Over the past couple of days we have had the opportunity to visit many small towns in the southeast and west regions of the Dominican Republic. During our time visiting these regions, we've had the chance to experience the life of the people living in Bateyes, a baseball city, the city of San Pedro, the ruins of an old sugar mill, and so much more!
The tour of the southeast region started with a visit to the Cueva de la Maravilla. Due to construction, we were unable to enter the lower part of the cave, but we did get to see some of the formations and it was fun seeing the iguanas in the national park. Right after visiting the park, we went to the city of San Pedro where we saw the first Catholic church to be built with concrete in the Dominican Republic. Upon visiting this church, we enjoyed a presentation of the cocolo culture dancers and later joined in dancing with them. This was an interesting experience because our tour guide, Edwin, explained the culture of these people beforehand and part of this stems from their heritage as slaves from Africa.
Later we visited the city of baseball in the Dominican Republic, Boca Chica, where many of the Dominican baseball academies reside. We toured the complex and saw the baseball academies of the Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, and got an intricate tour of the Chicago White Sox facilities. The guys were very interested in the facility while the girls were more interested in the players. We were able to meet a couple of the players and learn about their daily lives as major league baseball prospects. It was very intriguing to think that some of the players could possibly be millionaires someday.
Lastly, during our time in the southeast and west regions, we visited two bateyes that had a strong impact on us. Bateyes are the houses of the migrant workers in the Dominican who are mostly impoverished. We discovered that the people working in the bateyes live in very poor conditions, but they live in these poor conditions and cut sugar cane to survive. Despite living in bateyes, the kids are very positive and welcoming. They held our hands, sang for us, and gave us rides on their dirt bikes. To one of the bateyes, we brought pizza which was the first time some of the kids had eaten pizza. Their responses were priceless. The last couple of days have really changed our perspective on Dominican life, especially in the bateyes. We continue our tour of the southwest region tomorrow and could not be more excited!!!