In the past, I had followed my students up to the big bare rocky spot that looms well above our beach. However, while at the beach one day several weeks ago, I watched one of my students climb even higher on the hillside, through some of the “scrub brush” above the bare rock. It turns out that there is a bit of a path (perhaps it was originally a cleft in the rock) that leads diagonally to a higher point, which ends with a sharp dropoff on the back side.
I knew I wanted to give it a try someday. I like to push myself, albeit in a responsible manner, to test my own boundaries. Could I safely make my way up to this higher vantage point? Recently, another Peace Corps Volunteer had visited my village and attempted to merely get up to the bare rock above the sea (which I've done numerous times), but backed out after seeing how difficult the climb really was without the right shoes. It is a bit challenging!which is covered in this previous story). The mountaintop above the village that I scaled about six weeks ago can be seen in the distance when looking up as I began the final portion of this hike. Below is the opposite view, looking down the diagonal pathway once I reached the top. It is quite a feeling of accomplishment (and a bit of an adrenaline rush) once you overcome the adversities and reach your goal.
By the time I had slowly and carefully worked my way back down the steep and treacherous hillside, she had created another smaller one to greet me at the bottom, as shown below. I think these expressions of appreciation are not just for what I've done by myself, but in some respects it is a cumulative result of all the hard-working Peace Corps Volunteers who have served on this little island in the past. Dominicans realize that the Peace Corps (or “Pisko” in the local kweyol dialect) has been coming here to help for many years. Those previous volunteers collectively played a part in creating the appreciation that greets each of us new volunteers when we arrive to help Dominicans.