Wow, its just been two days since I last wrote but it feels like a lot longer than that! Lots has happened since Wednesday. Thursday was an adventure all in itself. I began my day late, sleeping in. I had to pack up my things and take my mosquito net down since I was leaving for CBT. I wolfed down breakfast and said goodbye as I heaved my one suitcase out the door. It was pretty big and very heavy and I had planned to leave about 20 minutes early since I had to drag it out of the barrio to the main road and then to Entrena. I still left early but severely underestimated the time it would take to drag my bag. It rained the night before and there are no sidewalks (there are but the road was a better option) so the gravel, cratered roads were wet and muddy. And of course I had to go up several steep hills with the stupid thing so I stopped like 3 times. In fact, I was almost to the front of the neighborhood after 25 minutes (which is usually how long it takes me to walk the whole way to Entrena from my house) and I just sat on the curb. It was 7:45 in the morning and I was already bright red and dripping sweat. Some random guy walked up to me and asked me if I needed help with my bag. I told him it was heavy but figured he had already gathered that. I have been told not to let people help me that I don’t know since the DR is known for theft but you know what? That bag was kicking my butt, besides I really doubt anyone could run away with it. Although, by that point I don’t know if I would have even chased them. So, I gratefully accepted his offer and walked to the front of the barrio. I was going to walk to Entrena originally but after that walk I knew paying half of a day’s allowance was more than worth a car ride. I was standing there when this random truck pulled up. I tired to wave him off and tell him I didn’t want to hitchhike when I realized it was a technical trainer from Entrena!! AWESOME!! So, he gave me a ride and we picked up 6 other panting volunteers along the way:) The day was off to an awesome start!
Then it went downhill. When I arrived to Entrena I found out that my bud Richie had to leave due to medical problems and about an hour later I found out my friend Kelly had to go home! Then today, I another volunteer and his wife need to head out as well. Seems like we’ve been here for a while but we’ve just been in the country for three weeks today. Of the four people who are leaving three of them are from my little health group:( Now we only have 8 people in our group. I can’t believe it. I have to admit that for some reason all these people going home puts a lot of doubts in my mind as well. I have to work harder to remind myself to stay positive but there is still a lot of reasons to be happy.
For starters, my new host family rocks. Last night we sat down and drew pictures for food I like and I learned some new words. I tired really hard to tell them I couldn’t eat lettuce but I don’t think they bought it. They just told me they cleaned it well and it would be ok for me to eat. They use bleach but I never have been found of lettuce and don’t see it as a risk worth taking. Anyways, my hermana- who is supposed to be my Dona but is just 26 so I feel weird calling her that- is really nice. She’s super sweet and has three cats. Her mom lives with her but her grandparents live next door so her mom sleeps there when I’m here. The Uncle lives on the other side of this house and across the street are the cousins. It’s kind of a bummer that I’m the farthest out from the rest of thevolunteers but even that means I have about a 3 minute walk till I get to the next volunteer’s house and I’m just 10 or 15 minutes away from the center of the town. The name of the town , by the way, is Las Tablas- I thought it was Las Tapas, whoops.
After being in this town I know that I want to live in a campo. The city sucks. It’s dirty, smelly, and impersonal. The time I’ve been here so far I have not had any one "hiss" at me. It’s refreshing that small towns are generally the same; made up of people who are largely related, impossible to keep a secret, and people look out for each other. Tonight over dinner my sister and Dona were telling me what the other volunteers were and were not eating, talk about knowing everything.
I have to say that last night was not pleasant though. I went into my room to get ready for a shower around 6:30 and freaked out when I saw a huge freaking spider just chilling there next to my bed! Needless to say I ran out screaming that I needed my sister to come look and she went in and squished it for me. She swept it out with her shoe to I don’t know where but sadly, there were 3 or 4 legs left that taunted me. I took my shower, cautiously and went and sat with everyone- away from my room. The lights went out around 8 pm and I toughed it out till about 9:30 but was falling asleep. I knew it was time to brave my room. Luckily my Dona gave me a flashlight to use till I get one (still on the wish list by the way, and as I am discovering I need to think about modifying that to a headlamp). So I went to my room, careful to step around the nasty, huge, scattered legs. I was happy to find when I arrived at the house that they already had a mosquito net up so I didn’t need to get out the tank of one PC gave me. Sadly, when I tried to tuck the existing one under my mattress (reaching behind the bed was something I was NOT looking forward to after the monster I found) I discovered that it was not big enough. There was no way I was going to be able to take that down and put mine up in the dark, maybe with a headlamp but no way with a flashlight. So, I tried to sleep with what I had. I was terrified about finding another spider in my bed and with no mosquitero to keep me safe I only slept about 2 hours. On top of that, yesterday was my Aralen day (my anti malaria pill day) and that stuff gives me trippy, vivid dreams. So, the two hours I did sleep were accompanied with nightmares but at least they weren’t about spiders!!!
I woke up about an hour before I needed to this morning but was happy to discover the daylight brought about a sense of bravery and I was able to take a picture of one of the large spider legs for you all to see. If I can get it up here I will if not I’ll put it up on myspace eventually. I even had my wits about me enough to put a quarter next to it. I think it was huge but my family seems to think it gives me comfort to tell me that that spider wasn’t even big. Wow, why doesn’t that make me feel better? Also, they said it was just because of the rain, that it rained the night before (which I remember from the wet road in the morning with my suitcase) and that’s probably why the "small" spider was in my room. So, I guess it’s not good for me that I happened to arrive in the DR during rainy season then. I originally thought I that I would have no problems here in this house since there are three cats but then I realized that all of the cats are really skinny which is not a good sign.
Tomorrow I have to plan an activity with kids (there are none in my house so I have to hunt them out- thankfully. I don’t want to try to tell the kids to leave my stuff alone although they seem to generally be pretty well behaved here). After that I need to interview my Dona and sometime before Wednesday I need to go to five random houses and conduct surveys. This will give me some practice at doing a community diagnostic which is what I will theoretically be doing for the first three months, give or take, at my site. Then on Sunday we’re all going somewhere- either to Bani or the beach. It is unbearably hot here. I have never been one to complain about the heat but today for instance, I tried to take a nap but when the power went out , so did my fan. I couldn’t stand to lay in bed because I was soaking it with my sweat. Last night at 10pm it was still out and I was soooo hot. It came back at 12 thankfully but then so did the light that I didn’t realize was on. I tried to ignore that and stay off of the floor littered with spider legs but eventually I had to give in and turn it off. The point off all this, other than that fact that I need to adjust already, is that I hope we go to the beach. We’re going into town a couple times next week for stuff I think and I think the beach would be cheaper than going to walk around town. So I’m hoping for the beach!! It’s time for me to go meet up with my amigos and have a little goodbye shindig for the guy going home tomorrow. I miss you all.