Sunday, September 30, 2007
Andre and I are in Nena’s village near the Haitian border. We came with Hubert and Antonia and a 15-year-old guide named Junior. He’s a first cousin (primo hermano) of Nena’s boyfriend Benecio who had to work yesterday when we left. Benecia should be arriving this afternoon after he gets off work. It’s about 4 hours by bus from Santo Domingo.
Antonia’s village is just 20 minutes beyond here, 5 km from the Haitian border. She said she didn’t know the way because she always travels by bus, but between Junior's memory and the map that the rental company gave Hubert, it was very easy to find. It’s the same route that Andre and I took by bus to Haiti in July, up until a division about an hour back down the road.
The drive was pretty uneventful until we had a minor collision in pouring rain. Instead of watching the road, Hubert was concerned that Antonia might need her own ice cream cone since she was eating most of Junior's. Being an American, Hubert assumed we would file the report and the insurance company would take care of it. After getting the run around by the police, Hubert finally agreed with the rest of us and just paid off the driver of the damaged vehicle.
Nena's family is wonderful. They own a small food shop down the road. I don't know how they were able to give Andre and me the master bedroom. Nena is one of 8 kids and I thought her mom said they're all staying there. I did see her mom on the cot in the living room and the dad never came home. A brother was heading to his girlfriend's house. Well, somehow we all squeezed in.
The baby is beautiful, a nice combo of Nena and Benecio's good looks. Nena's a natural mother and looked great. You'd never guess she just had a baby two weeks ago. Her mother was expecting us to stay several days, but we'd already agreed to go back with Hubert and Antonia. He flies back to the U.S. on Sunday.
SUNDAY MORNING – Back in Santo Domingo. The new big news is that yesterday Hubert, Antonia, Andre and I became godparents to little Dewin Miguel, born Sept. 16. The tía came to Nena’s house to perform the baptism. The baby’s father, Benecio didn’t arrive in time and Nena’s father was busy working at their store. But the rest of us held the baby’s feet, recited Bible verses in Spanish (or faked it, like Hubert and me), and sprinkled water on the baby’s head.
I told Nena she looks great and she showed me her "woman’s secret," as she called the elastic band she’s wearing around her waist. She's always been chubby, so you really couldn't see a difference, except for her glowing face. Her mother wouldn’t let her out of the house until yesterday. Nena clearly enjoyed all the attention as we walked around the village and everyone came up to admire the little guy. Even though you see babies everywhere in D.R., everyone came up and oohed and aahed if they’ve never seen one before. Of course, I think Dewin Miguel is adorable. But that’s because his mother Nena is such a good friend of Maya’s, Andre’s and mine.
Hubert and Antonia had their usual ups and downs and misunderstandings, with lots of interpreting by Chelsea. Hubert was excited to finally meet Antonia’s family in her village, 10 km from Nena’s town, and right on the Haitian border. Antonia admitted she’s ¼ Haitian and she even was able to respond in Creole when Andre tested her. Antonia is a crack-up with her tight clothes, spike heels, and seemingly trampy behavior. One of Nena’s brother said to me, “She hardly looks like a campesina.” It's true. You would never guess she was from a small rural village if you saw her strutting her stuff in Santo Domingo.
I got to help cook the sancocho, which is basically a soup of everything. I’ll try to list some of the ingredients – bananas, yucca, chayote, potatoes, sausage, beef, chicken, carrots, onion, garlic. It took three cooks practically all day to prepare ta huge vat. You serve it over rice with sliced avocado. Yummm!
Needless to say, I’m not starving to death in Dominican Republic. I can’t believe we’ll be leaving for Brazil on Saturday. Hubert changed his flight for one day later, so we’ll all go visit our friend Junior today (that’s the third Junior I know here in DR). And Andre’s apartment building got sold while I was gone, so we’re going to move all his worldly possessions (probably 1 pick-up load) to Junior’s house. Junior’s family will be able to use the bed, little bar fridge and mini washing machine. It must be nice not to be burdened with so much stuff as we are in the U.S. I've asked for simple things like scissors or scotch tape before, but nobody has the stashes of things I have back home.
Speaking of stuff, I wanted to be sure to say Muchisimas Gracias to all my Santa Cruz friends who contributed clothing, cell phones, photo albums, sports equipment, etc. It is all greatly appreciated by my friends over here.