New post from missionary Erin Mackenzie

New post from missionary Erin Mackenzie

My Dam Weekend

Posted: 04 Oct 2020 05:45 PM PDT

I explored some uncharted territory last weekend: the presa. My friend Kelsey talks about her boyfriend Franco’s grandma’s house there often; after having been invited along for a quick overnight, I finally know what she’s talking about. Presa means “dam,” and it turns out there’s one on the Yaque del Norte River a little over an hour from Santiago. Five of us loaded my car to the gills and set out Saturday morning. 
Photo op as we crossed the dam itself: the lake formed as a result of its construction in the 60’s (?) is long and narrow – essentially a widened section of the river. 
Locks control the flow of water that heads back toward Santiago. 
A second, smaller dam nearby (that we also crossed) created a reservoir. This was taken out my drivers’ side window, looking toward the lake; the reservoir would be opposite it, on the passenger side. 
Stop #1: lunch at one of four lakeside restaurants. We brought a picnic and just bought an order of fries so we could set up on the restaurant’s private section of shoreline. 
My Chacos were basically made for the next 24 hours. After post-lunch hammocking/napping/card playing, we checked out the area on foot, including scoping out this Airbnb for future reference. 
Stop #2: another of the restaurants (accessible only on foot by walking down a steeply inclined dirt road), where we bought some bottled water, left our stuff in a picnic shelter, and traipsed down the last bit of the rocky hillside to get in the water for a bit. Franco picked me one of these that I forget the name of on the way back up to the car. It was tart and slighly kiwi-ish, maybe?
Stop #3: Franco’s grandma’s house. The place had been vacant long enough to need a bit of housekeeping – sweeping, mopping, moving patio furniture outside, etc. – which made a relaxing evening of front porch sittin’, chili, wine, hot chocolate, Code Names, and Uno all the more so. The lake view could have been worse 🙂
Sunrise from the roof was 100% worth hauling a rickety ladder up an exterior concrete ramp that was missing one foothold, leaning it against a wall on the unfinished second floor, and ducking under some power lines to climb out the peaked opening where a dormer window would go. 
One last hike, this time along a shallow but swiftly flowing tributary of the Yaque del Norte that we had to brave crossing once each way. A low for me was noticing as we set out that one side of the chest strap clip on my daypack had evidently fallen off the day before. I looked all over my car AND the house when we got back, and it was nowhere to be found 🙁
We cleaned out the fridge for lunch and then headed back to the city, since Franco needed to turn around and drive to the capital, where he lives and works, before curfew at 5 pm (it’s since been extended to 7 pm on weekends). Evidently the dam is the place to be on Sunday afternoons. The road on either side was lined with cars; some of their owners were hanging out on the dam side, while others had almost certainly chartered water taxis across the lake to one of the restaurants. 
I’m grateful for sweet friends and the rejuvenation that always comes with time in nature…and that I didn’t get as up close and personal as Jess (last photo, 2nd from left) who texted later: “So…good news: I washed my hair and a baby spider fell out!”
Until next time, blessings!

P.S. IT’S PANDEMIC DAY 201! (If you happen to notice that my numbering doesn’t align with the count in previous posts…you’re right. It was brought to my attention in what I thought was the low 190s that I had erroneously added an extra week at some point.)