I sit now in the casa of my Doña, enjoying the drop in temperature resulting from the presence of the most recent tropical depression passing through sticky Santo Domingo. Back in Miami earlier in the week some new friends and I had our first “hurricane party” of the trip as Tropical Storm Fay pounded south Florida with rains that had caused flooding here in the DR days before. The papers are saying that this one might cause yet more flooding since it’s coming so soon after the last.
I’m currently staying in a barrio outside of Santo Domingo in a house occupied by my Doña, her brother, her daughter, her grandson, and a little white dog aptly named Nieve, Spanish for snow. My Doña, the wise and caring matriarch earns a little income selling herbal medicines distributed by a company interestingly based out of FoCo, CO, while her daughter works 12 hours/day, 6.5 days/week as an administrative assistant for a furniture vendor.
Lying in bed last night, a sensation passed through with the sounds passing through my windows – motorcycles, voices debating spirited games of dominoes, and snippets of the latest meringue and bachata hits – a sensation that I find myself again a newborn, dependent on the kindness of others to survive. More significantly, I find myself dependent on persons who I only met days ago and persons who we in the U.S. often like to dub “those less fortunate”. It is a reminder that I, coming from the North to the South, have much more to learn than to teach.
Se fue la luz. It’s a lament I’ve fast become accustomed to. It resounds whenever one of the frequent power cuts and households quickly switch over to power by inversor, backup power by car batteries. Running water is only available to a couple of hours on Tuesdays and sometimes a couple of hours on Fridays or Saturdays, a phenomenon that my Doña attributes to migration to the city from the campo. The experience brings on an increased cognizance of how much we consume.