fathom Journey, Day 3, On The Ground

I'm going to make this one short and sweet, as it's 6:30 am and I have to be off making paper in 45 minutes.
I got up yesterday morning, had breakfast, bopped around for a little bit, went to another orientation meeting and then we made landfall.  Immediately after the meeting I headed off the ship to Amber Cove, which is a beautiful brand new cruise facility.  Shops, pools, slides, zipline, cabanas...everything you need for a typical cruise ship day.
THere was, of course, a big party going on for this inaugural event, with drinks and snacks, music and dancing.  And of course speeches.  By the fathom and Carnival execs, and the local politicians.  From there I found my bus and headed off to the Impact Activity.
I chose to do the Reforestation project.  We headed out to the nursery/headquarters.  No actual tree planting today.  We instead planted seeds and cuttings.  Basically filling bags with compost/soil, planting, and lining them up in the greenhouse, where someone else can take them out in a couple months to one of the project areas for planting.  It was hard work and fun, and I think the project workers were pleasantly surprised that everyone really was there to work.  We sorted ourselves in to teams and set up an assembly line and in a few hours we planted, by the guides count, 1,237 trees.  Not bad.  And a nice feeling knowing that for the next 100 years our handiwork will be helping the environment of the Dominican Republic, and, frankly...the world.  We can never have too many trees. ;)

But the best part of the afternoon was getting in to not just one but two serious discussions with IDDI workers.  IDDI is fathom's partner on the ground here in the DR.  They are local people working in various ways to help their countrymen.  So, you know...idealistic young people for the most part.  They were surprisingly open about the problems in their country.  We talked about culture, and politics (there's an election here in May and signs are everywhere), racism, corruption, religion, the futility of government to government foreign aid from the US, the lack of an entrepeneurial drive, etc.  They were also quick to point out the virtues of the locals and explain how they were drawn to this work as a way to help and teach them, hoping to break the cycle and enable the Dominicans to lift their country.  And it is a beautiful country.  With adequate resources, arable land, tourism and trade opportunities, to sustain a large middle class.

So, enough of all that...after the planting we headed back to the ship where I had another brilliant dinner, which i shall detail later, and headed to bed...only to be awoke at 6 for another go at impacting.  This time at RePapel, a recycled paper co-op.  And off I go!


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