Nov 28: First day in Barrio

The best analogy I can come up for what it was like today in the barrio, is that of living in the middle of a carnival. As I mentioned before there is a never ending supply of music, albiet not as loud as last night. The roosters and dogs are generally quiet now. You can always here people talking in animated Dominican fashion. Yelling appears to be a fairly normal part of everyday interactions. Children can almost always be heard playing in the field. Baseball is the sport here, and there were people playing from mid morning throughout the day. Home plate is less that 25 meters from our balcony so we get to hear the crack of every bat, and the shouts over every call. The traffic picked up during the day to give us the almost constant drum of untuned motorcycles passing. Not that traffic is busy, just regular enough to ensure there is one motorcycle within hearing range.



What really gives it the carnival atmosphere is two things; the colmados and the “mobile street vendors”.

The Colmados are the equivalent of a corner grocery store, although “corner” is a pretty conservative term. What I mean is that there is pretty much one on every corner and one in between as well. We pass three walking the 115 paces up to the school / church building. The Colmados are on of the hubs of entertainment as people mingle out front, and kids run in and out to by a treat or a little bag of water. Each one seems to stock a small selection of small grocery items. For example, salt comes in a little bag of about 1 Tablespoon.

The mobile street vendors, as I’ll have to call them for now, are fairly easy to recognize by the harshly loud cracklying music they blare from their vehicle, or the loud shouting through a megaphone, or sometimes both. These are the equivalent of the ice cream trucks in Calgary. They must have come around about once ever hour selling everything from plaintains to ice cream, but mostly it appeared to be lottery tickets. As we were Walking around there was one gentlemen who was selling some kind of ice cream bars from a cooler on wheels. We could hear him coming for a long way as he repeated a similar Spanish phrase into the megaphone. I guess he could tell we weren’t understanding what he was saying so he decided he might be able to help out by walking beside us and pointing the megaphone right at our ears! Unfortunately the volume did not overcome our lack of Spanish and the the metallicness of the megaphone only made things worse, so we passed on his treat.

The smells here today were generally quite nice. Other than when the smoke from someone burning their garbage would drift by we could just make out the smell of various cooking spices, some chicken cooking, a vegatable boiling, or the lush vegetation that surrounds us.

Nicole spent the morning with a local, the Spanish-only lady below us, learning how to make a chicken and rice lunch. The meal was delicious; the afternoon was not as pleasant. By mid afternoon Ariana and I were both suffering from Diarrhea and stomach cramps. I had been feeling some unusual activity in the morning but now things were starting to roll. We spent most the evening in bed or in the bathroom, and I have taken a couple Ibuprofen to dull my aching muscles in the hopes that I can get a reasonable nights sleep.

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