Yesterday was another one of those days that was a good experience and will be a better story to tell than it was fun. We set out for the river at about 10 o’clock, which by Dominican time meant we got on the guagua at 11:45. I was pretty sunburned because of my trip to the beach the day before. I keep forgetting that we aren’t living on the 45th parallel anymore, and so I end up burnt about every 10 days. When we got down to the river it was sunny, but we needed to wait for the rest of the group that was about a half hour behind. We set up in an abandon bar/carwash and played some dominoes as we waited, during the wait a thunderstorm rolled in and it started to pour. By the time the other half of the group got there it was raining hard enough that the Dominican half didn’t want to go out into the street, yet alone down to the river. So we spent the next hour and a half sitting in a colmodo playing dominoes and eating bread, cheese and fried plantains. After the rain stopped the Dominican half of the group was ready to go to the river but now the American half wasn’t because when there is a big rain all the garbage gets washed off the shores and down the streets into the river. We had compromised that we would go look at the river, and it turned out that there was a part that filtered into the river that wasn’t affected by the town’s drainage (that we knew of, ick). It turned out to be a pretty good time because there was a 25-foot high ledge we could jump off and the water was nice and cold on the sun burn, not to mention jumping off the ledge a few times earned me some macho points that Americans definitely need to earned in a machismo culture.
After the river everyone felt a little better, I think I actually earned the biggest baby of the day award because I was still hurting from the sun burn a lot. We went back to the abandoned car wash and waited for a guagua at about 3:45, there were ten of us waiting with nothing to do. The Dominican’s bought beer for everyone for the wait and we sat around for about 25 minutes waiting, but all the guaguas were going to Pedro Garcia and we needed one that went to Santiago. For the next 45 minutes, to pass the time we played a drinking game that Adam Paris taught me a long time ago called “fuck it” (sorry parents and grandparents if I am getting a little PG-13 with the language), it’s a game where you stand in a circle and count, every time there is a 7 or multiple of 7 you say “fuck it” and the direction changes; if you mess up you have to drink. Both the DR and the US loved that game and we only stopped when the five year old boy that was with us started saying “fuck it.” It was probably the best double take I’ve seen in my life when the kid first said it and Joel was counting . . . the entire American group stopped but the Dominicans kept playing for some reason.
Finally a ride pulled up but there was only enough room for four, half the group left, including the cursing five year old. The rest of us sat and waited and after about another 25 minutes another storm picked up but this time is was a little more serious. The rain was coming down so hard that if flooded the carwash and we had to run next door to an abandoned Pico Pollo stand. The wind was blowing so hard that pieces of the corrugated tin roofs were blowing off into the street. It was also blowing hard enough to knock down 40 foot tall trees across the roads on either side of us, which left us trapped on this little stretch of highway for a while. On the left side, a deciduous tree, which I think was a guama tree, fell and blocked enough of the road that only motorcycles could sneak past in the shoulder. On the right side a royal palm tree fell, took out a couple smaller trees and blocked the bridge across the river to our homes. It was pretty silly, and also very impressive how quickly some of the men in town got out on the bridge with an axe and cut through the palm tree. The tree must have had a 1.5 foot diameter and it was 5 or six feet up in the air, there was some serious overhead swings with the axe. So, some towns people took out the tree on the bridge and some others cleared out the Guama tree down the road and after another 45 minutes the roads were open to one lane. It worked out that it was the one lane going our direction. We waited for a while and finally, with the help of our female PCV’s convinced a truck driver to let us get a ride back to our town in the back. On the ride back we saw that it was not only our area that was hit, there were people all over with machete’s cutting apart the trees that were blocking the highway. It was cool to see such initiative on the parts of the people living along the highway, I guess its because they knew that there wouldn’t be a DOT truck pulling up to fix the road situation anytime soon.
On the ride back, we remembered that our friends Taylor and Amy were having a 1st birthday party for their 70 year old Dona who had never had a birthday before. She was born with out any certificate and only knows here age because she has a younger brother who was one year younger and is 69 years old. They decided to have her b-day on Sunday the 20th of April and are gonna have one every year that they are here. Joel and I stopped by to get in on the cheesecake that they made and to wish her a happy birthday. Dona Maria Dulce (the birthday girl) made a juice from carrots, oranges, sour oranges and a couple pounds of sugar that was delicious. They put birthday candles in the Cheesecake and we sang happy birthday to her in Spanish then English, I thought it was a really nice gesture on their part. Except for one small detail; Maria Dulce was hospitalized two weeks ago for pneumonia (but is feeling much better now) and Amy could only find the trick candles that never go out. After the third attempt we figured she could have the birthday wish without getting all the candles out (oops).