Wikipedia defines bateyes as “[a company town within a plantation where sugar cane workers live that can be found in Cuba and the Dominican Republic]“. A few days ago I visited Batey Margarita in San Pedro de Macorís on the southern coast of the DR, about an hour from Santo Domingo. (I will also be working in the bateyes near Punta Cana.)
As a Rustic Pathways summer trip leader, I will be working with my co-leader Jasmine and groups of high school kids in collaboration with Save the Children in the bateyes on small scale construction projects, painting, and running summer camps for the local kids. In many ways my preliminary visit to this particular batey reminded me of my visits volunteering in South African “townships,” in that there is (virtually) no running water or electricity (I noticed lots of wires hanging overhead that seemed to have been jerry-rigged leading into some of the dwellings). Batey Margarita does not have paved roads between the dwellings, and, unlike many South African townships that have kiosks for snacks and small items, I did not see any in Batey Margarita (kiosks being called colmados in the DR), though my visit was only brief, and I may not have seen everything.
It was rainy during our visit, and the road / path was not ideal for extensive walking around.
Children headed towards “La Laguna” to play, so we wanted to check it out, too. La Laguna is definitely the pretty spot in the batey:
They threw rocks in the pond for a while.
They ran a bit.
They talked for a while.
And stood for some time.
More stories to follow about getting to know the little kids this summer during our program.