UPDATE: the unthinkable has occurred - we have water 12 hours earlier than predicted!!!
it was great having the docs and nurses here, but it's good to have a little peace and quiet. i must confess, and i don't mean to be querulous, but after more than two months without a break, i think i have developed a slight case of trichotillomania. i'm champing at the bit for a little downtime with no one walking in to my office requesting water bottles, ketchup, and/or an eye removal.
the light is visible at the end of the tunnel, however, because i will, God Willing, be coming home for a little break in about a month!!!
destination: thomassique, haiti.
distance as the crow flies: 5.85 miles.
estimated time of travel: 1-1.5 hours.
we lost an hour fighting with the border guards on the domincan side because the radio in pedro santana was down and they couldn't call to confirm we had permission. i eventually had to drive back 10 minutes to pedro santana, and, as God's Will would have it, the radio began working the second i walked in the door. we then proceeded into haiti and about 5 minutes and one river crossing into the ride, my back wheel locked-up. as in completely frozen. we spent 30 minutes taking the gear box apart with haitians atanding around and laughing at us and we realized that the chain had slipped and jammed into the gear box, cracking it, completely disabling my ability to engage the gears. so, two of the boys headed back to the border pushing my bike. heading off again with two bikes, we realized that the mud that we had heard about was about 10 times worse than could be described. we went through mud pits 3 feet deep. after about an hour of this abuse we finally scrapped trying to keep to the edges and just plowed through them. when we got to this river:
we became a little nervous. we made it across, but the water was up to the seat of the moto, which impressed me that those engines could run under water...needless to say, we eventually made it after about 2.5 hours. on the way back we stopped in saltadere - this was immediately after crossing the river again and i was actually clean at this point:
i had to ride 3/4 of the trip without a front foot peg, cause it busted off, and my hamstring was cramping so i put my leg over the gas tank...i can't describe the elation of crossing that border and getting back to the "good" roads of the dominican republic...it only took us 1.5 hours to get back, which wasn't too bad. when the rains stop and the water dries we can get there in about 45 minutes. i had my bike set up with the gps but since we had to send her back, i don't have the actual mileage (the odometers are busted on the other bikes).
i must admit that logistics are not my strong point, and since i can't have a dominican who doesn't speak english handle all of it i get thrust into the middle of it. heck, my dad was a surface warfare officer, not a supply guy. oh well, no one has starved or been dehydrated...they will be here until friday i think...we are planning on taking the first ever motorcycle ride into thomassique on monday morning - it should be interesting....
as i was crossing a half-flooded river en route to my second Mass this morning, i struck a submerged boulder and almost wiped out at 5 km/h; however, as chance would have it, i simply dumped my foot into the river, straightened out, and continued onwards. my foot was soaked and clammy in my good shoes, so as i was riding i took off my shoe and sock and tried to "air dry" them, to no avail. so, when i arrived at the chapel for Mass, i needed to make a decision: put on a wet shoe and wet sock (not in that order) or, because it was the feast of st teresa, the discalced carmelite, wear nothing on my feet. sure - alb, white fiddle-back and bare feet...
he then announced that he would stay here until monday...enough said.
he was locked in mortal combat with another, so we took the victor: unfortunately, since he had just won a battle for his life and then was placed in a canvas sack for transport to the rectory, he had his dander up and would not stay in one place long enough for us to get a ruler in a shot, but you can trust me when i say that his body was every bit of 4.5 inches and those legs stretched another 2 on each side. for a full size image (1 meg) click here.
yesterday i counted out 58,640 pesos worth of donations from the patronales. brutally slow work.
we now have an ambulance: we have been the ambulance service for the hospital for a while, and the government just donated one to the hospital here. all the principles from the two towns and the hospitals came over and wanted to talk about how to most efficiently put it to good use. i told them that i would supply the driver, the deisel, the maintenance. the only thing they needed to do was to give me the key. so, after we all agreed on that, i went over and blessed it and checked it out. the director of the hospital kept the key because he wanted to show it to someone, and i said, "sure, bring it by later." to make a long story short, he took off for the capital and he still has the key...so yesterdays emergency was handled with the church truck...ahh, efficiency abandonded yet again...
check out the make-shift city that the pilgrims erected at the foot of the mountain. as the day wore on the tents grew and grew. we arrived up to the cave and celebrated Mass from this elevated altar. i have no words (at least charitable ones) to explain the absolute ridiculousness of the event. as you can see from the picture, it appeared to be chaos incarnate, with men hawking rosaries and medals, people drinking heavily at 0700, people carrying stones to the little crosses and placing them as "promises" and just a general disregard for what was about to take place. luckily, we temporarily installed a gloriously voluminous sound system which enabled the bishop to out-shout the din of 500 people...afterwards, we descended and headed for the church, which was beautifully decorated and celebrated a more "normal" Mass. afterwards, we processed around the town with the statue of st. francis until we at last placed him back in his side-altar, which conclluded a long 7 hours...all around a unique experience.
0530 - quick breakfast
0600 - depart for cave with bishop, frjack, and choir in tow
0700 - Mass in the cave. estimated duration 2.5 hours
1000 - Mass in church. estimated duration 2.5 hours
1330 - procession through town with st francis statue and bishop. estimated time 1.5 hours.
i'll bring my camera....