This happened nearly a month ago, but I still feel it is worth remembering. The 6th of December is known as “kings day” and is reference to when the Three Kings arrived to give Christ his gifts of Gold, frankincense and mur (I don’t know how you spell “mur”). I suppose the Dominicans made a fairly reasonable assumption when they decided that the Kings arrived about 2 weeks late, after all everyone is late in this country. The idea of Kings day is that you are supposed to give your kids the toys that they didn’t get on Christmas. This holiday presented a few problems for me. First, every girl in the neighborhood thought it was clever to ask me “Donde está mis reyes” (where is my Kings), which essentially means where is my gift you owe me. I explained to them that my country does not have this holiday so I am exempt from gift giving. The second, and much greater problem is that the gift of the year, the Dominican Furby and Tickle-me-Elmo, ended up being very lifelike plastic handguns and shotguns. They only fired plastic pellets (in Spanish they are called bolas, balls, instead of balas, bullets) and they only heart a little bit when you end up as collateral damage in one of the many neighborhood muchacho gang wars.
At first, the wars were between the dogs and the children. The children gathered in groups of four or five and shot at the dogs while the dogs barked and nipped at their feet. Nobody was really hurting anyone so the little fights lasted forever, Lobo was a valiant and bravo leader of the pack of dogs in my section of the barrio. A colmado owner recently told a woman that Lobo lost his leg “in the war” and I decided not to correct him.
After about two days the children won the Dog vs. Children war of 2010 and began fighting amongst themselves, which may have been worse. They found a stockpile of toy guns on sale at the marketplace and pooled all their money to buy more weapons at discount prices. There were toy guns everywhere, I felt like I was in a rap video produced by 10 year olds. We, the adults, had to go back inside the house multiple times because stray bolas where flying everywhere. I sat inside wishing they would go back to playing with kites made out of garbage bags and bamboo or spare motorcycle tires and oil jugs.
Luckily, despite the very realistic look of the toy guns, they quickly fell apart until eventually the guns became nothing more than ravaged pieces of plastic to whack your neighbor with. Nearly 4 weeks later and the children are back to playing with garbage until the next major Christian holiday (Semana Santa is at the beginning of March, I think).