17 March 2007


Besides local festivities, I finally made the long trip to Samaná to visit my friend's site. Erica organized a library in her community, and in February she had the official inauguration. Almost all the business volunteers in my group were there. It was a great time to meet up and see how we're all doing. But the highlight of the weekend was whale watching on the bay. I brought Hito along, and it was a great time of firsts! He had never been out to Samaná before. I made plans for the 5 hour trip on public transportation, and despite his occasional doubts, we got there on time and even managed to find everybody before the ceremony! The ceremony itself was a typical Dominican affair, surprisingly well attended by the local kids and adults alike. After the ceremony, we went to the beach to swim. Unlike many of my friends, I am far from any beaches. I think the last time I had been to a beach was last April when my parents visited! (I'm working on visiting more of these beautiful beaches near all my friends this year though!)

Sunday we got up early to go whale watching. Every February, humpback whales return to the Samaná bay for mating season. The 9 of us clambered into a small motorboat and set out on the tranquil and empty bay. For awhile, everywhere we turned we saw whales surfacing, flicking their massive tails and fins, blowing, and occasionally jumping in the distance. It was the first time many of us had seen these impressive creatures in real life, and it was Hito's second time in a boat! The highlight of the morning though was seeing a huge stingray (Hito said it looked like a guinea fowl because of the spots!) and a jellyfish, which our guide scooped out of the water with his bare hands! (In Spanish, jellyfish are called aguaviva - living water!)

After an hour or so, more boats started coming out, and the sun started beating down on us, so we decided to retire to an island nearby to swim for the afternoon. A resort dominates the island, and we all felt high-class for a bit.

Hito and I intended to visit some other local sites the next day, but we woke up to pouring rain and decided to make the long trek home instead. Despite the rain, I stared out the window of the bus, catching last glimpses of the coconut palms that Samaná is famous for. Now I only have to find time to visit all my other friends scattered across this ¨tiny¨ island!

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