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Doña Melida | by Box of Light
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Doña Melida

San Jose, San Juan Province, Dominican Republic.

 

Melida stands in her kitchen house where she spends most hours of her day cooking over a fire out of an iron pot. She grew up in San Jose and has 6 children, 6 grandchildren -- two of which she adopted, and a foster son.

 

Melida's favorite part about living in the remote campo is the tranquility, which she spoke of often, as did many of the women.

 

The hardest part about living in San Jose, she said, is the "the road is not paved and there is no light."

 

San Jose is slotted to receive electricity within the next year, however, and the community will be completely transformed. People meet at night at certain houses to fry food outside, while children play by fires, and men play dominoes. They set battery-powered radios outside while they play casino or wash clothing. Part of what makes San Jose San Jose is its lack of electricity, although it is an inconvenience for a woman who must wash clothing by hand and cook over fire. Part of its charm will be lost with lights and televisions and washing machines.

 

If I could claim one of the women of San Jose as my doña, Melida would be it. She was my host's host mother and she brought us delicious lunch every day and scolded us for not eating all of the bowls and bowls of food. She gave me a tremendous hug the morning I left.

 

Melida loves living in San Jose. "I am going to live and end the rest of my life here," she said.

 

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Taken on November 5, 2006