Today was our Immigration Day. We woke up early in the morning at 6:45 am. Once we were ready, we walked to Onaneys to eat breakfast. For today’s breakfast we had mash potatoes with fried cheese with yogurt and a side of Nesquick chocolate and strawberry milk. Following we had an hour long bus drive to Elias Pina which is the town alongside the Haitian border. We were accompanied by ambassadors, Jose our regional director, a bodyguard (can ask about that later), of course our GG Leaders plus staff, and the Red Frontera and Defensa Civil. The Red Frontera is an organization that guards both the Haitian and Dominican border making sure that no one, either Haitian or Dominican, is mistreated by guards or others. The Defensa Civil are like the Red Cross- they provide first aid to the Dominican people. While we were there we walked around the border, had a questions and answer session with the organization, and went through the market where Haitians and Dominicans exchange goods. When we were finished we got back inside our bus or “guagua” and went straight to eat lunch at Onaneys. For lunch we had chicken, macaroni salad, rice, and plantains. After lunch we headed back to the hotel and had some free time to shop around, play basketball, or sleep. We came back to the hotel to prepare for our English classes that start at 5pm and end at 7pm. After dinner we walked back to our hotel and started our nightly meeting, had some free time and went to bed. Overall it was a very good experience crossing the border and witnessing the procedures of immigration.
Having parents who immigrated from other countries it came to me as no surprise that there was a lot of conflict between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. What was a shock was the mutual agreement both countries had for free travel. On Mondays and Fridays the boarders are completely open for Haitians and Dominicans to travel back and forth without papers. It was extremely nice to see two countries come to a consensus for the benefit of their citizens. In addition, there was times where it wasn’t so heart warming. We constantly had eyes on us and at one point we heard regresan a casa(go home). It was different not seeing a complete boarder between two countries because that is what you see between Mexico and US. One minute you were in Haiti and the next you were back in the DR. At the end of the day I was just shocked to see how different international boarders were because of the relationship between the US and Mexico. I originally thought that it was complete walls for every boarder, but its nice to know not all countries are the same.
Next came the market. This market was like the flea market but more hectic. For these two days Haitians can come into the DR to buy all the supplies they need. That is why it was more chaotic than the flea market. On top of that you have motorcycles and wheel barrels going through tiny walk ways. This market has everything necessary for a person to survive: clothes, food, working supplies, and a lot of donations from the US. In the market vendors were extremely aggressive. They would get in your face or even grab you just to get you to buy objects. This market was extremely similar to the ones we have back home but it was also extremely different. At the end of the tour it was difficult to see that people had to come to the DR to buy supplies necessary to survive, of which they can’t get in their own country. All in all, it was unbelievable to see that these two countries share an island without any sort of boarder separating the two with such a difference in poverty, struggle, and culture.