One of my favorite things about living in the Dominican Republic is the convenience of the local colmado. A ?colmado? is basically a neighborhood convenient store that stocks just about everything you may need on a whim and ? get this ? will deliver right to your door no matter the quantity. I?m talking about one egg, or a half-pound of coffee, or one stick of butter, or an ice cold Presidente beer ? no minimum purchases. There?s also no charge for the delivery except the basic mark-up you?d expect to pay for the convenience of not having to get off your duff and go to the supermarket and, of course, a ?propinita? (little tip) for the delivery boy. Everyone?s happy.
The not-so-funny part
My colmado was recently robbed at gunpoint by three men. They took all of the money in the cash register and unfortunately butt-stroked the owner in the head with a shotgun when he told that that there wasn?t any more. The blow knocked him off his feet and caused some decent bleeding, but the injury was otherwise superficial (sometimes head injuries or cuts can bleed profusely when the wound really isn?t that bad). Psychologically, he was a bit shaken-up for a day or two, but he bounced right back. For this I am grateful because I consider the owner and his wife my good friends.
Now for the funny part
I heard about the robbery from one of my neighbors and went to the colmado the very next day to see if I could do anything to help (like pay my tab since they?d just lost a lot of cash). The aptly named Maria (you?ll see why in a minute) was holding down the fort and told me the whole story of the robbery in true Dominican fashion ? lots of detail and drama (Dominicans are passionate storytellers). Maria lived in the states for a while and speaks near-perfect English. She fought back tears several times as she recounted exactly what had happened. Then she told me something that made me laugh out loud ? her husband was still alive because of a miracle!
You see, the blood from her husband?s head wound had squirted across the colmado and splattered on a picture of the La Virgen de la Altagracia/Virgin of the highest grace (aka Virgin Mary), a common image found in Dominican homes and businesses and a common name (1 out of 12 Dominicans is named Altagracia).
?It was La Virgen who protected him,? she proclaimed proudly and confidently. I smiled and chuckled as she continued.
?Stop laughing at me, Gringo.?
?I?m not laughing at you. I?m laughing at that,? I said as I pointed to a poster of Enrique Iglesias with blood splattered on it. ?Maybe Enrique was watching over him.?
?Don?t be stupid, Enrique Iglesias can?t do miracles.?
?Have you ever seen his girlfriend??
?No. Who is she??
At this point the half-asleep delivery boy, who can?t speak English but must have been following the story, perked up in his chair.
?Ay, si. Esa es un milagro!? (Now that?s a miracle!)
Maria (the owner, not the Virgin) burst out laughing, told me to pay my tab and get out. She called me later at home to say thanks for making her laugh. Personally, I don?t believe in miracles, but I do love my colmado.
Comments and criticism are welcome.
This finishes up a full-week (M-F) of blogging about the DR for me. If you missed the other articles they can be seen on DR1 right here:
Beach Etiquette: When Speedos Attack!
Travel Etiquette and "Chain-Smoking Europeans"
Travel Etiquette and "Loud Ugly Americans"
My Santo Domingo Wedding
Or you can see the originals here on my blog. If my article is DR-related I post it here too, if not you have to read my stuff over there.
Cheers and have a great weekend,