last sunday the kids and i headed to a coworkers house to eat sancocho, a delicious dominican specialty soup. the day was lovely - we ate, drank, threw around a basketball and sang happy birthday to our coworker. then we headed home. and oh, i had no idea that the little political rally taking place in the rec center near our house was anything more than a little political rally.
see, politics here is... well, it's different. and i won't claim to understand it, because i don't. the country has had only 2 presidents since the death of their semi-dictator, joaquin balaguer, died in the mid-90s. from 1996-2000, leonel fernandez was in the presidential palace, but was booted out from 2000-2004 for apparently sucking at his job during his first term. but, hipolito mejia came along and just about exploded the peso and got booted out in 2004 by, you guessed it, leonel fernandez.
and leonel has been in office since then, but his time is up.
and the politics are on.
so, danilo medina (from the same party as leonel) is running against hipolito mejia (whose slogan is "here's your daddy"). and to ensure that leonel keeps his foot in the door, his wife is running as danilo's vice president.
but this has nothing to do with this post. this has to do with why a 15 minute car ride took an hour and 40 minutes.
you see, campaigns here are up-close and personal. while there are a fair amount of television ads and the country is plastered in billboards and posters proclaiming victory for "our country", the majority of votes come from some real door-to-door vote-seeking. it's not uncommon to see groups of people, dressed in the party colors, waving flags and chanting on street corners during rush hours. pickup trucks equipped with huge speakers drive through the city playing popular songs whose lyrics have been changed to represent the candidate's platform. and because the country is so small, it's easy for the candidate's themselves to make personal appearances at rallies.
so we ran into this insanity. girls dressed in yellow tights and purple tees - the party colors - dirty dancing on a flatbed truck, flags waving relentlessly. impromptu stages set up on virtually every.single.corner of every.single.street that our driver tried to turn down to avoid the traffic jams.
by the time we made it home that little political rally near our house was completely cleared out - not a giant SUV covered in slogans and not one single school bus jam packed with supporters waiting to start the march. they had moved on to bigger and better things that day - holding up traffic all over our side of the world.
the only remnant of the craziness was this lone pickup on our street - giant over sized speakers and political propaganda covering the sides. sadly (for me), the political season is just getting started - we've got two months left until the big presidential election. - we might be staying indoors more often than not in the coming weeks -