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Richard Weber, Tours Trips Treks & Travel Founder, Program Designer, and Trip Leader

A native to Rochester, NY, Richard's love affair with the Dominican Republic began while studying Afro-Caribbean studies in Santiago de los Caballeros on leave of absence from International Business at Ithaca College. Less than 6 months after graduating with his B.S. he returned to the DR as a mountain bike guide developing an intimate knowledge of its vibrant people and dramatic geography. He subsequently reinforced this knowledge with academic principles as Administrative Director of the Council on International Educational Exchange's Santiago Study Center.

Known affectionately as "Poco Pelo", he is widely respected for his country knowledge and logistical management capabilities. Richard has hosted students and faculty from over 100 colleges and universities, has led international workshops on risk management and emergency response, and developed the Girl Scouts of America Buffalo & Erie County Council's Backpacking the Allegheny Program. He served as General Manager of Iguana Mama Mountain Bike, Hiking & Cultural Vacations for two years creating the company's Educational Student Tours Program while simulataneously co-managing the internationally aclaimed Blue Moon Retreat Center and its 38-acre property. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the DREAM Project, a US-based educational not-for-proft organization. Richard has beem certified by Wilderness Medical Associates as a Wilderness First Responder through Cornell University in New York and Clemson University in South Carolina.

Richard created Tours Trips Treks & Travel in 2003 to be the resource he always needed for educational, adventure, and community service program design.

Domingo Abreu, Speleologist, Geologist, and Lecturer

Domingo Abreu, born in the Dominican Republic, is an internationally respected archeologist, speleologist (spelunker), and investigator of aboriginal art. Of his 53 years on the planet, he has spent the last 27 dedicated to the investigation of caves in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Yugoslavia, Italy, United States, and Cuba.

Domingo is currently the director of the Department for Speleological Studies of the Secretary of State of the Environment and Natural Resources and ecological editor for the national Dominican newspaper "Hoy". He has published more than 400 articles on speleology and ecology and has prepared three books on those themes. Domingo is also president of Espeleogrupo Santo Domingo, an organization dedicated to the development of speleology and geology. He routinely represents the Dominican Republic before the International Union of Speleology and the Speleological Federation of Latin America and Caribbean. In conjunction with Architect Marcos Barinas and Engineer Victor Garcias, Domingo developed the project to rehabilitate the Cueva de las Maravillas in La Romana for educational and tourism programs that won First Place and the Gold Medal at the Miami Architectural Biennial in 2003. His current devotion is directing the planning and construction of the Prehistoric Capitol of the Antilles in the Borbón and Pomier Anthropological Reserve in San Cristobal, a program in which 4T is intensely involved.

Domingo Abreu's enthusiasm, knowledge, and personality make him the Dominican governments "Go To" man for geological developments, and 4T's number one guide for Environmental Educational Adventure.

Elaine Acacio, Cultural Orientation Specialist and Lecturer

Elaine has worked in the field of education in the Dominican Republic for the last 4.5 years. She has a great interest in ESL, bi-lingual education, language acquisition and e-learning, amongst other things. She plans to expand and bridge her passion for education and business as the world becomes more globally interconnected.

Elaine is currently employed with an international study program with a satellite location in Santiago overseeing programs in Afro-Caribbean Studies, Spanish Language, and Public Health. She works with a diverse population of college exchange students from various US universities in their adaptation, acquisition and understanding of Dominican culture and the language. The intensive semester programs and summer sessions entail classes in a local university, various workshops, national excursions, and community service internships. Concurrently, Elaine works in a Dominican English school where she teaches different levels, consults in writing the curriculum, and conducts teacher training. Her other experiences and credentials in the field of education include tutoring secondary level students for a prestigious English school in Santiago. Elaine holds a BA in English with an ESL focus from the University of Washington, and is presently working on her MBA in Global Management through the University of Phoenix Online.

Kyle Bergman, AIA & Design/Build Instructor

Kyle is an architect relentlessly eager to be out of the office. He has designed and built houses with his own firm, Bergman Design Team, and collaborated on diverse projects, both in the States and abroad. He created and moderated an architectural lecture series about the process of design/build for the Smithsonian Institute, and has contributed to the design and execution of architecture exhibits at the Russian National Architecture Museum in Moscow. Kyle has taught international design/build classes in Russia, Mexico, and Dominican Republic and in the United States. In 1999 he was frustrated with the lack of resource material for quality new products, so Kyle founded a publishing company that created Alt Spec - a visual resource for architects and designers. He is currently producing a play in New York titled, “The Glass House. Kyle lived in New York and Vermont.

Mike Braden, Latin American Specialist, Program Designer, and Trip Leader

Mike is from Canada and has been developing and guiding trips in the Dominican Republic since 1995. His specialty is bike tours but he leads hikes as well as cultural trips.

Mike developed the 5 Day Dominican Alps bike trip as well as the 10 day coast to coast bike trip for the Dominican-based Iguana Mama Mountain Bike, Hiking & Cultural Adventures. He has also lead numerous hiking trips to Pico Duarte and Valle Tetero in the Bermudez National Park. In addition, he was selected by National Geopraphic and Belgian Television to lead their crews for documentaries that were filmed in the Cordillera Central - endorsing both his knowledge and guiding abilities.

In 1999 Mike began developing and guiding bike trips in Cuba and he continues to specialize in these two latin countries. Mike spends his summers running his lakeside Bed and Breakfast in Muskoka, Canada where he hosts travellers from all over the world. Mike speaks Spanish and with his easy going nature and abundance of patience, he will do his utmost to ensure that you get the most out of your trip.

Eric Bogden, Marine Mammal Behavorist and Lecturer

Eric has actively been involved in marine mammal training since 1986. He began his career at Sea World San Diego after earning a behavioral science degree from San Diego State University.

By 1994 Eric was the catalyst in creating new behavior and show concepts. He created a presentation entitled New Behavior At Sea World Inc., which won top honors at the International Marine Animal Trainers Association Conference in Washington State. By 1999 his behavioral understanding of marine mammals and his ability to create show concepts advanced him to Manager of Entertainment at Sea World California.

As the manager of all show production, he worked with the Corporate New Products Division creating and designing new animal exhibits and attractions for Busch Entertainment Corporation, which includes the 3 Sea World parks, and 2 Busch Gardens.

Currently Eric Bogden is the Director of Ocean World a world-class marine mammal park in the Caribbean, breaking new ground in animal interactive attractions.

Martha Ellen Davis, Anthropologist & Ethnomusicologist

Martha Ellen holds a doctorate in anthropology with a minor in music from the University of Illinois. She has done research on the musical and religious customs of the Dominican Republic for over thirty years. Her book in Spanish, "La otra ciencia" on voodoo of the Dominican Republic, won the Dominican national nonfiction award. She currently is advisor and researcher in oral history for the Dominican National Archives, while maintaining an honorary faculty appointment at the University of Florida.

Anna M. Grunewald, Culinary Logistics Specialist

"To speak of Anna Grunewald is without a doubt, to speak of a jubilant and animated personality infused with passion, spirit, dynamism, and accomplishment." These are the choice words that Marie Benzo, promoter for the trendy musical-event management collective 28°C, uses to describe her close friend and colleague.

Anna originally hails from Michigan, but also grew up in Switzerland, the homeland of her mother, eventually returning to graduate from Cornell University with a B.A. in Hotel & Restaurant Management. Classically trained in both France and US, including formal chef training at the New England Culinary Institute, she has more than 20 years culinary experience including numerous master sous chef positions in Paris and at the (former) Hotel Westbury in New York City. Far from a newcomer to logistical challenges, her credentials also include executive chef of the 200-seat Plantation Club at the Dunes in Naples, FL, and owner/executive chef of Paprika in Naples, FL; Las Brisas Café in Maui; and Ulupalakua Deli & Grill, a high-end caterer for CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Since her arrival to the DR in 2003, Anna has served as executive chef of three restaurants, including El Bosque Café at Sea Horse Ranch, the north coast's premier luxury villa community.

Anna also serves as President of Saboram, a young company producing a line of organic, gourmet chocolates with 100% Dominican ingredients.

Dr. Lynne Guitar, Historian & Anthropologist

Dr. Guitar notes that, "The word 'history' does not include any boring dates--it is mostly 'story'." She is a fascinating storyteller who graduated cum laude from Michigan State University with two B.A.'s, and cum laude from Vanderbuilt University with an M.A. and Ph.D. in history and anthropology. She jokes that she is a North American by birth, but Dominican in her heart because she has visited the DR three times: the first, for 10 days; the second, for four months; and the third, when she came with a Fulbright Fellowship in 1997, "forever."

Lynne is cofounder and director of Student & Researcher Services, an educational tourism company, co-founder of the Caribbean Centrelink website and coeditor for its electronic academic journal, Kacike. She is the guide of choice for most VIPs and personnel of foreign embassies based in Santo Domingo. Lynne has published many articles in professional journals and general-audience magazines about the Tainos and the first century of the Encounter Era on Hispaniola, as well as textbook chapters and dozens of encyclopedia entries. After a long stint teaching upper-level history and literature at The American School of Santo Domingo, she accepted her present position as Resident Director of CIEE's program in Spanish Language & Caribbean Studies at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in Santiago de los Caballeros.

Mike Gussack, Digital Photographer

Mike has spent the last four years documenting the people and places of the Dominican Republic, an island with an inexhaustable supply of beautiful locations & warm, friendly people who, for the most part, love to have their picture taken. Mike was born and grew up in Ontario, Canada a place of long, cold winters that reinforced his attraction to warmer climates. Always a lover of still photography as a hobby, he was educated as a graphic artist at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto & worked for 20 years as a commercial artist in many ad agencies & at a newspaper in London, Ontario as an editorial designer for 12 years.

Mike has 3 grown children and after more than 35 years in the commercial world and nine trips to the DR, the last six for 6 month stays, and with the advent of digital photograghy, Mike's hobby has eclipsed his graphics career & he now spends semi retirement recording, in pictures, his lifelong dream of living on a tropical island.

José Horacio López, Agricultural and Rural Development Specialist, Lecturer & Trip Leader
A native of Moca, a small city nestled in the heart of the Dominican Republic's fertile Cibao Valley, Horacio is at as home in the fields as he is presenting theory in the lecture hall. He has been involved in the dynamics of Dominican country life as an activist, socio-cultural advocate, academic and consultant. Horacio has a B.S. in Agriculture and has continued graduate studies in Agricultural Development at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in Haya, Holland.

Horacio's interests lie predominately in socio-economic alternatives for small scale farmers and in niche markets, such as organic products and alternative markets. His down-to-earth personality and reputation as a hands-on consultant have made him a popular go-between with small-scale producers and non-governmental organizations. Horacio's personal and professional research interests have given him an unparalleled, intimate knowledge of life in the rural Dominican backcountry. He is on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Social Economic Development, an NGO working to promote associative business practices among rural farming communities. Likewise, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Development of Santiago (FONDESA), an NGO focusing on micro-enterprise in the Cibao Valley.

In 2003 Horacio founded Qualitas S.A., an organization dedicated to offering technical consultations and in-depth marketing studies to those working in small-scale agricultural.

Horacio is a dynamic, unorthodox presenter with far-reaching ties into the reality of Dominican rural life.

Harold Olsen Bogaert, Archeologist-Investigator, Lecturer
At the age of 19 while exploring his grandparents' farmlands on the North Coast of the DR, Harold's life took an unexpected, new direction when he stumbled over a few ancient Taino artifacts hidden in the tall grasses. Within a year of, literally, coming face to face with the past, he left his Business Administration studies to trade long working hours for valuable lessons in archeology as an assistant to the Director of Investigations at the Museum of the Dominican Man. In the 26 years since that day, he has earned 3 post-graduate degrees in archeology, 2 technical degrees, and (finally!) his B.S. in Business Administration. Harold has written countless published articles on various archeological topcis and is a frequent contributor and presenter in international publications and conventions, including the prestigious International Association for Caribbean Archeology Congress. He has also written three books; his most recent in 2003, "Archeological Investigation of Arozbispo Meriño 259".

Harold is currently an Archeologist-Investigator at the National Museum of the Dominican Man and Director of the Pre-Hispanic Archeology Department; a position he has held since 2000. A well-known face in the halls of the DR Supreme Court, he is also actively involved in the creation of protectionary legislation for archeological and anthropological sites throughout the country.

A deeply spiritual man, Harold has served as the National Director for Caminata Biblíca Internacional since 2002.

Bernhard Pfahnl, Entrepreneurial Consultant

Bernhard was born and raised in Linz, Austria and has been involved in more than 15 start up businesses throughout Europe and in the Dominican Republic from Transportation and Art to Trading, Event Promotion, and Recreation.

His area of expertise is private investment analysis in high risk industries. While he is trilingual, Bernhard is a master communicator and story teller that has never viewed language as a hindrance to a business opportunity, regardless of the venue. Not a big fan of formalities, Bernhard prefers discussions around the dinner table with a bottle of Italian Collio to lectures in the classroom. His sense of humor, love of debate, and enthusiasm for life offer a unique opportunity for students and faculty to pit theory against practice.

Bernhard's spare time is spent on the myriad of golf courses in the Dominican Republic. 4T's golf packages were designed by Bernhard, and he personally accompanies all groups that appreciate a good game.

Marcos Polo, Guide

Marcos Polo hails from the Dominican’s north coast city of Puerto Plata, but has called Santiago de los Caballeros in the Cibao Valley home for the past 15 years.  Always on the move; when not showing off his beautiful country as a 4T guide, Marcos works as the Student Coordinator for CIEE-Service Learning in Santiago while finishing his dual degree in electrical and mechanical engineering. Marcos has over 5 years in student services and cultivating community partnerships throughout the DR and has coordinated many service projects in rural areas with the Peace Corps and local NGOs. Having traveled overseas himself, Marcos provides a refreshing perspective on issues of adaptation, culture shock, and language acquisition that many students and visiting participants often go through.  Gregarious, fun-loving and laid back, grab a seat next to Marcos on even a short bus ride and you are sure to be talking about baseball, food or his wife and two young children in short order.

Tim Schwartz, Haitian and Island Conflict Studies, Lecturer and Trip Leader

Tim Schwartz is a PhD in Cultural Anthropology (2000) from the University of Florida, Gainesville, where he studied under some of the top Cultural anthropologists and specialists in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, including Marvin Harris, Russ Bernard, Gerald Murray, and David Geggus. He has lived and worked on Hispañiola for sixteen years.

First a specialist in Haiti, he spent two years living in a Haitian fishing village, part of a dissertation project funded by the National Science Foundation, and three years living and working among peasant farmers. In addition to directing 9 major studies in Haiti for the German Government, USAID and multinational NGOs and private corporations. He has walked, biked, sailed, fished and paddled most of Haiti and its coasts and much of the Dominican Republic. In 1998 he and two other Cultural Anthropologists from the University of Florida researched and wrote the most cited Haitian/Dominican border study to date; he conducted an extensive social survey of the role of campesino women in conservation in the Cordillera Central (Bermudez and Rancier National Parks); researched and wrote the socio-economic diagnostic for the UNESCO Bahoruco-Jaragua-Enriquillo bio-reserve; and carried out dozens of surveys in impoverished barrios throughout the DR and Haiti. Over a period of 18 months he lived and conducted research in a squatter settlement in the capital city of Santo Domingo. He has produced several publications, including an encyclopedia entry for Haiti in "Countries and their Cultures" (by McMillan), a master's thesis on migration and illegal Caribbean boat voyages (U. Florida 1991), a doctoral dissertation on rural marital patterns and subsistence strategies (U. Florida 2000), a well-received book called Travesty in Haiti (2008) and an academic book about Haitian peasant survival call Sex, Family and Fertility in Haiti (2009).

Tim speaks fluent Haitian Creole and Spanish. He is also a sailor and diver who spent three years living alone aboard a sailboat exploring the waters of the Bahamas and the island of Hispaniola. He currently works as freelance consultant in Haiti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan. He is also International Survey Director for the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a program of the International Trade Centre (a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations).

Silvan Wick, Sport and Event Photographer

Silvan, originally from Switzerland, is a photographer and windsurfer at heart.

A long-time Cabarete resident, he sold his shares of Vela Windsurfing School to follow his true calling in 2002. He enjoys shooting water sports, specifically windsurfing and kiteboarding, the most, but his assignments know no bounds. In addition to sport photography, Silvan's stock features travel destinations, such as South Africa, Brazil, Aruba, Bonaire, Margarita, the Columbia River Gorge, Hawaii, and Baja California, and many natural history themes. Much of Silvan's work has been published, and he currently covers many events and programs for DREAM Project, an educational not-for-profit, on a voluntary basis adding human interest images to his repertoire. In his own words, "To me photography is a life style. It's a way, a means of really seeing things. It's my outlook at the world!"

More staff descriptions coming soon!


Tours Trips Treks & Travel
Customized Educatioanl, Adventure & Service Programs
Tel. (809)867-8884
Fax. (206)600-1700
Tours Trips Treks & Travel operates under the license
Aguatours Dominicana S.A. in the DR.

Tours Trips Treks & Travel copyright © 2016
Most photos credited to "Open Shirt' Mike Gussak at unkmonk@hotmail.com