Disclaimer:  The Original travel journal entry is written in italics. Nothing has been removed. Addenda and clarified thoughts are written in regular print.

Today is going to be a half work day so I’m wearing the same clothes from yesterday. I brought two teaching outfits and two working outfits, but it’s all good. I seriously misjudged the amount of clothes I needed. I hate checking bags and I only had a carry on and a backpack that were both filled with supplies for the mission. I also only had five outfits. Luckily, I borrowed a skirt from Amy and was able to wear that a couple of times, so it worked out.

The plan is to return to our work sites and work a half day. Today is a holiday in the Dominican Republic (Corpus Christi Day), so no school, which means Nikki, Delia and Amy will be joining my paint crew! 🙂 Tyler and Aiden switched working assignments, too. Yesterday, Tyler over-excreted himself and became sick, presumably from dehydration and exhaustion. He was happy for a change of pace, though I’m not sure how Aiden felt about working in a ditch!

Clearing out the inside of Danel’s home so we can start painting

Nikki’s grandfather passed away this morning. She just heard and is understandably upset. He was 92 and mostly raised her.

After our half work day, we are going to a chocolate factory and then shopping!


Just back at the hotel after an adventurous day. We got more brushes for the paint job and I really wanted to finish the inside by noon. But it got complicated and we were able to finish most of it. So we’ll be heading back tomorrow to finish and I hope we’ll be able to do it in a half day and finished by noon.

Jr upset me today. I shouldn’t be so sensitive but he was critical of our work from yesterday, indicating we hadn’t done a good job. I was very proud of our work and of the kids and thought we did a wonderful job, considering we had limited resources. The paint job was difficult. The house’s wooden walls were made from different types of wood, so one beam would capture the paint with ease, while the next beam would require several coats. We didn’t have paint stir sticks – Danel used a tree limb to stir the paint, and the yellow paint was a different type of paint than the white paint and required more coats. We didn’t have drop cloths so spills were made even though we were so careful to limit them. Our white paint supply was running low and we still had the interior of the house to paint. Anyway, he made me cry in frustration, and I hate when I do that. I think I cry when I’m frustrated because I feel like I’ve failed, or am unable, to verbalize my feelings and intents. Also, I’m not the type to have immediate verbal reactions. When I do, I’ve always censored them. I never said anything to Jr about how he made me feel, but I mentioned it in passing to Delia. Whenever someone upsets me, I always give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Jr was having a bad day. Maybe he’s under a lot of pressure that I know nothing about. Maybe he just wants everything to be perfect. I shouldn’t be so sensitive. I shouldn’t listen to him. He has no idea about circumstances surrounding the job. Let it be – you know you and the kids did a hell of a job. Do what you normally do and pull back, saying nothing because the world is still not ready for 40 years of pent up uncensored frustrations to be unleashed, especially on an unsuspecting man you hardly know. It just sucked that he didn’t even recognize how much we had done before criticizing the work.

I know conflict resolution and speaking up about my feelings is something I need to work on. Honestly, it would be so much easier if people would just think before they speak! I really struggled on whether or not to even include this incident. In the grand scheme of things, it is a very minor and petty situation. But it bothered me enough to write about it in my journal and I want to be true to my journal here.

Back to the journal….

Danel and his family were very appreciative. Because today is a holiday, his wife and children were home. She made us a fantastic limeade and Danel said we were always welcome in his home. On the way to lunch, he escorted us back to the school and he saw me admiring a flower bloom and so he picked it for me.

Me, Davnice, Danel, Danai, Eunice and Cori
The flower Danel picked for me

I saw the kitten from yesterday. His eye was looking better (I instilled a drop of Besivance in his eye yesterday). I gave him another dose today. He’s so tiny!

The kitten after he received his eye drop
The kitten getting some love from Aurelie and Amy. He quickly learned that being held was a good thing! Such a sweet boy.

Lunch was again wonderful and at the school. Rice with sausage, mashed eggplant casserole, salad, fresh avocado and fried plantains. Breakfast today was fruit salad, mashed potatoes, omelettes and sausage.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel for a quick change then we head to the chocolate factory. It was more of a chocolate plantation that we toured and it was fascinating. We saw everything from seed to chocolate bar and even made a chocolate bar for ourselves. I can’t wait to eat it.

Lucas, Tyler and Aiden make a new friend at the chocolate plantation.

Jr rushed us out so we could go to a souvenir shop. But I bought a souvenir canvas bag at the chocolate place. It has less calories and is less likely to melt, compared to the yummy stuff. Such restraint!

Oh, before I forget ~ I found a Charlie stone at the school! He is with me!!

I told Aurelie about my Charlie stones. I’m convinced that Charlie communicates with me through wishing stones that I find on my adventures. A wishing stone is a stone with a white band going all around it. I’ve also found heart shaped stones. It’s his way of telling me he’s still with me. She’s such a sweet girl. She held my hand and hugged me in the van.

My Charlie stone and Danel’s flower. Note the wide band on the stone – it’s one of the widest I’ve found. I wanted to press the flower as a keepsake but it didn’t work out as planned.

I owe Delia $50 for the tour. I told Aurelie earlier I’d get her ticket.

After the chocolate stop, (oh! we got a sample of hot chocolate that was AMAZING!), we headed to the souvenir shop.

This place was a cross between a market and a souvenir shop. I found a wooden carved elephant for Joe, a key chain for Shannon and picked up two magnets for myself. It was fun.

Tyler, Aurelie, A², Anderson, Anna and Mark

On the way to the shop we drove through a town that had many pretty murals and almost every telephone pole painted with different flowers. Very pretty.

I’m a little nervous about money. I have 500 pesos available and $22 left of my spending money. I used the credit card the other evening but don’t know if I’ll be able to use it on Saturday, which is our free day. Hopefully, everything will work out.

Dinner was a let down – basically Chef Boy R Dee spaghetti with chopped up sausage. There was an amazing sunset, though.


After dinner I had a very great and insightful conversation with Aurelie. I really cherish that girl. I told her about Chuck and his death and the revelations afterwards, and my pain, sorrow and anger. I told her about how difficult photography is now because I did concert photography with him and how I want to travel to honor him. Chuck loved to travel and try new things, and by traveling by myself to new places, I feel I can keep his memory alive. She listened attentively and then offered her suggestions. She said I should pick up photography because I love it and not to feel guilty about it – basically do it for me and not out of ‘duty’ (she said it better than that but this is the gist of it). When I told her I wanted to travel in May and November to honor him, she again said to do it because I want to do it for myself and not for him, because he would want me to be happy. I told her that I would and that I’ll go to places that Chuck didn’t want to visit – like California and Europe!

I had an interesting dream last night, probably stirred up by our conversation. (I wrote this paragraph the next morning). In my dream, I had started a relationship with a man named Killian and I was happy. I think Charlie would want me to be happy.