Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving, November 24, 2011
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

This is our first Thanksgiving serving in the Dominican Republic, and I am so thankful for many things:

A beautiful wife who continues to look amazing.
Two gorgeous daughters, their husbands, our little sweet Emiline, and a future grandson on the way.
Beautiful weather every single day.
A mission call that allows us to serve some of God’s children on an island in the Caribbean.
The knowledge that the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Christ, is true.
A Church that helps hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, through its humanitarian projects throughout the world.
Good health.
Brothers and sisters
The privilege of attending the Santo Domingo Temple at least once per week.
Bon ice cream.   
Fresh fruit drinks every day, made from mango, blue berries, pineapples, bananas, and vanilla yogurt
Packages that come periodically with licorice and candy corns.
Skype that allows us to talk to our family.
Senior missionary rules that allow us to do things the young elders and sisters are not able to do.
Dominicanos who are incredibly faithful to the Church.
The Internet, email, and Facebook.
Delicious food, no matter where you eat.
The ability to read and write.
A good camera that can “click and shoot” like the best of them.
Photoshop to help with the pictures that aren’t quite up to specs.
La clase de Español that helps me keep up on my Spanish.
Air conditioning.
A gate and a guard.
Being able to speak a second language.
Scriptures, journals, missionaries.
Family Home Evening, fondly called FHE.
People who know red means stop.
Sharp senses to swerve just at the right time.
A GPS that works and Elder Snow, the GPS guru.
The Caribbean Ocean, clear blue skies, and white sandy beaches.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Samaná Penisula: An Incredible View

"Samaná Penisula: An Incredible View"
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

                The travel to the Samaná Penisula was incredible. The countryside was replete with foliage, green foliage. I wish I knew the names of all of the trees. We drove by rice fields—those just being planted, those growing, and those being harvested. The tractors that harvest it are pretty big and do not have tires, per se. Rather, they have big tracks in order to get through the mucky soil. Since rice fields are flooded in order to grow, the ground is always wet and soggy. We also passed by huge groves of coconuts. They had cut out the tops of them. The sign in the field said, “This is a field of coconuts being renovated.” Along side each topped tree was a new seedling about five or six feet tall. It was amazing to see how straight they had planted the original trees. To me, it seemed that they had stuck huge poles into the ground. Many of the topped coconut trees had vines growing up the entire trunk.
Samaná Bay
                Samaná is a typical seaside community, complete with boats, a gorgeous bay, five-star hotels, lots of touristy-like traffic with buses and such, and a host of people willing to take you in their boat or the boat they represent out to the island. During January-March, the whales come to Samaná to mate; so, there are even more people who come to watch the whales. This is something we would like to do. It would be fun.
                We drove up the road to a very nice hotel. The Glaziers and Atkinsons had stayed there, and we wanted to check it out. The name of it was the Vista Mare. We pulled up to the gate. I got out and asked the guard if we could visit with someone about the place and a possible tour. “Sí, Señor.” He quickly opened up the gate and pointed me to the Reception area. We parked, and we went in. We talked to the recepionista who walked us over to a room, which looked out over the ocean. The room was nice, too. When you walked in, you saw a dining room on the left side and a sitting room on the right. Two bedrooms anchored the suite. Also, a huge kitchen with all of the gadgetries you would ever need to cook were hidden behind cupboards and shelves. She showed us the dishwasher and a stackable washer and drier. Then, we walked out onto the balcony. Wow! It was an incredible vista. She told us we could watch the whales frolicking our in the bay during the whale season. I looked over to Joanne and said, “This is bigger than our apartment.”
                We then walked over to the pool area and the dining facilities. These were just as nice. As we walked out, she beckoned us to climb into the van, and she took us down to one of the beaches—well, almost down to the beach. She took us to a parking place, where we then walked down to the beach. The stairs were a bit steep, but we clung to the walkway and went down. The beach was tuck beneath steep walls. On the far side, an arroyito (little stream) dribbled into the ocean between crashing washes. The waves were a bit fierce, we thought, although the young woman said they were today, but usually, though, it was a big more calm.
                We climbed back up the stairs and motored back to the Reception area. We went in and picked up some brochures and visited a bit more. They charge just one rate for the room. You could have as many as you wanted stay there. Then we were off to the end of the road beach.
                We drove for about 20 minutes or so and ended up at the end of the road. Literally. The road ended at the beach. We parked. While Elder Snow talked to the one of the gentleman there at the beach, Sister Snow, Joanne, and I walked down to the beach. Just incredible! The waves crashed in the distance on the rocks while close to the beach, they crashed into much smaller waves and crawled up the beach. Soon, Sister Snow and Joanne had their shoes off and allowed the water to creep around their feet. I took a few pictures and just stared out into the massive ocean.
To my right, several young men heaved and pushed a boat out into the water. Several people from a tour van waded out into the water and climbed in. I don’t know where they were going because we learned from Elder Snow that the waves were too high for the boat to go to the la Playa Rincón, which is a playa about 3,000 feet long. We didn’t have time to do this although it would be something to do, for sure.
Then, it was time to head back to Samaná. We stopped at the place where we had gone to the restroom earlier in the day. The place was called: “La Mata Rosado.” It was very Dominican, I thought. But then Elder Snow and I ordered el plato del día. He asked me what I wanted with it. I told him arroz and what about habichuelas (beans). He just looked at me. I told him one of the Dominicans told me that if you have arroz (rice), you must have habichuelas with it. He said, “We are French. If you want to have habichuelas, you need to go next door to the Dominican place.” Lift my finger to my nose and push up. The food was very good. I think I could go back to this French-Dominican restaurante.
On the way, we had to stop to take some pictures of the topped coconut trees. They were under renovation or so said the sign. They had planted 5-6 ft little coconut trees along side of the big sticks now de-headed of its vast foliage. I would like to ask someone what will happen with the topped trees.
We headed home, not that we wanted to. Samaná is one of those places one needs to go and spend a few days. We just went to become acquainted. We would love to go and spend a few days there, visiting the various beaches, climbing up to see the waterfall at El Limón, walking around some of the quaint streets at the end of the road on the Samaná peninsula. Truly, it is one of those places one must just take time to enjoy.