Our travelers get their first introduction to the girls of Mariposa and the community they live in.
By Karen McCune
Portland , OR
Today is the first full day of our Dining for Women trip to the Dominican Republic. Being told to BE SURE to be on time, 17 Dining for Women members (all who were there early) and our wonderful travel leader, Patricia Andersson from Portland , OR, also a Dining for Women member, gathered at the ground floor of the Kite Beach Inn in Cabarete, DR to begin our adventure.
Our first stop was the Mariposa Center, a 2014 Dining for Women program. The Mariposa center is the primary reason we are on this trip. Dedicated to finding community-based solutions to end poverty, the Mariposa Program provides education, leadership and empowerment programs for women and girls.
Although we could have stayed all day, we had more adventures on the agenda. Along with Amanda, our guide for the day, we piled onto our air conditioned bus, counting off to make sure we were all there, and headed to the “Mercado” or local market in Puerto Plata. Our senses came alive! Tasting, smelling, hearing and seeing beautiful produce such as chinola, fresh key limes, huge avocados, yucca and sweet potatoes to name a few. Several of us spent our first pesos on gifts to take home.
Our stomachs were rumbling after seeing all this great food so off to a wonderful lunch with four of the Mariposa mothers outside on the patio at Kaffe a beautiful restaurant in an old Victorian home on Puerto Plata. With our rudimentary Spanish and their limited English, we were able to talk with them about their children, their work at Mariposa and even their hopes for their children. It was clear that Mariposa made a difference in their lives, giving them and their children opportunities they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
After lunch and a short walk around Puerto Plata, we headed back to Cabarete with one more stop – the neighborhood of some of the families attending Mariposa. Walking through the village gave us an appreciation for the living conditions of many Dominican families — multiple children sleeping on one bed, leaky roofs on houses close to rivers that flood during the rainy season, girls helping with the wash and watching younger children with the boys playing baseball in a field and swimming in the river.
As I climbed back into the bus to head back to our hotel my head was spinning with all the images, the conversations, the information but most of all the people I had met who had given me the privilege of sharing a piece of their life today. I knew this was just the start of an amazing adventure!
Photos by Karen McCune