So, as I mentioned in "days 3 & 4", we decided to forgo the beach Sunday morning to make sure we did what we really came to DR to do. I'm glad we did that. On Sunday we were able to get in touch with someone who has an apartment that he rents out... and, if all goes well, we would love for it to be our future home. We're still in the process of that... so I know more information will come soon.
Since we were able to do that on Sunday, now it was time for some fun! First stop: Playa Rincon. Definitely the most beautiful beach I've ever been to... and rated one of the best beaches in Dominican Republic.
Oh, oh, oh..... Lovely!!!
The pictures do not do it justice.
We had a private driver for 600 pesos (about $13.50 per person) to drive us to and from the beach (about a 35 minute drive). He also hung around while we were at the beach and was ready to take us anywhere else we were interested in going. We got to the beach around 10:00AM and stayed until 4pm. We went with Javier Velez, who was visiting DR for a month and going to help out in the ASL congregation there. And with Ingrid France, this was her first 'without the kids' vacation (She LOVED it!!)
At lunch time, we ate right on the beach. Somehow, it just tastes better when you're on the beach! Jon had a 'Coco Loco' (Crazy Coconut). They chopped the top part of a coconut off, add some crema de coco and rum. Top it off with a straw, and ENJOY!
After lunch, we drove to the other side of Playa Rincon. Stayed for another hour or so.
After getting back, we visited with some of the friends to say 'good bye', since the next day we were going to Santiago to meet up with some other friends of ours. We miss everyone from the Samana Congregation... but can't wait to be there once again!
We got up pretty early to catch a 'guagua' (bus) from Samana to Santiago.
Let me tell you.... I was about to have a heart attack thinking about that guagua ride. From what some of the friends told me, the bus company packs out these smaller buses (which in actuality are more like bigger van than busses). I was not going to be happy with complete strangers being a little too close for comfort. However, when we got to the bus stop, it was gonna be all right :) FYI - If you need to take a guagua, make sure to ask that the its a bigger bus - "La guagua mas grande" - then you will be sure to have a more comfortable ride. They don't pack out these busses. Whew!!!!
I can't believe I didn't take pictures of the bus, or of the ride... It was a pretty long drive to Santiago; just a little over 4 hours. The reason it's such a long drive is because there are not actual highways to get from Samana to Santiago. So we're going through small towns and different "pueblos" and some farms too. So I caught up on some sleep :)
When we got to Santiago we met up with our dear friends Dianna & Ruben Alvarez - a couple from Nashville that have moved to DR as need-greaters. They've been there for almost 7 months (even though they are back in the states right now, working and getting ready for their trip to Estonia for the Special Convention later this summer!!! They do plan on returning to DR before October. (You can follow their adventure here!).
So after our journey to Santiago, we met with Dianna & Ruben!! It was so nice seeing them. We had a yummy lunch - and went back to their apartment for a little bit before heading out to Villa Gonzalez Assembly Hall for the Family Watchtower Study.
What an amazing experience!! I will never forget it. We met so many new friends and other need greaters who gave us so much information. I am so glad we were able to go.
Here's something that was a special treat.... Our friends, Dianna & Ruben, had been assigned to work at the Assembly Hall for the last few months, so they were able to attend morning worship and family study. During this time, they have really been able to form close bonds and great friendships with these brothers and sisters. So, after family study, some of the friends had written a special poem for them, as well as a few others from the crew, because their assignment was ending. It was so nice to see how much they mean to each other, and how close they really all are.
So Saturday morning came... and we were ready to go out in service.
The group is much earlier than it is here where we live (Nashville). The group meets at 8:50am. They usually are out in service until 11 or 11:30am. The sun gets way too hot to stay out any more then that. So they take their lunch break from that time until about 3pm. Then at 3pm, some of the friends (especially during the week) will go back out in service until about 6 or 7pm... and sometimes later.
Made our way to the Kingdom Hall... Enjoyed the group with the CO and enjoyed service with the friends. The territory we were at was close by, so we walked out the hall, and started working. Below you'll find some pictures (and I hope to get some videos uploaded) of the territory we were at. We had a really great morning. The people are friendly and most of them are eager to speak with you about the Bible.
Around 11:15 we made our way back to the Garrett's house for some cool air and lunch. Their daughter, Lala, made us some very delicious mangu. This is a typical dish of the Dominican Republic made of smashed, cooked green plantains, butter, garlic... and is usually eaten with fried salami, "pollo Colorado" (red chicken) and onion. Yup.... So GOOD!!!
The Samana Congregation has their Public Talk & Watchtower study on Saturday evening. So after lunch we made our way back to our apartment to rest and get ready for the meeting. Posted below is a short video of the ride in the 'moto-concho' back to our apartment. (FYI: Want info about our meetings? Check THIS out!!)
We met so many friends at the Hall. They were all so friendly. The congregation is very loving! We can't wait to get back to the friends we made there.
After the meeting, a small group of the friends went to the Malecon to get some pizza. It was nice to be able to have this time with them.
On Sunday morning, we were thinking of checking out one of the beaches, but decided to stay in town and keep searching for apartments and just getting as much info as we can. Even though I was itching for the beach so bad... I'm glad we stayed in town. We were able to speak with some of our neighbors, some other friends and we got in touch with someone who owns another apartment; which happens to be a brother as well. I feel like we got a lot done that day. Lots of good things came out of that busy morning :)
Then in the evening, we were invited to a 'pasa rato' with the congregation (a gathering). Jay Anderson and his wife, Deb (mentioned before) were moving to another congregation.. and the friends in Samana threw them a 'Good-bye Party'. Dominoes, food, a slide show, friends and some Sophia & Caleb videos... What more could you want?
Here's a funny story about our experience during the gathering... Not many people own cars in Samana. Usually a motorcycle/dirt bike or something similar. So, how do you get a congregation to the party? You rent an open air bus and get everyone on!! It was so much fun!!! I wish I had taken more pictures of the ride. It was great! The 'scary' part was coming back home... at 11 o'clock at night... with no street lights.... down a bunch of hills!! But it was exciting and fun, nonetheless.
We had a wonderful evening. We hope all the best for Jay & Deb in their new assignment!!
Enjoy the pictures of days 3 and 4....
I know, it took longer than I had wanted to get our trip report up. But here we go!!
So I'll start with the beginning :)
We boarded the 7:30am flight from Atlanta to Miami... Then from Miami we got on our flight to Santo Domingo and arrived at 1:20pm.
Once we got to Santo Domingo, a brother from one of the local congregations was going to pick us up from the airport and take us to the Caribe Tours bus station. One little problem... we had no idea what he looked like!
So, after grabbing a couple slices of pizza we walked outside to see if we could 'figure out', somehow, who the brother was. So, as we were standing outside, with at least 5 taxi drivers asking if we'd like a ride.... a man starts walking up to us, so we smiled at him.
He comes to us and says (in Spanish) "Are you my brothers?" So, of course, we let out a big laugh and hugged our dear brother Rafael Perez. He said he had just gotten to the airport and he could tell we were different. He told us that we looked happy and he could just tell that we are part of Jehovah's organization.
So we got in the car... and Rafael drove us to the Caribe Tours bus station. We got a little bit of a tour of Santo Domingo... at least a 15 minute car ride tour.
The sun was hot and the day was humid. I remember feeling a little 'weird' but still very happy. My daughters call it "nerv-icited"... and mix of nervous and excited. Sounds about right!
Now we waited for the big bus come along to take us on the 2 hour drive from Santo Domingo to Samana. We got on the bus at 3:30 and arrived in Samana at 5:40pm.
Another brother, Jay Anderson, picked us up from the bus station in Samana and took us to our 'home away from home'; at least for the next couple of days it would be. By this time we were exhausted and starving. A quick shower, some food and to bed.....
Friday would be a whole new day!!
Friday morning.... and it was time for some breakfast. So, we got up and started walking. Had a yummy breakfast; two breakfast sandwiches, fresh juices, just 130 pesos (a little less than $3). We had a great view of the bay with that breakfast too. So we did a pretty good amount of walking. The evening before Jay Anderson told us the general direction to where the Kingdom Hall was, so we decided to try to find it. We did!! But no one was there.
We were able to find some WiFi to get some information about an apartment we wanted to see. Got in touch with the gentlemen and he mentioned he'd be in Samana around 12:30.... so we had a couple hours to kill.
When I say we did a lot of walking... that's not an understatement. But I'm glad we did. We got to explore a lot of the side streets, the 'colmados' (small bodegas/corner stores) and of course, the yummy food they offer!
Finally met up with the guy about the apartment. He was kinda enough to take us to the apartment and took a tour (which were very nice, but a bit small for us). After viewing two apartments, he offered to drive us by the Kingdom Hall again, since he knew where it was. It was only about 2 minutes away. As we passed the Hall, we noticed the doors were open!!!! And asked if he could drop us off. After asking us twice if we were sure we wanted to be just dropped off, without knowing anyone :) ... he dropped us off.
It just so happened that the Circuit Overseer was visiting the Samana Congregation that week!! The afternoon group was meeting at 2:15 and we were just in time! We may have looked like a bunch of crazy people off the street... but it was so nice to see the brothers.
We met one family, in particular, that kind of took us under their wings :) It was so nice to feel that. The Garrett family has been serving in Samana for the last four years. They gave us so many great ideas and tips. It was GREAT!!
We had dinner on the Malecon that night with them as well. Had some yaroas (pronounced "Ya-rro-a") It's delicious!!!! Starts out with some French fries or sweet fried plantains, your choice of finely chopped chicken or ground beef, cheese, mayo and ketchup (also known as "mayo-kachu").... Delicious... all I gotta' say.
Afterwards, we walked back home.
Enjoy the pictures from days 1 & 2....
I can't believe how fast those days flew by!! But we are so grateful for each and every moment spent there.
We got all of our questions answered, and then some. The friends are simply amazing. I love how, even though they didn't know who we are, but they sincerely wanted to help us get our 'project' underway.
We really do appreciate all the help the friends gave us.
So, we're back home. I'm glad to be back home... because I know that if we didn't come back it would take longer for us to actually get back to Samana.... that the bitter sweet part.
I guess you want to know how it all went.....
If we could, we would have loved to stay there already. But, alas, we must prepare before making a move like that. We've got our lists that we are checking daily to see if there is anything else we can do to get this process started. As of right now, we're on track.
1. We've already contacted a lawyer (to begin our residency process).
2. We also called several rental property owners about apartments in Samana for us to live in.... of course, just minutes from bay :)
3. We are also on a wait list for a class being given in September. This class is to receive our certification to teach English online. This way we can support ourselves while living in DR.
Now, we wait....
Check back in the next couple of days and we'll have our very first "Trip Report" of our visit to Samana.... with amazing service, beach and food pictures!!!!
We're the Mazarelli Family
Just a family of four trying to do our best. Our adventure to become Need-Greaters in the Dominican Republic is starting... and we want to share it with you.