Dominican Republic Week 4

Wednesday 6 April 2011 – Tuesday 12 April 2011
My previous posts have been a bit long winded so I’ll try and keep this one short and to the point.

My return to CotuĂ­ was purposeful – to spend time with my TĂ­a Glady and to meet my TĂ­o JosĂ©, my mother’s two long lost siblings (well long lost to me as I did not know they existed).

My first day in CotuĂ­ was a total Fracazo (the Dominican term for failure – based on an old lottery game that ensured all who played lost). The torrential down pour ensured no one was able to leave the house.

The following day however was very pleasant as I sat with TĂ­a Glady in her home, just the two of us, and got to know her a bit better. She told me of her children, her grandchildren, growing up as part of the bastard children my grandfather left in CotuĂ­ while he raised his real family in Bonao. Glady however left CotuĂ­ (along with her brother Victor who passed away a few years ago) and moved to Bonao after my grandfather’s death. My grandmother took them in when they came knocking and for a while treated Glady like a servant – an unwanted child she felt obliged to take care of since her husband was dead, a sort of Cinderella if you will.

My mother was the one who saved Glady, told my grandmother off and demanded that her sister be treated as an equal. Funny because I always thought my mother would make a perfect evil step sister, not a fairy godmother.

Glady knew very little of her father and didn’t even know when he passed away or what age he was. The CotuĂ­ children were kept more in the dark than the Bonao kids were. Since they were also illegitimate they had no access to my grandfathers possessions or what he left behind.

Glady has been married to the same man for the last 40 years. She has 2 boys and a girl and lives in a shack like house just off a dirt road. She raises chickens and ducks and is generally pleased with her life.

In the afternoon of the same day I headed over to Glady’s oldest surviving brother, JosĂ©. I was greeted by his wife, Raquel, who told me he wasn’t present but wanted to know what I wanted with him. I told her who I was and mentioned my mothers name. She offered me a seat and a drink and quickly got on the phone.

About 30 minutes later, this raggly moto came down the road with an seemingly elderly man at the helm. He locked eyes with me before he even got off the moto and walked over to me. I felt emotional nerves kick in but before I knew it he had me locked in a full bear hug. He pulled me back to take a good look at me and smiled – apparently pleased with what he saw.

He would not tell me anything about himself or wanted to know anything about me. He had to test me first, test my wit, reasoning and listening skills. The hours that followed were full of word problems, mathematical equations and life lessons with the occasional joke thrown in. When I thought I could take it no longer (these word problems were really complicated) he asked me the first question again:

“If you have $5 in your pocket and I’m going to give you another $5, he will give you $5 and she will too. How much money do you have?”

“$5. Don’t count on what you’re going to receive but with what you have at hand.”

And that was it, I listened to him and that’s all he really wanted.

It was now night time (I’m serious when I say that this test lasted hours) and I had to head back to Ingrid’s house for the evening meal. Before I left he asked if I could come see him again, he had stories he wanted to share with me. I promised it would be so.

A couple of days later I left Ingrid’s house and ran into JosĂ© while he was riding around. He had been going all over the town looking for me (he does not know where Ingrid lives). We chatted for a while and he tested my Spanish (geez more tests I thought) on all the different fruit and vegetables we found. Later we sat outside Ingrid’s house (along with an elderly man who lives across the street) and discussed life – how to live it properly.

Then he killed a chicken. Then I ate said chicken.

Before leaving he asked if I could come take a picture of him in his uniform (he is a Captain in the CotuĂ­ police force) so that I could take it to my mother.

“I just want her to be proud of me. Show her she can be proud of me”

The following morning I headed over to his house as he had asked and he proceeded to get into his uniform. He was very particular about how he wanted his picture taken and I obliged.

After he got back into his civilian clothes he demanded that I drink some Dominican White Rum with him. I asked if I could at least have it with coke.

After his second glass his mouth opened up and out came all that he knew about his father. One thing I’ve learned about JosĂ© is that he likes attention to detail (that what all his tests were about) and as a child he paid a lot of attention to the stuff the adults didn’t want him to know.

José passed out and I left Cotuí knowing where my grandfather was stationed, who ordered his assassination (his superior) and most importantly the location of his grave.



 **All pictures taken on a Galaxy S Android Phone**
Dominican Republic Week 4 Dominican Republic Week 4 Reviewed by ChristĂłpher Abreu Rosario on 18:35 Rating: 5

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