This past week, we spent a few days in the Dominican Republic (DR). The truck needed some maintenance and we needed a break from the daily life of Haiti.
The truck got an oil change, some new tires and was scheduled for a replacement windshield to be put in. However, Thursday, the day we were scheduled to have the new windshield installed, it was in the low 70s (Fahrenheit) and rainy. Therefore, it was was too cold because, we were told, the glue would not stick properly. OK, I told our “agent,” let’s do it Friday. “No bueno” I was told. No one works in the DR on the Friday before Easter, it is a party day. Since we planned to travel the 7 to 8 hours back to our house in Haiti on Saturday, we decided that we couldn’t get the windshield replaced.
We left our hotel Saturday morning about 10 am and set out on the 5 to 6 hour trip to the border, which allowed for a 1 hour stop for lunch. Since the border didn’t close until 5 pm, we had plenty of time, so we stopped just before 2 pm for a leisurely lunch at Lilo, a cafe & restaurant, in Monte Christi. It would only take 25-30 minutes to get to the border from there. We stretched our legs, ate some really good chicken and pasta, and then drove on to the Dominican/Haitian border.
As we drove through the town of Dajabon (“Da ha bon” in Spanish, “Da ja bo” in Creole) and up to the border, something strange was happening. Well, it was strange that nothing was happening. Just about all of the surrounding shops and stores were closed and there were no street vendors anywhere to be seen. We pulled up to the Immigration office at 3:15 and a border guard stepped over to our truck and told us, in Spanish, that the border closed at 3.
What do we do now?
You see, the border was not supposed to close until 5 pm and Dajabon is not a tourist destination.
Just then, my phone rang. It was our friends Matt and Stacey. They were at a retreat in the DR and were also heading back to Haiti…they didn’t get to the border in time either.
“Where are you guys?” Stacey asked.
“Well, we’re sitting at the border,” I said.
“Ya, we didn’t make it either,” Stacey consoled.
Phew, well, at least we’ll have someone to commiserate with, I thought.
Stacey handed the phone to Matt. “There are 2 hotels in Dajabon. I’m trying to find us rooms for the night. Do you want me to come get you?”
I told him, “Secure the rooms, tell me where you are and then we’ll come to you.”
We drove back toward the center of the city and drove around looking for the hotel. As we drove, we passed the sign below and laughed, “I hope we’re not staying there.”
Guess what? As we turned the corner, we saw Matt and Stacey standing outside the Hotel Masacre. It would be our “second home” for the night.
All in all, it was an ok night. Although we couldn’t drink the water, the rooms were clean, we felt safe and the kids slept fairly well. While it’s not how we wanted to spend Easter weekend, we made the best of it, even though I was hit by a motorcycle. But that’s a story for another time.