My neighbours are lovely people. Lala is 80 years old and has 16 children and her husband Michael is a 72 year old toyboy. They live just around the corner and their little wooden house backs on to our side wall. Every morning when I go to the local colmado (shop) they are sitting on their front porch, cleaning rice or shelling peas or just chatting. Lala always invites me onto the porch for a chat and never lets me leave without giving me some vegetables - plantains, a slice of pumpkin or a cupful of peas. She knows my name but always calls me Doña Vecina which means Lady Neighbour!
This morning, at around 9 am there was a dreadful screaming coming from her house, and my husband told me they were killing a pig. Dominicans celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve, with the most important components being family and food - usually pork.
I love pork, but I really do like to buy my meat in little trays, covered in plastic, in the cold section of the supermarket. Even after living here for 10 years, I do not like to think that pork was once a little pink piglet, even though of course I know it was.
No chance of getting away from the fact here, as I saw when I walked past her house a couple of hours ago. One pig is all ready for the fire pit and the other is hanging around waiting for his turn, just next to the wall which separates our houses.
As I walked through the barrio, every so often I could hear more pigs squealing, as they went to the big pig sty in the sky, and when they start to cook them, later tonight, the air will be full of the rich smell of roasted pork, all ready for the festivities tomorrow.
Happy Christmas from the Dominican Republic!