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los gallos tienen derechos!

sunny 30 °C

Leaving my friends in Samana and boarding the bus to Santo Domingo was a very strange feeling. I was ready to be on the move again, but sad at the idea of not returning back to the castle and the town of Cabarete which had become a wonderful home for me. Two months settled there is the most stable I have been throughout my year of traveling. However, it was onwards and upwards to see what new adventures I could find. I had planned to meet a friend of a friend at the bus station and to stay with him at his place for a few days until I worked out a new plan. As it was also the week approaching Easter (or Semana Santa as it is known here), he invited me away to his family holiday home in Palenque – another state.
As my friend doesn’t have a car, we packed our things the night before and got up really early to drive with is neighbour. His neighbour works for a debt collection agency and does the actual collecting. It took us about 5 hours to drive what is usually a one hour drive. But it was really cool because as we went to each house and small shop that owed money, I got to see different tiny towns and parts of the Dominican Republic.
I loved this shop that sold beans
And this is small town, Dominican gas station!
When we finally arrived I had to smile at my own ignorance as a holiday home to me is Pauanui or like the ones we stay in when we are in the States. However, this holiday home was very small, just 2 bedrooms and with no running water. The electricity worked when it wanted to and refused to do anything when we really needed it. But the house was in the middle of nowhere, not too far from the beach, and it was just lovely. Especially when the breeze blew from the mountains and kept us cool in the extremely hot and dry weather.
The home itself sits ammongst a hundred straw huts filled with chickens, roosters, and baby chicks.
Every single day more and more chicks are born and I was so excited to cuddle the tiny babies.
One of them I even got to help pick the egg off as it was hatching.
I didn’t understand at first, why the baby chicks were taken away from the mother and placed on mesh inside other cages without food or water. I thought about it for ages and asking why they were being so cruel to the baby chicks who just wanted their mothers. The replies were always the same – to help make the chicks be tough and strong. And it suddenly dawned on me – I was staying on a farm where they raise roosters (gallos) for fighting to win money!

I was so upset once I realised because I had already begun my campaign (LOS GALLOS TIENEN DE RECHOS/ ROOSTERS HAVE RIGHTS) on the streets of Cabarete. However, this was different – I was staying in the mother land! Somehow I managed to convince the farm workers that they needed to take care of the chickens better. That roosters don’t actually WANT to fight to the death, and that even if that is the case (which was proven to me when they kept holding roosters together to prove their natural desire to fight) and we can’t change that – then the farm needs to give better conditions to the chickens. They argued that this would mean the chickens wouldn’t be so tough, they wouldn’t fight as hard. We discussed how barbaric it is to watch animals kill each other for human enjoyment, as a way to make money, and that it is actually disgusting and cruel. How much better it would be to live in a country where animals are protected and the environment is clean and clear of rubbish. They all just looked at me as if I was completely mad – but I did notice that the boys put down some sugar water for the baby chicks to drink and replaced the mesh with some soft blankets for them to sleep on. We called my favourite one Bachatica (little bachata dancing girl – doesn’t sound the same in English) and they promised it would never fight or be eaten and that it would have a very good life at the farm. Can’t change the world I guess, but I changed it for one chicken and that’s a start! They kept telling me I could take her with me and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to travel with a chicken. It’s great for eggs they said, and you can eat it at the end. I don’t eat meat I told them. Well, they said, you don’t have to worry Katy because it isn’t meat – it’s chicken!
How can you do anything other than laugh?
We spent a lot of time over the weekend down at the beach swimming and at the beach side bar dancing a lot of bachata. We ate habichuelas con dulce which is sweet beans… And actually taste really really good! I found them to taste like Christmas cake with custard but all in a custard texture. This is what everyone eats during Easter in the Dominican Republic. It was strange not to eat a single piece of chocolate – and I really hope I never experience another Easter without junkfood! But the food was great, I sat and helped the abuela (grandmother) peel the peas for hours under the shade of a giant oak tree, I cut the onions and diced the molondrones (no idea what that is in English, I don’t think we have it. I googled it and it says Okra…), and I played with the 7 year old until her mother told us to both sit down and drink some water and have an ice block because we were sweating too much. It was such a nice feeling to be a part of a huge family – even if we were all sleeping on sofas, couches, floors, and me with my new shadow’s (the 7 year old’s) feet in my face – Oh Grace how I miss you always, somehow yours are the only feet I will never care to have shoved up my nose. It was fun to watch the fun, the teasing, even the arguments - and to be able to be a part of it and to keep up with the conversation due to my ever improving Spanish skills.
We danced Bachata until the early hours of the morning, drank Rum by the bottle, and there were many cigars being passed around – of course I had to stop for a photo even if I think cigars are revolting!
It was a really fun weekend, and it ended really well too. All 16 of us piled into a small van (complete with souvenir chicken) and returned to the city. I bid my new friends farewell and headed off to meet my friend Glencora who had just arrived from Venezuela. She was on her way up to work at the job I had helped her to find in Cabarete. We danced and drank rum and chatted for hours, it was so good to see her again after 5 months since our time together in Colombia.
I madee my plans to stay in Santo Domingo at the hostel while i searched options for what I could do until it was time to meet Erie on June 1st in Guatemala.

Posted by chasingsummer 13:17 Archived in Dominican Republic

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