Over the past couple of weeks we have not had any of the volunteer groups here and so we have been filling our time with fun stuff. Because everyone knows that idle hands, well, are boring. Here’s just a glimpse into our past weeks.

BBQs with Friend

   Having Joaquin, and family, here with us means that our meat consumption has risen to a new level. Everyone who knows Joaquin knows what a cookout involves, usually somewhere near five or six different kinds of meat, and a couple onions and potatoes for our “vegetables”. It is, of course, always completely delicious. We fill our tummies, the kids goof around, and we chilax.

Look what Marie found, butter named after our Arias

Kiteboarding Lesson

   Eben and I threw ourselves into a new extreme sport. Since I have no real “boarding” background, other than snowboarding a handful of times, mostly on bunny hills, we chose to dish out the money and take some courses. We paid for 9 hours, of which Eben used 3 and I used the other 6. Our instructors, Jonathan and Jennifer, divided and conquered.

   Day 1 of classes
Two hours on the beach, first learning how to handle a small stunt kite and then moving on to a real 7 meter kite. Going from a two-string kite, to an actual kite with four-strings and a bar was a totally different feel. It took me a bit to learn how to control the direction of the kite as well as the power needed to make it respond a certain way, but once I got the hang of it, Jennifer said she was impressed at how fast I was catching on. We ripped through the class and I was ready to hit the water, in our next lesson.

   Day 2 of classes
Eben joined me so that we could learn some of the safety and self-rescue techniques needed if ever we are out in the water, the kite goes down, and we need to get ourselves out of a sticky situation. Unfortunately once we got through that the winds were just a touch too light to fly a kite. We could get them up but they weren’t very responsive and our instructor said we would just be wasting our time (and money), get frustrated with ourselves and the kite, and not learn that much. So after our hour of safety we called it quits for the day.

   Day 3 of classes
While Eben went with Jonathan and learned some tips on getting up on the board, I was with Jennifer learning to Body Drag. That is exactly what it sounds like, you take the kite, enter the water, and with the help of the wind, you get dragged around. The first couple of times I went out with Jennifer hanging on to the back of my harness. That way she could guide me through it and help me control the kite if every I got a face full of water, which happened A LOT. From a distance, when I could open my eyes between waves blasting me with salt water, I could see Eben up on the board riding around and having a great time. Minus the feeling of having ingested more than my share of ocean, I had a blast too, just dragging around. I was supposed to attempt body dragging on my own that day, but the wind and waves shifted to a point where I was not comfortable going out by myself, and Jennifer agreed, so we continued on as a pair.

   Day 4 of classes
With one last hour to use, Jennifer and I did a quick recap of the safety procedures, practiced launching and landing the kite, and then I was in the water, on my own, to fend off the waves and travel with the wind. Body dragging on my own. It did get a bit sketchy, due to some miscommunication, and I got a bit too close to a reef. But thankfully, my previous knowledge of water/reefs from sailing and the skills they taught me instinctually came in to play and I steered the kite in the opposite direction and dragged my toosh out of there. I was happy to call that the end of our lessons.

So as you can guess we still have a lot of practicing to do, on our own. I am not yet up on a board, and think I have a fair bit of kite control practicing to do. Eben on the other hand is up and riding. We are now on the hunt for equipment. This sport is not cheap, and since we have two of us to gear up, we are trying to do it on the budget side. So far we have 2 kites, 1 board, and a couple of harnesses that some friends have lent us.

yep, face full of water

Circus Classes
   We wanted to get Arias into some sort of “structured” classes. It didn’t matter if it was dance, soccer, swimming, etc. We just wanted her to be able to hang out with some other kids her age in a more structured way than what she is experiencing in daycare/preschool. That is when a friend of ours mentioned circus class. A hotel in Cabarete. Extreme Hotel, hosts classes for a local circus. Once a week they do classes for the little ones. It is adorable to see 5-6 little girls the same age, doing everything from floor work, balancing, flips, trampoline, and the latest act, the trapeze. It seems that the years of having Eben toss Arias around has paid off because she was loving flying on the trapeze and bouncing and flipping around on the trampoline. We are so happy that we found these classes, because she loves them, and we love watching all the crazy things they will have her doing every week.

GrandMaman Visits

   My mother is in town for two weeks. It is so wonderful to have her with us, see the girls playing with their Grandmaman, and getting to see the DR through a new set of eyes. It has been a year since she last got to see the girls, and us, and there is a lot of catching up to do. So far we have been showing her around the Sosua/Cabarete area, using our pool to the fullest, and having long chats into the evenings. I am looking forward to plenty more time hanging out.