windows of the bus. When we arrived at the hotel I got very excited. The hotel was called “Altocerro” and it was a collection of small villas that each housed five people. We were divided into groups and sent to check out our homes for the weekend: two floors the top floor with full kitchen, dining area, sitting room, TV, and patio and the lower level with two rooms with a bed for each person and a bathroom. The next activity was lunch. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful the food was for the entire weekend- I probably ate enough to last me the month. After lunch we had the option of going on a hike or visiting a flower garden, I bet you can guess what I opted for.

The “jardin” was more like a flower factory, it’s one of the largest producers of fresh cut flowers in the Caribbean. There were rows and rows of tarp-type structures that housed many different types of flowers (and even one with tomatoes). We toured through the cold rooms where the seeds are housed before planting and the freshly cut flowers are kept before shipping them out. Because we were there on the Friday just before Valentine’s Day the majority of the stock room was empty but we did get to see them dye some white carnations red! We had some time after the garden so we visited some ruins of a hotel that was built during Trujillo’s regime. We toured through the old building complete with spacious suites, patios, and a beautiful view of the mountains. Trujillo (the dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930-1961) built the hotel to have as a get away from the city and enjoy the tranquility and fresh air that the mountains provide. After his assassination, instead of rehabilitating the hotel it was left in an effort to try and forget Trujillo and the mark he left on the country.

Then, it was time to eat again. [Side note: I am currently writing this as Marco is climbing onto my lap in order to color with my highlighters the Dominican flag]. After dinner we had the night free. Three estudiantes de apoyo (the support students from the university) accompanied us on the trip and one had a friend from the university who also had a house in Constanza and often spent the weekends there. A quick phone call and we were off to explore the small town and enjoy the night life. It was SO different from the night life in the city. We all pulled up chairs around a garage like structure, where people were scattered in plastic chairs and some dancing. The only type of music that were played were reggaeton, bachata, merengue, and a bit of salsa- nothing American.

The next morning after a huge breakfast complete with the queso frito, mangu, papas, jamon, pan con mermelada, chocolate and café (all of the Dominican breakfast favorites), we boarded a safari type bus to make an hour and a half trip to Aguas Blancas- a waterfall that is a must see in Constanza. The ride was on a dirt road up a mountain, and yes, there was more Dramamine taken. The waterfall was beautiful and a few of us were even brave (or crazy) enough to go swimming in the water under the fall!! It was absolutely freezing but so much fun! My thought process went something like this: I just spent an hour and a half on a dirt road in an open bus jumping up and down in my seat to only take pictures?!…I have to get in the water. Basically the five of us put on our suits, made our way down the rocks, jumped in, took a picture screaming at how cold the water was (probably about 40 degrees F), and jumped out. Needless to say, it made for some nice Facebook albums.

After, we ate (again) we had the rest of the afternoon to spend exploring the grounds of the hotel, napping, and doing homework before dinner (yes, more eating). I had brought my computer with me so we did “Insanity” (the workout schedule I have been following that consists of videos) on one of our patios with the beautiful mountainous vista as our backdrop. Pretty cool, I must say. After our workout session we caught a ride on some motos and headed into town to take a tour. I have to say, it was a lot of fun riding on the back of a moto and I felt safe because there is barely any traffic throughout the town. After about an hour tour we headed back to the hotel and had a cookout complete with bonfire and traditional dancing under the stars. The next morning we had free until lunch, so with the help of some more motos, we explored the town a little further. We visited a strawberry farm (many many populate the hills) and some other high points where you could see expansive views of the farms and communities. It was a wonderful morning conversing with the locals and enjoying the fresh mountain air. There were times when I forgot I was in the Caribbean because it was such a different experience from the beach or the city! The locals were genuine and humble. The explained to us that they were incredibly content with their lifestyle- one explained that he felt that he lived better than the President. They live off of the land and eat well, make good money in the agriculture industry, and have access to modern conveniences like internet and cell phones without the hussle and bussle of the city- an interesting perspective. After our tour through town we ate a sizeable lunch and then boarded the guagua (bus) to head back to Santiago.

 

Altocerro- the hotel

 

One of the many beautiful vistas!

 

On route to the waterfall

 

Whoohoo!

 

We made it to Aguas Blancas

The water was about 40 degrees...

 

The moto 🙂

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4 responses

18 02 2011
Jack Biondo

How many college university credits do you get for this? Med School-Culinary School? Med School-Culinary School? Med ….

23 02 2011
Jeannie

I love it! Looks beautiful, SO JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to come visit and stay with your host family!!! Got room for 1 more!? 🙂 Miss you lots!

23 02 2011
Jeannie

Nick looked at your photos and loved them. He also wanted me to ask you if he could send you money to buy baseballs to give out. He wanted to ship them but it would be RIDICULOUSLY expensive to ship them. So, he thought he would send money. Are you even able to buy them there? How many would you want/need? Just let us know and we will send you the dinero (that’s the most I can do for Espanol!) Talk to you soon! MUAH! xo

26 02 2011
MIMI

Wow! All I can say is- – -I wish I were there with you! What fun you are having on your weekends. Your pictures are wonderful and you and your friends look great!Miss you lots and love you lots!
oooxxx

MIMI

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