Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stress Release: Masses and Neighbor's latrines

Lately with all the stresses of my site and the outside world I took some advice from my catholic buddy and went to a mass or two and checked out how the whole process went in my town. I was surprised by the tranquility of the whole thing, the service I went to in Tireo before the medical mission seemed really hectic but probably just because the church was packed to welcome the doctors. When I went the past two times in my community it was the first time I sat in a room with 100 Dominicans and every cell phone was silent. There was no yelling or loud music and I had about 45 minutes to relax. The service lasted an hour but I take out 15 minutes for all the mumbling phrases in Spanish that the whole church was doing in unison that I had no idea what they were saying (it kind of stressed me out). It was nice to sit in the back and enjoy the fact, as Joel pointed out to me, that the Catholic mass is about the same all over the world. So really I could have been somewhere in the United States and it would have been exactly the same, except that the phrases would have been mumbled in English (I still would not understand though). Despite not being Catholic, I thought that the mass was a great way to focus and breath for a minute. It was also a way to bond with the community because the Dominican Republic is about 95% Catholic. No one really bothered me before or after the service, I think I confused a lot of the church members because so many people in my town think that I am a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness. One neighbor lady did ask to borrow my digital camera; I told her it was broken, because it is broken.

I thought the Mass was a good way to relax, but I found another great way this week, or more appropriately bettered another way to relax. That would be hanging out with my neighbors. I found recently that the same people I feared upon moving in to my little house are actually the people that are stepping up to protect me and provide me with some friendship during stressful times. The past few nights I have been hanging out playing “casino” with a couple of the guys and it has been pretty great. It’s nice to have people hang out in my house, even if sometimes they smoke cigarettes inside and drink a little of the Haitian moonshine. I don’t mind sweeping ash of the floor and taking drinking advice from 8 year olds; one of the neighbor’s kids told me that I should drink some of the moonshine too because it makes you sleepy but doesn’t hurt your head. Thanks Gregory. I had to ask him how he knows. The highlight of our hanging out was yesterday when we sat around for a little while and tried to figure out how to get his cock-fighting chicken out of the latrine. They kept telling me that it fell down a hole, and jokingly told me that I should go down and get it out. I didn’t realize that other things fall down the hole on a regular basis too. It’s the second time it has fallen in the latrine and one of the neighbor ladies was so bothered that she suggested that this time when they get it out that we should just kill it and eat it.

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