Last Thursday, at the request of my project partner, Pablo, I hosted my first class session. It was to focus on the topics of computer basics and typing, and I arrived hours ahead of time to prepare. As I worked some of the networking issues in the lab and scouts came and went, looking up friends on Facebook between basketball games, I noticed an unfamiliar face. The new guy wasn't a scout and he spent a few minutes visiting with them before walking over and handing me a ten-peso coin. When I gave him a puzzled look he explained that he had been told to pay for the use of the computers. When I said that this was a public lab and I was not even allowed to accept money, my scout companions set to whining and exclaiming that I had just ruined their fun.
Shrugging them off and returning to my work, I was interrupted a moment later when a commotion arose from behind me. The scouts pointed and shouted, "You broke it! It's screwed! You've really done it now!" Turning around, I found the poor newcomer seated in front a blank screen, looking bewildered and self-conscious. A second's investigation revealed that his only sin had been to leave the monitor off after pressing the power button on the computer. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. Another favorite thing to do in the lab is for a scout to announce his arrival with a shout at the top of his voice to see how many of his peers he can startle. Nevertheless, I was ruffled. If they treat everyone this way who comes here from outside the group, it's not hard to see why the place doesn't get much use.
About an hour before my class, to my dismay, it began to rain. It was an ill omen; any amount of rain is often enough to deter a Dominican from leaving his or her home. By the time my class was scheduled to begin, the rain had grown to a bona fide storm, the likes of which even I wouldn't venture out in. Thunder crashed deafeningly overhead and the clatter of rain on the metal roof of the clubhouse was enough to drown out anything less than a shout. Needless to say, day one of class didn't happen.