Anyone that has ever participated on a BLUE Missions Trip knows of the Fab 5. Marino, the captain. Lingo, the iron man. Moreno, MacGyver. Tato, the wise man. Edwandi, the young gun. These 5 amazing men are the backbone of any and every BLUE trip. Without them, none of the amazing work we do is possible.
I had the pleasure of spending this entire summer living and working alongside the amazing men in the Dominican Republic. The experiences I had and the lessons I learned with stay with me until the end of time and I don’t think my time there would be the same without them.
Like the members of the HBO show Entourage, each member of the Dominican Rat Pack has their own special thing that makes them stand out. I’d like you to meet all of them.
Imagine a man with the spirit and heart of David and the body and raw strength of Goliath. Our gentle giant is the most amazing man I’ve ever met. You give him a few hundred cinder blocks, mounds of cement and gravel, some good tools and a cold glass of chinola juice and by the end of the day he’ll give you back a perfectly constructed aqueduct and a warm sweaty hug to go with it.
I’ve been working with BLUE in the Dominican Republic for about six years now. Every year it’s hard to leave my family behind, whether it be for eight days or three months. But there's one man that always makes me feel like I’m back home. His name is Tato. Ok, his real name is Jesus Maria Reyes Herrera but with a nickname like that it’s hard not to use it. Ever since I’ve met him, I’ve been trying to put my finger on what makes Tato so special. The answer is that he actually cares. It doesn’t matter if he see’s you every year or if he has just met you for the first time, he gives you his entire heart and soul. Even if you can’t give him that same love back, it doesn’t matter to him. That’s just the kind of man he is. He once told me, “ Love is not a privilege; it is mandatory. Everyone is welcome to love”.
If I challenged you to wake up every day with a smile on your face, would you be able to do it? You’d probably call me crazy. But for the middleman of the Fab 5, it’s a thing of nature. Rafael Villa Maria, better known as Moreno, is the glue that holds our pipes together (pun intended). Our resident plumber and all around hype man has no problem with any difficulties that may come our way. In fact, he laughs in the face of trouble. He takes every moment head on with his perfectly crooked smile on his face. He gives every day his all. And at the end of the day, if he doesn’t have his shirt flipped up with his rock hard belly hanging out throwing two thumps up in the air screaming “CAMPO DALE!” then maybe you should work harder tomorrow.
There's not much to say about the latest addition to the illustrious BLUE Crew. Edwin Arias or Edwandi is the back up quarterback to our Peyton Manning in Lingo. He is a quiet young man that doesn’t say much, unless he’s blasting his favorite bachata hits out of his tiny Claro cellphone, in which case he’s singing his life away. If he finally breaks out of his shell, he probably won’t say much because he’s probably trying to keep up with the unreal pace of his partner in crime and mentor Lingo. But when the day is done and you're sipping your late night coffee while playing a game of dominos, nothing is better than sharing a quick laugh with our young gun.
When you hear the name Marino, you probably think immediately of number 13 from the Miami Dolphins Dan Marino. But if you ask anyone at BLUE about that name, we think of another leader. Cosme Marino Estevez is our Program Director in the Dominican Republic and the leading man of every project that we work on throughout the year. He is a man of great character. A true family man, whether you say the name Estevez or BLUE. He just never stops giving. When I arrived in the Dominican Republic this past summer, instead of taking me to the hotel I was supposed to stay at, he took me to his home to eat as his table and sleep under his roof. That’s just the kind of man he is. His favorite baseball player is Barry Bonds, and like Barry, his name will always be at the top of the BLUE hall of fame as our all time slugger.
My favorite Comedian at the time and current host of The Late Show on CBS, Stephen Colbert, once said, “Doing something with joy doesn’t make it easier, it only makes it better”. No one brings these words more to life than our amazing Dominican employees. The pure unfiltered joy that these amazing five men give into not only everything we do with BLUE but everything they do in their own lives gives me the inspiration to live the BLUE life everyday. To truly Build Love and Unite Everyone.