A fellow volunteer sent out an invitation for other volunteers to visit his site and participate in an Escojo vigil, click the link if you want to know about that initiative. Dan is an environment volunteer in the campo in the San Cristobal Province. I thought well, why not take the opportunity to see another’s site. Then when we talked he told me, after a discussion with his youth, they wanted to amanecerse, (that means stay up all night), I thought about it and figured I would still go.
I got there just before 3 in the afternoon. Originally Dan was going to show me around the community, but then a neighborhood meeting was rescheduled from the previous day. Not knowing what we were going into, we had a visitor from the capital come and speak about violence against women to a crowd compiled primarily of children.
After that Dan and a helper began setting up wire to string up lights for the night. Of course the luz went before they finish, and so the helper never connected the wiring to the house.
After a break, one of the members of the group showed up to help Dan prepare an art project. That project was with pink posterboard to make an approximation of the AIDS ribbon. I got to help and figure out how to make the loop at the top. After taping the pieces together, a group of children, Dan, and the muchacho worked to flip the ribbon. I was uncertain whether it would stay connects, but fully advocated trying. Then 3 bars were drawn on one tail (the directions for a fourth, said more than once, were never followed) and I wrote out Escojo and striped the E with black. Then the children striped the other letters with different colors, making me think of Zebra gum. After we lit candles, dripped wax, and had standing candles.
After it got dark (9 or so), youth started showing up. Dan put some of the girls to work cutting ribbons. Eventually some donas showed up to begin the process of making dumplings. Now for your knowledge, dominican dumplings are basically dough noodles cooked in a sauce, not like other types of dumplings that have fillings. I was quite disturbed that for kindling they use styrofoam.
For a while the youth just hung out in groups and passed the time. Eventually they were all called together to circle around the Escojo Ribbon. First they went around introducing themselves. After some song dinamicas, Dan led one where they stood in a line, were asked a question and then when they responded were told with something with a gesture of pointing or squatting, which they then had to repeat with the next person down the line until came the moment when Dan throws his body into the next person creating human dominoes. That reminded me of the Daniel Boone shot a Bear (pronounced bar) skit that was down yearly during the Highland Camp talent show. The following with include timestamps to show the progression of the night.
11:54:55PM A drama with some of the girls from the Escojo group and some visiting guys from San Cristobal. The amusing drama starts with texting and ends with 2 girls pregant. I’m guessing everyone understand the message.
After this there is a break while Yvony (Dan’s Project Partner) and Dan work on finishing setting up the lightsbulbs.
1:14:11AM Denorkis, an Escojo coordinator from Monte Plato, who is visiting begins a charla on leadership.
1:51:25AM The charla is interrupted because the food is finally ready. The youth are called to line up according to sex, and then told nevermind and to disperse, while preparation is made to actually dish out the dumplings. Shortly after, they are given food.
2:54:21AM The youth are once again disperse, however Denorkis and Jimmy (a visitor from Boca Chica) are interviewing the youth who are officially in Dan’s Escojo group for a study Jimmy is doing on leadership.
3:50:45AM Everyone has been gathered together again and Dan has them sign Julie Julie at moments as he sings an english song.
4:00AM I am cold.
4:23:56AM And the leadership charla now continues.
4:50:24AM After Yvony gives a talk, Jimmy requests some time and that is how it comes to be that at almost 5 AM we are still talking about leadership. He chooses to quote MLK and an Asian philosopher, as well as use reincarnation as an example, although after questioned he made it clear he did not believe in reincarnation.
5:12:22AM Envelopes that have messages from other group members are handed out.
5:18:57AM Gifts are exchanged for the Angelito program (like a secret santa or secret pal). The giver would go up in front of the group and say a nice little speech about the recipient and then name the recipient. If the gift was exchanged between sexes or 2 females, a cheek kiss was often involved. And of course people threw out ideas of what the gift might be, for the size of the gifts, a yepita (which means a jeep) was mentioned many times. I believe most of the gifts were earnest (Dan received a lovely green shirt that was a Child’s Size 4, but looks like it will fit), but one muchacho received a wrapped mango and proceeded to immediately chuck it after the wrapping came off.
5:36:07AM All the locals gather for a group picture and then the chairs are stacked and the area is cleaned up.
5:45:03AM The sun begins to light sky and we have amanecerse-ed.