Thursday, October 13, 2011
A Star Shaped Like Africa -- A Story Out of the Dominican Republic!!
By Kiara Rodriguez
It was hot, humid even, but beautiful. I awoke to the beautiful smell of pancakes, chocolate to be exact. My eyes opened and next to me was my cousin, Arlyn. I looked at her and smiled; we were both thinking the same thing, “what did my grandmother cook for us today?”
We sprinted up to the thought and quickly walked to the semi-outdoor dining room. The hot Dominican Republic air hit our faces, along with the smell of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, and fresh homemade cherry, mango, and chinola (passion fruit) juice.
Every morning was different, but today was my favorite. Today was going to be great.
You can always tell how the day is going to go according to breakfast.
A big breakfast always meant a day of adventures, fun and new family members. A small breakfast meant staying in the pueblo or the house relaxing.
Soup always meant we were going to El Verde, my grandmother’s farm five miles away from where she lived. As we chowed down our food we wondered: where we were going, what was going to happen and what my grandmother thinking? We never knew what she was thinking. She’s very spontaneous.
After breakfast we ran to shower. Although there were two bathrooms, it always took over an hour considering there were 4 families staying in my grandmother’s house that summer. Dressed and ready to go, all the cousins had on bathing suits and shorts and the aunts and uncles all dressed in normal clothing.
It was too hot for normal clothing -- it didn’t make sense. We waited as the two pickup trucks pulled up. We ran towards the trucks, so excited, only to feel the scorching hot metal against our bare skin.
“Put the towels down, hurry,” one of us yelled, while the rest of us ooo’d and ahh’d at the intense heat.
It was a bumpy ride, with sharp turns, and outrageous stops that sent us all flying forward. I thought I would fall off the edge of the truck. I guess that’s why they never let the little kids sit on the edge, only in the middle. I insisted I wasn’t a child, that I deserved to sit on the edge after I was nine. We finally arrived at our destination. It was a campo, but not El Verde.
We were in Hajaco.
Hajaco is filled with coconut trees, platano trees, grass and gravel everywhere. I used to call it the campo with the cows, because everywhere you turned there was a cow. It was mosquito central and I was mosquito bait! It's like all the mosquitos got together one day and decided “Hey, we're ganna bite Kiara today!”
My aunt had a house there and most weeks we would drive up to her house to eat a pig that my family brutally murdered that same day. I swear I had no idea they killed the animals themselves when I was eating it!
My cousins and I loved to ride pasolas, what Americans call motorscooters; every time we saw one we would hop on and pretend we were driving it. The hot air would blow in our faces while our hair flowed in the wind. “VAROOM, VAROOMM,” I would say as the best nine-year old driver you have ever seen.
“Hey Arlyn, where do you wanna go today?”
We always loved to hop into any transportation device and pretend it was our limo. Our mothers were sitting in the seats surrounding the pasola talking and gossiping in Spanish about things no child should care about, and so we paid no mind to the things they said. Who knew it might be important to out safety.
“Kiara, tenga cuidado con el motor, que to caliente!” Which by the way translates to “Kiara, be careful with the motor it’s hot!”
But of course as a nine-year old, I paid no mind to the words coming out of my mother’s mouth. I simply didn’t care! Just imagine her words going in one ear and literally right out the other.
I continued riding my pasola down the highway, through the trees, past the cows, over the hill; yeah I had a great imagination! I swerved side to side, turned corners, jumped over potholes, and said hi to everyone who passed, nodding my head at them and yelling to them “Ay, amigito, que lo que.”
I believed I was actually riding the scooter! And suddenly my travels came to a quick end. It was time to eat.
I should have checked the bike out before I got off; I should have checked what side I was getting off, I should have made sure the motor wasn’t on the side I was getting off. But I didn’t hear my mother’s warning, I didn’t care because I was sure that I knew what I was doing.
I hopped off the scooter only to feel an excruciating pain on my right leg. Falling to the ground I couldn’t help but think of the words my mother had said to me, “Watch out for the motor!” The pain was insane, like getting burned by an iron (which also happened to me to, but that’s another story).
I yelled, rather screeched at the touch of the roasting, blazing, blistering, flaming hot motor against my skin. Crying, I could hear the sound of my mother yelling at me, my father yelling at her and my aunts and uncles laughing. I was humiliated, hurt, and sad I didn’t know what to do!
And suddenly I was being picked up by my uncle and brought to a room. Still crying, I watched everyone around me panicking and deciding what they could do to help my leg. I looked down and saw a huge brown patch of my skin slowly peeling off; the sight of this brought more tears to my eyes.
“Get the aloe, put it on her skin to ease the burn!” I heard someone yell that, but I didn’t understand what putting aloe on my burn would do for me until I saw them breaking the plant in half. There was a slimy, sticky, cold, insanely cold substance coming out of the aloe.
“Here, put this on your leg.” I didn’t get what it would do for me but I listened because all I wanted was to stop the pain, make it all go away. I cried for hours while my cousins laughed and all I could do was cry. I watched the patch of skin turn brown, it was bubbly it was painful. I can remember the pain like it was yesterday!
I look at the scar now and the memory returns; it hits me like a bat hits a ball. I remember every detail of that day, breakfast, the ride, the laughs and the pain. I guess the day was not as great as the breakfast said it would be. I look at the scar on my right leg in the shape of Africa and I smile at how strong the pain has made me!
Kiara Rodriguez is a freshman at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Born in Brooklyn N.Y, she moved to the Dominican Republic when she was a year old and was there for about a year. Her parents are from a small city in the Dominican Republic called Bonao. Kiara grew up in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of New York and then lived in Ridgewood, New York for most of her life. She intends to major in Communications and Journalism and wants to become a magazine editor.