There is less than a month left until I go back, the community knows it and I am trying to accept it. It is funny to notice that most of us that are going back in May seem to be more stressed than when arrived. There are lots of things to do before we finish service and even more things to worry about once we get back. I went down to the south with some friends last week. While planning the trip I had not considered that it would be myself and four girls for the majority of the trip. Being the only guy was fun and emasculating, we ate ice cream and listened to Erika Badu. I went to my friend’s batey for a few hours where she was running around with her mom and an Italian guy trying to get children birth certificates and Dominican citizenship, we also played soccer and colored with the children (a group of missionaries was around that morning passing out toys). The batay was a good contrast to the Luxury Resort where I found the girls schmoozing with the Canadian ambassador. He knew one of Claire’s professors in Newfoundland and was considerably younger than our ambassador. He was complaining that a national news program recently called him the son of a whore; he assured us that his mother was not a whore.
The nights in the capital on either end of the trip where a good opportunity for me to wrap up a few loose ends (there are still plenty left to wrap up) such as submitting my video interview, arranging for a flight back to the Portland, obtaining the proper paper work for grant reports and figuring out what vaccinations Lobo needs before he can travel to the US. A group of us spent a few hours out at dinner and we gently bickered like a group of friends at the end of a road trip, but instead of a five-day adventure we were really ending a two-year stint in another country.
I left early with the hopes to get home from the capital with enough time to get some work done in the afternoon. That put me at the foot of the mountain at about 10 AM. There is an unmistakable texture to raw flesh in a burlap sack; it is soft but strangely firm at the same time. My leg pushed up against this texture as the eight of us piled in the bed of the old diesel Toyota. Sometimes you don’t want to put 2 and 2 together and come to a disenchanting conclusion but it happens anyway. I saw the woman loading a severed cow’s head wrapped in plastic into another burlap bag and sling it on top of the pile of luggage about ten minutes before, the bag pressing against my shin with its unmistakable texture had a red patch where something was oozing through. There is still a lot of construction on the road up the mountain and we were stopping frequently. I was in the back corner straddling the tailgate so I would get out to stretch at the stops. At one of the stops the driver decided he wanted to take off quickly and left me behind. After driving 10 yards or so, he slowed down enough that I was able to run behind the truck and jump into the bed, the other people in the back grabbed my arms firmly so I wouldn’t fall out. I realized I was lying across the bags of meat. The sun was getting higher and higher and as we stopped the flies where beginning to take interest in the bags that I was trying not to think about. Luckily, the woman with the two bags got off about half way through the trip. I helped her unload her bags and it felt like she had half of a cow in the mystery bag. We lugged it to the side of the road where she would wait for a motorcycle to come pick her up. A lot of things are changing both in this country and for me, but at least the guagua rides are as ridiculous as ever.