Posted by: Matthew | March 13, 2010

Training: Week 1

Two days ago I saw a fight.  Well, I’m not sure if you can call it that, but it was muy violent.  While walking home after another full day of training, Lydia and I saw a particularly gorda dominicana attacking a man with a piece of rebar.  She was battering him rather weakly, but his damaged pride was evident.  The whole barrio stood silent, watching.  We did not witness how this whole event started, so I don’t really know the cause.  It could have been a domestic dispute.  Hell, maybe the guy deserved it.  But I can’t help but wondering if he was Haitian.  Given the color of his skin, which was very dark, this is certainly a possibility.  There is a lot of openly-racist hatred here towards Haitians, earthquake notwithstanding.  Only humans could make such a paradise so unpleasant.

On a more positive note, training progresses satisfactorily.  My Spanish continues to improve rapidly, though when I’m tired it deteriorates to just above infant-level, and I continue to experience the occasional plateau and verbal brick wall.  Alas, nobody said this was going to be easy.  As proof of my progress, I have moved up two levels of Spanish instruction since we started; putting me in a new class at a solidly intermediate level.  Baby steps…

I am now also a competent user of the public transportation system here más o menos.  Don’t let that statement fool you into thinking this is some sort of visibly organized, clean, predicable government-sponsored system.  It appears to be chaos from the outside… and it is, but with a little experience one finds it to be a mezcla of order and chaos.  This may be some sort of profound metaphor for this country, but I doubt it.

Disclaimer: Dominicans are great.  They really are.  Don’t let the above description convince you otherwise.  Violence is a rare event here and the people are very warm and welcoming.  Nevertheless, dominican/haitian tensions are a real problem here.  And I don’t even know if that was the impetus for the fight…


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