Last night we went out to meet the Tamil/Dominican couple we first got to know on my last visit. The power went out yesterday about noon and as of 7:00 it still had not returned. So we had to get ready in the dark, using the flashlight from my cell phone to find clothes.
When we left it was not actively raining, just puddles every where. We took a carro publico (public car) to Duarte. Carro publicos, guaguas (buses) and motores (motorcycles) are the primary means of transport for the locals. The motores are fast and dangerous. The guaguas are smelly and slow. The publicos are crowded and quick. A publico is a compact car which transports 6 passengers plus driver on a full load. In the front passenger seat sit 2 adults and in the back sit 4. Children are squeezed in on laps if they are under 6 or 7. The number of passengers is regardless of the person’s size so one only hopes that the passengers that join you in the publico are not overweight.
So after our first publico ride to Duarte, which was at blazing speed with music blaring and all passengers singing along, we dismount. Exiting a carro publico is a challenge because after surrounding all semblance of personal space, one has to pry one’s self out of this moving sardine can and try to step onto the street without falling over.
Duarte was spooky and risky at that time of night. The power was out in the area so no streetlights. Up ahead I could see the road was flooded as the headlights of the cars shimmered on the water. We walked quickly to the next parada (stop) to get another publico. I held on to my purse.
We climbed into the car and when we were full, crammed in, the car drove ahead. “Cuida que no moja su pantalones.” the driver said (Careful that you don’t wet your pants.) and proceeded, to my dismay, to drive straight into the flooded street, with water a foot deep. I silently prayed that the car wouldn’t stall in the middle of the deep water. It didn’t and no water came into the car itself which amazed me.
The other passengers took this experience in stride, laughing at the deep water and joking to the driver that he would have to pay them to clean their pants if they got wet. Past the water, the driver pulls over to let off one passenger and another one enters a short way ahead. It was a man, quite overweight, who was talking on the phone via headphones as he squeezed into the car. When he shut the door, it didn’t close all the way and the driver and other passengers all told him repeatedly that the door was not closed. But since the man was engaged in his conversation, he ignored what was being said to him until further up the road the car hit a bump and the door flew open. “Oh, la puerta estaba abierta.” (the door was open) he says with a smile and asks if that was what they were trying to tell him. Everyone says yes. “No importa.” he says “Cuando un hombre como yo, de 230 libras, entra un carro, no va a caer tan facil.” (No matter. When a man like me, of 230 lbs, enters a car, he will not fall out easily.) He laughs again and after several tries manages to shut the door. Then the music is turned up and everyone joins in singing along.
We arrive at Plaza Central, a shopping center in Santo Domingo, and our friends pick us up in their car. Our friend, the one from Tamil Nadu, wants to hold a party to celebrate Diwali on November 13th. He asks if we can come. We can’t be sure as all depends on what happens with the visa. We go to a couple of restaurants and have light fare and drinks at each. Our friends is scouting out locations for his party. So far he has not found the right place.After a couple of hours we return home by taxi. It is not safe at this hour to travel by public transport. We are thrilled to see that the power is on, it returned at 10:00pm the neighbors say. What’s more our bed seems finally dry so we have a nice rest.
We awake to full sun and power. We feel positive like it will be a productive day. We have everything we need for the interview Monday. I plan to use the weekend to get caught up on work. We start a load in the washing machine, a Dominican-style washing machine where you need to manually change the water. I start breakfast. Then, just when one load of clothes has been washed and breakfast is done, when I am ready to do some work, *pop* the power goes out. So today is turning out pretty much like yesterday only with sun…