A New Baby, 23 Blissful Years and Changing the world!

Meet my new little neighbor! His name is Xavier Peter Chapple and he came into the world May 20, 2011 at a whopping 9.2 lbs and about 20 inches long! My girlfriend, Diane, and I were at the hospital when he was born. It was so sweet to watch new dad, Aaron, get acquainted with his new son in the nursery. His wasn’t easy. He wasn’t positioned correctly in his mom and they had to perform a cesarean. The new family arrived home Sunday night, May 22 and have been getting settled in. I haven’t seen much of Xavier as Lauren’s parents arrived a few days later and they have been off showing them the sites! I am certain that once things settle down, I will be able to spend some quality time with him! He is such a cutie!

This is our new favorite beach. It is about 1 1/2 hours east of us in a small town called La Entrada. We discovered it a few weeks ago and spent our anniversary here. May 21, 2011, we celebrated 23 blissful years of marriage! We had a lovely, peaceful day at this beach. There was no one else there! We took a picnic lunch, David had a nap, I read my book and swam. The next day, we had breakfast with Joe and Wanel Donnelli and Diane and Jose Garcia. We had it at Ocean Village in Sosua. It is such a beautiful setting there overlooking the ocean. It was a lovely anniversary.

Another day trip that David and I took with Jose and Diane was to the National Park La Isabela. It is west of Puerto Plata and is the ruins of the second settlement for Christopher Columbus in the new world, founded in 1949. The first settlement was in Haiti and was wiped out by the indigenous people after he left with some of their tribe members for Spain. It was named after the queen of Spain that funded Columbus’ expeditions and only survived for four years. I believe that it was disease that was the dimise of the settlement of Isabela. The third and final settlement that Columbus made in the new world was Santo Domingo.

There really isn’t much to see.  The ruins were mostly outlines of where the buildings were located. It was a lovely setting overlooking the turquoise water of the Caribbean sea.  This picture is the ruins of the Catholic church.  Where the tree has grown is where the alter was.  They have excavated remains of settlers buried here and have them on display in the small museum.

We ended this day trip at the top of the mountain Pico Isabel de Torres in Puerto Plata. You can take the cable car to the top, or drive, which is how we got there.  We had a lovely clear day and could see the city of Puerto Plata and the coast!  There is also a botanical garden located at the top of the mountain and a Christ statue, similar to one in Rio de Janeiro.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore the 7 acres of gardens, so have it on our “to do” list.

I have been staying busy studying Spanish…I didn’t think I was going to take anymore classes but decided that I would absolutely kick myself if I didn’t use the money that David’s company gives us for this purpose. So, I found Caberete Language Institute, which is about a 10 minute walk for me and signed up for 6 weeks of private classes, 1 1/2 hours a day, Monday-Thursday. Honestly, I was dreading going, but now, I am just loving it!!! I love the creative ideas in which they help their students to learn.

Another project that Diane and I are trying to initiate is to help the Dominicans clean up the garbage that is everywhere on this island! My breaking point was the pile of bags of garbage that was left on the beach for two weeks in front of restaurant row. I was amazed and infuriated that no one seemed to care that it was there. I wish I had taken a picture of it….but the day I thought to actually do that, they removed it! The other issue is that Dominicans have no concerns with littering. It is not uncommon to see people throw wrappers out of the window or on the ground while they are walking. Oh, and Sundays on the beach, when the Dominicans come to enjoy the day….oh my gosh, forget it!!! They have no concept of trash in/trash out. They arrive in buses from nearby cities, spend the day and whatever they brought to eat, they just throw their plates, cups, wrapper on the beach. If they have rented a chair for the day, supposedly it is the responsibility of the boy who is overseeing the rentals to clean up after them. However, these boys could care less if they get all the garbage. Often, on a Sunday night, I walk the beach and can easily fill two trash bags of garbage. Another issue, is even if they wanted to throw their garbage away, there are no trash cans anywhere on the beach. I have discovered that Dominicans don’t pay taxes, so therefore, there is no budget to pay someone to remove the garbage if it was collected. Where to begin to solve this problem?????

Diane has contact with a gentleman who has a project of burning garbage…it doesn’t have to be separated….to create electricity and the ashes can be used for compost. This project would not cost the country anything to build as the United Nations has agreed to build them in any third world country that is interested. All Diane and I need to do, is set up a meeting of the right government officials to hear the presentation of the developers!!! The key words here are government officials. We are trying to enlist the help of Barrick as they have the contacts with the government already established. It is a slow process and takes patients.

To give you an idea of government’s attitude. Diane, Jose, David and I were visiting a national park. There was a helicopter there and when we asked about it, the guide said that it was for the Secretary of Environment, who was having lunch in the nearby town….OMG….could we be so lucky? So, Diane and Jose waited to meet him and ask him if he would be willing have a meeting to learn about the incinerator project. As they approached him, he was all smiles and very welcoming. When they started to explain what they wanted, his demeanor totally changed and he said that we would have to go through the proper channels. He then promptly got into the helicopter and flew away!

Diane and I also feel that education is a very important part of this plan.  We realize that two “gringas” can’t walk in and tell the locals what we think that they should be doing.  So, I have contacted a few non-profit agencies in the states trying to find Spanish material to present in the schools, on the national television station to help Dominicans have a better understanding of how garbage affects the environment and their livelihood.  Again, this doesn’t happen overnight.  I have set my goals low…if I change one person’s attitude towards littering, I have succeeded!  Plus, if we end up in another third world country, the outline has been established to start a “don’t litter” campaign there!

Well, I guess that brings you up-to-date with our adventures.  We are going to Maine June 30th.  David will spend two weeks there. I will be there for six weeks.   David is especially looking forward to it as he hasn’t been back to the states since we arrived here last May!!!  Blessings to all…..

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