We kicked off our last day in the Batey with a visit with Caco Pelau, the local vodou priest.  We walked into the place of worship, where the walls were covered with murals of Catholic saints and there were offerings to the spirits.  Caco Pelau really emphasized the relationship between Christianity and vodou; in places like the DR and Haiti they are not two separate religions, but are practiced concurrently.  He emphasized that both religions have the same God and that in vodou, Catholic saints have spirits behind them that act as intermediaries between worshippers and the holy entity.  We learned that the impression of vodou as simply magic used to harm your enemies is entirely false and unfair.  The minority that practice vodou with bad intentions are deeply rejected by most priests and followers. It was a fascinating cultural experience and really brought to light the misconceptions of vodou that the media perpetuates.

 

 

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After lunch, we met in the calle principal to say goodbye to our new friends and host families.  Four of the volunteers were to come with us to the capital, so it was time to say goodbye to all the others. Despite the language barriers and the fact that we had only met 4 days before, we had become close to the volunteers, local children, and our host families, so saying goodbye was very hard.  This whole week, I have been struck by the strong sense of community in the Batey and how easy it has been to form friendships across languages and cultures.  The hardest part for me was saying goodbye to Francis, my host mom’s nephew who had become like a little brother to Danielle and me in our short week in the Batey.

 

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Driving into Santo Domingo felt very strange, like we were entering a whole different world.  It was obviously much more touristy than Santiago, Dajabón, and the Batey! The traffic and city sounds made me miss the relative quiet of the Batey (besides the crowing of roosters… I definitely didn’t miss that!).  Even though my hotel room didn’t have any light bulbs, the fact that it had running water made it feel almost luxurious.  We had an amazing dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront and spent the evening exploring the Zona Colonial.  It was sad to think that the next day would be the last of the trip, but we were excited to explore Santo Domingo in the daylight!

~Sarah Mottram, 2016

 

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Victoria Elizabeth Snare

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