Sunday, September 9, 2012

Azua Toma

Click HERE for pictures.

This week we drove to Azua about 2.5 hours from Santo Domingo where we met members of the neighborhood water committee.  The purpose of our visit was to take a walk up the river to a place Wallace had identified on the contour maps as a good place for a TOMA (place to take water out of the river).  Here are a few pictures taken on the walk. 


                                         The countryside looks a lot like the Arizona desert.



Wallace is standing in the stream where we think a great TOMA would be.  There is a solid rock wall on one side that has been there for a long time and the water makes a quick bend that seems to be a good spot.  We didn’t find out until later when Wallace downloaded the GPS points after we got home that we hadn’t gone up high enough in the river.  We will have to go back someday to choose another spot.  But we did collect enough information to make it possible to begin discussions with INAPA.

We met a man riding a horse on the trail.  Wallace asked him what the name of his horse is.  He looked at Wallace really weird as if the thought of naming a horse was a strange incredible idea.  He explained Dominicans don’t give their horse a name.  They name their dogs, but they don’t name their horse.  I asked him why not, the horse does all the work.  He didn’t have a good answer and went on his way.
While walking the streets we saw a water truck doing its thing.  This is the way people get water for cleaning.  They charge about $55pesos ($1.50US) to fill a 55 gallon drum.
There is a “Banca” everywhere, even in little tiny villages way up high in the mountains in unlikely places.   A “Banca” is not a bank as we think of it.  The purpose is to sell lottery tickets. 

We had dinner with Rolando Marte’s family and watched them making fried bananas.  The green bananas are cut in 1 inch thick slices, fried in vegetable oil, pressed into round cakes and fried again.  Our meal was fried bananas, salami and avocado  soaked in a salt solution.
This is the second meal we have eaten with local people this week.  We try to avoid it, because regardless of how careful they say they are, we have not found anyone who uses Clorox to clean things with.  The standards are just not the same.

Fortunately we had a 4-wheel vehicle this week.  We drove way up in the mountains on some pretty steep roads and crossed one river to get to a little school in Macao where we have a project.  We got there just in time to see the kids sing their national anthem as they lowered the flag.

We will not reveal the name of the hospital we visited this week because of what we found and we don’t want it to reflect on them.   

This is just one of the waiting rooms.  Think of the times your little kids wake you up at night with a cough, running nose, earache and can do nothing but bawl.  Think of what it would be like to come early in the morning so you can be first in line and then wait in a hot unventilated room on hard chairs for 7 hours to see a doctor who can do little for you except dispense a few drugs.  That is what socialized medicine is like (the direction the US is headed as fast as we can).  That is what any public hospital visit is like here.

In the course of our visit we were taken to a locked room stacked high with boxes and boxes of eye glasses for children and a very expensive lenses cutter all donated by the Church about 5 years ago.  It is still sitting in the boxes.  We also saw 2 other pieces of expensive equipment donated by the 1st Lady of the Dominican Republic still sitting in its original boxes.   The room was hot and the boxes obviously had suffered water damage.  It is very likely the expensive equipment has suffered damage as well if it is sensitive equipment with rubber seals, lenses, tubes, etc. that deteriorate in humid hot conditions.  Who is to blame?  We asked why they were not using the equipment.  The answer was typical.  The government is in the process of changing personnel.  Everyone there is an appointee of the old government and the new government is slowly putting in their friends as appointees, even though it is the same party affiliation.  It is worse if the new government is a different political party, then everyone is changed.  The equipment is under lock and key so it doesn’t just suddenly disappear when an old party member learns they are being replaced by someone new.  The tradition is those in one party affiliation are entitled to take whatever was in their office when the party changes over.  It isn’t legal even here in the DR, but it happens.  Who is to blame?  Sometimes it is whoever is giving the stuff away.  Are things given to needy organizations, pictures are taken, handshakes and backslaps occur and everyone goes home feeling good they have done a charitable work?  But when one looks deeper into the problem he may find out the hospital has no ability to replace some part each time it is used or no way to purchase the special oil needed to use the equipment, or maybe the equipment needs special power requirements or maybe nobody was ever trained how to use the equipment or maybe a Jaguar version of the equipment with a lot of bells and whistles was purchased when a Model T Ford model was the ideal choice because it can be repaired for years with a little bailing wire and chewing gum.  Who is to bl
We went with the Hammonds, Humanitarian Directors for the Caribbean, to the Juan Dolio beach on Saturday to do a little swimming and snorkeling. 
Public transit system bus stop turned to corner market.


  1. It's very sad about the charitable donations going to such waste!

  2. One has to wonder how much of the donated items or money is really reaching the needy? kinda sounds like the United States goverment, waistful spending and crooked politisians...........

  3. Tough nut to crack. Hope you are enjoying your time.