Just finished up our final week here in the DR. Last Sunday we walked up the street from our hotel to an outdoor, neighborhood concert. It may have been the highlight of our trip. There was a large crowd but we got a good seat and it wasn’t long before we made friends with some of the locals. Their English was about as good as our Spanish but it all seemed to work. The band was INCREDIBLE. They played Merengues, Bachatas and some more traditional music as well. Once the beer and rum got to flowing everyone was singing and dancing – including us. At the end of the night (9:00 pm for us – although I’m sure it went on much longer) there were farewell hugs and saludos all around. On the way out our new friends said they would save us a seat for next Sunday.
Next stop, San Jose de Ocoa – a small town in the Southwestern part of the DR. Our hotel looked great on the outside but the inside was pretty sparse (but what do you expect for $20/night?). We were there for 3 days working with area growers and Extension Agents. Some of these growers are in VERY RURAL areas, accessible by 4 wheel drive only. There were a few low water crossings that were “adventurous” and the sights along the way were like something out of a National Geographic documentary.
While working in this area we had the opportunity to visit a small community and the President of the town greeted us warmly and invited us in to his home. It is always interesting to see how people live and this was an excellent example of rural homes throughout the DR. Again, a super-nice person like most of the Dominicans we met.
We’ve also been working with a number of women growers that belong to various cooperatives and associations throughout the region. These ladies work hard and do a very good job despite the limited availability of resources. We helped them identify some basic pest problems and made suggestions on cultural practices to help increase yields. These folks were very appreciative and each visit ended with a hand shake and hug. Something I rarely experienced as an Extension Professional in Texas…