First Impressions - Part II

Trip Start Sep 06, 2008
Trip End Nov 25, 2008

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Monday, September 15, 2008

Part II - my family and the town of Consuelo!
My family has been absolutely wonderful to me since my arrival on Saturday.  It is quite a large family, which is something I'm not used to, but it's really nice because there is always someone around.  The head of the family (the matriarch) is named Elena Ortiz.  She is 76, as I think I mentioned before, and she is so warm, generous, and sweet.  She is always worrying about how I am feeling, and wants me to be comfortable in her house, and really wants me to eat...and eat...and eat!!  She doesn't speak any English, but she has really taken to me wanting to talk to her so that I can learn more Spanish, and she tries to speak very slowly, and tells everyone else to speak slowly too, so that I can understand.  She always checks on me to make sure that I am not feeling lonely or bored, and she is always interested in anything that I have to show her.  She told me that she doesn't want my family to worry about me, so she wants to take the very best care of me that she can! 
I have managed to figure out the family tree a bit better.  Sindy, the granddaughter, lives here, of course, as does Elena's daughter Tatika, her son Heraldo, and sometimes her other daughter, Mercedes.  Mercedes is a doctor and has a clinic in Bavaro, which is the town where Punta Cana is located (3 hours east).  She works there 4 days a week, and comes here to work in the hospital on the other days.  (Jen - I gave the supplies to her, and she was very excited to get them!)  These are all Sindy's aunts and uncle - her father and mother live in other provinces.  Elena's other son, Juan, is married, but he is here everyday and runs errands for her and does things that she needs.  There is another son, and I always forget his name...he doesn't live here either, but he is always here watching TV and chatting with everyone.  All of these people eat their meals here at one point or another throughout the day, and there are other odd pockets of family that are sometimes here (for example, yesterday I met Sindy's 2 cousins, who took me to San Pedro, along with Juan, for a grocery shopping trip).  Everyone in the family is extremely welcoming and friendly, and they always try to include me in whatever is going on.  I have grown very fond of all of them already, and I have only been here for 5 days!  Someday before I leave, I am really hoping to be able to understand them when they talk to one another! 
I feel I must mention the family dog again (see picture).  I have befriended the pooch over the last few days, and Elena is so amused by this that she has insisted that I name him.  I told her that I would have to sleep on it, so the next morning she asked me what the dog's name was - so I told her that it is "Sam."  She likes this very much, and now whenever anyone yells at the dog (normally, they say, "dog! Get out of the kitchen/house/living room!  Dog!  Get out of the way!  Dog!  Go away!), Elena corrects them and tells them that his name is Sam it is, and he has learned how to chase limes around the backyard, and likes to get his head scratched.  He is a very good little dog, and he has taken quite a liking to me.
I have posted a few pictures of the house, which is very nice.  There is a lovely front porch with 4 rocking chairs, and a nice sitting room at the entrance of the house.  There is a beautiful formal dining area next to the sitting room, and then the house extends back into the informal TV room, and the kitchen is to the left of that.  There is also another little side porch off of the kitchen, and the entrance to the backyard (very big).  To the right of the TV room is the bathroom and 2 bedrooms. The other 4 bedrooms are along the main part of the house, opposite the sitting and dining rooms.  All houses in the towns and cities (not the bateyes) have large gates around their property and on the windows, which I gather is for added security.  (I tried to go for a run early yesterday morning and couldn't get out, because the place was locked up like a fortress!)  Next to the house is the little store that the family owns and runs, and it is named after Elena.  I am just a block away from the convent, next to the church, across from the bus station, and around the corner from the teachers' barrio, which is where I like to run.  There is a pharmacy/store just past the convent, where I went on my first lone adventure yesterday afternoon!  I was very proud to have had an interaction in the store, bought what I needed, and came back to the house! 
I have posted some pictures of my room also, which I really like, and it looks like the other bedrooms in the house as well.  I hope that you enjoyed this virtual tour of my new Dominican home...more new to come later, as it happens!
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