Amy finished outlining the map a few days ago, and Brian and several guys from the Batey started adding roads and city names.
A few people have asked about what we have been eating while we are here. Dominican food is pretty simple, with beans and rice at the core of the meal. Those who can afford meat will eat chicken, fish, beef and pork. Spaghetti is also very popular! Typical vegetables are root vegetables like yams, and yucca root, and the most popular side is fried or boiled plantains. Simple green salads are also common, along with lots of fruit. We have mostly been doing our own cooking (except for ordering fried plantains at the beach a time or two). The following list pretty much covers our pantry: oatmeal, eggs, toast, coffee, fruit (oranges, pineapple, zapote, bananas, melons, coconut), beans, rice, vegetables (tomatoes, squash, green beans, onions, cucumbers, carrots, garlic and peppers) a little pasta, a little cheese, and sugarcane for an extra sweet treat. Oh, and little tiny ants. We don't eat them, but they are always in our kitchen.
The oranges here don't look like much from the outside, but inside.....wow. They are delicious.
Beans, beans and more beans. There are so many varieties. They are sold without labels so we haven't learned what all the different beans are called. These were like fat lentils, and they were fantastic.
Zapote on the left and guanabana on the right. Guanabana is considered by some to have medicinal/healing properties. Its texture is like a lychee crossed with a pineapple and hair, and it tastes like fragrant soap and goat urine. There are tons of seeds the size of very plump pumpkin seeds, which you spit out (along with the fruit) -- at least that's how we ate it.
Dominican girl doing her chores.
There are three Bateys in Munoz. The Middle Batey is where the community center is located and where Brian is focusing on the Village 12 projects. The Third Batey is a few hundred yards away, separated by an open field/playground. The First Batey is on the main road in Munoz about a quarter mile from the Middle Batey, and we pass it when we walk from Suncamp to the Middle Batey.
One of our constant companions is Elido, 7, one of the boys we took to the beach. He lives in the First Batey. Whenever he sees us he comes running with a huge smile reavealing a row of missing front teeth, and he pretty much sticks with us until we have to leave. He likes to hold hands at all times, and if you let go he'll grab a hand at the next opportunity.
As we were headed to the Middle Batey on Tuesday, Elido told us that his eldest sister, 16, and her boyfriend, died in a motorcycle accident over the weekend. We had heard about the accident from Diane the night before, but Diane did not know who the kids were. Elido told us his father also had died and that he used to have six siblings but now he only has five.
Paolino, 8, is another constant companion. He has a quiet personality and an illuminating smile. Whenever he sees us, he gives us a big hug. We learned this week that his father and mother live in Puerto Plata with seven of his siblings. Paolino and his sister live in the Middle Batey with his grandparents, aunt and two cousins. We haven't figured out yet why his entire family does not live together. Even though Puerto Plata is just a few miles away, Paolino only sees his parents occasionally.
As Kevin was painting the mural, Nana sat down in a chair nearby and was playing with a balloon.
Brian Newhouse bought a map of Hispaniola and asked us if we'd like to help paint a map of the island on one of the exterior walls in the Batey. It sounded like a fun project, so we gladly accepted.
Nazu's wife and 3 children are still in Haiti. Nazu came to the DR to find more opportunities for work so he could send money home to support his family. This was the first time we met Nazu; he just grabbed a brush and started helping us.
The mural is on the side of Elias' house (he wanted it to look as nice as possible, so he put the smooth concrete on the exterior before we began). Elias is a handyman extraordinaire and seems to be one of the leaders in the Batey. He's super dependable and one of our favorite people we've met. His wife, below, is expecting a baby any day -- we're hoping she gives birth before we leave so we can meet the baby and celebrate with them.
Brian chalked in gridlines to match the quadrants on the map so that the mural would be to scale.
Today, a group of men and boys became very interested in the map and the mural. Initially, there was a conversation among a few of them as to which side was Haiti and which side was the Dominican Republic. Once they got their bearings, they enjoyed finding places of interest, including their hometowns. It was fun to ask them where they were from and watch them hunt down cities on the map and then find the location on the wall. We sense that the mural will bring joy, pride and a sense of belonging to the residents in the Batey. It will also spark conversation and be educational. Great idea, Brian!
Elias completed the first coat of green. This week we'll put on a second coat of both colors and do some touch up work to make the mural a bit more precise. We'll post some photos when it's finished.
A few of the residents, including Manuela's and Manusca's mother, have washing machines, but most do all their laundry by hand. There's a woman several streets down who has 8 children. Nearly every time we've walked down her street, she is outside washing clothes in small plastic basins.
Diane has the kids pick up garbage as part of the Saturday morning activities..
Dorothy brought suckers to hand out after the kids had eaten their oatmeal. Even though she anticipated their reaction and barricaded herself between the Community Center and a bench, she was still overcome by the frenzy and in the end needed a moment to recover.
This Haitian woman in the Batey is sewing chicken diapers for a woman in the States, who apparently puts the diapers on the chickens when she takes them to chicken shows (like dogs shows). Diane told us that this seamstress is unclear what it is, exactly, that she is making.
Paolino's grandmother and sister.
Jadon loves fried plantains.
Ivy's first snorkling lesson. She was awesome and she loved it.
"What do you do if you see a shark?"
Jadon found this sea urchin shell when we were snorkling today at La Playa Costambar.
A beach vendor sold us some delicious mangos, so we told Ivy she had to do a mango dance if she wanted more.
Amy found this little critter when she was snorkling.