A few weeks ago, we were invited to dinner by the deputy head teacher at the school. Hediberto Pichardo is a very fine man – kind, generous, well-educated, hard working (he has three jobs and works 7 days a week). Here are Matt’s and (firstly) Ben’s accounts of our evening.
La Casa De Mi Profesor (de Ben)
Anoche yo y mi familia fuimos a la casa de Hediberto hasta las nueve. Cuando llegamos a su casa pequena vimos tres habitaciones. La premiera habitacione tiene un sofa, una mesa con cuatro sillas alredador ello. Una mesita con tres velas sobre ella. La segunda habitacione fue el dormitorio con una cama. La tercera fue la cocina con un a escurrida y un grifo. El bano estuve fuera donde no hay ducha ni lavabo ni bano, solo un water y un cubo de agua. Fue una habitacion pequena.
Al principal de la noche, miramos la television, entonces comemos una cena muy delicisiosa con espaguetti, maiz dulce, queso y jamon y tambien mangu, una comida tradicional de la Caribe.
Cuando hemos terminado, yo y Matteo y Madre y Hediberto jugamos dominoes. Yo he ganado dos juegos, Madre y Hediberto han ganado un juego. Entonces, caminamos a la casa.
Post script (by Mum): Ben asked if he could write his article in Spanish, and of course, delightedly I said yes. I have left it exactly has written it and it there are several mistakes and bits of Spanglish. But having been here only 6 months, Ben’s ability in written Spanish exceeds that of most of his classmates and he has readily spotted mistakes made in the written Spanish of some of my 14 year olds.
A Visit to a Teacher’s House by Matthew
On Tuesday 7/2/12 we went to a teacher’s house for two hours and thirty minutes. We had to walk a long way to reach the house and we went down a secret passageway that was all bumpy and rough.
When we got there us and the teacher turned on the television that we watched until tea was ready. A series of mashed and boiled “platanos” (big, green bananas from the Caribbean), chopped onions, milk and butter called “Mangu” and there was also spaghetti with sweet corn, cheese and ham.
Their house was tiny with eight people (Mummy, Daddy, four kids, Hediberto and his wife Marlena) crammed inside. They had three rooms in their house plus an outside bathroom. The first room we saw when we entered was the lounge. It wasn’t a huge lounge but it had a television, a table with four chairs, a bookshelf with the television resting on it with lots of books filling the gaps.
Then there was the bedroom. It was a little smaller than the lounge but a bit bigger than the kitchen. It had a dressing table with lots of perfumes and bottles of nail varnish and all the other things that girls like to smell nice and stay pretty. In the middle of the room there was a medium-sized double bed with a red cover and a sheet. There was no room for a wardrobe so the clothes hung behind a curtain.
Now for the kitchen, about the same size as the double bed and a little smaller than the bathroom with a slanting roof. It had a refrigerator about the same height as normal one and about the same size as six floor tiles. The cooker looked like a camping stove because it had no oven but it was about three times as big as a normal one . It had four rings and a gas cylinder with a pipe leading to the cooker. I guessed that it was running low because the flames weren’t very high or maybe she had just turned it down low.
The bathroom was slightly larger than the bed. It was outside the house across the garden from the kitchen. The light switch for it was in the kitchen. It had a toilet but no washbasin or shower. There was a small square bath made of breeze blocks but it had no plug and no tap. There was a bucket with some water in it next to the toilet.
After tea (mangu and spaghetti with cheese, ham and sweetcorn) we played dominoes. Here are the scores:
Post Script (by Mum): Once again we have been offered a very warm and generous welcome into the home of one of our Dominican friends. Hediberto is the deputy head teacher at the school. He speaks no English but is extremely patient and tries hard to communicate with us by speaking very slowly and listening hard to our attempts at Spanish. He is very well educated and loves to talk about history and politics. He would love to travel but has never left the DR and has only been out of Nagua a few times. He has three teaching jobs and works seven days a week. Their house is very small and, from Matthew’s description, I am sure you can tell it lacks the basic amenities that we take for granted. They have no car and live a very simple but happy life.
Again we are humbled by the kindness of the Dominican people. They have very little and they generously shared it with us. I can’t imagine it was an ideal evening for them – invite the gringos and their voluminous kids to our tiny house where they will eat our food, gabble away in an alien language, smash our ornaments (you literally couldn’t swing a cat in the living room and we had been in but a few minutes when there was a big crash as the only ornament in the house hit the concrete floor), and leave at clearing up time because the kids are tired! Yet they kindly invited us and made us feel extremely welcome – we all had a great time.
We have been into about 8 different Dominican homes. All bar one have been the homes of teachers. Hediberto’s house was the only one we have been in that had any books. Even the poorest looking of homes here have satellite dishes and most people have mobile phones. But they are definitely not a nation of readers. I invite you to draw your own conclusion.