I’ve been in the Dominican Republic for 6 weeks now and it’s been nothing short of surprising, stretching, nurturing, and adventurous. The weather is gorgeous, and the hustle and bustle of the city have grown on me. One thing that I am still navigating is my interesting experience with culture shock while here, and I think the best way to describe it is through my experience climbing Pico Diego de Ocampo.
It started out rough. I was ambitious, though, and didn’t let the steep incline riddled with rocks deter me from embarking on this journey. After a few minutes, there was a plateau or flat piece of the trail where I could catch my breath and appreciate the scenery around me. (This is similar to the excitement and rush of arriving in a new country and jumping into a new education system.) This plateau gave me hope after starting out climbing on my tippy toes. But not long after I caught my breath, another incline appeared and I was determined not to stop. Winding back and forth, up and over rocks and roots, was a challenge, and fatigue began to set in. In hopes of not having to get my trusty inhaler out, I asked the group to stop for a moment so I could catch my breath. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who benefited from taken a breather. (This was around the time I found my friends here in the D.R. who wanted to relax at a coffee shop and talk about our experiences so far.) We drank water, relaxed our breathing, and continued on our journey up.
The last incline to the top was the most treacherous. It seemed like it was going to be the death of me–I did happen to slip on the way down, but thankfully our guide, Juan, caught me. (At this point, I have gotten over the homesickness, and leaned into my family and friends here to get me through.) Knowing that this was the last stretch until the top, it motivated me to continue on slowly, but surely. The overwhelming feeling of joy and accomplishment flooded into our hearts and faces as we saw the glorious view of the mountains below. It was incredible, and it was unusually clear enough to see the ocean and the beach, Playa Sosúa, from the peak! Needless to say, I am proud of myself for getting through the difficult climb to see the well worth it view of what this world has to offer.
P.S. My boyfriend Caleb was also on the hike. He decided to visit for the weekend, and proposed last Friday! So, it helped to have my encouraging fiancé to cheer me on along the way. (In-person and on the phone throughout my trials here in the D.R.)