Settled into their unfinished home in Santiago, each morning Ariel’s mother, Valentina Castillo Traveras, led the family in praise and devotions to commit their day to the Lord. They met in Ariel’s bedroom where he played piano while his brother Emmanuel played drums.
Before 7 a.m. each weekday, Ariel brushed his teeth in the backyard and took a shower next door at his uncle’s house. Then he and his family ate breakfast together before Ariel had to walk to the bus stop. The 15-minute ride to the Technological University of Santiago was much easier than the long trek from Moca.
Around 11:45 a.m., Ariel rode the bus home to eat lunch with his mother and brothers. Round-trip bus fare cost 10 Dominican pesos, about 21 U.S. cents at the time. It was worth it to get meals like la bandera Dominicana, or the Dominican flag, the national dish made from rice, beans, spices, tomatoes and meat.