What a crazy weekend it's been!! Mostly a crazy Saturday, but still, WOW!!! Ok, sorry, let me get to the part about actually describing my weekend. A while back Johnny Cola, one of the boys I've known since he was 13, invited me to his 8th grade graduation which happened to be this past Saturday. His sister, Sofia, came to get me at casa pastoral in the morning, because, let's face it, the public transportation system is no small feat here in La Romana, and we took the guagua (bus) all the way to his school, passing various barrios along the way. Once at the school, Sofia led me to the entrance and showed the single ticket that we had (yes, Johnny had invited me above his family members....I have so much love for him and his family). Luckily, the man let us both in and we entered into a courtyard full of excitement, perfume, heels, and bowties. Everyone was taking pictures with family and friends, it was such a cool experience to be on the outside looking in instead of being the one graduating. I did feel like I had a huge sign on my forehead that read EXTRANJERA but whatever, I've learned to go along with it because it's become pretty regular. The ceremony was simple, beautiful, and to my surprise partly in Chinese...yep, you read that right. The school Johnny graduated from is run by the Tzu Chi foundation which has apparently opened multiple schools throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
Johnny and his family then invited me over to celebrate after the ceremony and I got to speak with his dad and really get to talk with his 6 sisters and brother. Johnny is one of eight and lives in Kilometer 6. His dad has a wood shop and makes beautiful furniture but has been dealing with health issues for a while now; I pray that he get better soon. He has the kindest eyes I've ever seen, very soft spoken, all of them are. As soon as we got to their house, Estarlin, Johnny's older brother put the music up loud and got out a game of dominoes. Dominoes in the Dominican Republic is a serious sport; they even have special tiendas where all you do is play dominoes with friends. It's a pretty straight forward game but I will say, if you don't pay attention to the dominoes on the table and your hand, you're very likely to lose....like I did many times. The thing I loved about being there is that I immediately felt at home, I could relax and laugh; drinking my homemade guava juice, listening to music, losing in dominoes, I was just happy, there's no other word. I'm smiling even as I think about it.
If that weren't enough to make my Saturday great, I was also invited to a wedding that night as a hostess/bartender/waitress. The wedding took place at Casa de Campo...if y'all watch the Kardashians, you know they stayed there. As Lacey put it, it's basically a city inside a city. The wedding was set up in the backyard of a villa; it looked like a fairytale. There was music playing from the beginning until the end and all the waiters were dancing along as we stressfully looked for more wine and champagne and cups. We were busy but we weren't taking it too seriously either...I mean, they were all pretty much family. One thing I learned about Dominican weddings...there's no such thing as too big. There were soon many from all over and a lot were somehow related. Even when it started raining, the other waiters and I continued to dance and have fun because, hey, that's what weddings are for.
It's only been a week and I've been to a graduation, learned to play dominoes, and gone to a wedding. Sometimes I feel like I'm living a dream, and maybe it's just because I'm still new to it all but I am so blessed to be surrounded by amazing people, and simplemente happy.