There is a lot you can learn from on a brief drive here in the D.R. Take a peak at what I (Pat) saw each day for the past three months as I drove to and from Montellano from and to our house in Cangrejo (about a ten minute drive…when there are no cows in the road or when the local military base isn’t doing any marching drills down the highway). The photos below show my way from Montellano back to our house in Cangrejo (captions for each photo are above the photo).
Below is the “highway” (or autovista) that goes along the edge of the north coast and connects all the cities and towns. You’ll notice that it is only a two lane road. Also notice that there are no street lights.
This is one of the main turnoffs (calle de bomba) for Montellano. “Bomba” is the word used for “pump” and that can refer to anything that pumps…ball pump, tire pump, but in this case it is referring to the gas station (gas pump), which coincidentally is a Shell station. One thing to know is that here there is no such thing as a self-serve gas station. It seems like a meaningless job in our eyes, but the guys who pump gas for people are getting their only form of income (small at that) most likely for their families. The “Antony Santos” advertisement you see on the post are hung all over the place. I believe he’s a singer and is coming soon. These signs are everywhere. You’ll also notice the bars on the walls, windows and balcony of the house. All homes (including ours) have them.
The road is shared by all kinds of motorized objects. As you can see in this photo motorcycles (or moto conchos) usually drive on the right side of the road in the median. And when someone on a moto is carrying a gas tank as you pass them, and a tour bus who is driving down the middle of the road passes you (as you see coming), it can get a little nerving.
Danilo is one of the two main presidential candidates running for office. The elections aren’t until later in the spring. He is running against the other candidate, named Hipolito Mejia (but more commonly referred to as Papa for his campaign slogan – llego Papa). The way it works here is that each candidate is given certain weeks to hang their signs in order to reduce the potential amount of violence and sabotage from the supporters of the other candidates. It’s Danilo’s turn, and his purple signs are everywhere. If I had the opportunity to vote based solely on their marketing campaigns, I’d vote Danilo. He has a much friendlier face and less cheesey (yes, this is less cheesey) marketing plan than you see on the signs for Papo…trust me. I’ll cover the elections more down the road (pun intended).
The large, flowery stalks you see in the background on the other side of the road are sugar cane. They are in high bloom right now and very tall. If there aren’t buildings lining the street, sure enough you’ll see instead more sugar cane. And since the local factory is out of business, it just grows and grows until someone decides to do a “control” burn of it.
This is the bridge that goes over the river. Cangrejo, the little town where we live, is on either side of this river. If you didn’t know, cangrejo is the Spanish word for “crab.” Not sure why, I’ve never seen a single crab around here. Back to the bridge…just to the left of where I am is a school/church that is run by another ministry called Servant’s Heart Ministries. In the mornings and afternoons, you’d see lots of children crossing this bridge on foot as cars and trucks zoom past them (tight squeeze for sure).
This is the turn off for the Mustard Seed orphanage and also our friend Bernard’s house. There are Mustard Seed ministries throughout the Caribbean and South America. Hogar Immanuel is the Dominican chapter. Mustard Seed operates an orphanage for children with severe mental and/or physical development conditions (“para ninos con discapacidades”). It is so hard for the average family to care for their own children in the economic conditions in this country, so it’s no surprise that children with disabilities are often neglected or abandoned. We are wanting to spend more time in the future at the Mustard Seed.
We are finally almost to our house. This is the entrance to our “neighborhood” called Maria O as well as the way to get to the La Union Haitian village. When giving directions to anyone (especially the local utility technicians), you have to give them other points of reference. In this case, we say turn at the signs for the Banca de Siler and American Fender stores, which also has a colmado (small street store) where we often get our drinking water botellons (5 gallon bottles). A little further up the road behind the row of trees are the homes of some of the officers who serve in the Dominican Air Force. The homes are just before the entrance to the base itself. One day as I was on my way to the Makarios School, I was surprised by a large group of soldiers on the road, who must have been participating in some marching practices…although they didn’t look very organized. I hope that’s not indicative of the way they guard and protect their nation.
Here is one of the two main streets in our neighborhood (and the last photo on this journey…phew, right?). This neighborhood is actually quite surprising in comparison to other areas in and around Cangrejo. We were blessed to find a home here especially for it’s convenience to the area where we want to serve and the safety element for our family. You don’t find too many paved neighborhoods around here.
Oh, and do you like my windshield? It was fairly clean at the start of this brief journey, and now check it out.
Until our next journey together…