So there is a lot of music being played throughout my day.  Sometimes it comes from my computer and therefore is my choice.  However, there is always what the colmado or billards hall is playing, what cars and trucks are playing, and what is on the house radio or the girls computers.

When traveling, there is also often music playing on the guagua.  Actually it was very strange for a portion of the trip along the northern coast in August, on 3 guaguas there was no music.  When you are crammed cinco in the cocina (5 in the back), sometimes the music makes it better.  Of course sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes it is not music but talk radio.  On the trip, even with the dearth of music being played, I was also introduced to a new popular song.  Now most of the time I am only giving a low percentage of attention to the the background noise, but if there is something that grabs my attention.  What grabbed my attention about this song, well the chorus music was remarkably similar to The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

What was also amusing was I returned to my community, and barely heard the song after hearing it twice in an hour on some days of my trip (that is a clear sign that this song is going to get alot of play).  And the song grew on me, enough that I put it on my kindle (yeah I can do that on my kindle keyboard, not that I put songs on it usually since I can’t chose a song from a group to play).  It was actually several weeks before I heard the song in a regular manner in Cambita.  I don’t know why, I am definitely not rural.

If you want to hear the similarities, and a song that may not have longevity when it comes to my interest, but definitely gained it for a time, here it is:

Vakero – Hoy Se Va Bebe


So the other day I took a walk with one of the youth of Cambita.  Raisy works carving and painting macaws.  I had asked him to introduce me to the artisan whose worked I first notices at the December Artisan’s Fair in the capital I went to last year.  Tristan even bought a rooster for his mother from the seller.  When I picked up the rooster he was contemplating, I looked at the tag that said Artesanía Puello, Cambita Garabitos, San Cristobal.

I had not previously heard of him, but when I asked Raisy he did say he knew him and had discussed carving with him.  So I let it fall by the wayside with other things to do, but recently I decided that I would like to see the workshop if I could.  Its not in what I consider town proper (and consider that encompasses many street to explore in itself, I’m not surprised I hadn’t stumbled upon it before), but on the road between Pueblocito and Cambita Garabitos.  Also the sign is only a recent addition (less than a month) so that why I had not noticed it on my many car rides in and out of Cambita. 

The building is filled with many different types of carvings, there is majority of types of birds from chicks to flamingos, however, there are also horses, dolphins and fish.  There was also one of the carvers at work and pieces in all stages of the process which was interesting to see.

I find the carvings to be quite well done and reasonably priced .  A small chick or 6″ duck with be around 6 dollars.  Two small parrots on branches would be around 11 dollars.  The larger (but not biggest) or more elaborate pieces will be 25 to 40 dollars.  Those are the notes I made.

The workshop also has a pamphlet on the history of Artesanía Puello.  It was started by Mr. Erasmo Puello who had 15 children to support.  Some of his sons continued the tradition.  The pamphlet says that the wood crafts represent who they are: a Caribbean town full of joy, taste and colors.  The work has been shown and sold in many artisan expositions in countries including the Untied States, Spain, South Korea, France, Italy, Germany, Ecuador, as well as others.

Contact information is:

Tel.: (809)528-8301

Cel.: 829-806-6393


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So I don’t always know what a fabrication of cleaner or soap or menthol is going to cost beforehand, because I sometimes buy the chemicals in groups.  I have fixed the problem now, but at the time of the Tuesday previous to the week of this post’s Tuesday, the fabrication of menthol, they didn’t have the money to cover the full cost.  I still have not received about half the money.  So luckily for the next Tuesday (i.e. the one this post is about) we were going back to floor cleaner and I could say you can choose how many gallons we make but each gallon is 25 pesos.

Knowing I really didn’t want to create more a deficit, I decided to use the Somos Mujeres chapter on fiao for the educational part.  I probably should explain what fiao is.  It is credit.  At the colmado, people will have a cardboard with numbers written for the price of each shopping trip and sometimes the colmado owner will have a notebook with the same information for each customer using fiao.  For fiao, there needs to be a level of trust, because its not like a credit card company that can send you to the bill collectors.  A word for that trust is confianza.  I was told the other day by the youth I was giving first option to buy my bike that I did not have confianza in him to pay.  And the honest answer was no I did not.  I talked to his brother, who is my good friend, and he tells me how he is still waiting on partial payment from him. So my feeling of wanting the money up front was justified and spot on.

So this time I told them I was collecting the money at the beginning, before we started measuring chemicals and wrote done names with quantity.  It worked much better, only disappointing thing was that they didn’t want to make all of it.  So I have to offload some chemicals before a month goes by.


I think I difference between how I look at and approach things and how Dominicans do is the future.  Maybe it is because many of them aren’t planning to move away from the area or the weather doesn’t change so significantly you need to think about being prepared to pay for heat during the winter.

Anyways let me just tell you about today.  Today was the Catholic day of observance for the Lady of Mercedes in the Dominican Republic.  At one time Catholicism was probably the predominant religion, but now with the rise in Evangelical Christianity, it is not the only church in town.  So although I thought it was a possibility when after I was woken at 7 am (which is not unreasonably early, but not when my body wanted to get up and I don’t work a 9 to 5 for a couple more months so stop judging).  And told Ronelka was still sleeping, how could she be, oh no school because Dia de La Senora de las Mercedes. So at that point, I knew I may not be making nail polish remover with the women today.  But I could not be certain, it being an evangelical group.  Also I had said to them next Tuesday we will be making this, and they did not correct me that it would not be next Tuesday but the one after.

I think its very rare I’ve ever been reminded of a Dominican holiday in advance.  Another example is I had a conversation going with a youth I wanted to think on and asked if he would be around the next day.  When he replied he would, without caveat, I say I would come looking for him.  The next morning when I go out of my way to talk to him, he had gone to San Cristobal.  Sounded like a planned trip, so why couldn’t he have told me in the morning he would not be around.

It’s just frustrating to not be advised ahead of time when I could have avoided schlepping 2 gallons of acetone across town.  But on the bright side, I got to talk baseball and have some beer.

You know I never really explained colmados.  Apparently once upon a time they were referred to as bodegas, however, times have changed.  Comados stock everything from the necessities of rice and beans to hair gel (we had Tristan go get some once, it wasn’t long lasting or good in any other discernible way, but it was there and I think it cost 5 pesos so we had realistic hopes).

Depending on the size or population of the community, will affect how many colmados are in it.  And that also with economic level will affect quantity and variety.  There should almost always be available bread (a white bread roll), soda, water, beer, rum, rice, canned food, and other staples.  What is pictured below is my colmado.  Like most, there is a counter and you tell and point to what you want.  What is interesting is you can buy so many things simply in a small amount.  You would go in and say I want 5 pesos of bicarbonate (baking soda) and would get a small bag of it, which would be tied closed with a knot that at times I hate them for doing.  You can do that for flour and sugar when baking, so you don’t have to worry about storing the extra.  Or if you are travelling and need to cook, you only need to buy what you need.  Like say you want to make eggs and there is a kitchen available you can buy a chin (little) of oil and not cook without that or butter in  pan.  It’s very convenient.

I usually go in for a delicious bottled coca-cola for about 25 cents.  It tastes like the gods nectar to me and some days is the only food or drink I am excited to consume (I did once again test myself and go a period without it, of course I already knew I could do that in the states with the free soda machine at work).  Oh I will miss that so much, it doesn’t taste the same from a plastic bottle.

Colmados also often are places that have plastic chairs that you can use to sit around and drink a beer in.  In addition, they are the ones providing music when the electricity is on.  Some like the one in Turner’s community have room to dance.

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So Anna had bought a chemical for dishwashing soap in twice the amount needed for the formula, but all others in the right amount.  So she offered it as a gift and I took her up on it.  And boy did I earn it.  I schlepped that 2.5 kilos of  Texapon from her house to the ferry, to Los Haitises, to Turner’s site, down through Higuey and the capital to Cambita.

Sadly the chemical stores are not open on the weekend, so I had to go back to the capital during the week.  And when I visisted Agencias Internationales they lacked the one of the chemicals.  So I fell back on another formula and instead got the chemicals for liquid hand soap.

When I informed the class the week before that is what we would be doing, I received a lackluster response.  But I had around the 10+ people and this time 2 guys.  Roberto, I had allowed since he helped coordinate the space.  This time when there was another man, Antonio, I figured well they invited him, so why not.  He has ended up being helpful, because we have him pour the 5 gallons of water.

This time we talked about budgeting, being aware of where your money is going.  You take what you learn from your daily log of income and expenditures and then you can see where the money goes and how it comes.  Of course, none of my women had kept a daily log like I asked them to.  That was not surprising after 2 years of seeing how the education system of the Dominican Republic trains students.  They are excellent about copying, and will even copy things you tell them are unimportant. However, you ask them to practice English at home or fill out a 10 minute worksheet, many just do not do it.

Well in the end we made some lovely strawberry scented hand soap, which I enjoy using.

Formula Par Jabon Liquido Para Mano – 55 GL (We made 7GL)

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Materia Prima Cantidad (55 GL) Cantidad (7GL)
Texapon N-70 20 KL 2.5 KL
Comperland KD 3.5 KL .44 KL
Lanolina ANH Amarilla .25 KL .03 Kl
Glicerina 1 KL .125 KL
Fragrancia Al Gusto Al Gusto
Color Al Gusto Al Gusto


So on Friday, I had a another charla with my group of women.  This time I wanted to talk about the importance of maintaining records.  I couldn’t tell them this, considering the less frequent use of technology and the internet in the older generations, but if I was giving the charla to Americans I would say and use  It was so handy and easy to use to keep.  So I did an overview of a daily record and asked them all to do record Saturday through next Tuesday for the next class.

The best part in my opinion is the activity to highlight the importance of not operating blind.  That activity involves rolling up charla paper to make swords and blindfolding the 2 volunteers.  Well telling them they will both be blindfolded, but only actually making one wear a blindfold.  It was quite amusing to watch Hembra striking out at nothing, while her counterpart dodged most of the hits.  The activity clearly demonstrates that seeing and knowing is handy in life.

We actually started the fabrication of fabric softener first, because it has to be left to sit for 20 minutes before adding the fragrance and possible the salicat, I don’t know about the salicat because it was not part of the instructions, I added it. with the fragrance.

I did get asked today about a change in color in the liquid soap, to which I had not good response.  I said I don’t know why, these are formulas I receive from Agencias Internacionales or the Income Generation handbook that probably got them for them or a similar store.  Also since I did not take any, I did not realize it happened.  I did grab some fabric softener today because I bought more fragrance (strawberry) and really liked the smell (although am right now lamenting that I have only had strawberries once in 2 years).  And I cannot wait to make someone smell my clothing, as you would expect from the girl who had both Turner and Robin smell her hair after Turner commented on the kids’ shampoo (kids’ swim and sport so great for a girl who likes to swim).  I pointed out adult shampoo is not sold in such a an appealing fragrance as citrus to deal with such activities, and then back it up with the offer to smell my hair.  As well as the girl who had to say smell my hand to Miguel after the soap making made it smell like wonderful jasmine.

We did half strawberry and half jasmine (the soap did not use much of the jasmine fragrance).  It was easy to split the glop they call Belfasin into two parts, because at first I was only sold 2 Kilos.  I like how that error that made me wait longer at the store, worked out very nicely.  I let the women get it out of the bags today, because I had enough fun when I did a charla for the new volunteers in the spring getting it off my hands.  In the end, I think we turned out a nice product and can’t wait to test it.

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Formula de Sauvizante 10 GL

Belfasin 4 Kilo

Agua u.s.p. 9 GL

Salicat k 100 100 mL

Colorante  Al Gusto

Fragancia  Al Gusto (possible .25 Kilos)

Preparacion: Mezclar el color con el agua.  Mezclar el belfasin con el agua coloreada y agitar vigorosamente y dehar en reposo durante 20 minutes.  Luego agregar la fragancia y salicat.