My main objective was to visit “El Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican Man).” It is the only place I could find here in Santo Domingo that offered information on the original inhabitants of the island before Columbus’ arrival. I had a two-fold reason for wanting to visit the museum; the first being that I love archeology, history and anything to do with learning the culture of another people. Additionally, I feel that visiting the relics of ancient societies is a simple way we can demonstrate our respect for their contributions to the world.
Once I arrived at the museum I was excited to see three large, bronze statues standing in front of the building. Facing the building, and to my right was a full figured statue representing a Taino man. On the opposite side was an African man, arms raised in the air with broken shackles attached to each wrist. In the center of these two was Bartolome de las Casas. There are so many aspects to las Casas that I don’t even know where to begin. There are the stories that we learned in history classes in the U.S. and then there is the additional research we do as adults that give us a more complete picture. I wish I could delve more into the feelings that the three images evoked in me but maybe later, and not in blog form.
The museum visit was fascinating. I was enthralled by the amount of information coming to life right before my eyes that I had only read about previously. I took more pictures than I probably should have but I was here and who knows when, if ever, I’ll return.
The walk back through the city was a bittersweet experience. The traffic congestion, smog and overbearing street peddlers were all impediments to really appreciating the “Island Experience.” Despite this, it was refreshing to be out and among the people of the Dominican Republic. A few times during my visit I received the greatest compliment from Dominicans asking me what part of the island I was from. I worked my butt off in the last 22 years to perfect my Spanish and that is definitely a compliment.
My performance in the afternoon was at an area known as Boca Chica. I arrived there with Enesto Lopez. The children were already seated (about 150) when we were quickly escorted into the building. The children were out back under a covered patio. There was no time to waste. Ernesto and I agreed on performance parameters and he started with a puppet show. The children really enjoyed his performance and I thought it was exceptionally creative the way he engaged them with puppets and stick figures. Before finishing, Ernesto gave me a really glowing introduction and I took the small stage to resounding applause.
My entire performance was in Spanish and I made sure to mix a little history and social commentary between singing and telling a tale. The children’s rhythm during moments of call and response was phenomenal. A few times I caught myself dancing as we sang together. That happens to me sometimes you know.
When Ernesto and I finished we headed for the van awaiting us out front. We were, pleasantly accosted by several employees who wanted to take pictures. I enjoy it when my work is appreciated.
I made it back to my hotel just in enough time to clean up, change and make it to a restaurant called “Shaharazad.” What a wonderful way to end my time at the festival, attending a dinner hosted by the Library for all of the storytellers.
We ate, laughed and even shared tales. It was a short, and fast paced trip but I count myself fortunate to have been able to participate. Late in the evening I returned to my hotel room, exhausted. I don’t remember much from that point. All I remember thinking was that I had a flight to catch back to Los Angeles in the morning and sleep was a welcomed companion.
Good night my friends.