|A painting on my apartment building. The boy says, "I'm Sorry I broke your doll house with|
my ball". The girl responds, "I forgive: you."
This evening, I climb the stairs to the roof to sit in the cool while leaving my apartment downstairs with the window and doors open in hopes that it will air out in the breeze of passing cars. On the roof I find Line haciendo coro (hanging out) with Mencha and Estefany who live across the hall and next door to her, respectively. They offer me a seat which I accept, and gradually I come up to speed with the conversation. The women mostly talk about how how fed up with they are with Pablo and complain about what it's like in this cinderblock apartment without electricity at night, but there are also moments of gossip and what feels to me like campfire talk; stories of supernatural things that have happened to friends, tales emphasizing the importance of listening to one's mother.
|Another painting from in my apartment building. This one is in English.|
Little by little, I elbow my way into the conversation. It is not my custom, but over time I have managed to grasp the etiquette involved when talking over someone the way they do here. And after five months of digesting the slurring, mush-mouthed dialect of the Cibao region where I live, I have begun to develop an ear for it's intricacies and modismos (turns of phrase). A man coming upstairs to a group of chatting women is certainly not taboo in this country, but I wouldn't exactly call it the norm. Without a doubt, my status as a foreigner and reputation as a limited speaker of Spanish has helped me gain access. Also, it doesn't hurt that they're tickled pink to live next door to an American. But, for my part, I couldn't be happier to have them for neighbors, either.
|The neglected emblem of CEPBIEN (CEntro Psicopedagogico BIlingue ENmanuel) greets|
visitors at the carport entrance to my apartment building. The school has moved to a newer
building across the street.
It's hard to imagine any place I would rather be on this night than with these three patently adorable dominicanas, getting to know them and swapping stories and complaints. Every gesture and intonation is a delight to behold and as I observe and contribute I can feel my palette of dominicanismos grow and expand. By the time a Daihatsu truck pulls up to the three-story apartment building across the street, full of a families belongings, I am so much a part of the group that they don't want me to leave when I go downstairs to help my new neighbors move in.