Rea: En Centro Verde 2014
Centro Verde, Rio Limpio, autumn 2014
I have been playing with the idea to go back to Rio Limpio because I value the simplicity of life in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. I was there 3 years ago with a group of international students and it was an awesome month of work and joy. In autumn I was tired of filling my mind up with theories at university, so I spontaneously decided to go to Rio Limpio. Fortunately I was welcomed to live and work at Centro Verde for the six weeks.
When I arrived in Santo Domingo, I felt how my body was getting used to the heat and humidity. It is like sinking three levels downwards, giving your weight to the ground. The mind becomes tired and you definitely just want to think the most important thoughts. In the first days I was a bit overwhelmed by all the traffic, noise and people. The colmado, a little shop and meeting point, was playing Bachata all night as if it were in a disco. Horns begun to fill the streets in the early morning. Since you better have your window open at night for some gentle breeze, it feels like everything is happening in your bed. By day I went out to discover the touristic zone and went for a swim in the turquoise sea. The woman I stayed with was very welcoming and showed me around.
After a couple of days in Santo Domingo I travelled up north to Rio Limpio. The last two hours I was sitting on the platform of a little truck driving through the mountains. The locals beside me were vividly discussing, but I couldn't really understand what they were saying. I was enjoying the view over the forest.
In Centro Verde I was warmly welcomed by Chicho, who is co-creating the project, and two Finnish volunteers. During the next days I got to know the other locals who care for the place. Wooden huts, the kitchen, the workshop, gardens, many fruit trees - when I looked around I could see there was a lot of work done in previous years.
During the week we worked in various places where things needed to be done. We cut trees for a greenhouse and construct it with the poles. We prepared organic fertilizer for the vegetables in the garden and cut weed in the forest so the fruit trees have more light to grow. Beside many more other things, we also helped farmers on their fields and planted fruit trees in the village. On one farm we helped planting potatoes and could try out to plough with oxen. It turned out to be a though business if your not trained. Machines helping out to do the actual work are seldom in the rural region. Machete is used with skill by every man.
I learned about many exotic fruit plants I haven’t seen before.The forest of Centro Verde is full of fruity surprises. On walks locals climbed trees to harvest sweet Candongo and sour Starfruit. And there are many different citric fruit which are prepared in juice everyday - a welcoming refreshment after some sweating.
On weekends we went for walks to a beautiful waterfall in the middle of the forest, visited the village or enjoyed the tranquility of Centro Verde.
We had a very good time with the workers of Centro Verde. It was interesting to hear stories of their families, about the relationship to their Haitian neighbors, about how one sees the relationship of man and woman. Often we joked around, sometimes I wouldn’t understand what someone was saying in his Dominican accent, but it was funny anyway.
I really appreciate the easygoing way people generally are in the Dominican Republic. It is in big contrast to my middle European background, where we are very exact, punctual and keen to make things right. It seems like the heat and physical work makes daily life exhausting enough, one doesn’t feel like making extra effort. Social life is much more important. A lot of time is spent together, eating, working, sitting around, playing domino. When I was visiting the village, people would greet me and invite me for coffee. It is a very hospitable culture.
After those weeks of simple rural life in Rio Limpio I left with a back bag full of beautiful memories. I’m carrying with me scenes of abundant nature and cheerfully encounters. I’m very grateful for the time in Centro Verde. Muchas gracias a todos!
Rea / Switzerland
- Chicho and I
- Cabo, Sara and Orest from Finland, I and Chijuelo
- Painting one of the houses
- Building the greenhouse
- Excursion to the waterfalls with Gonzales
- Building pieces of furniture with Veli from Finland
- My goodbye-supper.