• Language and Culture in the Dominican Republic and Cuba

Los Tres Ojos and Casa Rosada

(This is what we did on Tuesday.)

We had an earlier morning today so that we could fit everything in that we wanted to get done. We started culture class at 8:15 am, and then moved on to dance class at 10:30 am.

Today in dance class, we learned how to dance bachata. Bachata is a dance that comes from African origins. It is a series of basic steps that go back and forth, or side to side. It is cool to learn the dances that are so common here. Everyone on the street asks us if we know how to dance merengue and bachata. Unlike the United States, almost everyone here knows how to dance and will dance anywhere and everywhere!

For lunch, we had empanadas from a nearby restaurant. They were delicious and satisfied the hunger we worked up during dance class. We also had a fresh salad that Ivelisse, our tour coordinator, made for us. It was so nice to have a salad that was good and we knew was safe to eat!

After lunch, we got in the van and headed for Los Tres Ojos (The Three Eyes). This is a series of caves (technically, they are considered caverns) that have water in them and kind of look like eyes. The name is somewhat misleading, as there are actually 4 caverns; however, the fourth has to be reached by boat so the three visible caverns are what are considered the three eyes.

They vary in size as well as water depth, but the water in all of them is so clear and blue that you can see all the way to the bottom. People used to swim in the caves all the time, but when it became a park they decided to prohibit swimming so that the caves and the integrity of the water would be preserved for a long period of time.

Several films have used Los Tres Ojos for filming, including Tarzan and Jurassic Park III. The directors of Pirates of the Caribbean wanted to use the fourth cavern for filming, but their request was denied because what they planned to do would ruin the integrity of the site. The caves and the water were so beautiful and picturesque. As in all caves, there were bats flying around, water was dripping, and there were rocks all around.

The “boat” we had to take to get to the fourth cave was somewhat questionable, but it worked. It was pieces of wood nailed together, on top of big metal bins that floated. All of that was attached to strings that ran along the bottom from one side to the other. Then, the guys who take the boat across all day long grab onto a rope that is suspended above the water and pull the boat to the other side. We had to get on and off, one at a time and alternated which side we sat on as to maintain the balance of the “boat.” It was interesting and somewhat primitive, but it still worked!

Our next stop was Casa Rosada, an orphanage for kids with HIV. We brought snacks with us (individual bags of chips, like Cheetos and Cheeto puffs) and got to interact with 28 of the kids at the orphanage. They were all so adorable and were excited to have snacks and visitors. We played basketball, volleyball, and kickball, ran around, and had a great time. The kids are so positive and it seems like they are very well-taken care of at Casa Rosada. We also got a tour of the orphanage and learned about its history.

After our time at Casa Rosada, we returned to FLACSO and made our way to our apartments for dinner. It was a long day, but a very enjoyable one!