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After breakfast, our day started with a tour of the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo. We toured 500-year-old forts with cannons facing toward the city harbor and Caribbean Sea. We had a chance to do a little shopping in the city. After the tour we crowded back on our small bus for the trip back to Boca Chica. Our bus driver had a CD player in the bus and I don't think we ever heard more than three different songs! Now, a week later, I still have some of that crazy Dominican music still pulsing through my head!
Our game that day was played at the Baltimore Orioles' academy field. It was the best field we played on all week. The crazy thing about this game was the atmosphere. Once our game started, many of the people who lived near the complex came over to watch. Some people brought drums, one had a xylophone, another person had a vuvuzela horn that are popular at soccer games. Towards the end of the game, it seemed like we were having a baseball game in the middle of a neighborhood block party! Stereos were blasting in some of the houses close to the field. It was hard to concentrate on the game, but our players enjoyed the experience. Lunch today was red beans and rice with chicken and dinner was fried chicken with fried plantains.
This was one of the most interesting days of the trip. We played a doubleheader at a "field" located deep in the heart of a sugar cane plantation, about 45 minutes from Boca Chica and well off the beaten path. Our bus had to drive on dirt roads to get to our destination. Many of the local people work in the sugar cane fields, chopping the sugar cane with machetes. During the day, we had to stop play a couple of times to wait for cattle, pigs, goats and chickens to walk off the field. Our opponents were local Dominican players. They ranged in age from 15 to 22. At the end of our 2012 Butler season I had our players save some of the equipment that they would normally would have thrown away… old spikes, gloves, hats, etc. I kept them in a bag and I took them on the Dominican trip to donate to the local players. They seemed very appreciative. Between games today, the local women cooked lunch for us… yes, you guessed it, red beans and rice with some chicken thrown in.
Honestly, when we first pulled up to this open field (which was more like a cow pasture), my reaction was "Are we actually going to play baseball out there?" After a couple innings, it really didn't seem too bad. We were just playing baseball! Our players said it kind of reminded them of the movie "The Sandlot". Just a beat up piece of ground where kids could play a ball game. We didn't have any foul lines. The bases were squares of wood. There was knee-high grass in the outfield. One pleasant discovery we made today was a fruit called the limoncillo. Some Dominican players found them growing on trees in the woods nearby and brought them over to us. Limoncillos look like a small lime. If you peel off the green skin, you can pop the small orange/pink fruit into your mouth. It has a kind of fruity, sour taste like an orange or lemon. You suck on the fruit and then spit out the hard pit. Our players said they were like "Dominican sunflower seeds"!