Tuesday 8/26/08- Thursday 8/28
Today seemed like it would be an awesome sunny day until we started walking to class, then it began to downpour! We got soaked!! Thanks for the poncho guys at BCHD- it REALLY helped!!! My thighs to my feet got drenched though. Ah well. I was super lucky and a Dona gave me and some volunteers a lift but by that time we were already really wet. Still, it was waaaay better than walking the 30- 40 minutes to class!
When I arrived to the training center all the rain made me have to go to the bathroom. So, I did my business and was reaching around for the TP when I saw it. I had no idea what it was but it was NASTY!!! It was a big wormy thing that was like 5-7 inches long (hard to tell because it was winding on the ground like a river in the Earth… and I sure wasn’t going to touch it to stretch it out!!) and it had like a million legs. It was wiggling all around on its back, legs flailing and kicking- YUCK!! I screamed a little when I saw it (whoops) and then calmed down, stepped over it, and calmly washed my hands. As soon as I got out of there I began to yell to the director that there was something in the bathroom!!!! She cautiously walked to it and yelled for a national to come see what it was and to please take care of it. He came over saying it was a centipede and it was dead. Dead?! It soooooo was NOT dead!!! No esta muerta, esta vive!!!! I yelled over and over!!! He needed to know it wasn’t dead!! Danny took care of it for us this time, and next time I know (thanks to Richie) not to worry “because those things are clean. People eat them and everything”. Great, good to know.
Speaking of eating, dinner was a real treat. I was wined and dined to something interesting. I have no idea how its spelled but I know that it sounds kind of like magoo, a fitting name if you ask me. I came out of my room to be greeted by a steaming pile on my plate of yellow mush with half boiled eggs on top. Appetizing. Turns out the steaming yellow blob was boiled bananas all squished up. I had this thing where I was going to try really hard to eat whatever I could that was put in front of me until I wasn’t hungry anymore. Well, after just a short week in this country I am discovering that my little motto isn’t working too well for me as I am ALWAYS really hungry and other volunteers tell me that their Dona is talking about how I don’t eat enough!!!
Wednesday we all went to the capitol to test out using public transportation. Scaaaaaary!!! Not the getting around part but the psycho drivers!!! More than once I found myself holding my breath and realized it wasn’t due to the foul air but because I was braced for a crash!!! Anyways, I knew there was a McDonalds in the capitol and was REALLY looking forward to eating there!!!! Ah, I could taste the burger, the fries and the huge sweet tea. I was going to get a delicious hot fudge sundae and life was going to be good. One problem- I’m with a bunch of health nuts!!! No one wanted to go to McDs!! How depressing. I needed that Big Mac.
We went to this place that gave me diarrhea instead, what a trade off!! I learned an important lesson that day, never think because it looks like American food that it’s going to taste like American food. I got a hot dog, fries, an iced tea, and followed up with a soft serve cone. Where to start… the hot dog wasn’t too bad except that the meat was sweet and it weirded me out so much that I needed to wash it down with my tea but discovered quickly that the tea was not what I thought it to be, no me gusta. Ok, at least the fries were mediocre. I can deal with that, I can even learn to be happy with that and convince myself I loooove the fries. I was getting the hang of this whole the-food-seems-the-same-but-isn’t thing when I went up to get some ice cream. I got a twist although I really wanted a chocolate. Who knows how it would taste though so I played it safe and got half of each. Good thing too because the chocolate was frothy. Yuck, again. The theme of my life now!!!
I have hope still, I know we are going to the capitol Saturday and maybe tomorrow too, I’m not really ever sure what’s going on because all the directions are in Spanish. But I found out after asking a lot that there are a lot of other food places next to the McDonalds that taunted me as we drove by on the guaga. Including a sandwich shop- hold the lettuce please, a vegetarian place, and a chicken place among other things super close to the heavenly place I so desire. Its not that I’m craving it or anything, I’m just hungry and want something I can maybe trust to be familiar. I guess the longer it goes eluding me, the better it will taste when I get it, and that’s no joke!!
I’ve been hitting the comadas up for candy. Gotta eat something. Kenzie and I decided it was important to conduct a diagnostic of all 50 of the little stores in the barrio (I don’t know how many there are but there are a LOT) to see which have the best prices and stuff. It was a necessity after buying out the one on the corner of his Snickers Bars. I found peanut m & m’s today, yum!! (Makes me think of the Environmental people at BCHD, hi guys!!!:) I’m saving the treat for tomorrow. I’m hungry now and just “ate” about an hour ago. Thus, to sum it all up, I need another plan of attack for this food thing because I’m pretty sure I’ve already lost weight- at least that’s what my pants tell me. I can’t afford to buy more clothes!!
So, what’s my next plan you ask? As soon as I can figure out how to get there and back, I’m going to the big store which I have been told is similar to Walmart and has “everything”. Including peanut butter I bet!!! I’m lucky that my Dona is super cool and doesn’t care that I go there and get food but just in case I misunderstood I’m bringing my backpack and hiding the goods in my room when I get home. I plan on bringing my new found source of nourishment to CBT as well.
CBT, community based training, is FIVE WEEKS LONG!!! I just found that out today although I suppose I have had the information for a week now. I’m going to Las Tapas which is near Bani (which as I understand is super close to the beach:) The bad part? Well, I guess landlines are like nonexistent so that means no phone contact for those 5 weeks. I’ll be living with another host family (whom I will be hiding my food from in my locked suitcase until I feel them out) but most of my stuff will stay here in Los Cocos. I guess a lot of the people have cell phones but they may not be charged due to the sporadic electricity. So, my health leader told me I may be able to coordinate something through her cell phone but I feel kind of bad doing that. She said I’ll be able to get to a town to check my email and stuff once a week though so I can at least let everyone know I am alive!!!
After CBT I think I just have like a week or a week and a half of training left and then I’m booted out into the real world- aka another host family somewhere in the country (my site) to begin my community diagnostic. That’s to far off for me to worry about though. Right now I’m concerned about my PCV visit to waaaaay up north in Puerta Plata on Thursday and also with how I’m going to get to the store to get pb. I tried to plan to go today but my plans were foiled.
Well, this is one long and rambling blog. I’d really like it if you guys left me some feedback so I knew who was reading this!! Thanks to Rach, Mom and the Harnisch herd lately:) It’s been pretty smooth going so far, I’ve even learned to appreciate my bucket baths!! Maybe I’ll appreciate the food one day…
Love and miss the food so much… and you guys too of course,
PS: Thanks for all your comments Harnisch herd!! How’s school going for you? Good I hope!! Wish I was there to go school clothes shopping with you!!
PPS: This is so random but I was thinking that just four years ago Rach and I were wandering around Kish (the college, not the hospital) to find where we could register to vote!! It was my first time voting with Rach later:) My, how things change in just 4 years!! I’ve lived in 6 places since then, graduated school and live in a whole different country where there’s no running water, and a foreign language so I don’t know what people are saying hardly ever! Imagine what’s going to have changed by the time I get back. It makes me sad to miss so many changes of so many people close to me but I’m trying to accept it. I know I’m going to change a lot too, maybe I’ll like mushy boiled bananas when I get back!! Hahahaha, no.
Hello all:) Today was not my day. I woke up feeling ok but before breakfast even I was not too well. I wanted to get out of the house and to the training site because there is no running water here and I have never flushed the toilet!! This sounds weird but they all just pee in it and then when it starts to fill up someone flushes it by holding a bucket of water really high and dumping it in. Theoretically the stuff is supposed to go down but I just don’t trust that method yet. The bathroom never never smells though, I have no idea what my Dona Carmen does to keep it that way. I think they mop every day but I don’t know besides that. We are not allowed to flush our paper anywhere so far. There aren’t the best pipes here and so we have to put our paper in the trash. Which again you would think would smell but not in my Dona’s casa!! Lol.
So, for my breakfast I was served a salami sandwich and mango juice- both of which I would have enjoyed but nooooo, I couldn’t bring myself to touch food!! I walked to training with the others and had to stop off of the road to vomitar. Awesome. Two more times at the site and I was good as gold. I’m not sure why this happened, but I have my theories.
A little bit after training began the weather person but a thing up telling us there was a storm (tormenta) on the way. Turns out its like 5 miles too slow to be a hurricane but it’s a depression. Well, they call then cyclones here anyways. But there are tin roofs here and it was soooo loud we couldn’t hear each other. So we packed into a room and waited.
It’s a bummer because today we were supposed to learn how to take public transportation but the streets flooded and we weren’t allowed to go out in the storm anyways. All PCT/Vs (PC trainees and volunteers) were played under homestead, meaning they weren’t supposed to go more than 5 minutes from their houses. It’s not good we didn’t get to practice though because we have a field trip to Santo Domingo Wednesday and need to know what to do. I’m not too worried about that since I’m sure someone will know what to do but next Thursday we have to travel alone to a PCV site!! That’s a little nerve racking!! By the way, I plan on taking my air mattress Uncle Greg and Karen so thanks so much!!
Today we were told how we did in our Spanish interviews. There was a level system used I guess and we have to get to level 5 by the end of the ten weeks. I’m in level 3. There are two other level threes and 7 people lower than that. That means that out of 51 people, I’m at the same level or less than 16 others. Doesn’t sound so good but it actually makes me feel better. I was afraid I would be in the lowest group. Another cool thing about my 4 person group is that they all live in my barrio now, Los Cocos, cute name- I know:) One girl lived in another place but I guess some in-law or something was being inappropriate so they moved her today. It’s pretty neat, the PC staff goes into the house and packs all her stuff for her so she doesn’t have to go back at all. Then they moved it to her new place, in my neighborhood! I would be worried they would forget something but she didn’t seem concerned so maybe she never unpacked like a lot of volunteers.
One good thing that happened today, well one GREA T thing- I was talking with the girls in my Spanish class and they told me they think the tienda on the corner sells sweets. So, first thing we did when we got home was investigate and sure enough, they had Snickers!!! I got one for 25 pesos (I’ve already come to the conclusion I’m going to have to dip into the pesos Lisa gave me- thanks Lis:) as well as some chocolate wafers and a donut. The donut I enjoyed right away since I didn’t eat lunch or breakfast. The Snickers bar I just ate and the wafers… who knows how long they’re safe for!! Lol
As far as getting home goes, PC didn’t want us walking (even though today was supposed to be our first day walking without a family member with us) so they got a bus to pick us all up and take up to our doors practically. It was really nice, they dropped me, Jessica and Kenzie off right in front of their houses and the store!! Those little stores are all over! I also found out today that there is a place with internet somewhere in my barrio. A volunteer went there with his Don. That would be better than trying to walk an hour and a half to one.
Well, I think that’s it for now. I love you all lots and miss you. I miss being able to flush paper and miss warm water but it’s really not bad here at all. A PCV talked to our group today and she said she requested electricity and running water for her site placement and she got it. Awesome!! I’m trying to get my hands on some stamps but they cost more than my daily allowance so I’m not sure how many I’ll get but I’ll try to send some letters. Hope to hear from you all soon!!
PS: When I heard the name of the Hurricane I thought of you Mary Alice!! Hahaha!