January 20, 2014

Travelling

Kitchener HANDS Team:

The team met this morning at 3am at the church to leave for the airport.  Keith Oosthoek, Sharon Postma and Hank Bax drove us.  We had some difficulties with the ticket changes.  Hank had to buy a new ticket due to an error in changing the tickets from Herman to Harley.  We went through customs all at our own pace.My acoustic guitar case was deemed to large to count as a carry-on item, and therefore we had to pay extra to have it as checked luggage.  The plane had to be de-iced, and we were off.  The visibility was limited when we took off, but I spent a large portion of the ride looking down at the landscape from 38,000 feet. 

A few people at the airport and on the plane questioned our group because of our shirts.  Those were good opportunities to share where we are going and why.  We all had a lunch at the Miami airport during our two-hour stopover.  Then we had our flight to Santo Domingo.  More troubles with the guitar: it stayed in Miami airport.  I had to prove that the guitar was mine, and American Airlines will bring it to the Dominican on the next flight, which arrives at 11pm tonight.

Even getting off the plane I could notice the atmosphere change.  The people of the Dominican were very friendly and welcoming.  At Pearson and Miami airports there were many passengers and lots of security.  The Santo Domingo airport was relatively quiet, and security was a bit less.  We had to buy a $10 tourist card to get out of the airport.  It was 30 degrees Celsius, a huge "climate change" from Canada when we left, minus 4 or so.  We met Victor, our translator and host.  We were taken to the ministry center with him in two well-used white vans.  One van took Chris and our luggage and the other was for transporting passengers.  We were surprised that 12 people could fit into one van.  Despite the low windows the drive was a time to see the infrastructure and the beaches and the city of Santo Domingo.We talked to Victor and got to know him a bit.  He has a wife who works at an insurance company and four children.  We learned from him that his wife would like to get fired from her job so she can stay home with the children, but doesn't want to quit because then she won't get any benefits.  He said his children go to school from 8 until 12 with a half-hour break, much shorter than in Canada.

It was easy to tell that there is little regard for the road rules.  Cars, trucks and motorcycles alike weave through traffic and the honk is a familiar sound.  We saw as many as three people on one moped, and there was a man riding with a passenger, his ladder and a toolbox.  The road to the ministry center is steep and treacherous, cracked pavement leads the way.  Guido is the man in charge of the accomodations.  We have the "downstairs", which to us means basement but here it means the main floor.  There is room for two of the three couples, and the rest of the people go in a room for men and a room for women.  Pete and Joyce, Peter and Minnie have the couples rooms.

After getting settled we went for supper at 6.  We were served something similar to spaghetti, a pork and vegetable dish, and a rice dish.  Our prediction is that a lot of our beverages will be pop, for dinner especially.  Interestingly, the bottles here are 2.6 litres, rather than 2.  We have not seen many bugs, but have spotted quite a few cats and dogs.  A few of us found a small lizard outside, we see palm trees and the chickens that reside next door.  We expect the rooster to wake us up.  We ended the night by playing some card games and dice games.

Comments:

Raymond and girls
Jan 21, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Great to see pictures and to actually see that the team arrived safe. Thanks for the detailed account of the travels (my guitar!). The Blogs paragraphs are all on one line and required me to cut and paste it into a word document to read. We miss you. We are eager to hear more about the rest of your trip.

judy
Jan 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm

I'd come for the cards. Hope you played fair

Hank & Marg
Jan 22, 2014 at 4:53 am

Thankful to hear you arrived safe and sound. Praying for everyone that this will be wonderful and blessed experience.

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