The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

part 2 - the ascent from dante's muse

1530 - stuck in port-au-prince, try to convince leonel to send a driver to show us the way. he claims it's an easy drive and proceeds to spend 10 minutes telling us all the turns we would need to make in order to find the road to the border. i ask him, "can't we just follow the signs." he responds, "we don't have any signs." he then realizes that it's not so easy and agrees to send a car in front of us to lead the way.

1600 - after spending 30 minutes driving through awful smelling slums, crashing through water filled potholes, disobeying just about every american driving law, and biting our knuckles bloody, we finally reach the road to jimaní.

1700 - pass dead donkey - a dead donkey never looked so good, we knew we were on the right road.

1725 - approaching the border with a surreal vista of the once clear lake now white capped and dark - and ominous sight, but fitting.

1730 - reach haitian border. spend 10 bucks to get passport stamped. get to the gate and the two soldiers holding automatic weapons tell me i can't cross because i haven't paid. i show them my stamped exit visa - they don't seem to care. at this point i decided that the dumb american tack was not the way to handle these people, so i just started arguing with them. we are hollering at each other in three languages. a bunch of people took both sides. the rifle waving guards are simultaneously yelling at us and all the haitians who joined the fray. they finally agree that they will let us through if miguel forks over 10 bucks - we pay it gladly and they open the gates and let us through.

1750 - pass dominican immigration, make a run for jimaní without passing customs. no luck, the chain is up and they pull us over to customs. customs closes in 10 minutes. rush out of the car. fortunately, one of the men here in pedro santana is the head of customs at elias piña and has volunteered to call the boss in jimaní and get us through. i go for my tourist visa, miguel heads to customs. after getting my visa i head to customs. miguel says, "we have a major problem." i enter the office and introduce myself. the guy tells me that he can't help us. i ask if he got the call. he said he did, but without a letter from the bishop he can't let us through. i say, "we'll pay the tax, just let us through." i then witnessed one of the most inefficient processes i have ever had the pain to endure. it takes 1 hour to make the calculations. they charge us 40% tax. thieves.

1850 - head to jimaní and buy snapple and two more bags of doritos. we want to get home, but it's a hike. start driving, rain comes, darkness falls, flip on the headlights and discover that only one works. great - thin roads, no reflectors, no lights on the road, rain, and only one headlight, no hotels, and these hidden speed bumps in the towns. proceed at a crawl.

2030 - while slowing for a speed bump that we actually saw, a 5-gallon bucket comes flying from the side of the road and smashes the front of the truck. two kids are fighting on the side of the road. we stop, get out, and start yelling at them (it's customary). people crowd around the two boys and start slapping them and tell them to stop. no one apologizes. kick bucket out of the way. get back on the road.

2100 - stop for diesel.

2200 - make the turn for san juan, we are now in familiar territory, but we can't really see it because our headlight situation stinks. find a truck and follow him so we don't crash.

2250 - arrive in san juan and see the glorious lights of the pollo rico. stop the truck. get out. order fried chicken, coke, fries. wash hands. eat. leave.

2350 - make the turn for bánica. hit the dirt section and give thanks for the rain, because the puddles actually show up in the pathetic glare of the headlight.

2400 - barely finish a skid after almost ramming 40 goats that had decided to sleep in the middle of the road. dumb beasts don't want to move. get out of truck and chase them away.

2430 - pull into the parish. mission accomplished.

total fuel used: 20 gallons diesel
total fuel consumed by humans: 1 diet coke, 4 snapples, 6 bags of doritos, 2 chicken legs, 5 chicken fingers, 2 orders of fries, and 2 cokes.
total money spent on border crossings: approximately 50 dollars u.s., not including the pilferers at customs
total time on road: 18.5 consecutive hours

end of part 2, however the saga is not over...


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