Thursday, August 10, 2017

Interesting Tidbits -- Dominican Republic Mission Trip 2017 Day 8

This is the eighth of nine daily blog posts from our Diocesan Mission trip to Santiago, Dominican Republic from July 21-29.  I'm posting one a day now that we have returned to the states.  A daily bog from others of our team can be found on our Diocesan blog:

July 28
In no particular order, here are a variety of things I’ve found interesting during our mission trip.

The full name of Santiago is actually Santiago de los XXX Caballeros (Santiago of the 30 Knights).  The city is so named because it was founded by 30 knights, or so I have been told.

Across the street from the church, I saw a newer payphone.  I can’t remember the last working payphone I have seen, and I haven’t run across a new one in a very long time.

Unfortunately, one of the other frequent sites on our drives were places to buy lottery tickets.  While most buildings are pastel-painted stucco or cinder-block, the sites for the main lottery are a vibrant blue vinyl that pops out from a block away.  In addition, numerous other more run-down buildings offer chances to play other lotteries 

The driving is a bit more adventurous here, with motorcycles cutting in and out of cars and trucks, and parked cars making for narrow lanes.  However, driving is much slower and more careful than in the United States, with drivers moving to almost a crawl before hitting the numerous speed bumps in the road or to maneuver around handcarts, pedestrians, or other challenges. 

Santiago seems to have very few, if any rapid transit buses.  The city does, however, have a number of specified special taxi routes.  Cars designated as special taxis display their route number on the side and pick people up and drop them off like a bus would.  One local said they were cheap, but he hated taking them because they would squeeze four people in the back and two passengers in the front seat.  Instead, he preferred “regular” taxis that picked you up and dropped you off wherever you wanted. 

The cross street closest to the hotel is “30th of March” Street.  I like this street because March 30th is my birthday.  I asked someone why it was named that, and understood that it was the day of a battle against someone or someones whose name I didn’t recognize.  Another bit of information to google later. 

Fried Eggplant
We’ve had many great foods here.  The fresh mango, avocado, papaya, pineapple, and bananas have all been delicious.  Each night at dinner, we start off with thinly-sliced, deep fried eggplant and end with sweet plantains.  We’ve had this banana-relative prepared in a way that brings out its natural sweetness as a dessert, as well as had it deep-fried with salt as a starch.  At lunch, I also had fresh-squeezed passionfruit juice for the first time, which I would highly recommend.  I, and many others on the trip, have enjoyed the local coffee, while Julia has found the dolce de leche to her liking.  Of course, we’ve also found Fanta!

During the large group opening of Bible School, the Dominican teachers lead the children in a variety of songs.  One of my favorites is about how the body is musical.  The mouth says “la, la, la”; the hands say <clap> <clap> <clap>; the feet say <stomp> <stomp> <stomp>; the head shakes back and forth; and the hips say “chi-chi-chi” as they dance to a cha-cha-cha rhythm. 

Finally, what better way to work on your Spanish than by watching the Smurfs?

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