Visit to Consuelo and area

Trip Start Jun 30, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Dominican Republic  , San Pedro de Macorís,
Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hello again!

So it seems that every a month goes by before I get a chance to add an update!  There is quite a bit to recount this time, so I will try to do a few entries to catch up...

During the rest of Ian's visit in September, we managed to pack quite a lot in.  We had a belated birthday celebration for him at my friend Matilda's house...she cooked the most amazing curry dishes, and it was a special treat because she made 2 different ones!  Of course we had various flavours of Dominican rum on the go, and some wine to celebrate with dinner...followed by a DELICIOUS cake from a specialized cake bakery in San Pedro...Nicole made the trekk all the way to Juan Dolio with that thing on her lap while sitting on the over-crowded bus!  It was soooo worth it though - absolutely delicious.  They didn't have any birthday candles, so Matilda's husband came out with a house candle that they use for power outages next to the cake and lit it for Ian to blow out.  Very cute and creative :)

Later that week, I brought Ian to Consuelo to show him where I used to live last year, and to introduce him to all of the people who helped me during my time here last fall, and who have become very dear to me.  I showed him the second place I lived, above the "salon Jenny" with Juana and Mino, and I took him to meet them...they were very excited to meet him!  Next, we went to my 1st family's house - to visit Elena.  She invited us for supper one day, and of course she prepared a feast for 10 people, as always!  We had a really nice visit with her, and I felt so happy to be with her once again, talking and laughing...she is ALWAYS picking on me because she thinks I don't eat anything - and she says this to anyone who will listen and laughs heartily when I fight back! 

We went on a little tour of Consuelo, and visited the convent, where we met Sister Nati, who is a nurse at the medical clinic in Consuelo.  Ian will be coming back in November to do an outreach project for a couple of weeks, and he will be working with some of the doctors and staff there, as they have a project where they travel to a different distant batey (sugar cane village) everyday to give medical aid.  We thought it would be a good idea to make contact to set things up for his project while we were there...and several trips to Consuelo later, we were eventually successful!  The doctor who runs this program invited us to come and spend a day with her and her team, which I think was quite beneficial, and was really interesting for me especially, given that I don't really have any medical background.  Ian ended up doing some consulting in the patient visits as well, and I handed out clothing donations that I had prepared from Canada.  After the day in the batey, we had a chance to speak with the doctor, and she and Ian solidified the general plan for when he returns in November. 

We also hit some other highlights in Consuelo, including the Casa de la Cultura, where the Rotary meetings are held, and the old sugar cane factory that has been closed for 2 years, and where the workers still line up daily hoping for someone from the company to come and pay them their wages.  As you can see, everything is quite over-grown and rusted...a very sad sight.  While looking over at the rail yard, we came across an elderly man with an injured leg, who was crossing the pedestrian over-pass.  He started chatting with us - and has met many Canadians over the years.  He was on his way to the small market downtown to sell cherries that he had picked from the tree in his yard...so naturally, we bought some from him.  He is just one example of the many elderly people who need care and who can't afford it...after we bought some cherries, we gave him a ride to the market, and he was most appreciative. 

Later in the week, we were invited to join my friend Nicole and my friend Louise, along with their friends, in San Pedro for a night at the "malecon."  This is pretty much a "main drag" strip, that is always along the water - many cities have a malecon, which is always along the coastline.  In San Pedro, the malecon is QUITE a site.  It is lined with dozens of beer huts and outside bars, all competing with one other with loud music and beer.  People line both sides of the street and the median, and basically hang out and drink and dance the night away.  You can also get ice cream at the ice cream store, and if you feel so inclined, you can purchase a hot dog from one of the many travelling barbeques that are moving along the sidewalks...cooking while being pushed along.  If you don't want a hot dog, there is always boiled corn available - piping hot, as it too is boiling as the giant pot is pushed along the sidewalks up and down the street.  My personal favorite choice, however, is the pizza man, who has installed a pizza oven in the back of his truck, and who walks along the street in his chef's hat and throws the pizza pan in the air has high as possible and catches it - this is how he attracts attention to make sales.  For pizza out of the back of a truck, it actually tastes pretty good!  The malecon is always a good time, full of fun and laughter and friends, and you always bump into someone that you know! 

On the last day of Ian's visit, we decided to drive to the province of El Seybo, which is 2 provinces to the north of San Pedro de Macoris (where I am located).  I have never been there before, and I have heard so many times how beautiful it is, as it is tucked in the mountains.  It really isn't that far from Juan Dolio...maybe just over an hour.  And everyone was right - the scenery was quite stunning and at times breath-taking.  I also couldn't get over how CLEAN the town of El Seybo was - soooooo different from San Pedro, Juan Dolio, Boca Chica, and the capital!!  In the middle of the town, there is a very old church was built in the days of Columbus...the architecture definitely shows it.  it's a fair sized-town, bigger than Consuelo, I would say...and it has everything you would need...and the larger town of Hato Mayor is only 15 km back to the south.  It was well worth the trip, and we finished off our visit by having a Presidente at a local cafe. 

The time seemed to fly by while Ian was here, also because I was busy working in the midst of all these activities!  I was very happy to show him around, and I am really looking forward to his next visit and his medical project in November!
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