Una Bola noun \ˈbō-lə\: A confusing word

As a self proclaimed ice cream connoisseur, I quickly learned the phrase for 2 scoops of ice cream after many visits to the local Bon ice cream shops located throughout the cities in the Dominican Republic. My favorite flavor, Bizcohcho Maccine, costs 90 pesos ($2.43) which is a meager price to pay for the organic, quality and did I mention, quite delicious ice cream. Many days after class, I walk across campus to the bon and say, “Dos Bolas de Bizcocho Maccine en un cono pequeño, por favor!”

What I soon discovered is that the word Bola, which for me means scoop, is also synonymous with the word for, “Lift,” as in, “Hey Morenita, let me give you a lift to your house!” One day, as I was leaving salsa class after 3 hours of reenacting, “Dirty Dancing Havana Nights,” in my head, I was stopped in the hallway by my dance partner who said to me, “A donde vas?! A casa? Quieres una bola?” (Hey where are you going? Home? Do you want a lift?) 

Of course when I hear the word Bola, I immediately thought, ICE CREAM! so I responded, “Bolas de helado?! Claro!” My dance partner was confused of course by my response as he tried to explain to me that he was not referring to ice cream.” 

He said, “A LIT!” in his best english. “A Lit to your house! not Ice Cream.”

-A Lit? as I enact with my hands the way you light a candle and pointed to my imaginary candle trying to depict light. A Lit? Why would I want a lit? 

After playing pictionary with our hands trying to describe to each what we were trying to say and understand, it finally dawned on me, “A LIFT!!!” ohhh! He wanted to give me a lift to my house so I didn’t have to take public transportation! Wow! that totally went over my head. So He gave me a lift to my house, and I didn’t get ice cream that night. But at least I know, the next time someone offers me a Bola, it’s probably not Bizcocho Maccine…unless of course, it’s the Bon ice cream guy!

Dos Cucharitas, Por Favor!

When McDonalds announced this winter that a cup of coffee, regardless of size, would be $1, I was in the drive thru everyday before class to get a large coffee (2 creams 3 sugars) only to find myself dozing off in lecture hours later with 3/4 of my coffee left untouched. For someone who not only loves coffee, but also spends endless nights awake studying chemistry mechanisms such as the wretched, “Mixed Claisen Reaction,” for organic chemistry, I for one, was in need of every sip of those cups of joe. Cup after cup, I was always in search of the perfect combination of cream, sugar, and coffee to finally satisfy me, but something was always missing! It wasn’t an extra scoop of sugar or cream, it was flavor. Yes, McDonalds had forgotten that key ingredient of using actual coffee beans. 

Well lucky for me, the Dominican Republic is bursting at it’s seams with flavor in coffee. And the best part, is that it comes pint size for little ol’ me! Here, coffee is made in a pretty neat device called a “Greca” which produces an expresso type coffee that requires less than a small size McDonald’s cup to leave you satisfied and awake. Typically it is served without milk, however, I prefer dos cucharitas de azucar (2 scoops of sugar) and milk with my coffee to start my day. Besides the rooster screaming bloody mary outside my window every morning at 5 am, I’d say it’s the best way to wake me up and get me started for class. 

Photo taken by Miranda Diebel

Santiago Cultural Center

The Santiago Cultural Center in the DR is the perfect place to go to do almost anything. Here, there are a variety of events to attend GRATISsuch as video cafes, jazz concerts, art exhibits, cultural exhibits, and workshops. This video in particular is from VIVO CAFE, a concert from a jazz ensemble led by musician Ania Paz. The music is a perfect example of the caribbean sounds you’ll find in the Dominican Republic that is a blend of different influences. This piece has African, Brazilian, and of course Dominican influences. Enjoy!

La Boca de Nigua

One of the most awe-inspiring moments of my time in La Republica Dominicana has definitely been the excursion to Santo Domingo to La Boca de Nigua where the ruins of a ingenio, or slave sugarmill, remains in a remote location on la Nigua River. This ingenio was built in the early 16th century and served as one the many slave sugarmills that were a fundamental socio-economic complex in the colonization of the Caribbean, but today is known best as the site of the second major revolt of slaves in the Spanish part of the island.

Visiting the ruins of this sugarmill, where the essential foundation, original artifacts, and even the barracks where the slaves slept still remain despite the damage that was caused from fires from the revolt, was a chilling experience to say the least. Standing in the yard where slaves were gathered and sold, walking in the dim room where slaves slept, and most importantly, seeing and touching the chains that were used to fetter slaves to the walls evoked such sentiments that I had never experienced simply from reading of these events in a history book. The many textbooks chapters I read, exams I have taken throughout my academic career, and even the movies that try to accurately depict slavery had never seemed to be be so vivid until that moment I stood in what remained of La Boca de Nigua. 

Although it is impossible to know or imagine what truly happened within the walls of this sugar mill or even understand the suffering that was endured throughout the time it existed, being there did, however, make the idea of slavery more real to me where I can no longer simply view slavery as a historical event, as if it were just something that happened within the time period after the dinosaurs became extinct but before the lunar landing. The chapel, the barracks, the chains, the deteriorating bricking, and even the dark, damp air definitely tell a history that words, movies, and pictures will never be able to even begin to recount. However, viewing my pictures is a start.