Disclaimer: The Original travel journal entry is written in italics. Addenda and clarified thoughts are written in regular print.
Breakfast of fruit, papaya juice and hard boiled eggs, then we were off to Pimentel, which is about 30 minutes away. Jr and Carlos picked us up and most of us rode in the van, driven by Carlos. Andy² (the two Andys) and Anderson rode with Jr.
The Dominicans are a lovely, generous people. They are easy-going and even-tempered. As drivers, however, they are bold, carefree and fearless. They have adopted the understanding that the bigger vehicle has the right of way in almost every situation, and that lines on the pavement and traffic signs, including stop signs, are purely decorative. Most Dominicans ride mopeds or motorcycles, and weave through traffic and race along road shoulders. They are also the most likely to get cut off by larger vehicles, but take it in stride. They also zip through stop lights, and are ingenious about transporting people and goods on only two wheels. I saw a family of four on a motorcycle, but Mark saw a family of five on one! We also witnessed everything from propane tank, a stove, enough baked bread to fill a grocery store, and live animals being transported by motorcycles. Toddlers sit in front of the adult and babies are held on laps by one hand, whilst the other hand operates the cycle, or sit on the mother’s lap who is sitting in front of the father who is driving the cycle. No big deal. Cars were mostly Asian models and always had dark tinted windows. Pick up trucks were diesel trucks and carried everything from fresh fruit, construction items, people and animals. Being driven in the Dominican Republic was an event in itself as it was filled with excitement (yeah, that’s the word), sights and colors. I am also convinced our van was filled with prayers! Carlos was an amazing driver and kept us safe.
The school in Pimentel is on its own campus, with the main building surrounded by outbuildings which served as classrooms and an outdoor lunch cafe. There was also the home and farm of the founding pastor, who’s son, Jr, served as our Mission host and guide. Radhames Quezada, became a pastor at the age of 20 and built the school with many years of hard work, faith and sweat. He shared his testimony with us and his daughter served as translator. The school is a family run operation. Pastor Quezada’s wife is the school superintendent, and two daughters, along with Jr’s wife, serve as teachers.
We walked around the campus and each classroom greeted us with a class cheer. Lunch was rice and sausage, salad and fried plantains.
We had a lovely meal then toured Pimentel on foot. The colors and sights again were amazing.
I saw a street vendor selling coconuts and we stopped to take pictures. There was also a pineapple vendor so I bought a pineapple for me and Aurelie to share. It was delicious! We found ourselves in the vicinity of the police station so Andy² thought it would be funny to take a photo of Aiden in jail and send it to Father Chris (Aiden’s father)! I thought it was childish and inappropriate, but was clearly in the minority.
The van picked us up near the station and then we drove to the satellite location that served even more children. The children present were precious but very shy and didn’t want to get their photograph taken – much like some the Chinese adults were when I visited China with my parents years ago. I coaxed and smiled an even showed them that I, too, could do a cartwheel! I was finally rewarded with some lovely photos.
Back at the main campus, I was volunteered to head a painting project. I thought I was going to be painting school classrooms, but it is a local woman’s house. I’m not sure on the details but Fiona, Aiden, Anderson, Aurelie and myself (Kelly! Poor grammar!) will tackle the job! Our team was divided into three working groups. Andy², Lucas, Mark and Tyler formed the Work Crew who would be tackling lawn work at the satellite school, before returning to the main campus to tackle a plumbing project. Delia, Nikki, Amy, and Anna formed the Teaching Crew that would be teaching English and Arts and Crafts.
We arrived back to the hotel around 6pm and everyone was hungry. However, the teenagers dove into the meal and ate most of of it. It was a small amount of sliced sausage, fried cheese and plantains. Jr seemed embarrassed that there was so little food but that’s teenagers for you. To be fair, the teens didn’t eat all the food, but by the time the last person came to dinner, most of it was gone. Jr explained that in the Dominican, lunch was the biggest meal, not dinner. Andy² and Aiden explained that Americans tended to eat more at dinner than at lunch. Jr said he would adjust the food levels for the rest of the week.
Immediately after dinner, Nikki, Amy and Delia and I went to a local store – much like Walmart – for some supplies. I didn’t need anything but wanted to go for the experience. I ended up buying a few things – juice boxes, Dominican coffee, meringues, lime flavored potato chips and Dominican rum to make Charlie proud. Nikki said she’d pack it for me as I’m not checking any bags.
It’s now late – after 10pm local time so I’m going to end today’s entry. I watched the full moon rise and know it’s from Charlie. I hope I can find a rock from him while we’re here. Maybe at the beach!