Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quinceanos, beaches and last week at CBT

10/14/08 The last week of CBT, tear:(

Wow, has it really been 5 weeks already? Yup, I guess it has. This is our very last week of CBT and Las Tablas. I feel a little bad because my Doña is sad to see me go and I’m actually leaving a little early so I can go to the PC office and use the internet for free. It’s just the difference of a few hours but a day where I can stay in Santo Domingo and do what I want allll day without having someone tell me I have an hour or two hours is magic. It’s not even like I have all the time in the world, as a rule we have to be back in our neighborhoods by 7 pm but still, that gives me a full 7 hours in Santo Domingo… 7 hours that I could potentially use the internet or go to Taco Bell. You may roll your eyes at me but when was the last time you ate at a fast food place? I would like to say that aside from a small, nasty personal pan pizza, I have not eaten out at all since a McDonalds breakfast August 19th. Sure I’m in the Peace Corps in the DR but that just means when I say “Yo quiero Taco Bell” it’s actually kind of funny to other Americans. (well a least me:)

Today we had our technical training in the morning and took a walk to check on the garden we planted. Surprisingly, everything is actually growing!! Not that I didn’t have faith in our planting abilities but I just thought that something would happen and it wouldn’t grow. Maybe it was the fact that last summer my efforts at planting a flower garden were crushed under the overpowering weed infestation a couple of weeks after I angrily threw the seeds at the dirt (which may have also contributed to the lack of growth) after discovering that the packets only have a few seeds in each (why so much packaging? It’s false advertisement, like with chips.) So, anyways, thought that you would all like to know that the garden is blooming nicely, good to know that my shoveling poop wasn’t in vain.

Tomorrow we’re going to a hospital in Baní. I should have read a little more to see what the point of this is, I think it’s a OB hospital but who knows. Guess I’ll see tomorrow. By this point, everyone I’ve talked to is sooooo sick of training and so over not having any freedom that we don’t really follow too closely what will be going on for the day. Although, that would have been helpful today; just knowing the day would have been helpful. I thought today was Wednesday and we were going to the hospital. I was wearing nicer clothes, had my camera with me ready to go and left my book bag at home. I was late and had to eat my cereal on the way to the community center because I was trying to get my flash drive ready incase we were going to use internet afterwards. What a surprise, today is Tuesday. So much for that, although I’m getting my computer stuff in order tonight so theoretically I’ll be ahead tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll be able to use the internet tomorrow but who knows. If not tomorrow then maybe Thursday or Friday and DEFINITELY Saturday… for FREE!!! Yay!!

It will be so incredibly nice to have some say over my days again. I’m really looking forward to training being over in some regards but in others, is the grass greener on the other side? I like being able to walk down the road to other PCTs and talk in English. I like my family here a lot and I like having some structure to my day. Who knows what kind of a wack job family I could end up with at my site? PC doesn’t even pick these families!! A community member/committee or whatever from the site picks it. So, if my project partner is a butthead and wants to make some extra money, they could just tell the APCD that I should live with them. As far as I know, PC goes and makes sure the house meets safety requirements and then, bam, I’m on my own. Great. I’m hoping I don’t end up living with my project partner since I have not heard one good story about that but who knows. I’m trying to be somewhat optimistic so I don’t go insane with the “what ifs”.

But, needless to say, I’m a little (or a lot) apprehensive as to what I’ll end up with. I’ve decided that it would be good to tell my Doña what I like and don’t like right away, like I did here on the first night. I haven’t gotten mangú, platinos, or yucca since I’ve been here, which has really helped out my digestive issues. It has been kind of beneficial that so many PCTs got sick here because my Doña seemed to think it was from other Doña’s feeding the PTCs too much grease. I had to roll with that one of course, I don’t like greasy food and Doña’s don’t like sick guests. If I get sick, well it must be from the rain, but never from my Doña’s grease-free food.

Well, it’s getting late and I have to get up early to go for my early morning torture (running) so I should stop while I’m still coherent. I miss you all and I hope you’re having a hoot getting ready for Halloween!!! (so jealous!!)



10/12/08 The best beach thus far

That’s right, the best. My fellow PCTs and I went to a different beach today and it was GREAT! The other beach we’ve gone to twice in CBT, Las Salinas, is pretty but we would have to walk through a freaking coral reef to get to the deep water (ok not exactly but it was a rough time; there were those sea urchin thingys along with lots of sharp rocks) which is kind of far away from the shore. That’s not a good thing when we all go out into the water, nice and far from shore, and then have conversations about sea creatures that can kill us (which happens disturbingly often). Las Salinas has pretty clean water but there was a huge mosquito issue there the first time we went. The beach near Santo Domingo, Boca Chica, is better than nothing but I’m not sure what more than that. It was dirty, cloudy and had trash floating all over when we went. The water was like dirty-bath-water-warm and it was overcrowded. There was no currant at all because it was circled in by a wall of rocks. So, today the beach we went to- Palmar de Ocoa, was awesome!! There was sand instead of rocks, there were no coral reef to walk through and the water got really deep really fast, unlike Las Salinas, so didn’t have to venture far from shore. It was cool water with warm bursts and it was so clear I felt like I was defying gravity since I could see so far below my feet. I loved it.

Something to look forward to is that this isn’t even a notable beach here in the country. This great beach doesn’t even compare to lots of other beaches. That’s right, come visit. I want you all to know that I am taking the responsibility of finding the very best beaches in the country very serious. I want to make sure when you visit we go to the most beautiful ones, it’s tough but I’ll try to do my best and personally visit as many beaches as possible- a sacrifice just for you.

To make the day better, there were two birthdays this week in our group so Ann bought a cake to celebrate. The cake was soooo good, it was chocolate cherry. I don’t even like cherry but I liked this. I guess she was going to buy a regular old fashioned Dominican birthday cake (the frosting is nasty in my experience) but they were out of them so she bucked up and shelled out 800 pesos for this cake. It was moist and delicious and I loved it.

So, that’s the most important, notable part of my day. In fact, the beach was so good that my memory has been wiped clean of the events prior. I hope you can live vicariously through me and I’ll live through you when my lights go out. Hope you’re all having a good time there. Even though I love the beach, I miss the fall. Jump in a pile of leaves for me or something, well ok… do something fall-ish and tell me about it please. Thanks!!



Interesting Comments:

Conversation with Jessica:

Me: Well, time to grope myself in public again to get the water out of the padding. (at the beach)

Jess: That’s ok. Maybe you’ll get a number and then go on a date and eat chips and salsa. Yeah, that would be good.

Me: Do I smell hand sanitizer?! Yum!! (“clean” is the new vanilla)

Katie: (joyfully)Wow! I can’t believe I’ve been in the water this long and nothing has stung me yet!

10/11/08 Saturday night

Today was a fairly normal, non-eventful day with a very abnormal ending for me. I woke up and went running with some of the health group and didn’t fall in the river this time. See last time I was trying to cross it, it’s fairly shallow only going up to my knees in the deepest parts, and I fell off of the rocks and wiped out. On the up side, I got a harder workout since it was like running with weights the whole time, squishy, sandy weights. Today there was a Dominican guy in the river (it’s common to bathe in the river or in front yards, you know the usual) and he was nice enough to help us all cross. Lucky for me, being cautious because of the day before, I let a few girls go first and wouldn’t you know it, a rock came lose and the chick in front of me fell in. The guy was really helpful and secured all the rocks so when I went over them, they were good as gold.

So, after that I came home, showered, ate and decided it was time for a nap. But, I couldn’t sleep so 30 minutes later I was cleaning. See, I kind of have this problem; my room ate one of Jessica’s Sex in the City DVDs. I swear, a few nights ago when I was doing the limbo to get into my mosquito net while un-tucking the smallest amount possible, I had my arms full of the usual stuff: iPod, laptop, book, journal, DVDs, flashlight…. I told you I don’t want to get out of my net once I’m in. So anyways, I was doing my balancing act when the three DVDs I had slid to the ground. I found two of them and the third is still no where to be found! Which is why I thoroughly cleaned my room and so I guess since I didn’t find it, my room must have eaten it. I’m not sure what I’m going to tell Jess. I would be pissed if I lent someone a series and they lost a DVD. If anyone has season 4, disk two of Sex and the City and would like to send me a copy to bail me out that would be helpful, thanks!

After cleaning my room I took off to meet up with my Spanish group to work on our project. We sat and talked and didn’t do our project again and decided it would be a better use of time to go to my house and watch a movie. I checked my watch to see how much time we had before lunch and couldn’t believe it was only 10:30!! How had I done my normal morning stuff, taken a nap and cleaned my room and it still just be 10:30?!

We decided to watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall (ok Darryl decided it but ok) and it went over lunch time. My Doña called me into the kitchen to help her because, surprise, she made us all lunch. So Kenzie and Darryl ate my favorite lunch of wheat and pork and then went home and ate lunch again with their Doñas. I thought that was funny but sweet of my Doña. I also mentioned to her last week that I like honey with bread and I guess she has a friend who has a bee farm. She surprised me with a sheet of honeycomb! We cut out parts of it and ate it, honeycomb and all!! The bee-nest part of it was really chewy and it was so sweet I couldn’t eat more than a bite or two but it was really cool, never done that before!

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, going to Baní and then just kind of wasting time at home trying to read Newsweek slowly so I absorb a little more in hopes to gain a sincere interest in it one day. (its like beer, right?) The highlight of the day was the quinceaños I went to.

I was feeling a little antisocial after such a lazy day and was contemplating not going but I knew everyone was going and would wonder where I was so I got out of my hermit shell and decided to be fashionably late. Good thing too because the PCT told me she thought it started at 7 and I got there at 8:45 to find that all the other PCTs hadn’t been there for more than 20 minutes. We waited until about 9:30 until the Quinceañera came out.

This was my first one and let me tell you, they are a big deal for sure. The colmado it was at was packed full of people. I asked my Doña if she was going to go and she told me she never got an invitation but something tells me there were people there who weren’t formally invited. The birthday girl was dressed to the 9s in a really pretty dress (like a prom dress) and her hair was all curled, topped with a tiara. She danced the first dance with her dad, to song going on about a butterfly. Then he changed her shoes. I think she was supposed to be wearing flats and he was supposed to put heels on to signify her transition into womanhood but she was already wearing heels so it was kind of weird. They took a ton of pictures, even asking all the PCTs to get in to take a picture with her.

Then the dancing began. There was some crazy dancing!! I took the liberty of looking like a weirdo and videotaped some dances which I plan on posting on youtube and will put the links on the side by my picture link if its user-friendly enough for me. There are two main types of dancing here; merenge, and bachatta (there’s also reggaeton which is pretty much dry humping to music in creative positions). The first two have different variations of fast, faster, and psycho fast. Tonight I was more than amused to see a man in his 60s or 70s really shake it. I had to videotape him, it was too funny. If I can move like that when I’m that old I’d be pretty happy too! Then there were the performers, these girls probably between the ages of 7 and 11 who had choreographed 4 or 5 dances for the evening. Dominican people are very forthcoming with their sexuality. I guess that’s an applicable statement for all ages because these girls did some things only the most skilled dancers on my college campus could do. They moved their hips, abdomen and chest as three completely different entities! The preformed kind of a lap dance on empty chairs and shock things I didn’t know could shake that way. I also videotaped this phenomenon.

I could be disturbed from the evening, that young girls see no problem exploiting their bodies this way but I prefer to use it to boost my confidence for my charla on Wednesday. My Spanish group and I have to give a presentation to youth about sex, whatever topic we want with it. We chose to do the ABCs; Abstinence, Being safe, and Condoms. I took abstinence, thinking I wouldn’t have to talk too much in detail about doing the deed itself. However, I realized that because I chose a topic about not having sex doesn’t mean I don’t have to talk much about sex. The thought of talking to kids between 12 and 15 years old about how masturbation is a natural alternative to sex and defining it, all in Spanish, is really not something I’m looking forward to. However, after tonight I decided that these “kids” are obviously comfortable with the topic, more than I am since I felt like I violated them just by watching them dance! Also, if there’s this much sexuality in their culture then I think it’s necessary to define abstinence, and talk about how to say no, possible situations one could find themselves in, alternatives to sex. If all else fails, I’m going to use good old denial and pretend I’m not actually talking about this with a bunch of junior high kids.

So, I hope you enjoyed another day in the life of me. I wonder if these 15th birthday parties are the same in the States for Hispanics and other Latin Americans. They’re pretty crazy but it was pretty fun too. I’m glad I left the shell at home for a bit and had a good time. Hope you’re all staying sane there at home and staying warm! Until next time,



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