the trip consisted of ten days sailing around the bahamas with my parents following a well known boat race around the abacos islands. at the end of the ten days my parents dropped cresson and i off at one of the main islands where we headed to the airport and hopped on a plane to port au prince, haiti. we were picked up at the airport and taken to st. joseph’s where cress and i planned to help with a reconstruction project for what prior to the earthquake had been a boys home. we ended up getting transferred to their sister organization, wings of hope, in a town outside of the city and into the mountains called fermathe. at wings of hope we worked with kids with mental and physical disabilities helping with classes, feeding meals, maintenance, making faces and speaking broken creole. after breaking all the boys hearts we left with teary eyes to the bus station in port au prince. on the second level front row, we pretended to drive the bus and its passengers across the island to santo domingo. here we said howdy to a fellow tennessean running a hostel in the old town and had dinner at a lonely planet “sure bet” and tasted the national beer, presidente, for the first time. yum!

we headed out the next day to santiago where we met up with our first couch surfer, juliana. we stayed out until 5 am attending a huge annual concert for presidente beer in the VIP section and dancing at clubs afterwards. the next day we took a concho (small van taxi) to jarabacoa. where the hotel we reserved turned out to be closed and our motoconcho drivers (motorbike taxis) decided to take us to a cheap hotel they knew of in the city. bad choice. we pretended to settle in, but instead brainstormed how to sneak out to find another safer, cleaner place to stay the night where we wouldn’t fear for our lives. saved by the iphone we splurged on the tiny hotel 4 blocks down with the most stars and positive reviews. it was the ritz, compared. we told the concierge he was an angel and he blushed and helped us book a rafting trip for the morning. at 9 we were picked up for white water rafting down the yaque del norte river with a group of big hairy russians (minus the tiny blonde model with them). santo domingo followed, our final destination. we couch surfed again with jorge and his awesome family in a perfect spot in the middle of the city. we walked to the art museum and across the city to all the sights, finally seeing white tourists for the first time in weeks. i couldn’t help but stare. we spent the rest of our budgeted money on good meals and souvenirs, ice cream, an independent film and midday drinks in big city cafe’s. we said goodbye to jorge’s family at night and early the next morning we drove through the rain in a taxi to the airport. the entire ride i couldn’t believe the trip was ending.

it had been the longest trip in the world at times, like a rubber band being stretched slow and popping back in an instant. we had been stretched thin physically and mentally. getting kicked out of hostels and the transit of travel had exhausted us, but it had also become our life for the past month. we had snapped to the end of our slingshot adventure. some days had felt like forever—waking up at 6 to work or staying out till 5 to dance. some were filled with tanning oil and 5 hour book reading stints while others were filled with bus rides, kid drool, hammer bruises and last minute changes to the plan. but through every situation we looked at each other and through smirks or smiles we reminded each other,

another day in paradise..