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Day 2 in Santiago: El Centro Leon, Spanish, Dance and Music

Hi everyone! Today I (Sofia) have the pleasure of writing our yak for Tuesday, July 2, 2019, or Martes, dos de Julio del año 2019, as we have been learning in our Spanish classes the past two days. To my family, I know you have been waiting for this yak, as have I, and am very excited to be writing this. Now, without further ado, I present you my yak:

Our day began with a later 8:30 breakfast at the hotel restaurant where Lazzaro, our helper with all things hotel, simultaneously served and conversed with us. Small cups of tangy passionfruit juice awoke our taste buds for toast with guava marmalade, various omelets, mangù (plantain mash), and fresh papaya and pineapple.

We then headed to Centro Leon, a cultural museum with an aviary and installation art pieces decorating the interior and exterior. We admired the doves, ducks, and turtles in the aviary before heading inside. We stopped at the museum gift store and got all sorts of Dominican souvenirs for ourselves and others. When our museum guide arrived, she directed us to the first exhibit, filled with pieces from contemporary Dominican artists. Some that really stuck out were: a bundle or barbed wire shaped like a giant human heart with a light that shone on and off like a heartbeat, a sketches of a dog in a muzzle that flowed into a black spiral, a grey background with small tarnished bronze-colored letters imprinted randomly so it looked just like a grey square from afar, and a three-dimensional piece of a stream of little boats that spiraled higher and higher into a coneish shape, like a cinnamon bun with the center layers uplifted. There was not much explanation from our guide for this first exhibit—we were given 10 minutes to look around before moving on to our second exhibit.

The second exhibit began with a video/slide deck projected onto screens around a platform to create one experience for the viewer. The video highlighted the main qualities of the Caribbean Islands, including rhythm, color, flavor (literally and metaphorically), and wildlife. We continued into a life-size model of the mangroves, which we had drove by on the way back from Cayo Arena on Saturday. We were able to see models of wildlife that live in the water around the roots of the mangroves, such as crabs, fish, and small, blind sharks. Next, was a collection of Taíno (native), Spanish, and African artifacts. One interesting and gruesome thing that we found out was that the when a Taíno chief died, his favorite wife was drugged and buried alive with him. We also learned that the chiefs were distinguished by their dog-tooth necklaces. The things that the Spanish brought to the Caribbean Islands included silverware, dominos, mercury, and firearms. The African artifacts included drums and other instruments, as well as headdresses/other decorations that we can see now on Carnaval in various Central/South American countries. One thing that we noticed was that while the Spanish artifacts were in full view in a bright glass case, the African artifacts were behind a wooden wall with slots you looked through to see them. We discussed what type of artistic choice this might be over lunch and then headed to our Spanish class. I won’t bore you with the details of the class as you have already read yesterday’s yak with that description. We also had dance class and played traditional instruments, some of which were the same type as the ones from the museum. We had a great dinner at a local restaurant and now are headed to bed. Goodnight to all parents, siblings, friends, etc., and I hope you enjoyed this yak!