Saturday and Sunday provided the first official excursions of the session. As far as excursions go, it was a fun, flavorful one. Along with the Language and Culture program, we packed into the buses and headed about two hours outside of Santiago. Our first stop: Hacienda Cufa.
This family-owned, organic cacao plantation coupled Dominican history with an interactive agriculture experience that highlighted their unique chocolate production process. From seeds to savory bites of handcrafted chocolate, the tour covered every stage of the life-cycle of their artisan chocolate. We had MANY samples –including the Chocolate Face Mask! Hacienda Cufa is also known for offering the rich and refreshing spa treatment to visitors with glowing results.
Next, we traveled to Puerto Plata for a scavenger hunt throughout the city. Umbrella Art installations, an Amber Museum, and La Catedral de San Felipe Apóstol were just a few of the stops on our quest for the prize – free ice cream to the first groups to complete the challenge.
Lastly, Sunday afternoon found us in the heart of Santiago. The brave among us danced with locals playing music in the streets - including Lindsay, one of the program leaders from the Language and Culture session. Our guide showed us the many colorful murals that lined the city walls. Some captured the past with vivid portraits of the Dominican Revolution. Others envisioned the future of Santiago, highlighting recycling efforts, the culture of technology, and richness that Dominican youth bring to the city. To cap off the evening, our guide surprised us with a sampling of Dominican Carnival as costumed performed popped out of a nearby house and treated us to a sampling of Carnival.
If this weekend’s excursion has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected in Santiago!