Los Conocones: Part 2

Friday September 22: Work Day 5: Stucco. Another fun day os stuccoing the walls at the school. Winston was in charge of smoothing out the stucco into an even wall while we continued our throwing contest. Like I said, it was a lot of fun but we still managed to get all our work done. While we were stuccoing, Pauline, with the help of Caryn, was working on putting the new windows in the finished classrooms. And some of us were still finishing up the painting. It was a busy day with many projects being completed, but the good news is that we finished. That night I spent hours talking to my sisters and watching telenovelas.

Saturday September 23: Work Day 6: Yes, we had to work on a Saturday but that’s because Dominicans don’t really have the scheduled mindset like Americans. It wasn’t that big of a deal because later that night we were having a Baile down at La Presa. Our work for the day was again broken up. Caryn and I were on Latrine duty. (no pun intended) We took charge of cementing the latrines, building new doors, and painting the outside. It was a smelly job, but nice to be working with cement again while singing random songs. We finished on time to get ready for the baile at la presa. The community was all excited to have a fun night of dancing and celebrating with us. We even got to celebrate Caryn’s birthday. It was a lot of fun getting to dance with the many familiar faces of the community and see how protective some fathers were of their daughters (Christine’s dad in particular would ask any one of us to dance or cut in if any other men of the community got too friendly). The love felt at the baile was contagious and bittersweet as our days in campo were coming to an end.

Sunday September 24: Dia de familia. Today was all family day. Breakfast was with our group and the morning was spent with relaxing with family, playing casino and dominos. Lunch I spent with my family. My mom, Tea, made delicious chicken, rice, beans, and salad. It was a great meal that I shared with my sisters Clare and Marisela. After lunch we played more games of casino, a family favorite. I even spent time playing with my little nephews. They are so cute and loved learning how to play casino. Marisela took me down to la presa for an afternoon swim. We went with a few other members of the community for a nice walk down to la presa. The water was nice and refreshing and the view was beautiful. Needless to say, I enjoyed the day with my family. I had great conversations with Clare and Marisela and having Tea treat me like her own daughter was truly special.

Monday September 25: Final work Day. Today we had a final work day finishing the latrines and small touchups/cleaning at the school. I worked with Jose Luis all morning building the final latrine at the house that I had dug earlier in the week. We moved quickly and got all our work done: cement poured, house built, by lunch time. After lunch I went back home to spend some time with my family, wash up, and relax a bit before I went back to the cook area to prepare dinner. Marisela joined me and beat me at the cooking prep.–she knows how to handle a huge knife and peel the many potatoes and carrots. With my little hands, it was rather difficult to grasp the knife and peel just the skin off the vegetables. But again, it was a great bonding experience with the cooks and my sister. And the traditional Dominican soup we made was delicious.

Tuesday September 26: Taino Cave Adventure. Today we took a hike up the mountains to a Taino cave.That hike was a killer work out, but a beautiful view none the less. After about an hour or so, well I think it was longer than that, we made it to the cave. Inside were various cave pictures in their original form. It was so neat to see something so unique and historical. The pictures speak for themselves. On our way back down the mountain we stopped at la presa for an afternoon swim. Caryn and I decided to skip out on this adventure and just head up to the lunch house to help cook. Well, that turned into us eating an entire plate of pineapple and being banned from fruit when the others come back. It was a slap happy afternoon for Caryn and I and when the others joined us for lunch it was a nice afternoon spent with the group. We had our final dinner and dance tonight as the community joined us and thanked us for all our work. I was caught off guard as my mother and three sisters all spoke, expressing their gratitude and love for our work. Having them take me under their wing and treating me like their own daughter truly touched my heart. Many tears were shed as we hugged and loved each other knowing that in the morning I’d be leaving.

Wednesday September 27: It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. It was a quiet morning as I packed up my bag and set it outside the house. I was greeted with half hearted smiles as we all knew what was happening after breakfast. I had breakfast with my family: coffee, hot chocolate and crackers, my favorite–I loved it. After our final breakfast as a community in campo, we walked down the hill for farewells. Hugs, kisses, tears, and ‘see you soons’ were exchanged. Marisela gave me her number to call/text and FB to chat when we can. I must say, saying goodbye to campo was like leaving home. The love and joy I felt with my family there was unbelievably contagious. It wasn’t goodbye, it was see you later…

10 days: 1 life changing experience.

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