On Saturday, our HSSA Eco-Solutions group makes its way to Altamira, a rural town in the Puerto Plata province located about an hour and a half north of Santiago de los Caballeros. A primarily agricultural area, Altamira is one of the Dominican Republic’s most lucrative cacao-producing regions; the cacao cultivated here is exported throughout the country and internationally.
Altamira is also the birthplace of Bartolo Colón, aka “Big Sexy”, a renowned Major League Baseball pitcher who has been active since the 1990s and has played for many different teams, including the Los Angeles Angels, the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, the Oakland Athletics, the New York Mets, among others. Currently working as a free agent, Colón remains active in the Altamira community; he has contributed to a variety of community-based projects, including the construction of a prime professional baseball stadium and the establishment of local restaurants.
As we drive through Altamira, Carlos – our Dominican Program Leader – points out Bartolo Colón’s house, the stadium he helped built. Further into the town, we see beautiful multicolored houses, people riding donkeys and horses down the dirt road, chickens pecking in people’s back yards and hanging out on the patios in front of convenience stores. Our day is full of activities: we visit a cacao tree grove and attend a workshop led by Brahian, one of our Litro de Luz collaborators and an Altamira native ; we visit the 27 Charcos, a local eco-tourism site whose primary feature is a series of natural cascades where we slip, slide, jump, and swim in. Yet the highlight of the day is the baseball game we play with Altamira community-members, adults and kids alike. Except for Cole, one of our HSSA participants, the Altamirans are much more knowledgeable at how to play the game, but hey, we did all right! Click on the videos below so you can see for yourselves!