Comments Off on Villa Gonzalez Assembly Hall near Santiago
For many the main reason for coming to the Dominican Republic is to help people improve their lives and have a better hope for the future. The bible education work is a principle part of the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses that come to the DR to work as Missionaries or Need-Greaters. Often the highlight of their visit is going to an assembly either in one of the native languages of the Dominican Republic like Spanish and Creole or in one of the other growing foreign languages of the DR like English, Russian, Chinese and French.
There are two Assembly halls or Salón de Asambleas in the Dominican Republic for the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Testigos de Jehová in Spanish. One is in Santo Domingo and is attached to the Bethel Branch office and the other is located in Villa Gonzalez near Santiago.
Getting to the Assembly Hall
If you are taking local transportation to get to the assembly hall you will likely be arriving into Santiago using one of the GuaGua companies like Expreso Quinto Patio, or one of the larger tour busses like Expreso Vegano or Caribe Tours. The smaller guaguas will normally drop you off at various locations. Ask them to drop you off at the “Parada de Villa González” at “Treinta de Marso”. This is the GuaGua bus stop that heads out to Villa González and will pass right past the assembly hall.
If you arrive at the GuaGua or bus stop at Trienta de Marso in the morning of one of the assemblies between 6:30 and 8:30 and are dressed up, you will be recognized right away by the drivers and they will call out “assemblea” and direct you to the right bus. Otherwise there will normally be guys standing next to the buses ask one of them and they will direct you to the right bus.
The price will be 30 pesos per person. Once you start heading out of Santiago there will be a guy standing at the door and he will go around collecting the money. He helps the driver; you will also want to let him know you are wanting off at the Assembly hall. From Trienta de Marso this can take from about 35 minutes to a little over an hour depending on how many people that they pick up along the way. Usually the bus gets pretty packed by the time you get to the Assembly hall, most of the people will be continuing on to the next town.
When you get to the assembly hall you will normally need to enter in the gate to the right. If you are coming in after hours go to the gate to the left of the entrance sign and press the intercom button to talk to someone.
Getting back to Santiago
After the assembly you will likely need to get back to Santiago either for your Hotel or to head back home. You will need to leave by the exit at the left side of the Parking lot as you walk away from the Assembly hall in Villa Gonzalez. As you head out the gate you will see a waking bridge to the left cross that and continue down the path until you reach the pedestrian bridge crossing the Highway. Cross the bridge if you are heading to Santiago, or wait under the bridge if you are heading north to Puerto Plata. GuaGuas pass by here regularly and will stop if they see you next to the road.
There are several places where you can get a hotel room in Santiago. Two of the cheapest are “The Rotunda” and Consorcio Colonial Hotel Rooms go for about 500 pesos per night for the rooms without air-conditioning to up to 1450 pesos for the larger rooms with air and a small fridge. The Rotunda is in route on the way back from the assembly hall, tell the guy at the door that is where you want to go or at the end of the line at trienta de marso you will find the Consorcio Colonial Hotel. There is also a bakery just down the street from the Consorcio where we go each morning to get breakfast and lunch for the day of the assembly.
The Villa Gonzalez Assembly Hall
The Villa Gonzalez Assembly hall is a beautiful open air assembly hall. The breeze usually keeps the assembly hall cool enough but there are also overhead fans that help with the cooling. From the pictures you can see that the hall is well manicured and gardened.
At times if it starts to rain hard and the wind is blowing you will need to move to the seats to the left side of the stage, sometimes the seats to the right can get a bit wet. Also, if your eyes are sensitive to sunlight it is a good idea to have sunglasses. Sometimes the sunlight behind the stage area can cause some glare, usually though this isn’t a problem.
Every week before an assembly usually over 100 local brothers come and do a touch up cleaning of the assembly grounds, wash the seats and sweep and mop so that the assembly hall is spotless.
While it is probably safe to drink the water, I usually like to bring my own bottled water just to be sure. Don’t bring glass bottles, sick with the plastic ones. Also, there is no food nearby the assembly hall, if you are attending the assembly be sure to pack a lunch.
Enjoy you visit to the Villa Gonzales Assembly hall. If you are going during one of the English assemblies you are likely to meet people from all over the world. These are truly international groups. If you make it to a Spanish assembly you will really get a good feel of the brother hood in this country and will have plenty of opportunity to meet both our Dominican and Haitian brothers.