St. Louis High School Spanish Club takes a trip to Dominican Republic!


Courtesy Photo

This photo captures a picture of the Spanish club posing in front of one of their many stops.

Aaron Bowerman , Writer

The St. Louis High School 2021 Spanish Club traveled to the Dominican Republic over Spring Break Tuesday March 29, through April 5.

Going on the trip was none-other than Reece Giles, Aaron Bowerman, Ellie Gager, Allison Onstott, Kiersten Francisco, and Spanish Teacher Ms. Kisser. This rambunctious group kicked off their first day with a fast drive from the Santo Domingo Airport to the Hodelpa Novus Plaza. From there, the group hit up Colonial Santo Domingo visiting the street of Ladies, two forts, the oldest mission in the Americas, and visited the Eternal Flame in the National Pantheon. Once the long day was finally over and the burning sunset, the group was off for their first meal eating at a five-star restaurant and hotel.

Day two for the Sharks was just as action-packed but lasted 6 hours longer starting at 8 a.m. The group took their time visiting Las Cuevas de Tres Ojos. The three eye caves are one of the Dominican Republic’s most frequently toured cave systems. Student Reece Giles, stated, “We visited the three-eyed caves aka Las Cuevas de Tres Ojos. The three-eyed caves consisted of three Lakes each resembling a different eye. There was a fourth lake, but unlike the rest, this one was created by the ocean itself. So they do not consider it to be an eye. Each of these lakes had its own type of beauty.” 

After the stunning experience at the caves, the group moved on to the Alcazar de Colon, a museum of Spanish heritage which provided a detailed history of the daily life of the Viceroy in Hispaniola. After the tour, the group was off to lunch and then toured an illustrious chocolate factory. The prestigious Kah Kow Experience museum was where the group witnessed the fine process of harvesting, refining, and making chocolate. Later, the Sharks traveled to Jarabacoa where they dined on traditional Dominican cuisine in their hotel restaurants.

On day three, the group white water rafted on Ya Que del Norte the group had some very interesting experiences with flamboyant tour guides. Kiersten Francisco further elaborated, “White water rafting was such a fun experience! I didn’t really know what to expect, but I actually thought it was a great adventure. The funniest part was when our tour guide fell out of the raft. Then the rafting instructor tried to grab her and he fell out too. This became a good joke between us all after that and something I’ll always remember.” After that fun-filled experience, the day passed fairly quickly into the next. On day four, the group visited an Artiesan’s shop. A clay smith allowed each member to craft a traditional faceless doll, try their hand at a kicking potters wheel, and on top of it all, gave a hands-on lesson in brick making. After all their hard work in the brick shop, the group left for Santiago, where they lunched and toured at the infamous Central Leon Muesum. Tummies filled and minds opened, and the group continued on for another culturally immersive experience with Juan, touring street art, cracking carnival whips, and feasting on  Fernando’s empanadas.

After a great night’s sleep in the bouncing city, the crew started day five with a nice short hour and forty-five minute drive to see the San Felipe Fort in Puerto Plata. During the encounter, the group learned of the fort’s great historical significance throughout the revolution of the D.R. and its role as a prison for founding father Juan Pablo Duarte. This day also happened to be the group’s first true experience up close with the ocean so close they could feel the spray. Soon after, the group took another short drive, this time into Cabarete where they were instructed in the art of Jiu-Jitsu by Pablo, mentor of the D.R.’s only UFC fighter. At the facility, the group was taught close guard and situational awareness. Once done rolling around the mat, the group headed off to dance in traditional Cabarete festival costumes. This is an interesting experience as the dance takes five miles often in 90-degree weather. Thankfully, the group was only asked to dance for five minutes but, that was enough to soak them through.

Day six was full of the sun from a stunning mountain sunrise and the blistering heat on the ocean. The Sharks spent most of their time catching some Dominican waves out on the Caribbean sea. Despite the physical taxation of surfing for two hours, the group pressed forward. Eventually, they made it out to the Monkey Jungle zipline park, where the crew got to enjoy the thrilling experience of unenforced safety laws and building regulations. Despite the fast-paced day, the group still had plenty of time to unwind in their mountain-top bungalows. 

Day seven started off bright and early at 6:30 am in the morning when the group took a nice three-hour drive to where they boated out to the Cayo Arena sandbar. At Cayo Arena, the group snorkeled, swam, and relaxed in the sun. On the way back to shore the group boated through the lush mangrove habitat, where they glided across the seemingly glass inlets and brackish lakes. The group then headed back to Santiago for an emotional formal dinner together. Where official goodbyes were said and where day seven closed.

Day eight was a prolonged goodby, from day start till walking through the airport entrance. The trip ended and the journey home began. As club advisor, Ms. Kisser stated, “There was a lot of uncertainty leading up to this trip, but once we got there, everything went really smoothly and as well as we could have asked for. The days were very full; we had a lot of fun, but we also learned a lot about Dominican culture. It was definitely a unique trip! I am very proud of how well the students traveled and participated in the experience; they definitely represented SLHS well.” So ends the D.R. trip, but coming soon will be the 2023 Spanish trip to Ecuador.