Day 5 was a day without scheduled player and fan interaction, so we capitalized on the opportunity and took a guided tour of the countryside; “Bavaro Runners”. Our tour guide, Willis, met us in front of the hotel at 8:45 AM with a safari style bus/jeep. He informed us that he’d been doing this for 17 years with tours all over the island, including Haiti. As we drove through the city we stopped at a school where a basketball court was being dedicated partly because of the tour guide funds, like the one we were on. The kids and principal came out and took pictures before the first ball was bounced. We then headed down winding roads of store fronts and shops where meat and fruit were hanging. We were greeted by locals along the streets.
We came along the first exhibit or tutorial of our tour which was the sugar cane factory. The driver and Willis chopped down a piece of cane and allowed us to sample some fresh from the ground. As we walked into the place where it’s processed, we learned about all the uses. From Sugar, to alcohol, to the used stock being converted into ethynol; it was quite the interesting and efficient use of one crop. Moving further into the tour we were introduced to Jose, the cigar roller. He’d been rolling cigars and cigarellos for 35 years; and produced as many as 200-300 per day. Jose showed us the process as Willis let us in on the secret of mass production brand names that were made right here in the Dominican. They also showed us the grounds and leaves that they let sit longer to make cigarettes. The third and most impressive leg of our tour was a lady named Maria and her beautiful way of life. Maria and her family have been a part of the tour for 20 years now. She’s the everyday countryside Dominican family woman, and we had a chance to experience how she lived. Everything she needed, for her family, she grew on her land. From cocoa, paprika, cilantro, coffee, vanilla extract, pineapples, cinnamon, etc. She ran her house’s electricity through two car batteries while maintaining a full-fledged farm. The self-sufficiency and strength of this lady was amazing. After all of that, we went to the beach for a half an hour. I couldn’t stop thinking of what I’d seen and learned for the day though. All things considered, through almost of week of fun and entertainment; this was my favorite day. (I forgot to mention that I went horseback riding for the first time) Thanks to our Apple Vacations on-site activities coordinator, Andrea.
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