Sunday, July 7, 2013

People Paradise -- by Josh

According to Wikipedia our dear home, San Francisco de Macoris, is a "true paradise".  Whenever I repeat this, it elicits peals of laughter from Rebecca, but they may be on to something.  Though one could argue about what paradise should look, sound and smell like, the people here are truly fabulous, they're what attracted us to settle down here and they never fail to surprise and charm me.
 We had a fun afternoon today, once we managed to get out of the house.  Rebecca's been out of town, preparing for the youth conference in Haiti, so we needed something to motivate and keep us busy.  Last Friday, one of the junior youth pulled me aside and asked me, "Can Max and Zora come to my birthday party this weekend?"  What a sweetheart, I'm always looking for chances to get those kids out of the house, not to mention free cake, so she told me details would be forthcoming once the invitations were ready for delivery.
Last night, when we got back from a night on the town with some new friends (great company, but don't bother seeing Despicable Me 2, just another typical romance-filled kids movie sequel), we came to our stairs and saw an envelope sitting on a step: "For Max and Zora".
"Huh?" I said, "Weird. What could this be?" Sure enough, it was the invitation, beckoning us for a fiesta the next afternoon at "the pizza place across from Martyrs' Park".
I woke up late, then did my best to have a productive day before setting off for the party fashionably late.  As we got to the park, I looked down the street and saw a big sign saying "La Pizzeria" (The Pizza Place). It had to be the place.
We made our way to the pleasantly breezy upstairs party zone, made our way past the booty shaking 10 year olds and greeted the birthday girl and her parents.  It turned out everyone else had already eaten pizza, so, as her dad is the manager, they brought up another pie for our table to make sure we got some.
Pizza, lots of "raspberry" soda, a cupcake, bags of candy, birthday cake, and hors d'oeuvre pack later, we packed up our loot and waddled out with the other junior youth group girls to walk them home.
What a sweet family! Too bad you can't see the killer Tinker Bell cake, Zora was so stoked.  And it actually tasted good too, pineapple.
The girls took us down a shortcut I hadn't used before, through a neighborhood not criss-crossed by any busy avenues.  As we got to the center of the neighborhood we could hear, blaring from the colmado's speakers, the usual reggaeton. However, it was interspersed by what sounded like play by play for a sporting event.  The intersection came into view and we saw a group of twentysomethings in the middle of the street, playing bottle-cap stickball with a crowd of at least 50 spectators lining the sidewalks.
It seemed to be a regular event, as the "pitcher's mound" and home plate were painted on the pavement, with a tire behind home to serve as the strike zone.  Between the bumpin' beats and the overall neighborliness of it all, I was enthralled.  What a cool idea!
Sorry it's such a bad picture, I waited a while to snap it.  We made quite the scene walking through there, all eyes on this strange company of a White guy and his kids strolling through with five Dominican girls.  
One of the girls we'd walked home with was a new acquaintance who had apparently joined the jr. youth group while lovely Vanessa was here, but had been too shy to attend since she didn't know us yet.  We had managed to convince her that she should return to the group.  So, she took the three of us upstairs to meet her mother, who was rather embarrassed that we were visiting while she was in her "cleaning clothes" but very welcoming nonetheless.
She was excited to no end that her daughter would be involved with such activities, then told me she'd been thinking of starting prayer meetings in her home and was looking for people to help out. Just another example of how, despite my complete lack of spirituality, God just keeps throwing us bones.
It was getting late, and some laundry still needed to be hung on the line, so we said our goodbyes and went home.  I left Zora to play at her friend's house for the remaining sunlight and went upstairs with Max to take care of the clothes.
The view immediately caught our eyes, a striking sunset, "blazing like an inferno" as Max put it.
My "eye-camera" is much more effective than my i-Camera, so you'll have to take my word for just how beautiful that sunset was.

Then, as we're in the tropics, I barely had time to get out my phone and snap a shot before the sun sank behind the distant mountains.
Not a bad place to live after all.