What about your saucepans
Ten years in the life of a British woman
living in the Dominican Republic

La primera dama

This is a preview to the chapter La primera dama from the book What about your saucepans by Lindsay de Feliz.
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As the official candidate, Danilo and I were expected to attend a Thanksgiving service in the cathedral at San Pedro, attended by the Vice President of the country. Later in the evening, at an event at the sports stadium, he was to be sworn in by the Vice President along with the other candidates from the municipalities in the area.

Luckily my mother had brought me a couple of nice dresses, so I had something suitable to wear to attend the service at the cathedral. We drove there in a car full of security guards and were mobbed outside and inside the cathedral by reporters from the press. Everyone was taking our photo and Danilo turned to me and said, “Look - I am more famous than Tiger Woof!”

He certainly was more famous than Tiger Woods, and as I looked at him standing next to me I marvelled at the change in the man I had married. No more jeans, T-shirts and baseball caps. Now he always wore a suit, and one of my father’s shirts. No more trainers, instead, highly polished shoes. He was confident and authoritative rather than shy. But the smile was the same and his heart was bigger, if it were possible. I was immensely proud of him.

The service over, we went home to change for the evening ceremony.
“Lindsay, you need wear purple now. It is party colour, every day you must wear purple,” he said, as we were changing. It was never my favourite colour, but I put on jeans and a purple top and he put on a new purple shirt with his suit and off we went.
As we got into the car park at the stadium we could already hear our music, ‘Danilo pa’ ayuntamiento’ playing out of loud speakers on the back of a truck, and many of his supporters were already there. They trooped inside with ‘Danilo’ flags and posters, and I stayed in the car park with him. When it was time for him to make his entrance we walked in together, hand in hand. The crowd screamed his name and were singing his song. I joined the supporters in the stands and he took his place at the table in the centre of the arena. It was a long table with the six candidates for Sindico, one for each municipality, five candidates for Diputado and one for Senator, José Maria Sosa. They represented the county of San Pedro. The Vice President walked in, together with the Governor of San Pedro, Alcibiades, and took his place in the centre of the table.

The Vice President made his standard political speech, how the PLD would win everywhere, and then read out the names of the candidates. There was clapping and some cheering for each one, but there seemed to be only a few supporters for each of the candidates. At the very end he read out Danilo’s name. Everyone went wild. There were at least a hundred and fifty of us and we cheered, screamed and sang for over five minutes. The Vice President looked stunned. I tried to capture it on video but couldn’t help jumping up and down, so the video was ruined. It was over fairly quickly after that, and we went home on a high as Danilo had now been publicly recognised by the party, and he could get on with the job in hand.

A couple of days later we went back to San Pedro as the President was arriving for a caravana, which the candidates and their supporters were expected to attend and participate in. We were invited to meet the President for lunch first, which was very exciting. Danilo summoned his supporters, paid for petrol and arranged for crates of water and juice to be available.
On the day of the caravana we set off in convoy for San Pedro and as we approached the town, Danilo stood on the back seat and raised himself through the sunroof. Our music truck was driving ahead of us, blaring out loud music. We finally arrived at the rendezvous point, which was chaotic with thousands of people and cars.

We were where we had been told to be, but could see none of the other candidates. One of our bodyguards ran off to ask someone in charge what was going on. He jogged back out of breath.
“You should be with the President on the other side of town, not here!” he panted. “Go now, we have to move fast!”
“What the hell is going on?” I asked. “Why were we told to be here and not there? Are they still playing bloody games?”
We left our supporters and charged off in the jipeta to the other side of town. Many of the roads were closed off, but we managed to get within eight hundred yards of the house where the President was having lunch.
Here the road was closed again and the police would not let us drive through. Danilo, Compres and I, together with the bodyguards, climbed out of the vehicle and walked briskly up to the main gate.

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