Once again, in the early hours of the morning I put on my most conservative clothes and jumped in the old white pick up truck to get to Que Branda Honda… I felt like a zombie struggling to do simple tasks like brushing my teeth and in that state of sleepiness speaking Spanish is not an option for me. On the way to church they stopped at the market and Lucila got out of the car to buy something and Ramon and I waited for her. I asked him what she was going to buy and he replied with Roosters. I almost had a hear attack because I now have a passionate hate for roosters because of my neighbours miniature farm outside of their house. Actually I misheard this and instead she brought back a bag of cookies.. in my defense the word for roosters and cookies are extremely similar.
I managed to keep my eyes open for most of the 40-minute car ride but about 30 minutes into the ride Ramon stopped the car and instantly the backdoor were opened and a plethora of excited children pilled in the small truck. It was terrifying in my zombie like state of mind. Of course there was no warning or small comment like “by the way we are going to stop the truck for a minute on the way to the village and a large amount of small children are going to invade the back seat in bed of the truck like a swat team.”
But the children were equally as surprised to see a random white person in their mode of transportation to the village church so we sat beside each other the children and I awkwardly glancing at each other for the remaining 10 minutes to the village. The little girl loudly chewed her crackers and sipped her juice box and that was the only sound made over the sound of the truck roaring down the road. The silence made the whole situation that much more awkward. Once we finally got to village I was greeted with very strange looks from the residents. (As I often am because I look as foreign as the snow)
Lucila and Ramon want me to go there every week to help out with the kids church service and help her with colouring and teaching simple bible stories like Samson. That was all fine and dandy. The shyness of the children dissolved with the heating by the sun of the little church. And before long the most spaced out child with eyes half the size of his face was sitting on my lap. All the kids want to practice their English with you as soon as they see you, which is extremely difficult to understand because I’m not expecting them to say anything in English. The kids all have really thick Spanish accents and Good morning sounds more like “Gu-mo-ING”
Which is a very difficult sequence of sounds to recognize. At the end when everyone received cookies the children brought them into the truck and chewed the loudly beside me again, except this time they rapidly fired questions at me.
I seem to always do really random things partly because of my personality but mostly because Luclia and Ramon are go with the flow type of people. For example we stopped to buy a roasted chicken at the side of the road. Just because they felt like it but I didn’t eat it at lunchtime because I wandered into the backyard to look at palm trees when my upstairs neighbours invited me to their house.
Something Dominicans excel in is hospitality I am constantly surprised by how friendly and welcoming people are. They invited me to stay for lunch and I spontaneously stayed there for a few hours talking to my friend.
In the evening we got to the church fashionably late, because if something starts at 7, that is the time you start leaving the house. We got their earlier than many of the people because we don’t live terribly far away from the church which allowed me to watch the group of white people from Canada come in and take their seats at the very front of the church. It always throws me off when I see white people here because they just look so out of place. (I also look very out of place). Because I was in the back of the church I don’t think they really noticed me until they went to the stage to sing a song in English- which I knew and happily sang along too. At this moment the singer on stage and I made eye contact and I could tell he was a little bit surprised to see me sitting in the audience so casually.
I like listening to sermons here, not because I get something spiritually enlightening out of them but because it is a time where I can really work on my listening skills and comprehension of the Spanish language. Spirituality is oozing out the people that live here and it is not necessary to only go to a church service to find that.
After church some people my age convinced me to go to the city center with them. There was a concert, dance performances, fire breathers and chaos. Further away in the night sky I could see fireworks exploding into darkness. It was an exciting evening filled with laughter- which is something I can actually do bilingually. And I may have hit one of my friends because I thought he called me a prostitute in Spanish.. What he actually called me was a person that jokes a lot… I think I’m destined to have many awkward moments with mistranslations. My night ended with a motorcycle ride back to my house with the stars looking down at me about the mountain guarding the city of Puerto Plata.