Dominican Republic | I Didn’t Get a Tan in the Caribbean

I spent four days in the Caribbean and didn’t put my bathing suit on once. It wasn’t because I spent my time on nude beaches or because it was raining. It was because I was on a different kind of trip with Fathom Travel and I was there to immerse myself into the community and help out on different impact projects with local organizations. I didn’t get a tan, but I got so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Fathom is a new brand under Carnival Cruises that offers week-long cruises to the Dominican Republic to volunteer with existing organizations on the ground. I had the opportunity this week to go on a pilot trip with Fathom to the DR. I did not travel on the cruise portion of the trip, as sailing begins April 2016, but I can imagine that it enhances the experience even more.

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In the Dominican Republic, our home base was the gorgeous beach community of Puerto Plata. The main industry there is tourism. Beautiful luxury resorts are scattered along the beaches, but 40% of people in the Dominican Republic live below the poverty line. Our group worked on three different impact projects while we were there, each of which I will be dedicating a full post to once I have the ability to reflect properly.

On the first day, we planted over 400 trees, collected 200 seedlings to bring them back to the nursery to be replanted later, and removed 25 bags of garbage from the shoreline of Playa Long Beach. Read about it here!

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The second day was spent at a school in the mountains of Puerto Plata where we worked with the fourth-grade class on their English. We danced, sang, created soccer balls out of balloons and newspaper, and played a game that made the World Cup look like a game of Go Fish. Read about it here!

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We spent the last day at RePapel, a women’s co-op that produces beautiful notecards, business cards, and other paper products from recycled office paper. We learned the entire process from ripping up the paper, blending it with water, using frames to make the individual sheets, drying the paper in the sun, rolling it flat, and using it to make coasters.

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Other projects that you can work on with Fathom are installing a concrete floor in a home with a dirt floor, crafting clay water filters to give to the community, helping a family with English in their home, and working with another women’s cooperative to cultivate cacao plants. I hope to experience the rest of these projects one day as well.

I’ve never felt such overwhelming happiness and inspiration after returning from a trip. This feeling of wanting needing to return from where I just came has never been more immediate and more intense. The people we met, learned from, worked side-by-side with, played with, smiled with, laughed with, sang with, danced with, connected with – THEY are what traveling is all about.

Fathom sailings from Miami begin this April. In May, they are also beginning cultural-immersion trips to Cuba that look absolutely incredible. As I mentioned, I’ll be posting way more about this experience in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!

xx

Muchas (x 1000) gracias to Fathom for hosting me on this journey. Opinions are always my own. If you don’t believe how much this impacted me, talk to my parents who I spent an hour crying to about how wonderful this experience was.

15 Responses

  1. […] On my first Fathom experience in the Dominican Republic, I’d worked with a 4th-grade class on their English. I loved the one-on-one interaction – getting to know a student, helping with her English, and practicing my Spanish with her as well. While I loved that day, I wanted to try different impact activities on my next Fathom trip. On our first day on the ground in the DR during my second Fathom experience, my sister and I chose Community English Conversation & Learning, speaking English with a family or a group of adults. Tourism is such a huge industry in the Dominican Republic that knowing English can be the difference between whether someone gets a job or not. […]

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