Sunday, September 18, 2011

La Playa Palenque

"La Playa Palenque"
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

Palenque Beach, looking west
Today was our first trip to the beach in the Dominican Republic. Several couples accompanied us:The Fords, McDermids, Glaziers (MTC President), and Elder and Sister Cornish with their son, Reid. We rode with the Cornish family. We were going to Juan Dolio, but Presidente Glazier said he knew of another beach out in Palenque. We began to drive out there. 
Palenque Beach, looking east
Sister Hammon beneath the thatched roof
First of all, we missed the turnoff for Palenque. Elder Cornish had to stop for gas anyway, which was fine. Then we drove off the Autopista and began driving through these little, very poor towns. Soon, we were weaving this way and then that way, and then that way and this way. After stopping two or three times and asking for directions, we finally made it to this beautiful beach. Lots of people were there already although they were farther down the beach. We found a little table. Actually, one of the caballeros there found us a little table. He counted heads and collected the right number of chairs. The table had a thatched umbrella roof, a large one, spread over the top of it. We set our stuff down on the table and walked down to the water.

President and Sister Glazier, the MTC (CCM) president
Elder Ford was already out in the water by the time Sister Hammon and I arrived at the edge of the playa. The beach was not the white sand everyone sees, but it was a darker gray sand. It wasn’t long before Elder McDermid and Elder Ford started coming out of the water. They said they had been stung by something, perhaps a jelly fish. I looked at Elder McDermid’s foot where he had been stung. It was a bit red. Soon, though, we all went back into the water. Before too long, I felt the sting on both my right ankle and my left leg. I started out of the water. As I was walking out, Joanne cried out, too. We walked out of the water. Joanne’s sting marks looked really red at this point.We decided it was not a healthy thing to stay in the water. We would watch the white waves roll in and crash onto the beach, knowing full well that the jelly fish lurked in the beautiful warm water right off the shore.

We asked one of the locals what they were. He confirmed that they were jelly fish. Apparently, they had a huge rain storm on Wednesday or Thursday, and the jelly fish had been caught up in the turbulence of the storm waters and brought into the little bay there. He said they had never had them before. According to Elder Cornish who is doctor, any part of the jelly fish, attached or detached, can sting you. We stayed clear of the water after that.

Some of our Dominican brothers and sisters here for the "Day of Service"
We decided to just walk up and down the beach and take pictures. We met several “Helping Hands” people along the beach. Today was the world’s “day of service.” Our church is the biggest partner in the DR. They go to the beach and clean it for a day. As we talked our way down the beach, each person told us a different number of members and community people who helped with the clean up. The numbers varied from 400-600. These  people had come from the church and their community to clean this section of the beach. Many, many young people were there. We chatted with some of them. They were fun to talk to. Many of the young people wanted to pose while I took their pictures. They are definitely posers, these Dominicans.

I met a bishop and chatted with him. He was sitting on a bucket by some men who were ostensibly fishing. When I asked what was going on, I thought I heard that a boat sank, and they were pulling it in. But when I talked to the bishop he told me it was really a big net that the boat that was out in the water had dropped, and the men were slowly bringing in the catch of the day to go sell in the market place.
Fishermen pulling in a net from the ocean
 There were probably five or six men, slowly dragging in the net with a long yellow rope. Hand over hand, they inched the net in from the depths of the blue sea. One man stood at the end of the rope, with it tied around him, acting as the anchor. He wasn’t a big man; nor were any of them big men, but they were sturdy, strong men, used to pulling in this net each day to sell its goods in the open market in town. Several feet of yellow rope, caked with sand, lay sprawled out around him. Out on the water was a boat that bobbed watchfully at the net. Apparently, this boat dropped the net out and let it sink. Then, he motioned to the group, and they began pulling, hand over hand. The boat scooted in and around the net as it came in. Soon, though, he rowed to shore where he could help with the catch. They had worked some time at this. It reminded me of one of the last scenes in Nemo. Unfortunately, we did not have time to watch them drag it completely in. I think it would have been pretty cool to have watched them “land” a net without a boat.

The bishop told me that once they reeled in the catch, they sorted them, throwing all of the little ones and the ones that won’t sell back into the ocean, the little ones to grow and develop and the undesirable ones to serve a food for other fish. The bishop walked us almost back to our table on the beach. We shook hands. He promised to stay in touch via Elder Andersen because he wants to us come help with a welfare fair on October 23.
three empty chairs
Reid, Elder Cornish, and Sister Cornish
After getting back to the table, we sat around and just chatted for a while. It was way past lunch. Originally, we were going to leave at 9:00 a.m. and be home by 12:30 p.m. Well, with all of the twisting and turn and turning and twisting, we didn’t arrive until 11:00 a.m. Then, we were all around the table, some of the couples brought out a lunch. Before too long, we were all sharing the Cornish’s lunch. Sister Cornish had made several peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which tasted really good. Plus, they bought some bananas along the way. They also had little bags of chips. After that was all gone, they brought out another bag of crackers and cookies. We were glad someone was prepared. Thanks to the Cornish family!
Soon, it was time to go. It didn’t take us as long to get home as it did to get there. They set their GPS’s on “Home,” and away we went. Along the way, though, we did stop at one part of the beach that was called Trujullo’s beach where the former president of the DR had a conclave of beach huts where he brought his family and friends. It was a pretty part of the beach. Then, we drove home.
Not going anywhere...
Lying at anchor
We had a great day at the Palenque Beach. It was a very nice day. 


Unknown said...

Here is one way to improve your posts: provide an email address so that old friends from Lewiston and Logan can drop you a line once in a while! :-)

Darrel and Joanne Hammon said...

Hey, WJP (a.k.a. "Whitney Pugh"), my email is I will post this from now on. Thanks for your consejo!

Garth said...

What a delightful day. Thanks for the narrative!