Our Weekend in Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

IMG_7205Last weekend, Derek and I visited the beautiful capital city of  Santo Domingo. We both wanted a change of scenery, and since we only have 3 weekends left in this beautiful country, we thought that the capital is a must place to visit.IMG_7224IMG_7202IMG_7143Santo Domingo was founded in 1496, and is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean. We stayed right in the Colonial zone, and some of the buildings around us dated back to the 1500s (including this beautiful cathedral) Let’s just say that my architecture loving heart was in heaven. IMG_7147IMG_7140

IMG_7142IMG_7146Not only was the architecture beautiful, the streets were filled with street art, twinkling lights, and the cutest little cafes and shops. Since we stayed about a block away, we spent most of our time walking around these shops, eating at the nearby restaurants, and admiring the beautiful buildings. We also enjoyed sleeping in, being lazy, and enjoying AC and hot water at our air bnb. IMG_7203IMG_7221IMG_7206IMG_7204IMG_7200

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IMG_7198If you ever find yourself in this charming city, I highly recommend this AirBNB (they even deliver breakfast to your room each morning).

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IMG_7144We also walked through a chocolate museum, tried delicious samples, and learned all about the history of chocolate. At this point in our day, the rain started coming down pretty heavy, but we didn’t mind. We haven’t had a good rain storm for about 5 weeks, so it felt so good to have cooler temperatures.IMG_7136

IMG_7193IMG_7192IMG_7191We also visited the Jardin Botanical gardens. By the time we arrived at the gardens, we were the only ones there since the rain was just clearing up. It was so peaceful to walk around the gardens that smelled just like fresh rain, and to be there almost completely alone.IMG_7222

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IMG_7225Our time in Santo Domingo was short, but it was exactly what we needed. From the cities to the beaches, we’ve had so much fun exploring the different places on this beautiful island. We only have one more vacation planned before we head back home (where has the time gone?!) And as bittersweet it will be to leave, I am counting down the days to seeing Harvey and having AC and hot water 24/7. 😉IMG_7139IMG_7138Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

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4th Festivities & some favorite days

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If I am being  honest, the last couple weeks took a toll on me physically and mentally. With one of our volunteers having to stay over night in the hospital, 5 of our volunteers leaving to go back home, an outbreak of lice in our house, having to evacuate for the night due to the smoke of a wildfire, and figuring out new teaching schedules for summer schedule- it’s been quite the eventful last couple of weeks.66383631_2227327983986945_8898026842548600832_nAnd boy, did my body feel it. I’ve been exhausted, mentally drained, and even got very sick this week with the most random symptoms including a fever, joint pain, head ache, nausea, and weakness. It’s frustrating being sick in a foreign country with no AC or hot water. All I want at the moment is my bath tub and Harvey snuggles, but I am pushing through, because we are already down to less than 5 weeks left here and I am trying to soak up and enjoy every moment.IMG_6984 (2)I always post about our vacations, but I’ve had so many favorite moments and days while we’ve been “home” and I want to remember them just as much as I do our vacations. I am finally feeling a little better today, which is why I decided to write this post to document and remind myself of the “good old days” when I felt a little more like myself. 😉

To start off, we decided to throw a party to celebrate the 4th of July last week because you can take the girl out of America, but you can’t take America out of the girl. As you all know, I am a lover of holidays, get togethers, and every reason to celebrate something so I HAD to do something for the 4th. My friend Emilee and I decided to throw a “party” out on our pavilion in the backyard of our house.IMG_7010IMG_7015

 

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IMG_7011We had American food such as hot dogs and BBQ chicken, french fries, watermelon, and rice krispie treats. We decorated with red white and blue of course, played musical chairs, had a pretend firework show (on the projector) and danced the night away. It was so fun to all have a night together to celebrate the country that we all miss so dearly, and remind us how lucky we are to have such a wonderful home.IMG_7008IMG_7007IMG_7006

IMG_7009A few other favorite days worth documenting:

Hiking to Pico Isabel de Torres. May 26, 2019IMG_6979IMG_6980This hike is a 10 minute drive from our home and has the longest cable car in the Caribbean. We spent all day on top of the mountain- enjoying the cooler temperatures, beautiful views of our home, and eating yummy food at the restaurant.IMG_6973IMG_6976IMG_6978IMG_6977IMG_6974Celebrating our 4th year of Marriage June 5, 2019DCIM100GOPRO

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img_6987-1.jpgDerek and I spent the day at our favorite beach, and ate delicious tacos and pina colodas for lunch. We also went to dinner at a resort restaurant and had the best food we’ve had since being here. We’ve spent our anniversary in a different place every year, but I don’t know if anywhere can top this year.

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Many service project days throughout the monthIMG_6995IMG_6992IMG_6994IMG_6983From painting houses, to delivering food and hygiene kits to less fortunate families. These days are so humbling, and make me so thankful for what I have back home, and in general. It makes me emotional to know that people live this way, and makes all of the small problems that I’ve struggled with here, seem even smaller.IMG_6993A night spent at City center- June 26, 2019

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City center is my favorite place in this city of ours. (after the ocean of course) It has the best food and coffee, so many fun souvenir shops, and architecture that is straight out of my Caribbean dream world. This particular night, a small group of us went to a little food truck place, and had the some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. We walked around city center after and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. Nothing too special happened that night, but it was one of my favorites since being here.

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Hiking Damajagua Cascades- June 29, 2019IMG_7025IMG_7038IMG_7035This hike is only a short 30 minute drive from our house, and one of my favorite experiences since being here. From cliff jumping, to natural water slides, and swimming through canyons, this place was absolutely breath taking and we had such a fun time with other members in our group. (Sorry for the go pro quality photos 😉 )

Covering for sick teachers, and enjoying the students.

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I haven’t been the only sick volunteer around here, many other teachers have had similar symptoms and haven’t been able to teach, which means Derek and I get to substitute. Even though it’s only been a couple times, teaching again has made me so happy. Helping these kids, who have close to nothing, get an English education is so rewarding. Plus, since a lot of them come from broken families, they don’t get a lot of affection at home, so they are always wanting to give hugs and snuggles. I love loving on my Dominican babies, I am going to be so sad to leave them in just one month.

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Even though this experience has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, there have been so many days that have made me so happy to be here. I’ve had more realizations, self growth, and humbling experiences here than I have had in a very long time. Here’s to a healthier 5 weeks, and soaking in every single minute of them!IMG_6981

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

Those type of days that “can’t be real” -Barahona & Pedernales

IMG_6799Like I mentioned before, we had a 10 day vacation away from teaching and service work earlier this month. Our wonderful weekend in Jarabacoa was the fist half of that vacation (see our time spent there in my previous post). For the second half of our vacation, Derek and I met up with a few girls from group and visited the beautiful beach towns of Pedernales and Barahona.IMG_6788Pedernales is on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. The population of Pedernales is the lowest populated city in the DR and sadly, I think the beaches are that beautiful because there aren’t a lot of people there to ruin them.IMG_6798IMG_6800XQYP1467IMG_6792I’ve never seen more clear water, or white sand in my life, and the best part is that we were the only ones there.IMG_6025IMG_6052IMG_6050IMG_6053IMG_6051We spent our 3 days there walking the “ghost town” streets, trying to find restaurants that were open, and enjoying the beautiful beaches. At one point we talked about how “this place looks like a movie set, or it feels like we are living in a dream world.” And I thought to myself multiple times “this can’t be real.”IMG_6794IMG_6790IMG_6789IMG_6795IMG_600334

IMG_6797After 3 nights in Pedernales, we headed to Barahona.  This place is right below Samana on my favorite vacation places this summer. It had beautiful green mountains, bright blue water, and the biggest waves I have ever seen. We ditched the Air BNB idea here, and instead camped 2 nights on the beach. We had a bon fire, enjoyed the sunrises and sunsets, and we even got lucky enough to have a full moon!IMG_6774IMG_6784IMG_6770IMG_6771Our time there included a beautiful hike, swimming in the river, getting swept under by the giant waves, and enjoying the camping life of tents and no shower. Derek and I have slept in some crazy places, and we both agree that this is one of our favorites.IMG_6786IMG_6787IMG_6778IMG_6776IMG_6777IMG_6779Our “vacation week” felt very long since we visited 3 different places, but it was filled with once in a life time experiences, some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen, and memories that I’ll hold on to forever. These photos make me realize just how lucky I am to live on this beautiful island.IMG_6773IMG_677212IMG_6782We have couple more vacations planned before we head home in 6 weeks, and I am looking forward to more days, more places, and moments that feel like they “can’t be real”.

Onto the next adventure,
Wren

Anniversary Getaway in Jarabacoa

IMG_6570The first weekend of this month, our group had our one “long vacation” for the time we are spending here. Which means we had 10 days to leave town and “vacation” again from our service and teaching work.

Derek and I spent the first half of our vacation in a cute little mountain town called Jarabacoa, that is about 3 hours from where we live. We went alone, to celebrate our four year wedding anniversary that was on June 5th, and we had such an adventurous and fun weekend!IMG_6573We kicked off our anniversary get away by going paragliding! Despite these awesome photos, this experience wasn’t my favorite. I actually got pretty sick from nerves and motion sickness, and it was a lot longer than I expected, but I am so glad that we did it. I’ve always wanted to, and it was so cool to see this beautiful country from above. Plus, it will always be such a fun story for Derek and I to tell!IMG_6417IMG_6581IMG_6418The next day we went canyoneering. Another adventure that neither Derek or I have ever done, but one of our favorites. We went repelling down waterfalls, hiked through the river, went down natural water slides, and even went on a small zipline! I am adding repelling and canyoneering to the list of my new favorite things, and planning on trying both when we get back home.IMG_5932IMG_6578IMG_6577IMG_5953

Even though both paragliding and canyoneering were adventurous and exhilarating, my favorite part of the weekend was where we stayed. I’ve never been a picky person when it comes to where I lay my head at night, since I am more of a “go go go” traveler, but I never cared to leave our hostel that we stayed at in Jarabacoa.

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For the first time since we’ve been here, we had air conditioning, hot water to shower, good WiFi, a big flat screen TV, and way too many throw pillows on our bed. I know these things don’t seem out of the ordinary to you, but when you go 5 weeks with out any of the above and then get them handed to you all at once, it puts a spike in your mental health. 😉

 

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IMG_5834The architecture and design of the hostel was also my favorite “style” so I felt like I was staying in my dream home the whole weekend, equipped with free coffee every morning, and 3-4 dogs that greeted us every time we “came home”.IMG_5833IMG_5830

 

IMG_6567We enjoyed this place so much that on one of the days we were there, we didn’t leave the hostel. We watched way too many movies, had food delivered to us for lunch and dinner, and watched the afternoon thunderstorm through our large windows.

If you ever find yourself in this area, or just like to browse through pretty photos of architecture and design (like me) here is the link for the hostel:

https://www.booking.com/hotel/do/jarabacoa-mountain-hostel.en-gb.html

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Our weekend together in Jarabacoa was exactly what Derek and I needed to kick off our fifth year of marriage, and to have a break of the crazy month (who am I kidding- crazy 3 months) we had prior.

IMG_6572IMG_6502I love this temporary home of ours, and the adventures it’s bringing for us, I love this life I have decided to live, I love the consciousness I have to not take things for granted- like hot water and A/C, and I love the person who I get to experience it all with.

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Onto the next adventure,

Wren

 

 

 

First month in the DR- Video

Last week, we hit our one month mark here in the Dominican Republic. I know they say that time flies when you’re having fun, but now that we’re over the discomfort and excitement of change, it feels as if we’ve been here for years. (but in a good way!)

“I hope there are days when you fall in love with being alive” is one of my favorite quotes, and this month has been filled with them. I have felt things in the last 30 days that I haven’t felt in a really long time, and I know that I’ll look back on this month as being one of the most rewarding, most adventurous, and most exciting times of my life. I’ve constantly been reminded how beautiful life is, how beautiful this world is, how small the little inconveniences back home actually matter, and how much the bigger ones do.

In good ol’ Wren fashion, I made this little video to remind myself of this incredible chapter I am living in.

Bring on the next 2 months, DR life, I am ready for you!

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

Our Hike to Cascada El LImon

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When I found out we were assigned to the Dominican Republic, I did what any cliche traveler does, and searched for the best things to do/see on this island. As I scrolled through google and Pinterest, a specific waterfall kept catching my eye.

 

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As soon as we got our dates for our vacation, I searched where that specific waterfall was to see if it would be possible to visit. It was located in the beautiful town of Samana, so that is where Derek and I decided to “vacation” to. You can see our whole weekend spent there in my previous post.40The waterfall didn’t disappoint. The hike to the waterfall was the perfect amount of distance (1.5 miles each way). It was a bit rocky, but the hike was beautiful. At one point, we came out on top of a mountain and saw forests of palm trees. It was one of the most interesting and beautiful views I’ve ever seen.4233

As we approached the waterfall, other tourists were heading back down the trail, leaving us and our group almost completely alone to swim. The water was refreshing after our hike, and we had fun swimming under the waterfall, cliff jumping, and relaxing.41

I’ve done a lot of hiking in my life, and this one is definitely towards the top of my list. It was the perfect start to our weekend vacation, and the perfect reminder of how beautiful this world, this island, and this life of mine is.

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If you ever find yourself in the Dominican Republic, add the Cascada El Limon waterfall hike to your list.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Sweet, Sweet, Samana

2This past weekend, we had 4 day vacation. I know what you’re thinking. A four day vacation from your summer long vacation? But yes. A vacation on our program means our teachers get a break from teaching or doing service work. Which means Derek and I get a break from “working” as well.

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For our vacation, we decided to go to the beautiful beach town of Samana. Derek and I knew that we wanted to hike a certain waterfall and zipline while we are here in the Domincan Republic, so Samana was a place that was towards the top of our to see list.

3024We planned our vacation, and 9 other volunteers from our group decided to join us.  We stayed in an Airbnb that was right on the ocean. Even though we saw a total of 6 spiders the size of Derek’s hand, falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves made up for it.

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571If you are ever interested in ever seeing the beautiful town Samana, Domincan Republic I recommend staying in this beautiful jungle home. The hosts are so friendly, the home is beautiful, and they even have horses and a dog. (just be aware of spiders. 😉 )

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/15529655?search_id=276616a1-3fc2-036c-eb9e-2d10aac0f77f&federated_search_id=0e9d392f-3022-4315-91d3-26d0d9567e8129Our first day on our vaction, we hiked the beautiful Casda el Limon waterfall. I am going to post about this hike in a seperate post because the photos I took that day are some of my favorites I’ve ever taken. (and there is a lot).31Our second day we went zip lining through the jungle. The zip line had 12 cable lines, and it was 350 ft up. Most of us have been zip lining before, but we’ve never been able to ride together, or go on one as long as this. We all had so much fun!15

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After zip lining, we headed to Playa Rincon, which is one of the most beautiful hidden beaches on the whole island of the Dominican Republic. We were the only ones on the beach, and the water was the most beautiful, tourquise, clear water any of us have ever seen. It did not disappoint!

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The third day, we took a ferry to the beautiful island of Cayo Leventado. This island is known as “Bacardi Island” because this island is where they film the Bacardi commercials. On our program, we are not allowed to drink any alcohol, so I wasn’t able to drink any Bacardi on Bacardi island, but this virgin Pina Coloda almost made up for it.  🙂23

8172225Today (Sunday) we are heading back to our “home” here in the Dominican republic to do another week of service, before heading out on “vacation” again next weekend.26281218This weekend was amazing, and I am adding Samana to one of my top favorite places I’ve ever visited (spiders, bug bites, and all).

Onto the next adventure, Wren