This was the advice we received right before heading to the DR.
I hung out with some Marines last week, bought them a round or two, and had some good conversation. Not enough for all they do, but a start.
This week, the Peace Corps had their annual Thanksgiving dinner at the pool club right down the street from us. We decided we’d offer to take 4 of them in for a few days while they were in town away from their campos. Really glad we did.
We got confirmation from one of the volunteers that they’d be arriving and ready to come here @ 2 on Tuesday. I don’t really have anything else to do during the day, so I decided to offer to pick them up @ the PC office near the Embassy. Good thing I did. With three of them and ALL THE FOOD THEY WERE COOKING, they quickly filled up out FJ Cruiser’s cargo space. NO WAY would a taxi or carro publico have sufficed.
Once arrived and “settled in” (i.e. put their rucksacks down), they quickly began their preparations for their dinner. They were tasked with cooking most of the vegetarian dishes to be served to the 200+ people who would be in attendance at their dinner. This meant: 9 full trays (catering trays, natch) of eggplant lasagna; a garbanzo bean salad (for 200+ people); dressing (“stuffing” for you New Englanders and Mid-Westerners – it’s only stuffing if it’s cooked in the bird); and cranberry sauce. Mind you, they had 2 days to do all of this, and I had a Thanksgiving dinner of my own to get on the table.
I’m happy to report that they got everything done, and with ABSOLUTELY NO DELAY in my dinner. Sweet. They also made my kitchen look much like a war zone during the process. So be it, we were expecting this. A little bit of scrubbing and some help from our housekeeper made everything better. Crisis averted.
I’m also happy to report that we’re front-runners for “Best Host Award” this year, as I cooked a great lasagna for them (I had no idea that was on the menu for their dinner, and they all wanted it anyways), sausages from the German Butcher, had a handle of Brugal for them, and had our massage therapist give each of them a 1-hour massage. Yes, we’re that awesome. We also didn’t really have any rules (i.e. make yourselves at home, smoking outside, and no drugs), because really? we’re all adults here.
Things I was NOT HAPPY ABOUT:
1) Club Arroyo Hondo’s treatment of the Peace Corps was ATROCIOUS. They basically tried to bleed them dry of cash, and wanted to charge EXTRA for the use of their ovens to heat up dinner. I think most of the food was served at room temperature because of this. Needless to say, we’re no longer considering joining this club, and I may well let the Consular General and/or Chargé d’Affaires know about this. Unacceptable.
2) The volunteers didn’t have more time away from their sites to relax. I know there is a lot to do here, but a full weekend would have been nice for them. Most of them had to leave for their sites early this morning to brave the 3-5 hour rides back. Another day or two of relaxing wouldn’t have killed anyone.
All in all, we were happy to welcome the PC volunteers into our home to share in all the fun and luxury we find ourselves with here in Santo Domingo, thanks to State. If any of them are reading this now: You’re always welcome in our home. Please do come back to kick back and relax. Your job is hard enough… you deserve some time away.
Happy Thanksgiving, all.