If you look up Luperón on the Internet, it will tell you that it is in the Puerto Plata Province of the Dominican Republic, lies to the north in a coastal bay, and mostly the people make their living by fishing. It will tell you that Christopher Columbus entered the bay to protect his ships during a storm and named it “Bahia de Gracias,” Thanksgiving Bay, and claims that is its current official name. You will also learn about all the wonderful tourist places to stay or visit. It fails to tell you of the poverty its inhabitants live in just outside of not only Luperón, but the rest of the towns.
My youngest daughter, Tracey Norvelle, and her son, Will, flew into Santiago on July 6, and returned home during the wee hours of Sunday morning, July 15. Grandson Will, who will soon be 15, enjoyed the trip immensely. He packed two years of Spanish with him but it only helped him in so far as occasionally providing a word or two in conversation or recognizing some of the words the Natives used. There are so many dialects that it would be difficult to just hop into the middle of their language. As always happens, they found they did not necessarily need a language to communicate.
They went with four other adults and five teenagers as part of a mission team representing Peakland United Methodist Church. They spent the week working toward the completion of two small houses. “Mom,” Tracey said, “They were so small, but they were a little bigger and much nicer than the hovels they lived in that they built out of scraps. Sometimes they had a tin roof, sometimes a thatched roof, and sometimes a threadbare blue tarp for a roof.”
The story going around was that one woman who was given one of the completed houses, sat crying in the middle of the floor. When they asked her what was wrong, she said, “This is the first time in my life that when it rained, I didn’t get wet.” They were happy tears.
Tracey said, “It was like going backward in time. We hauled water from the lagoon up the hill and to the site by the bucketful. They didn’t even have anything to mix the cement in. We brought wheelbarrows of gravel to the site, and mixed it with sand, bags of cement, and water, right on the ground. We lugged it by the bucketful into the buildings to complete the 20’ X 20’ cement floors.”
I asked about the accommodations for their group. “We took hammocks and mosquito netting with us for sleeping and we all stayed in the same building. During the day, someone stayed in the building to guard our belongings.”
Their “bathroom” facility was a toilet seat on wood over a pit inside a block building with very little cover, but they did have a guard. She said, “One tarantula lived in the area where we were sleeping and another, George, guarded the bathroom ‘door.’” She said she didn’t mind seeing them so often after she was told they weren’t poisonous. Shower facilities were available but they were cautioned to take quick GI showers so they wouldn’t run out of water. There was no hot water.
“The property where we were staying was leased and supported twenty horses and their colts. They were so sweet. Around mid-week, we realized the horses liked banana peels so we treated them to the skins of all our bananas. The humidity was very high and we were always sweating but it wasn’t so bad with the constant breeze.” (All photos by Tracey Norvelle)
Next week, the “rest of the story.” God Bless.
Info: Village Mountain Mission…….www.villagemountainmission.org
Minshall’s RVing Alaska and Canada is available thru Amazon.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”