March 23, 2014

This Week

There is no such thing as a ho-hum routine week for me in the D.R. In the past week the following has happened:

Dominican Wives Only an Email Away!
  • I went kayaking in the ocean at a friend's site - my life here is sooo tough.
  • I saw a 10 year-old students run naked in front of his house - not the first time I have seen him do this.
  • A Dominican friend asked for my opinion on a job offer she received to become a mail order bride in Europe. I told her that the type of men who need to buy a wife are typically not the kind you want to marry.
  • My power went out, outside of its normal schedule, leaving me in the dark for a few days. I also got to see sparks fly out of the transformer in front of my house, and learn new vocabulary: candela - spark, prestando - flickering, as in the lights are flickering.
  • A teacher painted my fingernails...during class.
  • A boy climbed up a coconut tree and shared the coconuts he knocked down with me, other volunteers, and a security guard who left his rifle lying in the sand while he ate with us.
    Climbing for Coconuts
  • I saw an ostrich while at a teacher training conference at a one room school house. The ostrich is a pet. It is the second pet ostrich I have seen in as many months. You can also buy peacocks from a guy in town.
  • My girls youth group has decided that they want to go to the national book fair in the capital. So far this week they have held a raffle for a gallon of oil, and sold habichuelas con dulce (sweet beans) on the side of the road, just like kids in the States sell lemonade.
  • It didn't happen this week but, while I was traveling the outside of my house was painted!
    Romeo Guarding Our Newly Painted Home

March 10, 2014


The word andar in Spanish typically means to walk, but here in the D.R. it is mostly used to indicate someone has been traveling. You can imagine my confusion then, when I first arrived, and thought that certain people in my community were avid walkers, but I never saw them exercising. Recently, I have been andando mucho here are the highlights:
Surprise Birthday Party!
For my birthday I went whale-watching with friends; the whales were not too active but it didn't matter because I spent a day on the beach with friends, my community threw me a surprise party, and a bunch of friends sent me cards from America. Thanks for all the love guys!

Following my birthday I spent a few days in the capital discussing volunteer concerns with Peace Corps staff. I arrived back to my site in time for Carnival (the D.R.'s independence day celebrations).
Typical Carnival Costume

The next day I left with three members of my girls youth group to participate in a three-day conference. There were sessions on healthy foods, good relationships, AIDS, as well as, a talent show, and condom party. I was in charge of crafts, so we made friendship bracelets (Thanks, again, Kelly!).
Representing Samaná with Flow (Style)

After the conference I had a break for a few days and then I headed down to Paraíso (Paradise) located the southern part of the country. I didn't travel alone, with me was my friend Courtney, her cat Luna, and her dog Nelly. I had been pet sitting for Courtney for three months while she changed communities (she had security issues at her initial site). The journey took us 15 hours!  We left my home at 3:30 am but only after running around with flashlights looking for Luna after she escaped her pet carrier. The two of us plus Luna squeezed onto a motorcycle with a neighbor who drove us into town where we picked up Nelly and waited for the bus. Once on the bus Luna began to cry just like a baby. Only a cat is worse than a baby because most people, especially Dominicans on a bus at 4:30am, do not have any sympathy - I could feel the loathing of the other passengers. We were charged an extra ticket because of how annoying Luna acted.

We arrived in the capital at 8am and expected to be getting on another bus to the south at 10am. However, the driver of said bus decided not to make the trip that day and we ended up waiting until 2:30pm to continue our journey. Luna, apparently defeated, was quiet for the second leg of the trip. The silence made the views much more enjoyable. We arrived in Paraíso as the sun set, and went to in bed at 8:30pm.

A Tough Place to Live - Paraíso
The next day, Courtney and I walked 10 minutes to the beach that gives the town its name. Later we went to a different beach, San Rafael, where we met up with another volunteer from the region, Sara. I then traveled with Sara to her site, El Palmar. Like me, Sara lives in a campo (farming or countryside) community, but it couldn't be anymore different from my own. Where I have rolling hills covered in palm trees she has flat arid land covered with sugar cane. I live on a highway, Sara lives in a neighborhood with tree-lined sidewalks. My neighbors raise pigs, hers raise sheep. I am bitten up by black flies, while she has so many mosquitoes you can hear them buzzing around in packs (the blood-suckers gave Sara dengue fever - not fun). One thing that was the same between our two communities was the friendliness of the people. Everyone said hello, many gave me hugs and kisses, one man even gave me a beer.
Mountains on the Horizon

The journey back to my site was much less painful without the animals, and it only took nine hours. I was back in my site just long enough to chat with neighbors, hold some meetings, and wash laundry before I set off again. This week I am in the capital working on the volunteer magazine the Gringo Grita (Shouting American). Since I am in the capital, I will have internet and skyping capabilities all week. So, chat me up!