OK, this wasn’t my first trip ever to the Travesia, but it was my first trip in 2010. Once again it was so great to be in such a beautiful place and to see all my lovely campesino friends. Here are a few pictures of my friends up there.
My eighth trip to Haiti was the shortest I’ve ever gone on. Early in the morning we headed towards the Northern most border crossing. We parked our car, walked to the border, and filled out all the needed paperwork at both the Dominican and Haitian Customs offices. Then within a five minute walk we made it to our final destination, a lovely School and Orphanage.
Joy and Vidal’s friends help run this school, so we got a great tour of all the classrooms, nurses office, kitchen, and the Sanctuary which is presently housing 52 earthquake victims. (Mostly Orphans who were previously living in an Orphanage in the capital but after the earthquake had no roof over their heads).
After school hours we had the opportunity to go see some of the children in their homes and wander around the surrounding community. With over four hundred students and more than one hundred orphans you can imagine what a great impact this ministry has on the families living in the community!
You may find this hard to believe but the barrio roads might just be paved during the next few weeks! As elections draw near, lots of candidates are trying to impress as many people as possible by paving roads in various communities all over the country. Last week a number of large trucks started smoothing out our barrio’s dirt roads. Then they covered the roads with gravel, sprayed them with tar, and then covered them with a finer gravel. Supposedly they will come back within ten days to finish the job. I can’t wait!
My little four year old neighbor friend, Gabby, loves coming over to my house and helping me in the kitchen. If she comes to my front door and can see that I’m in the kitchen she’ll come into my house, move a chair from the living room into the kitchen, stand next to me and start helping me with whatever I’m doing. She’ll do dishes, wash vegetables, help stir stuff, etc.She also likes observing other things I do and have. The other day she was really intrigued by two two-pound pink weights I have. She asked me what they were. (weights). Asked me if they were heavy. (Yes… for a four year old). Asked me what they’re used for. (exercise). Asked me if I use them. (yes, sometimes). Then she came really close, pointed to my bicep, and asked me why my arms were so skinny then. (I laughed out loud). She’s so observant!
DR1 Daily News -- Friday, 12 March 2010
Helados Bon's Easter treat
Eating a sweet with red beans is a Dominican Easter tradition, comparable to chocolate Easter Eggs in the US and the UK. But for those who don't have the time or talent to make the sweet themselves, or a neighbor or friend who will share some of theirs, there is Helados Bon. The leading Dominican ice cream company produces the ice cream version of the sweet every Easter. It is now for sale through April at Bon Ice Cream shops nationwide. The sweet is made from red beans, milk, sweet potatoes, cookies, raisins, sugar and coconut. It goes well combined with Organic Chocolate, Organic Coffee, Macadamia or Vainilla Imperial flavors. It also makes a delicious milk shake.
A friend of mine is doing a juice feast for an extended amount of time, so I decided to join them by doing a week long juice cleanse. I borrowed a Juice Man Juicer, stocked up on veggies you can get in the barrio (mostly cucumbers and carrots), and started juicing! However, I didn’t realize my low watt juicing machine was too strong for my back-up battery system, so I’ve had a improvise a little bit each time the power goes out. So when I’m unable to juice carrots, beets, cucumbers and other vegetables, I drink herbal teas, lemon water or hand squeezed orange juice. I’m on day seven today and it hasn’t been too terribly hard, just a little time consuming finding and preparing all the vegetables. Also I miss certain foods…. but I look forward to all the physical benefits it’s supposed to do for me!
While I was in North Africa last fall it seemed like there was something new to discover every day. Basically everything was exciting; local food, traditions, beliefs, phrases, etc. An excitement I realized I no longer have for the Dominican Republic. However, I hope to regain some of that excitement of discovery for this country, because though I sometimes feel like a pro on Dominican culture I have so much more to learn….. I just have to become a learner again!
Pinky swear or Enemy swear
A friend and I decided to hold each other accountable for something the other day, so I ended our conversation with suggesting that we pinky swear (if you not sure what that is you can look it up on Wikipedia). To my surprise my friend told me that was bad here….. actually here it’s a way for two people to agree that they’ll be enemies forever. (I wonder how many times I’ve offended these past 9 years by shaking little fingers with them?)
Grieving the Dead
The other night Rod and I drove a dying man to the hospital only to find out that he’d died before we arrived, and there was nothing the doctors could do. Just over an hour after we left the hospital an ambulance brought the body back to his house in the barrio. As a few men carried the coffin inside the family members of the deceased began to wail and scream. One of his sisters screamed loudly, went into convulsions, and passed out for a few minutes. From the response of the large crowd outside the house, these kind of reactions are completely normal, and actually are expected from someone who really loved the deceased. These kind of wails, screams, and expressions of grief can often last through the night and even into the morning until the coffin is carried to the graveyard and buried.
A special dessert made of red beans, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins isn’t just supposed to be made on Good Friday as I had thought, but actually all throughout lent. So yes, I’ve already received my first cup from the neighbors.
Why do they make sweet beans during lent… or at all? I’m still trying to figure that one out.