Thursday, February 9, 2012

Strike Two (by Josh)

     I have often heard about the predilection for strikes and protests in Latin America, my favorite being the story of two of my former co-workers, married, who first met in the haze of tear gas on a university campus in Ecuador.  Nevertheless, since we've been here in the D.R. there's been only one strike.  On the advice of some friends, we stayed inside for the day, but when we poked our heads out the door life seemed to be rolling along as usual in our part of the city.
     Fast-forward several months and we're driving back to Santiago from the beach near Nagua.  As we approached San Francisco de Macoris (home of the Gigantes), I asked Rebecca if she'd like to check out the city center, since we'd only been through the ugly outskirts that the highway intersects.  "I just want to get home," she groaned.  I managed to convince her to at least stop for coffee, then pulled back on the avenue, rather excited to dig into my gourmet ice cream bar (with almonds!).
     A bit pre-occupied with getting the wrapper open, I took only marginal notice of the two concho drivers who seemed, annoyed, to be turning off their routes onto a side street. Seconds away from almondy goodness, I also noted that the highway up ahead was completely deserted, and just as I was going to bite into heavenly delight I finally saw the large tree limbs lying in the road a quarter mile up, burning.
     At that point, my cat-like instincts sprung into action and I screeched to a halt in the middle of the road.  Ice cream bar still in hand, I rolled down the window to ask some motorcyclists on the side of the road what was up.
     "Go on ahead!" I thought they said. Glancing back to the flames on the horizon, I decided I should confirm with them before pulling forward, just in case. "We can go on?"
     "No! No!  We said there's a strike up ahead! Don't go down there! (crazy gringos)."
     "Oh, yeah, that's not cool," I muttered, reluctantly handing my ice cream to Rebecca so I could back up and turn around.  I considered going up to the next split in the divided avenue to pull a u-turn by the TV cameraman (hint #7 of trouble), but re-considered and just reversed a block or so, a decision supported by the gunshot that rang out as we drove away through the giant crowd of motoconchista onlookers (hint #8).
     There was, of course, a silver-lining, other than the excellent home-school lesson on social justice (What's a strike daddy?) and other such Leftist propaganda.  We finally got to take a proper tour of the city and see what a nice place it is, complete with extremely helpful and friendly people ("The park's two blocks over, to the right;" "Don't go down that road, they're shooting at each other;"  "That's the best ice cream shop in town;" etc.).
     Not only that, but there is a lovely plaza downtown and the place was bustling, particularly with all the carnaval preparations.  Overall, a great side-trip, proving that even with two strikes, you can still hit a home run.

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