Basketball Tournament

Trip Start Sep 06, 2005
Trip End Nov 23, 2007

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Friday, November 4, 2005

Family and Friends-

Let me just say that I always try to think of some interesting heading (instead of just "Family and Friends") but alas my creative juices just aren't flowing today, and it seems cheesy to write something in Spanish, so please pardon my mundane introduction. With that disclaimer stated, allow me to continue.
Last Sunday (October 30) the much anticipated baskbetball tournament went down. My fellow Coordinator Randy and I arrived at the courts around 8:15 to clean the courts and await the arrival of our donated water. (We had previously solicited 5 jugs of water from a local vendor and she agreed to not only donate them, but deliver them to the courts at 8:30am). So we busted out the brooms and started sweeping the courts, while a small army of 4-7 year old boys in various colored briefs soaked up looming puddles with scraps of sponge. It was actually quite a site to see these little guys running around in only their unmentionables, sponging up the court. There was even one little MVP who filled up his golashes with stagnant rain water and hauled it off the court! By about 9:15 the courts were clean but our water was nowhere to be seen, so we went ahead and started forming teams.
This my friends, is quite a challenge, because everyone is jostling around, trying to make sure their friends are on their team, and that the token, overweight, uncoordinated child is not. Randy and I tried to be diplomatic and form teams of equal caliber, but we were only moderately successful. (We had spent the past two weeks passing out registration forms in an effort to avoid this problem, but of course none of the children brought them the day of the tournament, so we reverted to the aformentioned "Plan B") Then comes the even more cumbersome task of distributing head pans for the various teams. Everyone wants a head-band or a particular color, and one little boy even recieved a blow to the temple for his refusal to relinquesh a head-band. But thankfully, by about 9:45 we had 6 teams of youngsters and bracket (however, we were still without water, ice or cups. Thank you very little "AguaBoy") so we commenced play.
Watching 10 year old boys play basketball is about the equivalent of watching a swarm of seagulls on a lone piece of bread. There is squawking, and flailing and complete disorganization. It's wonderful! We played two 8 minute halves with a 2 minute halftime and were thoroughly entertained the entire time. Everytime a child missed a shot, he would shriek "Diantre!" "Concho!" or my personal favorite, "Santisima!"
At about 11 (two and a half hours later than scheduled) the water, ice and cups finally arrived so we halted play while the dehydrated participants sucked down the refreshments like it was the fountain of youth. It was about this time, that the music also arrived. And by music I most certainly mean a huge flatbed truck with about four 5-foot speakers in the back. So now, not only do we have a figurative flock of seagulls on the court, but a crowd of rowdy adolescents salsa-ing and gyrating to Marc Anthony and Thalia. Again, it was wonderful!
This melee of music, arguments over head-bands, and rag-tag basketball continued until about 1 when we finally finished the tournament. In reflection, Randy and I both agreed that almost nothing went as planned, and yet somehow everything worked out. Our refreshments and music eventually showed up, everyone got to play, no major arguments or fights erupted and both participants and spectators had a good time. Even our internship supervisors from La Fundacion Maximo Gomez commented on how well it went. Apparently, this is quite typical of Peace Corps events. You plan, plan, plan. The nothing goes according to these plans. And then everyone agrees things were successful. It's ironic but satisfying.

This past week has been pretty relaxed as we have been wrapping up things here in Nagua. We return to Santo Domingo tomorrow (Nov. 5) and then head out to our actual service sites on Nov. 27 which is very exciting. I think everyone is ready to finish training and start working.
We did go to a cock fight on Thursday which was a little cultural adventure. One of the Spanish teachers told us that if a fight broke out, we should grab out stuff and get out. Apparently the combination of alcohol, gambling and machismo doesnt mix well. Who knew?
Thankfully a fight didnt break out so we were able to enjoy the cock-fight. It wasnt as violent as I thought it would be, mainly because they dont let the birds fight to the death. (Although, one did get his eye pecked out and was twitching on the mat before they scooped him up so I think death is quite common; it just doesnt happen in front of the spectators.) And the best part of it all was that I took my fellow volunteer, one Matt Haygood of Atlanta, for forty pesos, and was 2-0 on the day. Unfortunately, Matt quickly won his 40 pesos back in a game of dominoes, but I still felt like a winner.
Oh, and my host family gave me a surprise going away party! It was an incredibly nice gesture, and they even invited fellow volunteers, spanish teachers and a slew of other neighborhood characters. And, it actually was quite a surprise to me. I am definitely going to miss them, and the enitre city of Nagua, but I hope to return in the future.

I miss all y'all and hope you guys enjoyed Halloween and are preparing for Thanksgiving. Hope its cooler in the states than it is here,

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