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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Class at ALPI

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC | Saturday, 9 June 2012 | Views [1163]

No alarm clock! This morning I awoke fearing I was late for class but it turned out I awoke just in time. Breakfast was a simple Dominican fare: rice, salami, eggs, and fruit. Easy enough it was to wash down with a cup of coffee before we were set to head to class. Johnny and Keylan are my Irish roommates, and together with Torrie and Francesca we took a short taxi ride to the ALPI (American Language Partnership International) campus. It's a rather ordinary looking multi-storey building on an ordinary Santiago street. Today I thought we were going to the waterfall but it turns out we're going tomorrow. The plan for today was a rigorous lesson in Spanish greetings. Instead of the usual "Como se llama?" here we're taught "Cual es su nombre?" Whilst I've been slow to develop Spanish I do understand the various greetings. We all took turns asking various greetings including "Que edad tienes?" (How old are you?), "Donde vives?" (Where do you live?), and "Eres casado/a o soltero/a?" (Are you married or single?) among others. It's important to note, and you may know this, is that the endings are feminine or masculine. A word ending in "o" (e.g. esposo) is masculine, and a word ending in "a" is feminine (e.g. hermana). Our instructors, Yulie and Yunior are very enthusiastic with loud, booming voices and as a result make the class fun, open, and interactive!

After some rigorous discussion it was time to go to lunch. Half of the group went to one restaurant whilst the other half went to another across the street. "Tiene la bandera? o cerda?" asks the waiter. "La Bandera" is a dish known as "the Dominican flag" in English, consisting of beans, white rice, and fried chicken. It looks nothing like the flag as there's nothing blue with it. For my first meal with the entire group I ordered cerda (pork) with which I got fried rice. The pork was bony but very good, and a cup of coffee and an ice-cold glass of water perfected this filling meal. After filling up the Dominican way, it was time to get ice cream. Perfect treat for a hot day! At 1:30 it was back to the classroom. With our introduction notes we practiced more and then went to another part of the campus and practiced with Dominicans who are learning English. I've only been in class for one day and it's so much fun! And I've learned a lot already! At 4:00 it was time for our walking tour. Jesson told us to keep an eye on our belongs and not to openly flaunt cameras and other valuables. I had no Dominican pesos at all and I wanted an ice cream sandwich. After bugging Jesson for a minute, we found a casa de cambio. Hallelujah! Not only did they have pesos but ice-cold air conditioning to stand beneath. Just outside though I nearly shattered my camera into a million pieces. Thankfully I have a tough camera that's able to withstand a lot of stuff like that. We all walked up to El Monumento; since everyone else got in last night, I'm the only member of the group who's been here twice. We didn't go inside but we got a group photo in front of the monument. There are statues honouring some of the country's best baseball players in addition to various war heroes.

The building, though, really makes me wonder. Was it intended to be a mausoleum to Trujillo? I may never know. As we were walking down the stairs I decided to try and slide down the marble railing and nearly took an awful tumble in the process. Sometimes it's best not to try these things, but I do them anyways. At around 5:30 we headed back to ALPI and then back to our respective homestays. At Monica's house I went up on the roof for awhile and enjoyed the view; there's a nice view of the monument in the distance.

Santiago, for some reason, is a very difficult city to get your bearings in. If someone asked me right now to walk to ALPI from Monica's house (or vice-versa), I wouldn't know how to without a map. Tonight there was a big basketball game and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. After searching around Santo Domingo for a place with hockey on the TV, of all places I can watch it here in Santiago. I know it seems absurd to be watching sports whilst on a journey but I was up very early today and it was a great night to get a cold Presidente and just relax. Monica cooked up a light dinner whilst I enjoyed the games. Baseball and basketball are both very big here but you'd be hard-pressed to find a Dominican who plays or follows ice hockey. After having a few cups of tea I was ready to lie down until I saw a giant moth in my room. There are no screens on my windows and the bedroom lock is broken, but giant bugs (well, most of them) don't really scare me. It flew off. Tomorrow we're going to El Cumbre and having an outdoor Dominican feast! Hasta luego! 

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