Thursday, July 17th,
A few days after arriving my fellow NYAA alum, Ian Factor, and I hopped the van for a journey to the capitol. We breezed by sugar cane fields and drove beside the ocean as we approached the modern city. Our first stop was the opposite of modern however. We were dropped off in Ciudad Colonial with Aimée the RA, who I had bonded with a few days before at the local grocery over a mutual love of cooking and art. She was happily our tour guide for the day, and we three quickly embraced the title tourist in the oldest part of the “new world.” We walked down the cobblestone streets through the Parque Colon with its resident pigeons, passing the admission only cathedral to the castle once lived in by the family of Columbus. While wondering through the recreated rooms of carved wood and elaborate tapestries, we learned the conquering family was ousted by a pirate and that seemed somehow fitting to me.
Santo Domingo has a long history of being ruled with an iron fist. When later we ducked into a shady entryway to escape the day’s heat, we found a little hallway of a museum that was there in remembrance of the Mirabal sisters. Speaking against the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo they were brutally murdered and many years after his assassination they were finally able to be celebrated as the public heros that they were. Immortalized on the 200 peso bill, I fell under the spell of their gaze.
Walking further down the narrow cobbled streets in search of a taxi, we came across a huge building that had a ghostly façade. The first floor was taken over by some shabby discount stores but a historical marker told us that the massive structure had once been a club shut down by Trujillo, who, when rejected admittance by the owners shuttered it. Ian tried to find a way in to no avail. I looked up into the harsh sun at the rooftop columns, an unused garden hanging over and could almost hear the murmur of music and clank of glasses from long ago.
We ended our day at the city campus of La Escuela de Diseño Altos de Chavón and were shown around and introduced to the entire staff there, who seemed more like a tight nit family. I was impressed by the work of the recent graduates that was hung all around the school. Upon closer investigation I realized that the fashion designs in the corner of the room were made entirely out of everyday recycled materials. I was getting excited to teach my class not wanting to wait another week.