Sunday, December 21, 2008

12/11- 12/22 Artisan fair, Christmas party, robbed, back to LR, to the airport!!!

12/22 Sunday: TIME TO PICK RACHAEL UP!!!! YAAAAAY!!!!!!!!

Hey there Everyone!!

First since I don't think I'll be posting anything new for a few more days I would like to say, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! I hope you're all well there. Thanks so much for getting a package together for me you guys at BCHD!! How nice! :) Have no fear, Rach has sent me several packages and so far I've gotten all but one- and I am still very full of hope that the lost (or "stolen" as Rach likes to think) will find its way to me- it's only been MIA for about 5 weeks. And Mary Alice, I knew I could count on you to know what the fat neck thingy was that I wrote about... even though now it's true I can't even suspect that it was a goiter. (Obesity can give you a fat neck? I mean, I assumed it was a disproportionately fat neck but I guess I never asked...) And I should have known that you would know what 3 Kings Day is. The kids get gifts on Christmas here but the main focus of the day is food I guess. Jan 6th is when the kids really get the presents. Here's an Epiphany for you: I think that we need a 3 Kings Day in the States...:) Actually, its pretty nice here with people looking forward to Christmas, not the gifts. Well, they're all actually looking forward to food, not Christmas but thats nice too.

Speaking of food, Right now I'm sitting in a hospital cafeteria trying to kill time. I'm really happy that hospitals are open on the weekends since I can use the internet here for free. I'm not sure when the cafeteria closes but when closes I'm going to have to change my attention to the movies I brought. I forgot a phone charger but I brought movies... go figure.

Why am I sitting in the hospital, taking advantage of the free internet you may wonder? Well, I am in Santiago today because today is the wonderful, glorious day that Rachael arrives to the DR. I have reservations for the Hub (a house owned by a cool Canadian couple who rent it out to PCVs) but the owner's aren't in the country- they're home visiting. So, I was supposed to meet a girl here, another PCV, who has the key but I forgot her number. I don't think that she knows that I was counting on her to get in so hopefully she's still spending the night here!

Another problem I have is that last night Tolo told me it would be no problem to pick me and Rach up tomorrow at 5 in Navarrete. This morning when I was leaving I told Minga that if Tolo can't pick us up for some reason to call me and she was like, "Oh yeah. Tolo said he can't pick you up now. He changed his mind and is going to go out looking for oranges in the morning instead." Errrr, that man.... Ok so I'm not sure how Rach and I are getting up the mountain with the suitcases of stuff Rach is bringing me (warm clothes and such) but we shall see. I'm sure, like everything else thus far, it will all work out:)

UPDATE: My friend Sarah happened to call me at the perfect time and I got a fellow PCVs number off of her. The other PCV, Todd, had the number of the PCV who is supposed to be at the Hub tonight, Maryum. I called her and she was walking up to the Hub right then but is only going to be there for about 30 minutes as she is going to pick her friend up from the airport. Perfect timing! And, it is a good thing that I'm over my fear of walking alone since I've been walking alone all day. I was able to buy a ton of fruit today (one pineapple, 3 oranges, 3 passion fruit, and 3 mandarin oranges) all for $2 because I was walking around, looking for internet and found a fruit stand:)

12/21 Saturday: A drunk man and a cat that won’t shut up

Last night was interesting. Around 11 pm a drunk man came to our house looking for Minga’s son who doesn’t even live here. He was outside the house for about 20- 25 minutes until he finally left. I think it’s so funny when the women here get “angry”. They’re almost always not mad but just acting like it. Last night was no exception. Minga was spewing all kinds of ugly words, acting really really mad and I was sitting in my room, covering my mouth, laughing. She came into my room while yelling at the drunk dude and as soon as she saw me, she immediately did the same as me, covering her mouth, laughing. I wish I could record it and post it so you all could hear an “angry” outburst, it’s too funny.

Before that, Minga and I had a debate about Kudbie. I told her that it needed a blanket or something to stay warm since it’s been so cold at night and she had it tied up under a table. I feel bad for the kitten and its incessant meowing doesn’t ease my guilt. Minga has been telling me since the first day that the gatico poops a lot and so she doesn’t want it in the house. At first I though there was something wrong with it that made it poop a lot. Later I realized that the problem wasn’t that it poops a lot but that it poops at all. Ironically I learned the verb “to s***” just the night before I came home to the amazing, pooping kitten. Minga likes to use this verb all the time when talking about the kitten. (the verb is cagar for anyone interested) Last night I was about to take one of my sweaters out to the kitten when Minga saw me and finally told me there were a bunch of shirts in the rice sack on top of the table- right next to the kitten!

At 7 am this morning Minga came into my room, feeling the need to tell me that the cat had cargar’d all over the shirts. Keep in mind, these are the shirts that she lays on the mud outside for people to wipe their feet on after it has been raining a lot; these are not nice shirts. I said of course the cat went to the bathroom on the shirts. She insists on tying it up at 7 pm at night on a rope, which is tightly slipknot-ed around its neck, that’s a foot long, until at least 6 am the next day. What options does it have? When I put it to her that way she seemed more understanding but I know that I need to think of an alternative for this, especially if I’m going to live here for another three or four weeks. If I move out the first day I’m technically allowed to move, I have exactly 30 days left. That seems like a lot…

Later that night…

Kudbie wasn’t tied up tonight. Minga and I have reached the comprise that we put him/her outside when we shut the door for the night and he sleeps out there- free to roam about. I’m happy with that except I wonder how I’m going to train him how to use a cat box a month from now…. What are the odds he’ll be too old to teach? Slim I hope. I also think that he’s sickly (what kind of a cat would rather eat nothing than salami?) so I need to take him to a vet, that’ll be interesting with my Spanish.

12/20 Friday: Time to DECORATE!!! :D oh yeah, and I have a kitten

I forgot to mention that when I arrived back from the Capitol I heard a very obnoxious, sickly kitten cry. I thought that Nacha had forgiven the incident that left her emotionally scarred and had returned but I was wrong. Turns out someone gave me a kitten while I was gone. Guess what Minga did with it? She took a rope, made a slip-knot and tied the kitten up to a rock. I have never seen a cat on a leash before and this kitten was a sad sight. It refuses to stop meowing its sickly little meow unless it’s on someone’s lap. I’m not sure if it’s a boy or a girl so I named it Kudbie. This is because it could be a girl or it kudbie a boy… Plus when I suggested Maybe the people here didn’t like it because they thought that it sounds like Marvey which is the name of the bratty 8 year who lives with me. Everyone thinks my kitten is really really ugly. It’s pretty much the first thing they say about it after asking who it belongs to. One person told me to name it Feo (ugly) but I said I would name her Linda (pretty) instead…. That is if I knew she or he was a she. And this is why I’m naming the kitten Kudbie.

Later in the day I took out the “Christmas Package” Rach sent me which was packed full of decorations. Mom and she went to Hobby Lobby back in September and they both picked out a ton of cute little decorations for me- which I LOVE by the way!!!! :D Thanks Mom and Rach!! Minga and I took the afternoon to make the ugliest wreath I have ever seen, decorate the little tree (which included LED lights!), and put up other misc Christmas decorations. We were having a good time, sitting listening to Christmas music on my iPod when Tolo came home. He sat down and was like, “Oh Christmas music. It’s good for you but bad for all of us since it’s in English.” I told him I didn’t have any Christmas tunes in Spanish or I would have put them on. I already asked Minga and Noel if it was ok the music was in English since the melody was the same and they agreed they liked it. Leave it to Tolo to come home and kill the mood.

12/19 Thursday: Surprise Visit from Miguel makes me feel better

Today was the first time I didn’t feel like getting out of bed and didn’t. I woke up at 4, 6, 7, 8, and got out of bed at 10. Late I know but I just didn’t care what people would say about it today. It has been raining here for a few days so it’s pretty cool especially in the mornings. In reality, I just wasn’t ready to deal with people saying types of things Dominicans say and I didn’t feel like recapping why I was gone for 5 days over and over again.

I got up and went in the kitchen to sit with Minga. She is so crazy, but in a good way. I went to use a pan to make some tea and she told me that there are only two pots I can use now. Well, technically I guess there’s just one. She gets to use one and I get to use the other. Why is this? Because she scrubbed the bottoms of all the other pots and got them back to a nice silver color for Christmas. The two we’re allowed to use now are black already.

I was going to do some interviews today but thought better of it. I had just finished lunch and was about to catch up on some typing when two little boys raced in to tell me that Miguel (my APCD- Associate PC Director aka the head dude of my sector) was at Ernesto’s house. It seemed weird to me that he would happen to stop by for a visit the day I got back after being gone for 5 days. I was beginning to worry that Ernesto had called him to complain. In a way it would be good since Miguel could help us work out any problems but at the same time, I haven’t even been here two months!

By the time I arrived at Ernesto’s house I had successfully worked myself up so when I asked Miguel (in English) if he had heard anything about why I was gone for so long, I was upset. It was embarrassing. He and I went inside the house and I explained everything and why I was so upset. Miguel said he was just there for an informal visit. He said he had asked Ernesto how things were going with me and Ernesto only had positive things to report. That made me feel a lot better. Since about the second week I’ve been getting the vibe that Ernesto doesn’t care much for me, which wouldn’t bother me a ton except Kevin told me that he was a great “go- to” person; someone I would like to like me. After Miguel left I hung out to talk for a few hours and felt a lot better. Ernesto was pretty much the only person I was worried about so I was glad to know what was going on.

The only bad thing about the visit was that I asked Miguel if someone had to inspect Kevin’s house before I moved into it. He asked me when I was able to move in and, trying to be vague, I said January. Then he asked when exactly and, since I can’t lie, I had to say the end of January. Now I can’t move in early! It’s one thing if “I didn’t know” but to move early after I said when I could move… ugh. He said he would be back in mid January to take a look at it and that I would also need another person (the regional PCV I think) to look at it. He thought it would be fine since Kevin already lived there. (Kevin is the water PCV who COSed- Closing of Service- in November of last year).

I feel like I mentioned this but I didn’t see it anywhere… I have been writing Kevin on facebook. I asked him if it was ok that I live in his house and he said it would be more than ok, that he wanted me to live there. Although I don’t know him very well personally, the people here tell me about him alllll the time, which is totally ok with me because they don’t do it in a comparative way, but I feel like an involuntary stalker- a little creepy if you ask me. Anyways, he told me that the house will fall eventually from erosion (it’s kind of on a cliff) so it needs a supporting wall and asked if I would be able to help. I figure, since I don’t need to use the move in allowance PC gives me (a whopping $400 to furnish an entire house- bed, stove, plates, buckets… everything, what a joke) and I won’t be paying rent, that I should be able to help out with that. So, yesterday when I was talking with Ernesto, I found out that the wall I need to build should cost less than Kevin was quoted, great news!:) But I also found out that I need to buy a bed because one of the beds that is in there is broken. Even so, I still have a great place to live when I move out so there’s nothing I can really complain about.

12/18 Wednesday: Back to site…. The time I’ve been dreading

I woke up today feeling pretty pleased with myself since I was able to sleep through the night for the first time since CBT. I spent the night at the Hub but I hope the owner’s aren’t upset with me since they are out of town and I didn’t have a reservation. I left them a thank you note in the morning and I’m going back there on Sunday (I have a reservation this time) when I go to Santiago to get Rach so I’ll talk to them then if they’re there. I spent the day with Sarah, a water PCV from my group who lives really close to me, and indulged in things like free internet and a warm shower where the drain isn’t clogged. It was really nice. By the time I got to my bus to go to Navarette it was about 5 pm.

When I got to Minga’s house she was not happy with me. That’s a not a good sign since Minga is one of the most easy going people I deal with. Before I even had my helmet off she was there, yelling at me, telling me how she was worried sick. I tried to calm her down a bit and I told her I tried to call several times each day. I asked why she didn’t call the office and she said something about not having the number or being confused. Then she said how when she talked to someone from the office they said that Elisabeth wasn’t there so she was really panicked. Didn’t she hear the entire conversation the PCV had with her telling her I was fine?!

After I dealt with that I went into the kitchen where Minga’s mom was. Grandma then told me how she was so worried she couldn’t sleep at night. I felt bad but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. It was Monday before I was able to leave a message that I wasn’t coming home on Sunday (yes, a day late I know) and Tuesday before I was able to talk to anyone. After I told them what happened they seemed a lot less angry with me and much more concerned, thank goodness! I’m also glad I had the pictures of Ryan, just in case people didn’t believe me and thought I was just being irresponsible. The only problem is that now they think that I should never leave the campo again. I told them I was going to pick Rach up on Sunday and they were like, “Well, with who? Someone has got to go with you. You can’t spend the night!” Oh gosh…

12/17 Tuesday: Later than expected

I spoke with the APCD for Environment yesterday and was able to set up a free ride to Santiago for sometime today in the early afternoon. It was going to save me about$250 pesos so I was pretty happy about it. I have been a little nervous about going back to my site since I have a feeling that some people are going to give me a lot of crap for not going back to site sooner. Also, I tried to call several times each day but the phones wouldn’t ring or they would and no one would answer so I wasn’t able to talk to anyone about it until today. I tired to leave messages too but was only successful twice, each time being hung up on by the voice mail.

So, when Minga called me today I raced to find my phone but was too late. This was the second time that this had happened and last time when I tried to call back the phone wouldn’t ring. I was pretty happy when I called back and got through today. A normally calm, 20 year old guy that I hang out with, Noel, answered but he was speaking so fast I couldn’t understand him. I handed the phone off to someone else to tell them what happened and my fellow PCV just kept saying, “Calm down. It’s ok. Calm down so I can tell you.” It was kind of bad because I forgot to tell him that the people in my campo call me Elisabeth and so he thought they were asking for someone else. He started telling them that Elisabeth wasn’t here. Then I realized what was going on and was like, “No!! They call me that! Tell them I’m here and I’m fine. I’ll be home around 5 today.” He was able to explain a little but then the phone ran out of minutes. Great.

I ended up waiting for my bola until about 6 pm so I had to try to call someone from the campo and tell them I would be back the next day instead. This was not going well. At least I was able to get a hold of someone in my site and I was able to do laundry at the PC office. It’s really nice to have some clothes that don’t smell and aren’t crusty feeling! I spent the night at the Hub with some other PCVs and enjoyed French fries for dinner. Yes, a late bola has its perks…

12/16 Monday: We do things different here in the DR: Police “Report”

Today was a big waste of time. I was thinking I was going to go back to my site but I was still really drained. It wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that I can’t sleep at my site. I ended up not having to make the decision of whether to stay or not since my day was consumed with police report type things. I went to the hospital to meet with a police dude from the Embassy. He wanted to get a story from Ryan and me but ended up only asking Ryan what happened. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really care. The guy only spoke Spanish pretty much and the odds of catching the thief is so unlikely I didn’t really feet like being exact made much of a difference.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t stressed over attention to detail or exactness because the whole day seemed redundant to me. After the hospital we spent about 30 minutes driving around looking for the gay bar so I could tell them where we were attacked. After I showed them were we were I realized that I need to look around more when I walk. It’s like walking through a land mine here with broken sidewalks, random 6 feet holes filled with nasty, brown water, random poles all the time… so I am always looking down when I walk. The cop kept asking me if things looked familiar and I was like, “Things look different at night and plus I wasn’t looking around at the buildings so no, they don’t.” I knew the colmado though so once we found it I was able to tell them where we were. Turns out that car that drove by and probably scared away the thief was driving the wrong way down a one way street!

After that we went to an office and waited about 15 minutes for someone to tell us that we had to go somewhere else to file a report. We went somewhere else and were told that Ryan would have to be there to file it. After about 15 more minutes we were able to fill out the report. The “report” was a hard-bound book that a cop wrote in by hand. The first cop told the story while the other wrote. After they asked me to sign it. Wow, way to contribute. When I read it first they looked at me like I was nuts! I said if I was going to sign it I should read it right? They agreed.

Next they had me look at a ton of “mug shots”. I told them I wasn’t going to pick someone since the guy’s back was to me pretty much the whole time but they insisted. Let me tell you, there are a lot of crazy looking people in Santo Domingo. Some of them were making faces, some were laughing, some were shadowed so I couldn’t even see them, some looked mean others looked scared. There were a lot that looked like they were on drugs. Looking at those digital camera pictures and signing the book of the statement I never contributed to made me wonder how different things would have been if this had happened at home.

12/15 Sunday: From the Hosp, to the Pen, to the Office, to the Fair, back to the Hosp and finally to the American Sports Bar… what a day, I’m ready for bed!

Ry and I thought that the doctor was going to wake us up at like 5am but instead we were up at 730 waiting for him. Ryan was taken away for surgery finally a little after 9 but not after we took some pictures of his war wound. I’m going to put them up on myspace after this so feel free to check them out but beware- some of them are pretty bloody. We took all the pictures the next day. By the time Ryan went into surgery he had another visitor so I left to go back to the Pen to take a shower and go to the office. I was supposed to meet my PCVL (PCV Leader) to work on a grant proposal I had been having problems with but, thanks to news traveling faster in the PCV circle than in the Doña chisme circle, my PCVL already heard about it and called me at 9 am to tell me she would take care of it. Whew.

Even though it was broad daylight I couldn’t help but feel a little spooked walking the 15 minute walk to the Pen (plus I wasn’t sure exactly where it was from that direction) alone. I power walked, missed my street to turn but thanks to getting lost in the neighborhood many times, arrived at the Pen in a total of about 20 minutes. I walked up to the front desk and asked for a towel (which they charge 10 pesos to use) since I had forgotten mine at the PC office. The girls who work at the Pen are notoriously unhelpful and retarded. She told me there were no more towels and when I pointed to the nice, fluffy towel sitting right next to her she told me it was in case someone in another room wanted it. I hate the Pen.

I went upstairs and ran into Kenz, Randi, and Jess. Randi was out with me last night but she went into the gay bar with everyone else. I had called her from the hospital and told her where I was and what had happened. Everyone was really concerned and helpful. Now I told the story again, one of many many times I would recap what happened. None of the girls had a towel so I decided to just go for it and squidgy off. Once I was in the shower I realized I forgotten my shampoo. I tried to drip dry a little, got dressed and went into my room looking for my shampoo. During the search I knocked over a bag with two Christmas gifts in it- two glass gifts. I bought my Mom a cool hand painted glass candle holder (only 100 pesos!) and I bought Minga another glass to replace the one I broke (just 30 pesos) and they both broke. Dang it.

Realizing that my shampoo was not in the room, I concluded that I must have forgotten it at the other, nicer hotel the night before- the one where they provide you with towels like a normal hotel. I went down the hall in search of other PCVs who may have some shampoo and, after finding some, went back into the shower. I had left the water on a little since there are only two bathrooms on each floor and I didn’t want someone taking the bathroom while I walked around dripping wet, searching for some soap. I decided that leaving the water on was probably a mistake since now I know that the shower doesn’t drain thanks to who knows what clogging it up. So I had the luxury of soaking my feet in the nasty bath water the duration of my shower. But, at least I had shampoo, really nice smelling shampoo by the way.

I got out of the shower, squidgy off and, after telling the story to two more times, I left the Pen. I was down the block when I realized that I had left my cell phone in the bathroom. I had called the three numbers I had to people in my site but no one answered so I was hoping they would call back. I didn’t want to miss the call so I took the phone in the bathroom with me. Now I had to go back to the freaking Pen and hope it was still in the bathroom. Luckily it was.

I was supposed to go back to my site that day for the graduation party but decided I was not in the mood nor had the energy to try and dance with the 10 different men who expressed their desire to dance with me the week before. I talked with Romeo and the Safety and Security Coordinator, telling them what happened, and then decided to go to the Artisan fair in search of another gift for my Mom. One girl told me she wanted to go to the fair with me but after waiting for her for a little bit she decided to go with someone else the next day. I found two girls who wanted to go with me so I waited another hour for them and we headed off.

On the way there I realized that they both had a lot of stuff with them. Turns out they were leaving straight from the fair to their sites. Nuts, I was freaked out about walking solo from the fair to visit Ryan at the hospital- which is on the way to the Pen. As we walked down Calle Conde, I was noticing how it seemed like no one was traveling alone and also that the street had somehow gotten even longer. We got to the fair and said our good byes and there I was: on my own, back in the Colonial Zone. Sure I could have gone back to the office when found out that my travel buddies were leaving from the fair but I’m not going to change something because I’m afraid. Not to mention I waited over two hours for someone to go with me. It’s perfectly safe and normally I would have been happy to go back alone. Since I had no independence in the DR for the first 2-3 months, I love doing things on my own. This time, I was incredibly conscious of how much time I had left before it got dark and I was really hoping there were people visiting Ryan when I got there so I didn’t have to get a taxi alone (it’s safe but I just didn’t wan to do it). Amazingly the fair wasn’t quite as fun as it was the day or even the night before so when Romeo happened to be there and offered me a ride to the hospital I was relieved.

After visiting Ryan with the three other PCVs who were already at the hospital, the four of us headed back to the Pen. A bunch of my friends were at the American Sports Bar and I was planning on meeting up with them. Problem was that I couldn’t get a hold of anyone (thanks to the PC phones not ringing at the time) and nobody at the Pen felt like going. I was going to call a taxi but didn’t know the address. I was about to give up when another PCV offered to walk me there. He was about a 5 minute walk from the Pen at Dominoes so I was supposed to meet him there and then we would walk together. I was a bit freaked out to be walking at night, alone this time, but after almost hyperventilating, I made it to Dominoes where I met up with Joel. Thank goodness!

12/14 Saturday Part 1: The Artisan Fair and Romeo’s FANTASTIC Christmas Party

Last night Kenz wasn’t feeling so good and by this morning we are starting to wonder if she has a parasite. She already has been diagnosed with a skin fungus along with one of my other friends who lives in my area. After Kenz went to the doctor for her fungus and parasite, I went for some new soap for my face and then we all headed off to the Artisan fair. The fair was really cool. I wish I had taken pictures. The whole area at the end of Calle Condo, which is right in front of the church (boasted as the first church of the New World), was full of local vendors selling things that they made. There were hand painted bottles and vases, tons of jewelry made of coconut or various beans, and of course there was jewelry made of out Larimer, a pretty blue stone found only here in the DR (something realized by a PCV in the 1970s who then helped people set up businesses out of it) There were boxes and lamps made out of gourds which were hallowed out, dried and then carved into something cool. There were soaps made out of cocoa and lavender grown here, there were cigars and dolls… some things were a bargain while others were far out of my price range. Either way it was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Once we got back to the PC office it was getting pretty late so we got ready and didn’t get to Romeo’s party until about 7 or 7:30 but it began at 5. It was sooooo good. Even though we were so late, there were still all the normal appetizers, things that we hadn’t been able to eat in at least 4 months. There was cheese (not the nasty colmado “squeaky cheese”) and crackers with spinach dip! Then the dinner was equally delicious with sliced ham and green bean casserole! Romeo even considered the vegetarians since he had yucca and beans (can’t get enough of that yucca and those beans.…) He had dessert for everyone which included brownies and cheesecake among other decadences. The party itself was in the Penthouse Suit of his condo building so the view was breathtaking. I hope I always remember how I felt when I was sitting on the ground on the patio with my other PCVs, looking up at the sky while eating my brownie with ice cream. It was even more satisfying that killing a mosquito before it can bite. Amazing.

After the party I was torn at what to do. Kenz and Jess were tired so they went back to the hotel. My two other good friends were each doing something different and while I felt like I should go out, I was tired too. I decided to go with a group who was going downtown to where the Artisan fair was, to a Hard Rock Café. I handed my purse off to a friend who was heading back to the Pen, grabbed my cell (which I never take with me when I go out for fear of loosing it but what the heck tonight. The phone sucks so bad I’d be doing myself a favor if I lost it!), and headed to the Hard Rock.

12/13 Saturday Part 2: Wow… that’s not good. Do they have 911 here?

I’d never been to a Hard Rock before and I have to say, even though I’ve been in the DR for 4 months now it never ceases to amaze me at the differences between the campo and the city. It’s amazing. A person could live in the DR and not even know there is a huge sector of people who live in houses without water, electricity, and a cement floor, people who don’t have access to health care, garbage pickup, education and more. At the same time, do the people in the campo where I live just 4 hours away know that a life like this exists in their own country? Probably but they don’t complain.

The Hard Rock was having a Ladies Night (in Spanish they call it a “Ladies Night” too… weird I know) where there were free drinks for the ladies. That was nice except I didn’t feel like drinking. Since it was free, I took a cranberry and vodka but also since it was free there wasn’t much (if any) alcohol in it. I was getting sleepy so a group of us decided to head out. We were walking down Calle Conde when I turned around and realized that all the PCVs at the Hard Rock had the same idea.

Someone decided it would be a good idea to go to a gay bar so I found myself standing outside the door to a gay bar in the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo at 1 am discussing how much I would be willing to pay to get inside. The guy at the door was going to charge us each 200 pesos to get in and then we would get a free drink. Deciding that was too much, we all walked away and the guy actually came down the street trying to get us to go back. So everyone in the group of about 20 decided to pay the cheaper 100 pesos offered and go in except me and my new friend Ryan.

Ry and I stayed outside talking for a little bit and then decided to get going. By now it was about 2 or 230am. Ryan asked me if I wanted to take a cab or walk and I said I would be good to walk. After all, I found out yesterday that I have gained 8 lbs since being at site (imagine how I’ll be after 2 years!!!), I was underestimating how far of a walk it was and I know that PC is notoriously slow at giving reimbursements for cabs. Not to mention I feel guilty asking for money for a ride home from a bar. Cabs are expensive!

Ry and I were deep in conversation about how avocadoes are natural aphrodisiacs when someone walked up really fast behind us and pushed their way in between us. The guy turned around and stopped, pointing the wide bottom of a green Presidente beer bottle at us. Never before in my life has a glass bottle put fear in my heart, and I can’t even say I know what the guy was saying but it’s safe to say I knew what was happening. If I wasn’t so freaked out, I would have been regretting not calling that cab.

For some reason I just I walked away to the side and turned around to face what I couldn’t believe was happening. There were two guys, one was threatening Ryan and the other was just standing there. It was like they didn’t even see me despite the fact that the one guy bumped right into me. The one with the bottle seemed like he may have been on drugs but who knows. He was grabbing at Ryan and telling him something I don’t remember. All I remember being said was what Ryan was saying. We were all making our way across the street and had nearly crossed to the other side when Ryan was able to give the thief his money and cell phone. Ryan stepped on to the sidewalk with the guy and, after the theif had what he asked for, he took the bottle and thrust it against Ryans neck. At the same time a car drove by and the attacker threw the bottle into the street then ran off which, I’m assuming, the other guy did too.

The whole time, which didn’t think was very long, I had no idea what to do. Should I yell and act like a freaked out chick who can’t calm down? Should I stay quiet and hope for the best? After the guy ran off Ryan began yelling so I did too. I yelled the call I have said many times in Los Ruales thanks to the spiders: “Help me!” I always had hoped those nasty spiders where there for a reason, like everything else in life.

Ryan had his hand on his neck and I could see some blood so I told him to let me see it. I was expecting a long narrow spot with missing skin since it looked like the guy pushed the bottle straight back against the side of Ryan’s neck, kind of like a stabbing motion. I imagined it grazing Ryan’s neck and taking out a line of skin with it. From what I had seen of the bottle I thought it wasn’t broken when the guy attacked so I didn’t think it had done too much visible damage, but enough to cause blood. When Ryan took his hand away I was shocked. There was what looked like a hole about an inch long and half an inch wide, pouring out blood like an open faucet on the side of his neck. I looked at Ryan and said we needed to get to a hospital and told him to put pressure on it. We were somewhat close to the hospital but I wasn’t exactly sure where it was and trying to walk around looking for it while Ryan leaves a blood trial didn’t really appeal to me. I don’t know what I would have done if he passed out or was unconscious. Luckily we were really close to a colmado so we went inside the safety of that, got some napkins to put on the wound and figured out what to do.

I realized then that I didn’t know what to do. As far as I know there is no 911 and I’ve seen an ambulance like 2 times since I’ve been here. I pulled out the cell phone (an act of God I had) and I called Borianna, one of the two PC doctors. Later I would feel bad about this since she told me yesterday that she wasn’t going to Romeo’s party since her son, who she hadn’t seen in a year, was visiting and also because today was her birthday. There are two doctors: Borianna and Lisette. Borianna was first in my phone book. I couldn’t hear what she was saying since everyone in the colmado was freaking out, trying to help but their panic was making things worse. One guy came over to Ryan and tried to put a huge wad of butter on the area. I swatted him away and Ryan helped me ask for a taxi number. Then I remembered that I never use my PC phone to call out of the network and so I didn’t have a calling card and I also didn’t know how to use one on it. (They’re more complicated to use on the PC phones, I have to enter a special number before I can enter the directions on the card). I’m not sure what happened next but I don’t think anyone called a cab. I think someone flagged down a random car since when we got in, I looked for all the stuff Entrena told us to look for before getting into a carro publico/taxi and I didn’t see anything. At that point it really didn’t matter so we got in and went to the hosp.

We went to the wrong door of the hops (since the emergency entrance sign isn’t lit up) and signaled for a guard to let us in. He slowly got up, walked over, unlocked the door and stuck his head out to tell us that we would have to go around to the emergency entrance. We asked him to please let us in, Ryan was covered in blood at this point despite the napkins and the guy shut the door and pointed to the left. Great. As we walked I noticed two guys standing there and wondered what the odds were that a person would be robbed twice in 20 minutes.

We got into the hosp and about 20 minutes later Boriana was there with us. Hospitals are very different here, but I’m sure this is something that doesn’t need to be said. We walked in to find no on at the front desk, just a man sitting at a desk in another room with two beds. Ryan climbed on a bed and I helped him lay down. Thank goodness he was so calm because he’s been here for about 2 years and translated so much for me. He had to fill out forms and even remembered to tell them right away that we were PCVs- something I completely forgot to mention. Luckily, his adrenaline or the shock was keeping him from feeling any pain but he was shaking all over. The doctors or whatever they were (nurses maybe, I’m not sure) seemed to be moving pretty slowly. They took about 15 minutes before they took his vitals and then cleaned the wound. They said they only had a gastroenologist around but due to the location of the injury he would have to wait till the morning when they could get a specialist. Borianna said it would be ok so we headed up stairs to his room where Ry and I slept. By the time we went to bed it was about 4:30 am. So much for not going into the gay bar so we could get home. Moral of the story: always go into gay bars.

(just kidding:)

12/12 Friday: Finally!!!! Out of Los Ruales

I began the day at 5 am which was a little difficult since last night I had a sleep over. Minga called to tell me around 8pm last night that she wouldn’t be home until tomorrow so Ernie (Ernestina) and Vangie spent the night with me. I found out that the girls were planning on spending the night when we went for our walk earlier and they realized with a fury of excitement that they were going to be able to drink the wine in the fridge. They seemed really excited that they would be in the house without Tolo or Minga, kind of like teenagers when their parents aren’t in town. I was thinking that it could be trouble when they said how they were going to drink Tolo’s wine (the wine that he, like most other things, doesn’t like to share) but I figured that I’m not the one who asked them to stay so I’m not taking any responsibility for their actions. Also I figured that if Tolo comes home and is pissed that all his wine is gone, well at least he won’t think I drank it since the whole town knows I hate alcohol.

The night turned out to be really fun. Wandy, Noel, the girls and I were hanging out playing games until around 8 or 9 when the guys decided to go home. It’s always fun hanging out with Noel because he likes to practice his English. After the girls and I went inside we watched some telenovelas and they shared a ton of stories about the old PVC who used to live in my site. I went to bed around midnight and despite the fact that I slept less than 6 hours, I was ready and excited in the morning.

My bola showed up on time and so I was in Santiago by 7:30. I arrived in the capitol around 10:30 and set off to the office to meet Kenzie. I sent Kenz a text earlier in the week and asked her if she would please bring me a free piña from her site which is apparently overflowing with them. (I decided that I should try to bring something healthy to my Pig Head Potluck on Monday. Sopitas don’t exactly fall into a healthy category but I picked up some of those in anticipation today too.) I was happy to meet up with Kenz at 11 and to find that she had a pineapple in hand for me. Jessica was also able to come to SD for the night so Kenz, Jess and I went downtown to Calle Condo to do some window shopping.

Calle Condo is a long street just for people to walk and shop. I swear it seems like the street never ends and there are more accessory stores than I have ever seen in one place in my life. Dominicans love to accessorize and so do I! Perfect, so much for window shopping… I had some Christmas money:) (Thanks Mom and Aaron!) We were supposed to go to the Artisan fair, which is at the end of Calle Condo but we never made it that far. Kenz got some tight Domincan jeans, and Jess and I got some shirts. I decided to wait to get accessories until the fair. It was ok we didn’t make it there today because the fair began today and goes until Tuesday so we all plan on going tomorrow before the Christmas party.

At night we got all dressed up- showered, put on our new clothes and even put make up on. We felt so clean, a rarity since living in the DR. We walked to the other hotel that we were going to stay at (We waited too long to drop our stuff off there and by the time we got there, they were full. So we had to go to the other hotel I like much better but costs more than the Pen.) When we got to the Pen and sat down to talk with other PCVs we all realized how tired and hungry we were. Instead of going out somewhere we walked to a pizza joint, ate, walked back and went to bed. At least we looked good and felt clean when we were eating our pizza:)

1 comment:

i_should_b_asleep said...

Oh Bets!!!
I heard bits and pieces of what was going on.. :( I am SO glad you're ok. You probably won't see this- but the kids and I are going to call you Christmas day, around 6 p.m. I know Rach is there. I bet you guys are having a blast!! We put together a whole Christmas package for Rach to take down to you, but then our entire family came down with strep throat-- and I didn't have a chance to get it to her before she left. So your present will be late, but it's on it's way.
Things are ok here-- but I'm sick of being sick. First we all caught the flu. Imagine 5 kids throwing up for 2 days straight. That was... not fun. Then we thought we'd take it easy, and took the kids to Denny's one night. Everyone got food poisoning. We made it a week, and Gabe brought home strep throat-- so now we're all working through that. John's parents were supposed to visit for Christmas, but they cancelled because we're all so sick.
It's nice to hear how they do Christmas in the DR-- that it's focused on food. It would be nice if it was that way in the U.S. But we did keep things pretty simple this year.
We decided to get the kids 1 present each this year; then buy 1 family gift. So for Gabe, Isaiah and Grace-- they're one gift was a leapster didj-- it's an educational game system. Ben got a "cars" leapster. And Noah got a toddler's digital camera. Our big family gift was a Nintendo Wii-- and we got the kids 4 games-- Lego Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Batman-- and Mario Kart.
John reads your blog just about every day, so I can't post what I got him yet-- because the stinker will probably see it. But it's WAY cool.
So other then the sick thing, we're all doing well. The kids are on week 22 of school (there's 36 weeks in a year). For your birthday weekend, the weekend we finished our school year, I'm taking them all to Splash Lagoon in your honor :)
We love ya... and miss you SO much. It's pretty weird not having you here for Thanksgiving or Christmas-- but hey, we only have to do it 1 more time.
I've still got my sights on seeing you in August!
'Missin our Bets...