During my first week in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic I have seen historic buildings/monuments, watched baseball in a corner store with locals, enjoyed a mini-concert with old ruins in the background and went for some early morning jogs along the coastline. The DR certainly has a lot to offer!
The transition from life in Canada to here has been surprisingly easy. I was lucky enough to travel together with three other interns and meet an intern already living in the Dominican. Having a fellow intern who speaks some Spanish has certainly been useful (thanks Ryan!), but hopefully in the coming months I won´t always need to use a friend as a personal translator.
While there are certainly perks of being in the Caribbean when winter is approaching in Canada, I have come across parts of the DR that the average population does not see during their southern vacations. Beaches covered in garbage, sidewalks falling apart and a large gap between the rich and poor are some of the things that remind you the DR still has work to do before they can leave their “Developing Country” tag behind. Unfortunately I won´t be able to solve all of these issues, however, I am assisting with research that is aiming to decrease HIV transmission in at-risk populations in various Caribbean islands. The NGO I am working with, ProActividad, is very motivated and I am looking forward to be able to learn from this opportunity while providing assistance to their cause.
In the coming weeks I am looking forward to travelling to see more of the DR, arranging a trip to see a local baseball game (the DR has a winter league that is very competitive – drawing some veteran MLB players annually), learning Spanish and meeting more local Dominicans!