First Impressions

We arrived in the DR late last night after a bit of a crisis in Miami. Because our plane from Chicago was delayed, we missed the flight to Santiago by literally moments! but ended up getting 12 seats on the later flight to Santo Domingo and drove to the ILAC center during the night. It was a rough drive since we all were so tired. But eventually (aka 2.5 hours later) we made it to the center and were able to sleep from 3:30-8:00.

In the morning we got up, had breakfast, and went for a stroll around our new neiborhood. There are some really nice houses, most of which look new or half finished, some fields, and a few shops. We walked on a road that was under construction to be paved–Kyle said the project started in 1994 and was still being finished (!!!!) For clarification, this did not look to me like a very difficult or long road to pave. It seemed though that work was always picked up around election time, and then dropped a few weeks later..getting the picture?

The stores we passed in our neighborhood are as to be expected from a latin american coutry. They are small, very brightly colored, with men in faded clothing sitting in front or wondering in and out, talking with one another.

The poorer looking houses in the area are small and sometimes look as if constuction on their houses wasnt completed–just like the road. Often the houses have gardens as front yards teaming with bannanas and squash and maybe beans. The gardens overflowed from their plot of land, but still didnt look like they would produce much food. Colorful laundry dried on the fences–although it is so hot, I cannot imagine anything drying fully in this heat and humidity.

The nicer houses are interesting to me because they are only, say, 10 yards or less from the significantly lesser nice houses, yet a few were even extravegant. Not to be mistaken though, they had high iron gates between painted cement walls all around the property; making an obvious show of the divide between the newer and older houses. Some of the houses had greek or roman influences, which seemed out of place; one house had grapes decorating its iron fence.

The fields interspersed between all of the houses and the stores looked fertile and green for the most part, but the earth is rocky and the gardens seemed unorganized. Fences around the fields look to be made of found wood and thin wire–just enough to establish a boundry, but not enough to keep anything in or out.

We also visited downtown this mroning. It was full of shops and little homes/apartments. The shops, again, were brightly colored, many had pasted advertisements on their walls to attact costomers. There were high cement walls again, working to keep something in, or Santiago out. Also little gardens with sitting areas were dispersed across the city–much needed oases amoung the rushing cars and people. The city is hot and loud, but still oddly calm–like everyone knew where they were going and what they were doing and everyone else was just in their way.

Todays been a good start for our trip: low key and calm. I expect the pace to pick up tomorrow.

Bye for now

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