Tuesday, March 18, 2008

a day at the beach

Hello, everyone! I´ve returned from my volunteer visit and I just posted two blog entries that I wrote last week but forgot to put on my thumb drive. I also want to write a new blog entry about my trip to the beach! Helen, the volunteer we visited, invited Arianna and I to go to the beach with her. The catch was that it was the high school senior class trip. I know a lot of you reading this have worked with kids at camps and/or schools, so I´m going to try to describe this trip in as much detail as possible so you can understand what a logistic nightmare it was.

For starters, here´s what the trip definitely did not have:
- permission slips
- emergency contact info
- a first aid kit
- any sort of advance idea of how many kids would be coming
- a low student/chaperone ratio

So, Helen told us that the trip was supposed to leave at 5:30, which really meant 6:30 en la hora dominicana. Sure enough, we got there around 6:10 and everyone was just crowded around. At around 6:30 they started boarding the bus. There was one school bus for over 100 students. Since school buses usually hold like... 40 people, this was a stretch even for Dominican standards. After about an hour of trying desperately to cram 100 people on the bus, the teachers (I think there were 2 on the trip, plus Helen) gave up and called for another bus, which arrived after another 45 minutes or so. Our 5:30am field trip finally hit the road a little before 8am.

Once the bus took off, the driver immediately started playing merengue at volume 11--so loud it was completely distorted, and it was literally rattling the floor of the bus. Arianna and I were in the very front row and I´m sure we suffered some minor permanent hearing loss from the trip.

It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive to the beach (in Nagua) and we stopped at a town about half an hour away to buy lunch/snacks. Everyone jumped off the bus and hung around for awhile, then filed back on the buses, which immediately departed. No headcount, not even a perfunctory "Is everyone here?" I´m pretty sure no one was left behind, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

I forgot to mention that all the students were passing around bottles of rum and beer on the bus. Granted, the drinking age here is 18, so most of the kids were probably able to drink legally. And the teachers who were grabbing swigs off the bottles were definitely legal. But to the prudish gringas, this seemed a tad inappropriate.

But once we got there, the beach was absolutely gorgeous. White sand, palm trees, blue water... imagine the Caribbean and that is what Nagua looks like. I´ll post pictures when I find a suitable internet connection!

1 comment:

The Squirrel said...

Can you imagine Joyce on such a trip?
Think of a Metcalf field trip---get a Peoria Charter bus with movies and bags-o-goodies from the room moms/chaperones (who would carpool as they followed the bus).