Whenever I talk to someone about my life in the D.R. the big changes in my life always come up, like speaking Spanish, the heat, and living without running water. However there are many small differences in my life in the D.R. vs America that never get mentioned because people don’t even think to ask; I didn’t think about how my life would change in so many small ways before I left.
Here are some examples of the little things I miss from home:
Carpets - I once visited a volunteer who had a mosque in his community. When we visited the mosque he told me, “Remember what this carpet feels like because you will never feel carpet again in this country.” He was right. I do not know any Dominicans who have carpeting in their homes. Most Dominicans have cement or tile floors; an initiative of health volunteers is to upgrade homes with dirt floors to cement. I can only guess the reason behind the lack of carpeting is due to the cost and that in order to clean carpets you need to use a vacuum, which are also absent from the island. Plus, lying on a cool cement floor during the summer is downright refreshing.
|Instead of pennies I get cough drops|
Vacuums - Brooms and mops are the common cleaning instruments on the island. Although a vacuum is more efficient than a broom, a broom is much cheaper and does not require electricity. As I have previously mentioned, electricity is in short supply on the island. Nobody wants to wait around for the power to come back on to clean up a mess.
Paying with “large” bills - Whenever I go back to America, I have to re-adjust to the idea that I can pay for a $1 item with a $20 bill and not get flack for it from the cashier. At the colmados, corner stores, in my community I never bring anything higher than a $100 peso bill ($2.27 dollars), and even then I sometimes get change in candy (equal to one or two pesos depending on the brand).
Cash-Back - I had forgotten cash-back existed until I was in America on vacation. I became overly excited when the cash-back option appeared as I swiped my debit-card at Target. I took money out just for the novelty of it - and I forgot that Americans barely even use cash-back because you can pay for everything on your card.
|My host family's couch is not suitable for napping|
Couches - Oh how I wish I could stretch-out on a nice comfy couch at the end of a long day. Instead I just have plastic chairs. Some Dominicans have couches but they tend to be more wood than cushion. Plastic chairs reign supreme in the D.R. Anywhere you go you will see Dominicans sitting in the shade by their houses watching people pass on the road. In the summer that’s about all anyone can do during the heat of the day. Add some mangoes to the mix and you have a perfect summer afternoon.
Electricians - I have not had electricity in my bedroom since December 6, 2014. I have asked the neighborhood handy-man to come by and fix it multiple times but to no avail. I really wish there was a phone book with a list of electricians I could call. I have come to accept that I probably will not have electricity in my bedroom for the rest of my service, which is ending in a mere 36 days!