Our last time together as a whole group! After the usual breakfast, Ben had us each share something that we had learned on the trip. I admitted that for me, the experience had been practice in depending on God rather than on other things, no matter how good or godly those other things might be. It felt awkward and unnatural, but I could tell that I wasn’t trying to cling to any of the supports that I used to, nor was I completely overcome with anxiety as in past years. It was weird, but a good sorta weird. 🙂
As we said goodbye to the four missions team members who would be returning home today, the same bus driver that had taken us to Monkey Jungle waited patiently outside the gate. Jared went with them to Santiago to help them hunt for souvenirs before checking in at the airport in the afternoon, and Jessica went along just for something interesting to do.
Meanwhile, Celia and I washed and hung more laundry. Since it had been overcast and raining for much of the week, we were starting to wonder if the clothes would actually be dry before tomorrow afternoon, when we were planning to leave for a 3-day stay in the mountains. She set an electric fan to blow on some of the heavier items, hoping to increase the evaporation.
Before she left that morning, Donna put a pair of her sneakers on the Duncan’s garbage pile by the front gate. One of the soles had fallen off almost completely. Later in the day, Celia spotted a Haitian lady walking off with the shoes. Since the country to the west has even greater economic struggles than the D.R., many Haitians cross the border illegally. While some areas tolerate them, others do not; during the week, we were stopped several times at military checkpoints so that the guards could look for immigrants among our passengers. Wherever they are, the Haitians usually face discrimination.
We encountered other interesting things on the roads, as well. Along with the aforementioned traffic and pedestrians, we also observed people on horseback several times. One man guided his mount with a rope bridle while sitting astride a contraption for carrying cargo rather than a saddle: long, slender, metal fingers curled around the air on either side of the animal. We could envision barrels strapped to the supports, or perhaps piles of sugarcane.
Ben nicknamed another phenomenon the “rolling adds.” People drove through the neighborhoods with huge speakers in their vehicles, usually trucks, blaring advertisements for goods, services, or events. The sound was occasionally loud enough to cause the Duncan’s house to shake and rattle!
Once, while we were driving through a village, I noticed several men walking parallel with the crazy traffic and carrying a cable slung over their shoulders. I turned around for a better look and realized that the other end of the cable swung up to the power poles and disappeared into the local electrical grid. New construction? Repair? Whatever they were doing, it certainly didn’t look safe!
For an afternoon snack, Celia brought out a package of crunchy, puffy wafers made with yuca and flavored with garlic. Different, but good! We talked while we waited for Jared and Jessica to return. After they did, Jessica showed us the key chain and bracelets she had bought, and Jared and Ben deliberated over the plumbing parts he had brought back for installing their new water heater.
Meat and rice made up tonight’s entree, and it came with a unique side dish: vegetable, egg, and mayonnaise salad. Although the combination sounded terrible and didn’t look much better, the actual flavor and texture turned out to be quite palatable! I went back for more.
In the middle of the night, I woke up and realized that my hand hurt. Turning on the light, I discovered two painful bites on the side of my palm. At first, I groggily wondered if a snake had bitten me, but I decided on closer inspection that the marks were too far apart and too dissimilar to puncture wounds to be from fangs. Rattled by the intensity of the burning, I fetched a plastic cup from the kitchen and went hunting through my side of the bed. I wasn’t sure whether I was relieved or worried when I didn’t find anything. The memory of the black widow that I had come across while hanging laundry was NOT helping me here. I told myself that maybe they were simply mosquito bites that particularly stung in the more tender portion of skin and drifted back to sleep, wondering what they were going to look and feel like when I woke up in the morning. If I woke up in the morning…