WHAT IS UP it’s Megan and Azalea, just checking in after our first day living like Dominican locals! We woke up bright and early at 6:15am with a beautiful acapella rendition of LA CUCARACHA. There were also covers of show tunes for Kelly (we love Kelly and show tunes). Before breakfast we stepped out onto our beloved patio to watch the most beautiful and striking rainbow we’ve ever seen form (note from Azalea- Megan made me write this but I am saddened to say I missed the rainbow to get HYPT). Then we had a simple breakfast of hot chocolate (incredible- tasted of cinnamon and a mother’s warm embrace) and bread (which Quang was not happy about as the texture of the bread was as hard as he expected) before we got onto the bus and headed up a scenic ascending route towards the local community of Paso Bajito. On the bus we entertained ourselves with games and stories. The weather once we arrived at the community was a lot cooler and breezier than we were used to down in Jarabacoa. We walked together from the bus to the community center where we were met with a warm welcome from our new adoptive Dominican families (sorry parents and family- you’ve been replaced). We kicked off activities with a name game called “Así Es Como Me Muevo” (“This Is How I Move”). Surprisingly, adults and children alike were very enthusiastic in the game and came up with hilarious and slapstick dance moves.
After introductions, each family met with their new children and embarked on their beautiful view and goat-filled walks to their homes. When the Glimpsers arrived at their respective homes, each group of adopted children had a unique and whoopee (this adjective and almost every other brought to you by synonyms.com as Azalea has brain more fried than tostones) good time. Azalea, Denisse, Alondra, and Elizabeth became sisters at the home of the school principal. The head of the home; the mother, led the new family in the dynamic production of a delicious limeade (made with purified water to prevent DIARRHEA). After making limeade, the new family engaged in genuine and thought-provoking conversation about families, backgrounds, interests, and education among many other topics. The newly adopted daughters’ favorite part was the dance party that spontaneously started among the family and later also the neighbor families and new daughters. The huge family danced to reggaeton, salsa, banda and bachata music. Another favorite moment was meeting and petting the softest and most luscious bunny the group had ever seen after joining forces with the neighbor adopted daughters, Natali and Jacquie. The only downside of the bunny experience was when our new padre told us that the bunny was not a pet – but an animal they were keeping to fatten up and eat. Throughout the whole experience, the newly formed families bonded immensely and the feeling of joy and absolute elation was undeniable among the whole crowd. As we took a moment to take a photo and enjoy the beautiful mountainous countryside view, we realized how lucky we were to be able to experience such welcoming and loving families. We were all incredibly grateful to have such an opportunity and to feel that unforgettable feeling when we met our new mothers, fathers, and siblings.
Although I may not be as THOROUGH as Azalea, my story from today’s travels is mighty interesting! Marcella, Casey, and I walked with our new Dominican mama to her house which was located right next to the community center. We found out that we were going to get to help cook the amazing and delectable lunch for the Glimpse and the community! Mama immediately put us to work crushing and peeling garlic, smacking limes with a spoon to get the juice loose, and standing over the wood stove (el fogon) stirring the perfectly seasoned chicken. Coming into the home, we had no idea we were going to get the chance to cook with the women but we were pleasantly surprised at how excited they were to let us into their kitchen. Marcella and I got to chit chat and stir the food. The women told us all about their lives and their childhood growing up in rural DR villages. Our mama let us know that her niece spoke a little bit of English and that she wanted to learn more, so we sat down with her and she told us all about her life. Our mama fibbed! She was almost fluent! We had a wonderful conversation about her travels from Jarabacoa to Paso Bajito every weekend to see her family. She told us she was extra excited to come because she knew the “cute Americans” were going to be visiting. After talking with her, our mama told us the food was ready to take over to the community center. We snatched up the copious amounts of food and walked over. The community members had a big table set up and we put down the food and began to serve the community. Over our lunch of chicken, various salads, morongo/gallo pinto, and limeade we learned more about their lives. They were happy to share their dreams for the future and their current struggles. In other words, it got pretty deep. Us Glimpses were touched by their openness and warmth. Some of us shed a few tears as we gave our “Big Love” to our families. I have never experienced such a kind and welcoming group of people. The community was strong and supportive and it really touched our hearts and made us think about how we can bring that type of bond home to the US.
After our family experiences and our huge lunch with our extended Paso Bajito/Global Glimpse family, the Glimpses were split into different groups to talk about our Community Action Project with some of the community leaders. Most of the members of the community expressed a desire to have their community center repainted because it’s a multipurpose area used for everything from children’s events to meetings to even weddings. After our conversations and some more bonding time with the cute young children and great times with the teens and adults, it was sadly time to leave. A few of the students had to push our bus out of its parking spot (being careful not to knock over the oodles of carts of tomatoes or run over the mama chicken and her chicklings) because it was stuck in the mud. We again entertained ourselves on the bus, this time with familiar childhood tunes such as 99 bottles of almond milk on the wall and Party in the USA. When we returned to the hostel we rushed to our patio hangout area for some down time. We played Uno, made friendship bracelets, braided hair (shoutout to DENISSE), and felt that we got even closer as a group and as a family <3. For dinner, we had tostones (fried plantains), fried chicken, and salad. We continued with small group reflections and a nightly meeting during which we reflected on our emotional day and the effect seeing poverty first hand had on us. To end the night, we turned our power back on after 24 hours without running water or electricity (and no fans – muy caliente!) and many bucket-flushing mishaps (sorry Casey!). We passed the LDD torch to Marcella after a fantastic campfire song, concluding MEGAZALEA’s role as LDD!
Gracias y Adios!
-Megan Spangler and Azalea Morris (your one and only baby girls)