Saturday, January 30, 2010

Some Goodbyes ... sniff.... Part 1

Domino... a favorite pastime here in the Dominican.

As we are reflecting on our amazing adventure here, and the ginormous blessings we have received during our stay ... we must say some very important goodbyes to some special people and things. Here they are in no particular order:

Goodbye to Junior, our taxi driver/friend/Marsia's #5 suitor. Bye to your 1987 Toyota Corolla donning the "Jesus is your jefe" (boss) decal across his windshield. Goodbye to your donut tire which flew off during our last trip to Boca Chica. Goodbye to your "poor man's mojito" (as Jill called it) which consisted of Brugal Rum, cinnamon stix, sugar and a mint cough drop. Goodbye to grocery shopping with us.... rushing us through the store. Goodbye to your shaving prowess, I've never seen such interesting designs in facial hair, including eyebrows. And goodbye to stopping by randomly to say hello and to use the hose to wash your car...almost daily, even on "no water Wednesdays". Even though no one was able to take a shower or wash the dishes as you drained the last drop out of the hose, so your wheels were never shinier. (Note to self, buy Junior some lugnuts as a goodbye gift, so each wheel can have at least 3.)

Goodbye to Pica Pollo. Although you were a tasty alternative to some of our meals here, your stale french fries and tostones left much to be desired. Chino, your culinary skills left us shaking our heads. Neither Marsia or I have ever seen garden clippers used so masterfully as you buzzed through our rotisserie chicken. We never were able to distinguish which piece of chicken you served us, but it was a delight to watch.

While on the subject of garden clippers...Goodbye to the Dominican kitchens. Goodbye to having to wash off every dish, cup, fork, and plate before using it, (you never know what happens to them when they get put away). Goodbye to the standing water in the pots and pans stored underneath the sink. Goodbye to the fish in the freezer which sat out uncooked from morning til night, then stored in the freezer and brought out again the next day for us to eat. When we declined that day, it was simply stored again. Goodbye to the food which at times was stored in the fridge, but other times was stored in the cupboard... such as is the case with mayonnaise. You just never know where it will show up!

Goodbye to the Presidente beer and all those who love it.Goodbye to the "wildlife" here in the D.R. which has lived with us for the past 3 months, afterall... they were here first. Goodbye to the giant cockroaches in our bathroom which come out to play in the middle of the night. Goodbye to the tarantulas live and dead which we have found around the outside of the house. (Note to self... google tarantulas to find out if they can actually jump.) Goodbye to the frogs that bounce all over and somehow morph into a sticky slime and plaster themselves onto the wall. Adios sweet geckos. Goodbye to the culebras (snakes) one which was found in the swimming pool. Goodbye to all the mosquitos who dined primarily on Marsia.

Goodbye to the Police Department and their state-of-the-art facilities. They actually threw one of the messed up plastic chairs "outside", to make room for us the day we went to file our report. Thanks for all your help!

Goodbye to baby bottles given to kids of ALL ages with a variety of liquids inside. A special goodbye to 10 year olds who prepare their own and lay down to watch cartoons while slurpping them down.

And finally in this Part 1 of our goodbyes..... Goodbye to "no water Wednesdays". We won't miss you most of all.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A birthday to remember.....

Well, we are nearing the end of our journey here and have finished all but one of the missions that we came here to do and sent the items we had left to Haiti. We've attached a few pictures of the poor community that we returned to as promised since we didn't have quite enough items the first time.

Many of the kids were wearing the clothes we had left them from days earlier. They seemed very happy and were playing when we arrived. Here is a picture of Jessica's house ( the Haitian woman who invited us into her community and another pic of the kids we met there.

I (Marsia) had my birthday on January 20th. It was different celebrating it without my family and friends but I had my Dominican family and friends here for me. Jill baked me a cake (soon to be realized it wasn't just for me) and made delicious taquitos with a little mexican rice. It was a neighbor's birthday as well so his friends and family joined the festivities and they made hamburgers to feed all the extra unexpected guests.

Early in the evening, while Jill was slaving away once again in the kitchen getting everything ready for me, I went to my little house upstairs to retrieve a few items and walked in on a man with a knife robbing us. He just had me sit on the bed silent until he got what he needed then left. Fortunately, he was only after money and things of value. I was shocked and upset for most of the evening so that put a damper on the party. All the neighbors were very supportive in trying to find him that evening. Of course, we didn't have any luck finding him and we have moved back into the main house.

We've decided to take a positive attitude and not become victims of the incident. We are going to try and focus on all the wonderful people we've met here and amazing experiences we've had instead of letting this end our trip. It was awful, will never be forgotten, but we are safe! We decided a trip of people watching at Boca Chica might be the best medicine for the moment. So we've planned a little side trip there on Wednesday. :)

One really good outing we had was a baseball game at el Estadio Quisqueya. Our friend Ramon is the only Dominican umpire who has gone through the Professional Umpire's Academy in the USA. Here is Ramon with the crew working the game we saw. Ramon was off that night, but went to the game with us anyway. Check out the pictures of the Brugal Girls, the stadium and the umpires.... all very interesting.

We'll post again after Boca Chica.... until then.... BE SAFE!!!
Word of the day: ¿Oite? Which should be Oiste, but Dominicans all eat their "s's".... (when there is nothing else to eat). Oite means.... did you hear? They use is about as often as a teenager uses "like".

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mission Yamasa

Marsia is really getting used to this.... It wouldn't surprise me if you found her "conditioning" in the Willamette!

Our mission to Yamasa was a huge success! We were able to serve over 100 children and a few adults as well. We were even able to give out doggie treats to some very skinny, needy dogs. In this blog we are including some photos, so you can get a feel for the little town of Yamasa.

In German they would call this, "Mein Hcghut"

"Really? You think a tube top is appropriate for a 10 year old?"

We were greeted by Aleidy (yes, pronounced "a lady") who had worked as a nanny for the family who took us to Yamasa. Their goal was to provide food for the small community. They brought Hot Dogs, buns, cabbage and the fixin's, and soda too! We toured the area, and went to their local watering hole. Several kids were jumping off the bank and into the water. One little one. about 12 years old, had no clothes on, whatsoever.... no one seemed the least bit concerned. They were just having a really good time. Some little girls were washing their hair in the river as well. It was like taking a step back in time. When we got back to the main area, the family we came with immediately set up their stove to cook on as we began handing out our donations.

Here we have Frank and Stein :)

We were also given some donations of used clothing, and have packed up the items which we had left over to be sent to Haiti via the University of Santo Domingo. Today, we went back to Little Haiti to fulfill our list of items that children were in need of since we didn't have them on our first visit. We also brought a few other little pencils and other goodies that we had left over from Yamasa. Note to self: there are many more 8 year old boys than one would think in these little villiages. Next time, have more things for them.

This one's for you Bill!

Word of the day: Masilla, or Play-doh.... It sounds an awful lot like Marsia! We gave some out to the kids in their goodie bags.

Well, we're almost falling asleep..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz Nighty night!
From Jill and Masilla ... God Bless you all! Pray for the restoration of Haiti!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Little Haiti

Wow, it seems like the world changed since our last post! The earthquake in Haiti was definitely felt here in the Dominican. I was working in the states for a few days, so obviously I felt nothing. However on my way back the following day, my flight was full of reporters and journalists from the Foreign Press. In fact, the row where I was sitting became the hub of all the journalists and cameramen, hoping our route back to the D.R. would take us over Haiti for an aerial view of the catastrophe. Unfortunately we came in from the east, so all of the HUGE cameras were swiftly put away.

Their objective to report from Port-au-Prince was complicated by the news that the airport was not functional. They were quickly trying to figure out how to mobilize the group on land, and it was doubtful that the Haitian govenment would allow all of their equipment into the country, and they were thinking that they would be on foot. They were prepared to explain to the Haitian government that their mission was to report the story in an effort to bring aid, and not focus on the extreme poverty or get into the political misgivings of their country. As I was telling this story to Marsia, and how the reporters were from Denmark, Austria, Germany, England, etc. I said it was really interesting because they were speaking in all these languages, mostly German. She looked at me like, "Really, Jill? And how was it that you understood their every move?" Ok, so I guess they were talking mainly in English, but I know I heard them speaking German!

So an opportunity came to us to do our mission yesterday in Little Haiti. We've included a few pictures of the new friends we were able to make ... and as always, there is never enough to give but they were grateful for everything. Many of the people here have families that at this time are unaccounted for. Please pray that they are well, and that communication is restored soon. Thank you all for your help!

Tomorrow we are going out to another mission. One of the neighbors has offered to cook a meal for all of the children in a very poor area about 1 1/2 hours from Santo Domingo called Yamasa. It should be a great day!
Truthfully, you probably have better links to what is happening minute by minute in Haiti then we do. Vehicles have been up and down the streets requesting donations to send to Haiti today, as well as the University getting a relief mission underway for the people of this struggling country. God Bless you all. Love Jill and Marsia

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Relecting on our journey thus far, we have to stop and ponder... why? Following are just a few of the things we still do not comprehend.

1. Why are there no clocks in any house in the Dominican? How on earth did they ever know the time, before cell phones existed?

2. Why do most Dominicans leave food out from their heavy meal at 1:00 (that they must eat at 1:00 or they will starve to death), only to put it in the fridge just before going to bed.... and then serve it again the following day. Why?

3. Why, even in the nicest houses, are there no toilet paper holders? The one small hotel we stayed in actually had an industrial sized toilet paper dispenser, but positioned it half way across the bathroom? Why?

4. Tubees...does anybody get them? For those of you who don't know what tubees are, they are thick "hairnets" used by every Dominican woman, and sometimes even children.... to keep their salon look all week. Nearly every Dominican woman has her curly hair straightened once a week or so then wrapped in a tubee 23 hours of the day 7 days a week. They go to the mall with their tubee, we see them at the airport with their tubee, we just don't know when is the appropriate time to let it loose.

5. Why are young children (we even saw a 2 year old ) encouraged to entertain adults with dance moves that are less than appropriate?

6. How it is somehow ok to put your music on with the biggest speakers known to mankind at 3:00 am, but shunned upon if you "re-direct" a pesky frog into the neighbors property.

7. Why is yuca root or boiled plaintains an acceptable breakfast staple, but not rice?

8. How is it that if you are sick, or suffer from respiratory problems you cannot go swimming, wash your hair, be around clorox or laundry detergent, cannot eat chips of death (doritos, fritos, cheetos, etc), but yet you are not allowed to rest?

9. How there is so much poverty, but somehow there is always money for their Presidente Beer when company comes by.

10. How you call a taxi to take you to the store and he goes shopping with you, but rushes you all the way.

11. Why there are only a handful of post offices in this huge city. And when you find one, it is about the size of our little local colmado... 12' X 12'. People cannot tell you where the post office is, and rarely send or receive mail.

12. How it is an unwritten law that toilet paper is thrown into the trash next to the toilet, but they can't remember to throw other trash into recepticles on the street. Why?

13. Why, when some Dominicans do their power walking, do they use whiskey bottles as their weights?

Most of these questions will never be answered. Just a few items that American's don't understand. Thank you for following and we'll write again soon. God Bless!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Astray...

Well, if there is one thing we've learned from our stay here.... it is not to plan too far in advance. In a nutshell, our bags full of donation goodies never made it to Dajabon with us. We think that room was needed to carry instruments for the festivities there.

We were able to make it to Haiti, and it was quite an adventure. You pass the Rio Masacre, (Massacre River named for the thousands of Haitians slaughtered there, trying to cross into the Dominican Republic). Here are some pics of families washing and bathing in the river. Some people were taking off their clothing to wash either the only thing they own, or to have everything they own, clean. Click on the images below to enlarge.

It was amazing how much poverty is just across the river. Although we didn't get that far into Haiti, what we saw was heartbreaking. It made us grateful to have food, water, electricity, etc. because sometimes, those are daily "necessities" we take for granted. Someday, it would be eye-opening to get into Haiti just to see what it's really like. For now we are looking forward to going to Yamasa, a village about an hour and a half from Santo Domingo hopefully on the 17th, (reference the title, please). We will be taking all our bags of goodies there.

On the trip we did see lots of funny things, this sign was among them.... Click the image to see the womans curlers still in her hair. I'm not sure of the deeper message there, or if it is yet another act of randomness. Have a great week... we will see you on the blog!
Love, Jill and Marsia
P.S. only 13 more shopping day's til Marsia's b-day!