Day 4: HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training

60 seconds per exercise, 10 seconds rest between

🌸 HIP CIRCLES

Do 30 seconds rotating hips clockwise, then 30 seconds anti-clockwise

🌸 BICYCLES (legs and arms)
🌸 SPRINT
🌸 SQUATS WITH CALF RAISE

Squat normally but raise alternate heels each time you go down

🌸 HIGH KNEES
🌸 LEG RAISES

Lie on your back with your legs straight and raise them together as high as you can keeping them straight.Don’t touch the ground between each rep! Do in sets of 10

🌸 JUMPING JACKS
🌸 HIP RAISES

Lie on your back with your knees bent then raise your hips up, keep your butt off the floor between reps

🌸 BURPEES
🌸 VERTICAL LEG CRUNCHES

Normal crunches but raise your legs in the air, ankles crossed. Do in sets of 15

🌸 MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
🌸 20 BALLET SQUATS

A regular squat but with your feet pointed out

🌸 BUTT KICKS

Remember to always stretch before and after exercising!

Good luck! xx

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Las Galeras

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Las Galeras is in the North East of the Dominican Republic in the Samana Province. It is a peaceful town with a beautiful landscape right on the end of the peninsula.

I spent five days there with my family over the Christmas period and have some recommendations for anyone interested in travelling there.

When to go?

January, February, March. At the start of every year thousands of humpback whales migrate to the Dominican Waters to mate and give birth.

The whale season runs from around January 14th to March 15th.

Where to stay?

There are endless choices of accommodation in Las Galeras, some in the village and some scattered a little further out. I would suggest staying closer to the village as renting a car for the further away places can be tricky. We are still travelling in a developing country and not everything always goes to plan.

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Luxury Accommodation

Villa Serena

This honeymoon villa looks out onto beach and clear blue waters. It is a 5 minute walk from the town centre. The rooms are elegant and spacious with a very peaceful environment.  The restaurant serves Caribbean cuisine centred around local seafood and is open to all, I would recommend calling beforehand.

£100 per night

Family Accommodation

El Pelicano Apart-Hotel

This is where I stayed with my family. We were given an upstairs and downstairs apartment which accommodated five of us. There was of plenty space and Hans, the host, was incredibly helpful with sorting out the sleeping arrangements. Each apartment came with a kitchen-sitting area combined, bedroom, bathroom and balcony. We were also offered free wifi.

The apartments are located a 5/10 minute walk from the town centre and a 5 minute walk through the woods to the beach.

from £80 per night

Backpackers Accommodation

Gri Gri

809 705 2894

The accommodation is designed for backpacks so is basic and cheap. The rooms are clean and have hot water and a fan. The restaurant onsite also serves tasty Dominican food, open daily from 8am-10pm except Sundays.

RD$1500 per night

AirBnb also offers a large range of accommodations for varying prices.

Transport

Guaguas run every 20 minutes from Samana and takes about 45 minutes. As long as you are standing on the main street they will pick you up. The locals are also very helpful if you ask them for directions. Guaguas generally run when it is light outside, so after around 5/6pm they are less frequent.

There are taxi services from Samana but these will be more costly, you can negotiate the prices if you speak a little Spanish though.

You are able to rent a car, the roads are in good conditions, but I personally would not recommend it as the companies can be unreliable and the rules of the road a little… loco! Car rental will cost from £40 a day.

 

Where to eat?

The main street in Las Galeras has a mix of restaurants and comedores. My personal favourite was La Bodeguita, an affordable tapas restaurant close to the beach. It was always full of life and the cumin carrots were delicious!

If you are a pizza fan then II Pirata is for you. They serve thin-crust pizzas every evening except Tuesdays, they also serve lunches and a selection of Dominican foods.

For breakfast or a coffee break La Marseillaise French Patisserie serves a selection of bakery and stickies.

 

What to do?

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Las Galeras is situated within the Los Haities National Park so there are heaps of tours offered, including whale watching, all departing from Samana. I have written a separate post about this, so click here for more information regarding tours.

There are a couple of beaches in Las Galeras with clear waters and palms. Playa Fronton is the most secluded beach and is only accessible by foot or boat. Playa Rincon is a slightly busier 4km stretch of white sand and swaying palms with several beach restaurants and sun loungers.

The town is littered with small trinket shops filled with seashells, colourful shirts, and hammocks. I would recommend visiting the Tribal Art Gallery on the main stretch to see some Taino style sculptures and gifts.

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Getting by

Some handy tips and necessary information for travelling in the Dominican Republic.

Language ~ Spanish

Currency ~ RD$ (pesos)

Electricity ~ The standard two pin (US) plug is used

Always hide your money, the local women carry money in their bras and only take what they need. That said, ATMs are hugely unreliable so it is best to bring what you need with you. The locals deal 90% of the time in cash so it is highly unlikely they will accept a card.

US Dollars are accepted in touristy places but the prices will be much lower if you pay in pesos. I was once asked for US$50 for a shirt, but I asked to pay in pesos and was charged 500 pesos (less than US$10).

If you can, SPEAK SPANISH! This will open doors for you and reduce prices significantly.

In the touristy areas you can wear shorts and strap tops, but if you are travelling further off the beaten track it is respectful to cover up more.

Malaria is not commonly found and not recommended to people travelling to touristy areas. If you are travelling to a mosquito area (the South West) malarials are not essential but to be on the safe side chloroquine is the tablet to take.

Local Terms

guineo ~ banana

comedor ~ small Dominican Restaurant with local food

guagua ~ the public minibuses

chin ~ a very little bit

cuba libre ~ coke and rum

tostones ~ fried plantains (similar to chips)

concho ~ some form of makeshift public transport

colmado ~ small food hut which sells the very basics

tigre ~ basically a street gangster

mani ~ peanut (this is rarely used in cooking)

 

I hope this helps!

Sacha xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

£6200: How I raised it in 8 months

Two years ago I was selected to become a Project Trust volunteer. Meaning two things: 1 ~ I was about to have the best year of my life, and 2 ~ I had a whopping £6200 to fundraise in 8 months.

Before we start I would like to just say how worth all that effort was, and that’s how you’re going to raise that amount of money. Effort.

So that’s why you’re reading this… you want to know HOW. I think one of the most important things was having an achievable goal in mind. I am going to do a step by step guide to show you exactly what I did.

Step 1: Have a plan

I started my fundraising in November after my selection course and I had until June to complete it. Once you have a timescale you can split the sum into months. So in my case I had roughly £800 a month to raise. This still a little terrifying but easier to cope with. Chunk by chunk, that’s how we are going to succeed.

Then you need to look at a calendar and find the major events in the year:

Halloween, Christmas, New Year, Valentines Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day.

These are in everyone’s calendars but there will be more specific to you. Does your country have a national day? Does your school have specific celebrations? Do you celebrate Chinese New Year?

These dates will be key when it comes to organising events.

Step 2: Who is going to give?

I’ll start you off…

Immediate family, distant family, neighbours, your local church, friends, your school, charitable trusts, businesses, people you don’t even know.

Step 3: HOW and WHY

So now you have thought of a date, you know who will be available. Now you need to know exactly HOW you are going to make money and WHY these people are going to part with their money.

You must persuade them that they want to give to you. Most people will give to you simply because they know you, but in order to get the most you can from each person you must spend time explaining where the money is going and how it is going to benefit you.

Endless times when I was fundraising people would ‘pop a little extra in the pot’ because ‘what you are doing is incredible’ or ‘I know how much you are putting into this’.

Charitable Trusts

THIS IS SO WORTH IT. Please please listen to me when I tell you how much easier this makes your life. A few days of research and letter writing saved me months of time and effort.

I was given over £2500 from Charitable Trust. Yes I know. Wow.

I am afraid I can’t tell you what Charitable Trusts gave to me, and it may not help anyway as each one has a set criteria you must fit into. But I will tell you where to find them:

  1. The Directory of Grant Making Trusts –  a HUGE book you can find in public libraries or for quite cheaply on eBay.
  2. If you are Scottish: scottishgrantmakers.org 
  3. If you are from the UK: http://trustfunding.org.uk/search.aspx
  4. Your local Rotary Clubs, Round Tables, Church and even School
  5. Ask around – other people fundraising, people you know who are involved with charity work. You’d be surprised who people know.

This website may also help you to find trusts and write letters.

I wrote over 50 letters and received only 20 responses. But each and every trust was incredibly generous to me. I would recommend calling up/emailing trusts which you don’t hear from within 4/5 months to ask if they received the letter – I got £100 simply by doing this.

Now this is very important: write proper letters; formal; informative and to the point;the right length (I’d recommend 1 side of A4); addressed correctly; and with correct grammar. If you are so lucky as to receive a donation then you must write a thank you letter.

My Events

Specifically, how did I do it?

End of training
  • Made a year plan
  • Set up Facebook fundraising page
  • Researched trusts and wrote to around 50
  • Set up Virgin Giving page

Positives: 1/3 money raised, haven’t asked any friends/family for money

Negatives: very time consuming

Money raised in stage 1: £2660 (throughout the year, but this is the total from trusts)

Christmas
  • Mince Pies and Christmas Cakes!
  • Busking

For the mince pies I made leaflets at the start of December and dropped them around the neighbourhood.

Positives: raised awareness in the community, fun

Negatives: money required to buy ingredients

Christmas Eve turned out to be an incredible time to busk! My incredibly generous brother played the pipes for an hour to raise money for me – best brother ever.

Money raised in stage 2: £261 + £85

Total so far: £3006

January Sales
  • 2nd-hand Clothes Sale at school

This was a good way to target my friends and schoolmates. I asked all of my friends to bring in any old clothes they had and sent emails around the school. I received heaps of clothing items. I then price tagged each item and set up on a free afternoon in school.

Positives: zero costs, involved my friends, new target group, fun

Negatives: time consuming, not a huge amount raised.

Money raised in stage 3: £156

Total so far: £3162

Easter
  • Masquerade Ball and Raffle

This was incredible for publicity of what I was doing and many people who couldn’t make it made donations on my Virgin Giving page.

Planning a ball isn’t simple. Trust me. I had to plan this well in advance to fix a date, location, band, food, and sell tickets.

I am not going to go into huge depth right now about how I did this but I will tell you the basic outline. If you are super curious or are thinking of organising one yourself, feel free to comment below or email me for help.

I invited people to take a table, so that they were in charge of inviting 8-10 people themselves. I had 100 people in total, ages 16+. I rented a nearby hall, caterers and band. I also decorated the hall myself. After all costs I aimed to make £15 a head, and with 100 guests it was worthwhile.

I also held a raffle at this and asked for prizes from local businesses. To name a few who contributed: Lush, Oliver Bonas, Tiso, Pizza Express. I also managed to get cinema tickets, ice skating tickets and clothing vouchers. It is best to go in person to these places as they are much more likely to give to you.

I would suggest asking those who want to make a donation but cannot make it to your event to contribute to the raffle.

Positives: a large sum raised, such a fun evening, was able to hold a raffle

Negatives: this took a lot of prior planning and commitment

Money raised in stage 4: £1109 + £701

Total so far: £4972

Exams
  • Krispy Kremes

During the exam period at school I sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts. This is such an easy way to make money as they have a fantastic fundraising program.

Positives: so simple, everyone wants one, minimum effort

Negatives: you want to eat them all yourself

Money raised in stage 5: £61

Total so far: £5033

After Exams
  • Ladies Lunch at home (twice)
  • Church Tea Party

I invited some of my mum’s friends around for a fundraising lunch where I cooked a delicious meal for them and told them about what I was doing. I then asked for donations at the end. I did this on two occasions.

Positives: good to round up people you have missed, good food, fun

Negatives: not a huge amount raised

For the Church Tea Party I got together with the minister at my Church and organised an afternoon tea for the Churchgoers and locals.

Positives: a different bunch of people (elderly can be very generous), its a tea party…

Money raised in stage 6: £160 + £186

Total so far: £5379

Sponsored Event
  • Local Triathlon

Everyone should do a sponsored event, and I highly recommend saving it until last so that you can tell people how much you have to go. This is also the only event in which people are not benefitting first hand so you really are just asking for their money at this stage.

I decided to make my own local triathlon which involved cycling, climbing a Munro (a very big hill for those non-Scots), and a canoe.

The way that this succeeded was by posting weekly/daily updates on my Facebook fundraising page to keep reminding people what I was doing and how close I was.

Positives: a good way to end, you can ask a large range of people

Negatives: you are simply asking for money

Money raised in stage 7: £821

Total: £6200

Important Notes

You must must must be sure to thank each and every person who contributes towards your fundraising. This is SO important.

Stay committed. It can be really tough to run out of ideas and motivation half way through, but keep going and you will succeed.

Use your talents: are you a great Musician? My project partner made the majority of her money from playing the guitar and singing.

If you are doing Project Trust like I am then be sure to go to the meet ups as it can be really helpful to chat to past/present volunteers for ideas.

Other event ideas:

There are tonnes of ideas on the internet but here are a few to help out:

  • car-boot sale
  • own clothes day at school
  • Halloween party
  • carnival day with face painting and games
  • get a job – waitressing is one of the easiest at a young age

Thank you for sticking with me throughout this very long post. I really hope it helps any of you out there who are fundraising. It is such a good skill to have and can actually be very enjoyable. It is also so worth it when you are finished.

Good luck!

Sacha xx

TwentySixteen

Hello hello, hola, bonjour, ni hao….

Well, for starters, happy new year! It’s always a little strange changing year and having to write 2016 wait no … 2017 at the top of your page.

As the title of this blog post suggests I am going to be writing about 2016 and what it meant for me. To make this a little easier to read I am going to split the year up into months and write a snippet of what I can remember and what stood out to me.

January

Hello 2016! Ah the highlight of January was dressing up for G’s G-themed party as…

drum roll please…

a Galaxy! I hand painted this fabulous skirt and spent over two hours painting my face until I looked somewhat alien. Then I remembered that I had to take the public bus to this party (thanks parents) and proceeded to be the amusement to all the elderly on the bus.

February

Haha, the fancy dress sixth form disco. Oh my oh my. Despite getting caught drinking (sorrryyyy) this was one of the best nights I ever had at school. Imagine being told off by your housemaster but everyone is slightly tipsy and dressed head to toe in mad outfits. Superman, fairies, David Bowie, Harry Potter… you name it.

We also had Chinese New Year and I won a prize in the raffle! For those of you who don’t know, I decided to take up Mandarin for sixth form!

March

I spent the whole of March preparing for my IB Art exhibition, which in the end I was really proud of and came together so well. It was centred around the idea of veiling and surpressing society.

April

My fundraising ball! This event was really the success in my fundraising. I organised and held a masquerade ball for 100 people and I can’t thank those who supported me with this enough. My number 1 mum, the people that came along, the band and the raffle prize donors. Thank you thank you.

May

The entire of this month was taken up with watching season 6 game of thrones (and exams – but we don’t mention those).

I also got to see Seafret with two of my best friends. It was amazing.

June

The leavers ball. Ohmygoodness best end to five years of senior school ever. This was such a high point of the year and so perfect to end on. I’m just smiling reminiscing about it.

July

The start of a new era in my life. Goodbye school, hello world.

August

19th. Possibly THE most exciting day of the entire year (except of course my birthday). This was the long awaited flight from the UK to the Dominican Republic. I can’t possibly even recreate the emotions I felt that day… leaving home, travelling across the globe, going to the total unknown, entering the country that I’d be spending an ENTIRE year at. Goodness. It was intense.

September

Yay. We have arrived in Bombita! Izzy and I started to settle into our Project, I started to get the hang of teaching in a foreign language and we made friends in the village!

October

I lived in La Hoya for two weeks! I loved helping out with the kids there and getting to know another village. And then it went a little mad…. Alice and Eve left 😦 Izzy and I went home #visaproblems.

November

The day of peace march. This was one of the most memorable moments so far. The whole village wore white clothing and marched around waving white flags and singing at the top of their voices. It was an honour to be a part of.

December

My family came out to visit my project! We took such an incredible trip around this beautiful island to Las Galeras, Jarabacoa and Barahona. For sure my favourite day was the horse trek to the waterfalls (despite my horse allergy). Jarabacoa is truly beautiful and I recommend a trip to anyone thinking of coming to the DR.

There have also been a huge number of things that I have loved in 2016. Here are a few!

Music
  • Waves (ft. Kacey Musgraves) remix – Rogue Waves
  • Petit Biscuit
  • Seafret (and I got to see them live this year which was amazing!)
  • The 1975 – Somebody Else, Paris, She’s American
  • Izzy Bizu
Movies and TV
  • Me Before You
  • No Escape
  • Documentary – The True Cost
  • Planet Earth 2
  • Game of Thrones Season 6
Hobbies
  • Photography
  • Blogging
  • Youtube-ing and Vlogging – have you seen my vlogmas?!
  • Cooking

I hope you all had an incredible year and all the best for 2017!

Sacha xx

Los Haitises

img_4993Los Haitises National Park was established in 1976 on the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic. The biggest attractions to this area are the Forests of Mangroves, the Caves, and of course the Whales in January.

Tours

There are countless tours of the Islands: Bird Tours; Whale Watching; Cave Tours; Boat Trips and Canoe Tours. The park is only accessible by boat.

The going rate is usually around US$60 per person for a full day including lunch. It is always best to pay in Dominican Pesos (DOP) and you will often get a better deal this way.

All the tours depart from the dock in Samaná but most tours will offer transport from your area.

There are tour guides who speak English, French, German and Spanish (maybe other languages too… just ask!)

What to pack?

  • Swimwear
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
  • Water

The caves can also be quite slippery so sturdy shoes are better, but definitely not essential.

Tours can be pre-booked online, or there are always places in the towns nearby to book. Here are some of the tour companies:

Moto Marina Tours

Tauro Tours

I hope you enjoy!

xx

 

From the perspective of a Hermit

My shells have certainly been changing these past weeks. With my other half, Izzy, shipped off to London to process her visa, my mattress has been on the move: Bombita – La Hoya – Cabarete (one night and one night only) – and Santo Domingo…

Every morning either Tiff or Nico has been dropping me off at Escuela Copa Bombita in time to observe the array of blue t-shirted chicos arriving at school – always an eventful affair. The kinder kids waddle in heading to a classroom of choice, usually with a Disney backpack stuffed full of whatever they found on the way, always without a clue about what’s going on. On one occasion I stumbled (literally) over a pack of kinders hiding behind the Artistica door… shoeless. The older kids (ages 6-12) are more efficient with their means of transport to school; mostly arrive via motoconcho. I think the most memorable moment was when two of my grade 1 class arrived in a wheelbarrow.

At 8:15am school begins.

At 8:19am (being optimistic) the kids have formed a fila and walked to the Artistica room.

At 8:27am (again being optimistic) the riots and the background noise is at just the right level for my voice to be heard if I shout, and I can start quizzing the kids on the classroom rules.

At 8:32am I am ready to begin, unless the boy who’s pencil was stolen realises and jumps onto the back of the culprit starting yet another riot.

Well, am I being too harsh on the kids? In the remaining 28 minutes of the lesson progress is actually made. The most rewarding moment of my entire teaching career (all 71 days of it) was when I asked my 3rd grade if they knew who ‘Peso-Doble’ in the ‘Cocodrilo-Enorme’ was, and they shouted back ‘Claro! El hipapotamo!’

When the Bombita day is over and I have been given enough rice and beans to feed the entire school for my lunch (apparently I need to fatten up), I would make my way back to La Hoya to help Eve and Alice with their lessons. At the start of each of their classes I needed to introduce myself…

“hola, me llamo Sacha, vivo en Escocia”

…to which the normal response is: “ah… si! Americana”

In my most recent English class Alice had the kids all colouring in the flags of English speaking countries. I was strolling around the room telling the kids ‘bonita’, ‘muy bien’, ‘perfecto’ as all teachers do, when I saw that one of the chicas clearly had no clue what she was doing. So, in my best attempt at speaking Spanish I told her that each of the flags represented countries, that all these countries spoke English, and that she had to colour the flags like the example on the board. To which she replied, ‘no, you’re wrong, there is only one flag in the world – Dominican’.

The contrasts in this country never fail to impress. Bombita village hidden amongst sugar cane fields, where we hope to have electricity for more than 5 hours a day, and a decent nights sleep without the earless Donkey crying at 4am. La Hoya village, slightly better-off than Bombita but with their school under reconstruction so lessons all being held in churches and outside. Then there is the busy, sweltering hot Barahona. Every time we drive through the city I have to sit in the back of the truck, while we swerve through the traffic and honking horns, and say silently to the God of death ‘not today’. Between Barahona and Santo Domingo there are miles and miles of rolling mountains, covered in thick layers of rainforest-green plants and palms. Now here I am, with yet a different shell, in Santo Domingo for the weekend sipping at my Lady Grey tea in a rustic Parisian cafe in a completely different world.

Hasta Luego!

Sacha xx

a little life update

Hola!

I thought it was time to update you, verbally, on some snippets of the past few weeks. So here you go:

24th September – two weeks before…

The La Hoya girls had scooted off to Boca Chica on the Friday so on Saturday morning Izzy and I headed to the main road to catch the bus into Santo Domingo for the weekend. After the treacherous sweaty hike and 45 minutes watching buses pass in the other direction we managed to successfully hail a SD bus.

3 hours later we were greeted by our friend Binchuuaaaal (well that’s how its pronounced) who took us the ‘local way’ to the Colonial Zone in the city. The ‘local way’ involved catching several guaguas (let me just explain what a guagua is… a guagua ranges in size from a small, very broken down and definitely-failed-MOT-test car which pretends it is a public bus… to a fully air conditioned stage coach fit with horror movies and very loud Dominican music, if you’re especially lucky you will be serenaded by the locals on the bus). We then treated ourselves to a Bon and wandered around feeling very touristy, taking photos and admiring the street art.

When Binchuuaaaal was tired of pretending to be a tourist we took several more guaguas to the outskirts of the city to have rice and beans with his family. *side note: when i say family I don’t mean the usual eight siblings and parents, I mean uncles, aunts, cousins, 2nd cousins, grandparents, great grandparents… you get the point… we met them all.

2nd October – one week before…

Izzy turned 19! After a lazy morning of pancakes, opening presents (me watching Izzy open presents) and chatting to families Eve, Alice and Teressa joined us for lunch. Between us we managed to actually whip up a pretty tasty meal of cheesy tacos and fun sauces followed by pink and blue birthday cake, credits all go to Teressa for this one. In the evening we headed out into the village and were treated with espagetti (a Dominican favourite) and tubs of funky flavoured ice cream.

5th October – the week of…

Yes, you guessed it… Hurricane Matthew! Now, I am well aware that the Dominican Republic was not hit with the extreme category 4 force as Haiti was, but we did receive high winds and serious flooding. On Monday night the rain hit hard and by the evening the entire village was at least 5 inches underwater, some houses completely immersed in water, others just getting their toes wet. Izzy and I went out to assess the damage and were swept up in crowds of shrieking kids running around the village in an enormous water fight.

In the morning we all packed our bags and were evacuated in the COPA truck to La Hoya to dry off and connect to the Wifi, to let our families know we hadn’t drowned overnight.

The rain eased off throughout the rest of the week so we returned to Bombita to help sort  out the village. Luckily the lake behind the village had not overflown (probably due to the last five years of drought), so the damage was not major. A free food truck arrived on Wednesday, thank you to all those who donated money towards helping the Dominican Republic, and the village managed to get back on its feet quite quickly.

8th October

With the Hurricane passed and the damage repaired, life went back to normal again.

Last weekend Izzy and I decided to have a home-weekend. We chilled out on the beach on Saturday, ate avocados, and walked around the sugar cane fields. The most bizarre and exciting moment was probably finding ourselves in the midst of a melon fight. This involved two teams of boys throwing mini melons at each other from across the river in the cane fields. Trust me, it can get very competitive…

Anyway, that is all for now.

Hasta Luego!

Sacha xx