Gah, I cannot believe it has already been another two days since I last posted! Times is flying by quickly. The last couple of days have been just as overwhelming and eye-opening and incredible as the past week, but in different ways. Seriously, each day here has been so new and unpredictable…I love it.
Yesterday (Sunday) morning Amy and I went on a nice run on the “figure 8” shaped track they have in the back of ILAC. While it is not too big, it is beautiful and has not gotten old yet. We have been getting some nice (albeit sweaty) runs/walks in while we have been here, and it really has been great! It has given us a chance to breathe, take everything in, and just talk about our experiences here thus far. We both have said we are falling in love with that track and what it has done for us in this sense.
After that we all attended the Spanish Mass at 11 am. While I didn’t understand more than half of what was being said, it was great to just be present with God in this new place, and this I can understand in any language.
We packed everything up after lunch and hit the road for a three hour drive to Dajabon-a border town between the DR and Haiti. We would be staying there for the night so we could attend the weekly market (where Haitians can cross the border to the DR and purchase anything and everything they need and cannot get from their own country) they have every Monday. Literally as soon as we got to Dajabon, it started pouring. It was almost fitting though, considering we were about to be awed by yet another HUGE disparity between people. But this time it was between the land and the poor of the DR and that/those of Haiti. The rain was cleansing, and it got us ready for what we were about to bare witness to in the morning.
The place where we stayed for the night was definitely different than the ILAC Center I was beginning to get used to. Because of the flooding, there was not running water, but we got over that quickly. After a fun night of bonding through Dominoes, cards, and the like, we hit the hay ready to get up bright and early for the market.
I do not even know how to begin to explain the market experience we had this morning. It was utter chaos. Every Monday, thousands of Haitians cross a bridge to the DR to purchase rice/chickens/pasta/bananas/etc. to feed their families for the rest of the week. It is unbelievable the amount of people/carts/wheelbarrows we saw go back and forth and back and forth again as quickly as possible. Splitting up into smaller groups to make it easier to get around, we held each other’s hands and literally pulled each other through the crowds to make it up to the bridge so we could just witness this chaos in action.
I could have stood there for hours just watching these people do the things they do every week to survive. What I value most from this experience is the hard work, determination, and shear STRENGTH I saw in the faces of the Haitains. These people know what they need to do every Monday morning to keep their families fed for the rest of the week, and they get it done. The sun is hot, and the space is limited, but they tirelessly carry, push, or pull hundreds of pounds worth of food across the border if it means they will be able to support their families for another week.
Because they have so much to do and so little time, they barely acknowledged that we Americans were on the bridge with them. This was a nice change from Cien Fuegos, considering sometimes I wish I could be invisible as I watch these people go about their daily lives. It is hard for me to feel like I just stand there and stare, but I am so fascinated by these beautiful people. And I feel like I have already grown so much from what I have been able to be a part of through witnessing their ways of life thus far. It was quite the morning to say the least…