So it's been a while....

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

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hello Americans,

It has been a while since my last travelpod entry. I haven't been fighting a viscious case of malaria or sneaking across the Hatian border, I've just been too lazy to write. And while I wont attempt to narrate the past 3 months, here are a few highlights:

On April 9 a group of about 100+ community members and I took a trip to the beach. (We had spent the previous 8 weeks fund-raising money for the trip by selling generic Vick's Vapor Rub, selling photos, soliciting politicians, and outright begging. Begging was our speciality and far more lucrative than the vapor-rub sales.) At 7 a.m. everyone gathered at the park and awaited the busses arrival. Once they were spotted the shoving match for seating arrangements began. I made the mistake of taking on 17 year old Marisol and lost my seat within 30 seconds. By about 8 o'clock everyone was seated, myself and a few of the less aggressive participants stood in the aisles, and the busses departed for the beach.
About an hour into the trip the chant for "Una jumbo" broke out and a beer pit-stop was made. (a "jumbo" is a 40 oz. bottle of beer that people down here guzzle like the fountain of youth) Once outfitted with sufficient alcohol my fellow Caciquenos and I continued to the beach.
We arrived at the beach shortly before 11 and people immediately headed in all different directions. I took the water and splashed around with the muchachos for a bit, then dried off and ate some lunch. A few other Peace Corps Volunteers met me at the beach so I ditched the Dominicans and kicked it with my American chronies for the remainder of the day, oblivious to everyone else's situation.
At dusk people slowly started making their way back to busses and we started the long drive home. Here's where the story really starts rolling....
There were two busses. The first bus was full of families and younger kids. I went on this one. The second, and far rowdier bus, was full of youth ages 12-24. During the return trip the two busses got separated and my bus, the family wagon, arrived back to Cacique first. We were all exhausted and went straight to bed without worrying about the second bus's E.T.A. back in Cacique.
The next morning I woke up and discovered the reason the second bus was late in arriving back to Cacique was because they had to stop half way and kick two kids off for fighting. Two of Cacique's more notorious thugs/ boozehounds (ages 15 and 20) began fighting in the bus and broke a seat, thus forcing the driver to pull over and kick them off the bus. Not discouraged by the change of venue, the boys continued fighting in the middle of the street and oncoming traffic, thus prompting the police to get involved. This is shocking because Dominican police usually dont even raise a finger until rigor mortis has set in, so their presence alone is note-worthy. The police came and arrested the 20 year old, and allowed the 15 year old, whose a pretty smooth-talker, to get back on the bus and continue his commute home. The 20 year old spent the night in jail (or whatever the Dominican version of the "drunk tank" is).
As this story is being recounted to me the morning after I am growing increasingly nervous because I just know an irrate mother is going to come barging out of her house asking me why her son now has a black eye and another blemish on his criminal record. As I am not a native Spanish speaker and the lone American I often make for an easy scapegoat, so I was quite worried I was about the feel the complete wrath of the Dominican madre. But did such a thing happen? No. Nothing. Nobody even had a second thought about the trip. Apparently drunken brawls are quite common here and what transpired the night before was nothing new. As multiple people told me the day after, "Todo pasa".....everything passes.
On the contrary, instead of being mad, everyone seemed have had a wholesome good time and we are already planning another trip to an even better beach in June! They're excited; I'm nervous.

In other news I have started a flag-football team and so far it is going relatively well. The kids don't know anything about American football so we are definitely starting from square one, but they have made some respectable progress. My friend Randy, another Peace Corps Volunteer down here in the South is starting a team in his site so once we're both ready we hope to have a Dominican Superbowl. It should be a lot of fun.
We practice on Saturday and Sunday, but the schedule will get re-vamped once school lets out and there is more time. Two-a-days perchance? Doubtful since I lose my patience with the kiddos relatively quickly but we'll see. The league is supposed to be for kids ages 9-15 but I dont really have the heart to turn anyone away so we have quite a diverse group. There's 17 year old Joscar who'se about 6'2 and 7 year old Nelfris who comes up to his waist. But be warned, Nelfris is a little spitfire. What he lacks in size and weight he makes up for in trash-talk and cheap shots. Usually I try to stamp out just behavior but he's too cute to discipline. I mean, I have to tie the flag football belt around him twice just so it will stay up on him. How could you punish a kid like that?
Right now we are still working on the basics like catching and throwing but I still see signs of a well polished team in the makings. So I know that by the end of August we are going to steamroll Randy's team in Barahona. Bring it!!

Well there is certainly more to write and I will try to do a better job of updating my travelpod. My awesome girlfriend is coming to visit in ONE WEEK so that will certainly merit another entry.
Until then I miss everyone and hope all y'all are happy and safe.


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