Why travel?

I first heard about Remote Year in July 2015 from my good friend Kim. We talked excitedly about how cool it would be to travel the world with friends for a whole year while working remotely. I didn’t think it was likely that I’d end up doing it, since over 25 thousand people applied for the first year’s 75 spots. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the remote possibility, so I decided I’d at least apply so I couldn’t say I didn’t try.

A few months later, I was offered a spot in the program. With only a couple weeks to make a down payment to secure my spot, I felt torn.

I like traveling, and traveling to 16 countries in a year is an epic experience that will change my life. Every single person who I asked for advice told me to travel now, hands down. But I’ve never been “bitten by the travel bug” and there are tons of other things I dream of doing with my life. I want to buy a house, I want to start a business, I want to find a partner and start a family.

People told me, “the other things will still be there later”. That’s true, but as a person with an extremely flexible career in a job market that favors workers, I’ll probably always be able to travel enough for my appetite. And when I want to be saving money for other goals, spending over six times my usual, very affordable, rent to travel for a year felt like it was coming with a huge opportunity cost.

I agonized over the choice and waited until the last possible day to decide. Ultimately, I couldn’t ignore the advice of all of the older and wiser people in my life who told me I should travel, and I figured that even though I’ll probably always be able to travel, I won’t always be able to travel with an awesome community of similar people for a whole year. I decided in favor of traveling, mostly because I knew I’d regret it if I passed this opportunity up.

But I was still emotionally conflicted. In the past, I’ve always traveled with specific motivations, so I felt like I needed reasons other than “it will be fun to get to know new people and cultures” and “I’ll have so many adventures and stories to talk about for the rest of my life” and “everyone else thought I should do it”.

I had a hard time putting words to the vague sense I had of why I want to travel, but while I was thinking about it, a friend shared an inspiring video of Richard Feynman talking about his understanding of the world. What he said resonated with me;

“We’re exploring, we’re trying to find out as much as we can about the world… we shouldn’t pre-decide what it is we’re trying to do, except to find out more about [the world]”.

I realized that my motivation is curiosity, to find out as much about the world as I can. The world is such a diverse place, and I want to grok as much of it as possible while I’m alive.

Ask anyone who’s known me for awhile, and they’ll confirm that I’ve always been a curious person. Since I was a kid, I’ve always had a million questions about how things work and why. Curiosity is an integral part of who I am, and it’s what’s driving me to travel now. The coming year is going to be an exercise in curiosity and discovering as much as I can about the fascinating world that we live in.

I made a thing for WordPress

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a big fan of both Twitter and WordPress. I love how both platforms make it easy for people to share ideas and communicate openly and freely. I love that both serve as a sort of “public square” of the web and support discourse, democracy and free society.

I’ve been inspired lately by the ways that some websites have integrated Twitter, and I wanted to bring the same kind of integration to WordPress and take it a step further; helping WordPress bloggers to spark discussions and discourse on Twitter and other social media sites with the powerful statements they are already making.

So, I made a WordPress plugin that does exactly that. The plugin was mostly inspired by two sources. The first was the toolbar on Medium.com that enables people to tweet or comment on the text they select. The second was Donald Miller’s Storyline blog, where he’s been adding “(tweet this)” links to the end of quotes worth sharing. The plugin is called Quotable, and it brings both of those ideas to WordPress.

Quotable helps readers share your inspiring content in two ways; first, by highlighting the text that they like and clicking one button to share it on Twitter. Second, by adding a link to the bottom of all the block quotes in a post, that will instantly share it.

Quotable helps your readers share inspiring quotes from your site and spark engaging dialogue.

The plugin serves two crowds; the readers of WordPress blogs that have the Quotable plugin installed will be able to quickly and easily share quotes that they like, and the authors of WordPress blogs benefit from the increased sharing of their content.

The plugin is written in a way that enhances existing features of Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin. If a site uses that plugin to define Twitter accounts for the site and it’s authors, those accounts will be mentioned in the tweets created by Quotable, which will encourage new followers and create new readers.

If you manage a WordPress site, I’d love it if you give Quotable a try. It’s the first version, and I hope to improve it as time goes on, so I would greatly appreciate your feedback. If you try it and like it, please share it with others. I hope that this plugin not only enhances your site, but also benefits discourse, democracy and free society on the web.

La locura del transito dominicano

Foto Por ImagenesDominicanas

El cuento de como casi morí tres veces

Tengo que confesar, cuando me mudé a La República Dominicana, no tenía muchas expectativas, sino sabia que mudarse a una cultura diferente que en la que uno creció viene con muchas sorpresas. Sin embargo, una expectativa que si tenia era que la vida aquí sea más tranquila que la vida en Los Estados Unidos.

Pues, lo que encontraba hasta ahora es una verdadera sorpresa. En el año pasado, casi me han chocado tres veces, y yo un conductor muy atento! A varios de mis amigos les han chocado, dos de los cual se murieron. También he visto noticias de la muerte terrible de acerca de cien personas en Jarabacoa misma. Todo eso pasó en un solo año, y no tiene razón!

Déjenme contarles algunas historias de lo que he experimentado este año.

La primera vez alguien me chocó era nada más que una niña de catorce años. Ella manejaba hacia mi, su hermano menor montado atrás, en el lado opuesto de la calle, saludando a sus amigos sin mirar dónde iba. Me paré y grité y ella no hizo caso. Me chocó y terminó postrada en la calle inconsciente. Terminé en televisión, y después, todo el mundo me preguntaba, “No eres el gringo que chocaron? Como estas? Y la niña?”. Era una fama que preferiría no tener.

La segunda vez, yo manejaba a Constanza, varias horas en un camino peligroso que en muchas partes solo tenía espacio para un vehículo a la vez. De una vez, me apareció un camión en exceso de velocidad. Me moví del camino para que haya espacio, pero ya no quedaba espacio para mi, por lo tanto me voltee y caí postrado. El camión aún no redujo la velocidad.

Otro día, me monté atrás del motor de un amigo Dominicano y andábamos hacia el gomero. Algún loco andaba en vía contraria. Casi nos chocamos pero grité y al ultimo segundo se desplazó bruscamente para pasarnos por el lado. “Son locos aquí”, dije a mi amigo.

Crédito de la Foto: Atraccion360

Y realmente eso es la verdad. Tengo dos amigos que se murieron el año pasado. Uno por no llevar su casco cuando chocó con un carro. Otro murió dentro de un carro cuando otro vehículo se voló una luz en rojo y le chocó. He visto en las noticias, cuentas innumerables de otros muertes de tráfico. Un hombre que perdió control de su camión y chocó con una niña al lado de la calle y la mató. Otro hombre borracho en motor que chocó con cuatro niños en bicicletas, matando tres.

Leí últimamente, que La República Dominicana es el país con el tráfico más peligroso del mundo, y pues, yo lo creo. Pero ya, basta. No tiene que seguir así. Sé que aquí a la gente no le gusta seguir las reglas. Ni a mi tampoco. A mi lo que me gusta es la libertad. Pero sin respetar a los demás ni vigilarlos, ni tenemos libertad. No es libertad vivir con miedo de que quizás mañana seamos nosotros, o sean nuestros amigos, o sean nuestros hijos que se mueren.

Credito de la Foto: El Rayaso

Estamos de acuerdo que algo debe cambiar? y pronto! Ya bastante gente se han muerto. Dios nos da una sola vida. La vida es demasiado preciosa para tratarla así. En vez de eso, vamos a cuidarla y valorarla. Hicieron las reglas de la calle con propósito de guardar vidas. Así que, vamos a hacer mas seguras las calles por empezar en cumplir esas reglas. No por su propia causa, sino por las vidas de los que amamos.


Soy Josiah Sprague. Trabajo en el colegio Doulos Discovery School en Jarabacoa, como profesor de comunicación. Este es mi primera vez en publicar algo escrito en español. Solo tengo un año aprendiendo esta lengua. Así que, favor de disculpar los errores.

You Haven’t Visited the Caribbean Until You Visit Jarabacoa

A view of the Jarabacoa countryside. Photo Credit: Cortney Paulson (cortneypaulson.tumblr.com)

Jarabacoa (här əˈbə kō ə) is a small mountain town in the Dominican Republic with a population of about 70,000. It’s far (both in distance and in experience) from the many popular beach resorts that foreigners like to visit for tropical vacations and honeymoons. But a trip to the Caribbean without visiting this town is incomplete.

Jarabacoa is in the heart of the Caribbean, and just like you don’t really know someone until you get to know them on a heart level, you don’t really know the Caribbean until you’ve experienced what life is like in it’s center.

At first sight, the city is a hidden paradise; tucked into the central mountain range, it’s surrounded on all sides by natural beauty. Many locals and visitors alike enjoy hiking and biking on mountain trails, and others enjoy camping on the peaks and enjoying the view from the top of mountains such as El Mogote.

A mountain trail near the top of El Mogote. Photo credit: Darrell Vasquez

After a long day climbing mountains, many people enjoy going to one of the two major rivers that mark the borders of the town for a gíra; to swim and cook sancocho (stew) over a fire. The rivers are also a popular place to go white-water rafting or kayaking or to catch freshwater crabs.

White-water rafting with guides from Rancho Baiguate. Photo credit: Rancho Baiguate

Others prefer to stay in the mountains, where many Dominicans have built homes and restaurants in a neighborhood called “jamaca de dios” or “God’s hammock” because it’s such a peaceful and beautiful place. The saying around town goes, “God is everywhere, but He sleeps in Jarabacoa.” A favorite mountainside restaurant is Aroma de la Montaña (named after the characteristic scent of Caribbean mountain air), where many people enjoy having dinner and a glass of wine on the open-air balcony overlooking the town.

Aroma de la Montaña. Photo credit: Skyscraper City

In town, people enjoy many Dominican past-times, including dancing to salsa, merengue and bachata, playing Dominoes, shooting pool and playing Baseball. Baseball is a favorite sport of Dominicans, and they sometimes credit their internationally-renowned baseball ability to “Mangú Power”, claiming that their favorite plantain-based food, Mangú, gives them an advantage.

There are many friendly establishments in Jarabacoa which will serve a characteristic Dominican breakfast of Mangú, fried salami and a cafecito. A cafecito is a small, shot-glass-sized coffee that is more sugar than it is coffee. That’s how most Dominicans prefer their coffee, but for those who need their morning caffeine jolt of 12oz or more, Café Taíno at Doulos Discovery School serves coffee from a local coffee farm, Spirit Mountain, in larger quantities.

The campus of Doulos Discovery School. Photo credit: Lexie Gerent

Doulos Discovery School is one of the many non-profits that is active in Jarabacoa. It is a joint effort between locals and foreigners to provide a private education for the local community. The school hosts teams of volunteers, which are a great opportunity for visitors who want to learn more about unique challenges that Dominicans face and how they can be a part of helping to meet those challenges.

These are just examples of the experiences that make up life in the heart of the Caribbean. No words can take the place of having your own first-hand experience, so next time you’re thinking about taking a tropical vacation, be sure to include a visit to Jarabacoa in your plans.


Josiah Sprague was the Media Coordinator and Communication Teacher at Doulos Discovery School. This article was a collaborative effort between him and the students of his high school communication class, to introduce you to Jarabacoa. The students will be posting their own unique stories on Medium.com soon, stay tuned.

The Destination Isn’t The Point

My Roommate’s Broken DOwn CRV Getting TOwed

When You Don’t End Up Where You Set Out to Go

“Do you want to go to the reservoir with us tomorrow?” a cute Dominican friend asks me, as I struggle to keep up with her rapid Spanish.

“¡Claro que si!” I reply.

“Great! Can you drive?”

Shoot. I don’t own a car. When I need to, I borrow my roommate’s CRV, but he left on his motorcycle a few hours earlier to go camping. He won’t have cell service and won’t be back for two days.

“¡Si!” I reply simply. My Spanish is not very good yet. I can’t easily explain that I’ll have to borrow my roommate’s car without asking. But she’s cute; better to ask forgiveness than permission, right?

I show up early in the morning at the same time as a few more of her friends who are joining us in a four wheeler and a dune buggy. A few cousins, aunts, and a small child fill up the CRV. I can’t follow the rapid-fire Spanish conversation, but I catch “Vamos!” Let’s go!

We start off on the 45 minute drive through bumpy mountain roads. I’m trying to keep up with the two vehicles in front. How do Dominicans drive so fast on these roads?

We’re headed up the side of a mountain half way to the reservoir, when all of the sudden, the rattle of the CRV’s questionable suspension becomes a much more violent vibration and the car slides off to the side of the road and comes to a halt.

I get out and take a look. Both front wheels are pointed inward. We’re not going anywhere. I learned the word for “tow truck” the day before.

“Does anyone know a grúa we can call?”

It’s Sunday. All of the shops are closed. We’re going to be here for awhile.

I sit down on the side of the road and start to feel bad about borrowing my roommates car without asking. I feel bad that everyone was excited to go to the reservoir and now we’re stuck on the side of a hot, dusty, country road for the rest of the day. I’m about to get ticked at the whole situation.

“You want some cookies?” I hear, as I start forming apologies in my head. I look up to see a six year old grinning and waving cookies at me while everyone else is sitting in the shade by the side of the road, getting drinks out of the cooler, enjoying the day as if nothing happened. No apologies necessary.

The cow pasture we’re next to isn’t the exciting destination I had in mind. But my Dominican friends didn’t even seem to notice. They realized something that I didn’t at first;

The destination isn’t the point. The point is the journey you’re on, and the people you’re with.

Eventually, several hours later, a tow truck came, and I was able to get the CRV fixed before returning it to my roommate, but lesson learned;

Life is chaotic. You don’t always end up where you had set out to go. Stop and look who is beside you on the road or you might miss the point.

And don’t borrow your roommate’s car without asking.

Learning to Go With the Flow

Recently, my roommate Eric and I have been a little stressed with our jobs here in Jarabacoa, So both of us decided that this weekend would be a good time to escape to the beach for a day for some R&R. We may have been more rested and recovered without it.

As I should have learned by now, Eric’s car is not so reliable. About half way to the beach, on our way up a mountain, the car started to overheat. We stopped for awhile, opened the hood to check things out, and let the car cool down. While we waited, Eric told me how the radiator had exploded for the previous owner, splattering boiling coolant fluid all over the hood and windshield. We both agreed it would be good to take it easy driving up the mountains.

Once the car was cooled down and we were ready to get back on the road, we found that the hood wouldn’t latch securely. As we were trying to fix the latch, a Dominican driving by on his motorcycle stopped and helped us tie down the hood with a rubber strap. Definitely a hack, but it seemed like it would hold and soon we were back on our way, driving slowly up the mountain.

Once we were over the mountain, and coming back down the other side, we were able to drive faster again, since the engine wasn’t being pushed so hard and the airflow was keeping things cool. We were cruising along, happily approaching the beach at 50mph when suddenly, BOOM! The hood of the car flew up, shattering the windshield in our faces and blocking our vision! Thankfully, no glass actually cut our faces or got in our eyes, and we were on a straight road and Eric was able to safely stop the car before we hit anything or ended up off-road in a huge ditch or down the side of a mountain.


Though public infrastructure and assistance isn’t so common, Dominicans are very eager to help a stranger. Within 30 seconds, another Dominican stopped to help. He was the manager of a garage about five minutes away, so he helped us get the car there, where they removed the windshield and used an air compressor to blow all of the glass fragments off of the dashboard and seats. A couple of hours later, we were back on our way to the beach.

We had left at 9:30 in the morning to go to a beach less than two hours away. By the time we got there, it was 3:30 in the afternoon. We got to swim in a beautiful crystal clear ocean and read in our hammocks for a few hours. We had a nice Dominican-style dinner, and then drove three hours slowly back to Jarabacoa without a windshield, and nervously watching the temperature gauge to make sure that the radiator wouldn’t overheat and explode.


We’re both a little overwhelmed having experienced such a string of crazy events. But we both agree that living in the Dominican Republic is teaching us to go with the flow and realize that not everything is always under our control, but that’s ok. We’re learning to be more patient and to accept things for how the are. And to be thankful for what we have, because it really is a lot, even when we hit a rough patch.

Moving into a new Neighborhood

A few weeks ago, I moved into a new house in Jarabacoa with two other roommates. My first couple of weeks here, I lived with a host family who were very generous and welcoming as I began my transition to living in Dominican culture. Living in this new house is allowing me to transition more into life and experiences here.


One of the things that I am excited about living in my own apartment is the ability to host friends. It is common in Dominican culture to gather at friends’ houses, rather than going out together. Without having my own place where I could host friends, I felt that it was difficult to initiate or reciprocate friendships with Dominicans, but now, thankfully, I have that ability.

Friends on the porch!

Having friends over to my house has given me more opportunities to learn Spanish, which is something I absolutely enjoy doing, and allowed me to experience Latin America’s famous dancing talent (and my own comparative lack of dancing talent) first hand. If you’re wondering why I’m not in this picture, you’ve obviously never seen me try to dance.

My friends dancing

I’ve also been able to take my experience with Dominican cuisine to the next level, now that I have my own kitchen. I’ve learned how to cook yuca frita, salami, queso frito and tostones (all Dominican favorites) and I’ve discovered, surprisingly, that though they live in a country full of cheap avocados, most Dominicans have never heard of guacamole. Here, apparently, it’s a “gringo thing”.

Burnt Tostones

One of the downsides of living in a new place is that it is farther from where I work, and I haven’t been able to afford a motorcycle yet. The neighbor girls offered to let me use their “carro”, but it’s not exactly my style.

The neighbors’ ride

I’ve been using my longboard to get to work. Though the streets are a little rough, it’s always entertaining with the reactions I get from people on the street. This week, on my way home, a motorcycle taxi driver asked if he could try my longboard. He quickly attracted a crowd of people, and though he swore he knew what he was doing, I don’t think he ever rode a longboard before.

Inexperienced Longboarder

So, the longer commute isn’t so bad. It’s also allowed me to explore more of Jarabacoa. I found that Batman apparently has a vacation home here.

Batman’s House in Jarabacoa

And when I finally get home from work, I can relax on my porch and enjoy the view. I definitely miss the beautiful fall weather in Ohio, but this view can definitely compete.

View of El Mogote from my house in Jarabacoa