Dominican Republic Week 3

Day 1 – Wednesday 30 March 2011
Spent the morning talking to Carlito (Week 2 Day 1) who told me stories of when he was young chasing after my uncles and getting into general childhood mischief. Most notably was the fact that my uncle Pilo was the person who taught Luis Días how to play guitar. Luis was a famous composer.

In the afternoon I just sat outside of Ambiorix’s house watching the cows walk by as Ambiorix was inside handwriting a 20 page love letter to his wife. He hasn’t seen her in over 2 years. Not too long ago he was living in the Netherlands while his wife was living here in DR. When her visa was approved, he was detained. The day she flew to the Netherlands to be with him, he was deported back to the DR. This kind of shit only happens in the movies… but in my family this shit happens everyday.

I was severely moved by the fact that he was writing her this letter. The length, the fact that it was handwritten, knowing how much pain and love was present in those words – just beautiful I think. Just beautiful.



Day 2 – Thursday 31 March 2011
Today was a catching up with family day.

First stop was a visit to my Tío Dario’s house. He is my grandmother’s only brother and only surviving sibling. All of my other great aunts have passed away in the last few years. I didn’t think he would even recognise me but as soon as I walked into the room he knew me as my mother’s son. He had a stroke not too long ago and has lost control of his right arm and has difficulty walking. We sat and talked for a while and before I left he asked me to tell my grandmother that he was still here.. he was still here.

In the afternoon I headed over to Tía Flor’s (my mom’s cousin) house. I admired her beautiful garden as she caught me up on her life and that of her children and grandchildren.

For dinner I went to this little cafe in the centre of town and fell in love with the waiter. Every time he came to check on my table I melted a little bit more. I was probably very obvious but I did’t care – he was gorgeous.



Day 3 – Friday 1 April 2011
Did nothing but sit in the park all day. It was so hot I could barely move.

Day 4 – Saturday 2 April 2011
In the morning Ambiorix came to pick me up for a day around the mountains but first we had a few errands to run. Ambiorix constructed a kite out of a garbage bag and some sticks and there is a little boy near where he lives that he wants to give it to. We drove by (on his moto) and this little kid of about 3 or 4 ran up beside us. He could see the kite and asked who it was for. Before Ambiorix could say that it was for the him the kid snatched the kite and ran as fast as he could in the opposite direction. I should mention that the moto never stopped moving during all of this.

Larie (Week 1 Day 4) was heading back to the Netherlands and so we went to say goodbye. I got a chance to see the Little Boy with no country again (I can not remember his name!!!) and I took his picture. (below)

We headed off into the mountains and spent a good long time hanging out by one of the rivers (Río Masipdedro). There were only a few other people around (all teenage – young men) and they all bathed in their tighty whities. It was hot and I normally don’t even swim in a pool (where I know nothing is going to bite me) so it was very out of character when I said ‘fu*k it’ and started stripping of my clothes. I jumped in and yelped as the extremely cold water hit me. Ambiorix followed suit and we struggled against the (strong) current that wanted to take us over the edge of a small waterfall.

I found a rock that I could sit up against and as the water rushed past me I felt at peace with the world. Ambiorix tried to pull me under and I smacked him (God Forbid I get my hair wet) but later on a few of the other guys were doing something in the water – as if they were looking for something. I asked what it was and Ambiorix said they’re looking for crabs------CRABS!!! I quickly jumped up from my rock and tried to get back to land – back to my clothes – when the current got hold of me and swept me off my feet. I could feel rocks brushing me underneath and the water rushing above. I laughed uncontrollably as Ambiorix pulled me out of the water. I screamed as I clenched my now very wet hair and noticed that all the other guys were staring at me – it was time to go.

We quickly dried in the blazing sun and headed off to Ambiorix’s wife’s family. Little Henelly (the girl who sees dead people) was entertaining me as usual when I noticed a little boy off in the distance looking at us. He hid behind the fence when I saw him so Henelly and I went over to investigate. It was kite boy but now the kite was nothing more than a pile of sticks and some string which he held in his hands. I asked him what his name was. Albert. Little Boy Albert.

He came into the front yard and played with Henelly, I asked her family if they knew him. They did. Albert has no mother or father. Only a grandmother who works all day so this boy of 4 years spends the entire day out in the street. He bathes himself, feeds himself, clothes himself and generally takes care of himself. It hurt to watch him there so dirty and obviously hungry. We gave him some food and water and told him to go take a shower and change into cleaner clothes. He went and came back a short while later (crossing the moto ridden road all by himself) with his shoes on backwards.

In the evening I went to Doña Glady’s house where we talked of how different this country was during the Trujillo reign. The good and the bad that came from it. I didn’t mention to them my grandfather’s involvement as he was already dead when the Doña met my grandmother.

After I went home, Doña Glady (and her two youngest grandchildren) went outside to pick up something from her daughter’s house. They never made it to the house as before they even crossed the street they could see the man with the glowing red eyes standing in the middle of the intersections staring directly at them. (Note: I have never mentioned to them that I saw this man before). They quickly re-entered her house and barricaded it shut.


Day 5 – Sunday 3 April 2011
At lunch time (the biggest meal of the day) I went to go buy some empanada’s with Abraham and Naomi, Doña Glady’s grandchildren who are staying with her while their moms (Amanda & Sylvia) are in the States. I was bullied by some delinquents as I crossed the Carretera Duarté. What made this particular incident special is what would happen later on in day. After all there is not a day that passes here in Bonao where I am not on the brink of a mugging or a beat down of some kind. I’m am on greater alert here than I ever was growing up in the Bronx. Normally I’m not bothered by it as I just keep on with my business, keys clenched in my hands ready to strike.

What pissed me off royally about this particular occasion was the fact that I was with two kids, Naomi still being young enough that she holds my hand before crossing the street. Theses good-for-nothings obviously didn’t care. I got the kids across and to safety with no problem – but I was so pissed off I wanted to mouth off to these social parasites – thank God I didn’t.

Later in the evening I would discover that these same idiots accosted a young guy (about 19 yrs old) and the young guy talked back to them. They shot him. One block from my house, on the corner of a major intersection this poor kid laid dead.

Some time in the afternoon I heard someone calling out my name from outside my house. I do have a doorbell I thought but went to investigate anyway. Tío Franklin was out there, sitting on his moto with the same kid as before. I went out and said hello. He gave me idle chit chat as usual but before I could get pissed off at his strange behaviour I walked over to the boy and introduced myself. I asked if this was his son and it was. I told them to come in, the boy (Francisco) shyly got off the moto and followed me in into the house. They sat in the front room and we talked about random things – my uncle still being weird with me. Francisco however opened up quite quickly and spoke to me about his fears of travel, how happy he is to stay in this town for the rest of his life, but also how he has no idea what he wants to do the rest of his life.

Francisco and I spoke for quite some time, sharing ideas and jokes while Franklin joined in every now and again with random notes he has on my sisters (my dad has three children with his wife, whom I did not grow up with). Overall it was pretty pleasant and I realised that Tío Franklin is very much like my father… unable to express his emotions or say what he’s thinking – often coming off as awkward when he finds himself in what would be an emotional situation – such as a reunion with a boy he hasn’t seen in over 12 years.



Day 6 – Monday 4 April 2011
While riding around on Ambirox’s moto we ran across Little Boy Albert. He called for us to go over to him and when we did we noticed that his hair was all botched up. It looked as if someone took a razor to his head and left him with random bald spots. That’s exactly what had happened – some neighbourhood kid thought he could play barber with Albert’s head.

We got Albert to jump on the moto and we headed for the nearest barbershop where we had a professional finish the job. While there the barber spoke to me about his life in Zurich where he was living for the last 15 years. I thought it was kind of funny that a Dominican guy with no connections in Switzerland would end up there. I spoke to him about my time in Geneva and my recent time in London and we bonded over this random coincidence. Albert’s hair was buzzed to the lowest setting and returned to the street where we found him.

As we rode off Ambiorix asked me if I would consider taking the boy with me back to America.

In a heartbeat.

Damn laws against kidnapping.

In the evening I helped Naomi with her homework. The electricity was out (like always) and so we sat there in candlelight. Who would ever have thought that in the year 2011 children would still have to do their homework in candlelight.


Day 7 – Tuesday 5 April 2011
I spent the entire day at the local country club, Club Falcóndo, sitting by the pool, lounging about on sofa’s and recliners and drinking juice.

When the day was over I started on my journey back to Cotuí.

**All pictures taken on a Galaxy S Android Phone**
Dominican Republic Week 3 Dominican Republic Week 3 Reviewed by Unknown on 14:39 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Loving the weekly updates. Did you get my text? I can't open the one you sent beyond to see it's from you. Can I call the number you sent it from? love, Elizabeth

    ReplyDelete

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