12/27 Saturday: 5 days with Rach and my first day without her
Greetings from the Dominican Republic! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I hear it’s miserably cold there (with the exception of yesterday); that’s a bummer. But, at least you had a white Christmas:) Also, keep in mind that it’s warm here and I’m sure it would be so fun if you visited! Speaking of visitors, if you read my previous entry you know that Rach arrived on Sunday night in Santiago. It was a busy few days and I haven’t had time to write much but I’ll try to remember and sum up the highlights.
Sunday night Rach got in late so we just went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and then hit the hay. The next day we were supposed to go back to Los Ruales but Rach was a little apprehensive of the campo and we were having a good time together in Santiago so we decided to stay another day. Most of the day Monday we hung out at the Hub, talking and catching up. Later, we moved to a different hotel for the night since the Hub wasn’t open that night and then we went to the mall. We did a little shopping (and bought matching shirts) and then went and saw the new James Bond movie. That was 100 pesos well spent:)
Eventually we did make it out of Santiago to Los Ruales. When we arrived in Navarrete we decided to take motors up the mountain with our luggage. Rach wasn’t much of an active participant in the decision and was a little terrified. But, in the end she was happy we took motorcycles. She had fun and was lucky that Neno happened to be the one to take her since he is a really good driver.
Rach seemed a little overwhelmed when we got to my house. She was able to try her first boiled guineo and I got it on video! She wasn’t a fan. It was a little crazy. There were a ton of people at the house and they were all trying to speak to her in Spanish despite the fact that I told them over and over that she didn’t speak Spanish at all. Minga just kept saying that she would learn. Luckily Rach didn’t even realize that Minga was doing that annoying thing where she just repeats the same word over and over just louder, thinking that will make the listener suddenly know what she’s saying. Of course sine she wasn’t doing it to me I thought it was funny this time.
Wednesday was Christmas Eve or Noche Bueno as they call it here. This is the day that people seem to really look forward too. Minga told me that they don’t really leave the house much on this day but we found reasons to leave. We decided it would be fun to get our nails done so Minga, Vangie, Ernie, Rach and I walked across town to get them painted. It was less than two dollars for both of us to get out nails painted, a great deal and our nails looked really good! While we were there Rach got to witness a little drama with some random woman who got in a huge fight with Ernie, telling her that she was her Aunt. Ernie thought otherwise and so pretty much the entire time Rach and I were getting our nails done they were yelling at each other.
Since we were already half way there, we decided to walk up to the house highest on the mountain in my site. Rach wasn’t a fan of this idea either but, like the motorcycles, once it was said and done she was glad we went. I’m fortunate to have a site with absolutely breathtaking views. We took lots of pictures and enjoyed the cool breeze at the top.
Later that night we went over to Ernie’s house and gathered at Kevin’s house (which is the neighbor house). We were there with her whole family and the other boy who lives in Kevin’s house. It was so much fun sitting together on the patio, overlooking the lights of Navarrete between the two mountains, sharing drinks. The music from the colmado below provided us with tunes and soon we were all dancing together. Rach caught on really quickly and after a little bit people were asking why she knew so much more than me! It was a great night.
Christmas morning Rach really wanted to make everyone cheesy eggs with peppers. She began cooking it and before long a guy that we had met the day before was in the kitchen with us. I think he’s related to Minga somehow. We had met him the day before and he was relentlessly hitting on me; he was kind of a pain. He pretty much took over the cooking and ended up putting a sopita (one of those chicken flavor cubs left over from the potluck I never went to) and a ton of vinegar in them. I figured since he wasn’t from my community I didn’t have to be especially nice to him, I could just be myself. So, when he gave me the eggs and I thought they were nasty I told him that. I think he was offended. What can I say? Rach told him not to put the vinegar in them…
Later in the afternoon we went to a huge party. It was at the grandma’s house of a rich pharmacist or something who lives there. It wasn’t as fun as I thought it was going to be. There were so many people there so we weren’t able to dance or anything and the music was so loud that the next day I was hoarse from “talking”. We stayed there for a while and then decided to go back to Minga’s house.
Tolo was supposed to meet us at Minga’s house at 1 to go to the party but never showed up. On our way back around 6 we passed him. Minga wanted to go back but I told her I was hungry so we headed back to the house to eat. After some stir fry with colmado salami, peppers, and potatoes we headed back out to meet up with Ernesto at someone’s house whose name I forgot.
When we got to the house Ernesto asked if we had danced and we said we hadn’t. He insisted that we go to the discoteca and get something to drink and dance. I was getting a little nervous like always but Rach seemed totally up to it. We were inline at the colmado to buy some drinks and I was wondering who had taken my sister and switched her for this other girl who was with me when this guy came up and asked Rach to dance. She got asked before I did! What was going on here?! She wanted to wait until we sat down so I asked the guy to wait a bit when this other guy came up and asked me. I was ready so I waved to Rach and went out to the dance floor. Next thing I know, the other guy and Rach are dancing right next to me! It was just one song but it was a lot of fun:)
After that we went back to Ernie’s house and sat and talked with Ernesto and the fam for a while. We went to Minga’s house and packed up Rach’s stuff. Everyone seemed sad that Rach was only staying for a few days. It went really fast in Los Ruales so Rach promised to try and stay longer the next time.
The next day it took us forever to get into Santiago as we waited an hour for a bola, and got on a carro in Santiago going the wrong way (they drive a certain route which is in a circle so when I realized we were going the wrong way I thought we could just ride it back around. The problem was, when we got to the place where they turn around the guy was taking a break to eat lunch so he kicked us out!). By the time we finally got to the Hub to drop off her stuff we just had about 2 hours until she had to leave for the airport. We ate lunch and before we knew it, it was time for her to go home:(
We took a cab to the airport which cost about 400 pesos, much more than the normal 13 peso carro ride around town. I helped her check her bags and then we hugged and said our “see you soons”. It was sad to see her go but I know that I’ll see her again. Her visit was so great and I didn’t want to be sad at the very end so we tried to stay positive. Plus, I had another issue at hand: I wasn’t exactly sure how to get back without taking a cab.
I didn’t want to take a cab because they were so expensive and I was out of money. I was told that I needed to walk to this certain area and tell the carro driver that I needed to get on an A- car (that’s the route) in the city. I did that and the know-it-all woman in the front seat told me that I would need to get on an F car. She told me when I needed to get out and where to go from there. I followed her directions and walked up to an F car, asking if he could take me to where I needed to go. He said sure so I got in, happy that the trip back went so smoothly.
When he whipped a U turn I was a little confused but figured that I had gotten on one going the wrong way again. I pulled out my 13 pesos to pay him and he laughed and said it was going to be more than that. I figured that he wanted to charge me more since he turned around on his route early so I asked how much more. 25 pesos total he said. Being the bargainer that I am, I pulled out 10 more pesos and handed it to him. He began to scoff at me and tell me how it would have cost me 80 or 100 pesos with another driver. I started to get annoyed with him and told him it’s normally 12.5 pesos and pointed to a sign he had in his window saying how the price was going to go UP to 15 pesos for Dec 24th and 25th. He told me that he was giving me a ride right to where I needed to go, that he was a taxi. I told him that he had a big F on the side of his car and he was no taxi.
We were going back and forth like this for a while until I told him to just let me out. I think he thought I didn’t know where I was because about a block from where I asked him to let me out (by a hospital) he was like, “Which hospital did you want to go to?” I said, “The one we’re right next to. Let me out here at the corner.” He kept driving. I told him to let me out about 4 times and was about to open the door and get out the next time he slowed for traffic when he pulled into the hospital. He dropped me off at the door and said something about how he dropped me off right in front and so I needed to pay him. I told him I wasn’t going to pay any more (again) and started to get out when he grabbed my purse. I yanked it from him and got out, slamming the door. He took the 23 pesos I had given him and threw them out the window at me, and then took off. What an attitude! Oh well, I pretty much did just get a taxi ride and it was free. I picked up the 23 pesos and was on my way to the Hub. That was not a good day for public transportation for me.
Since I was feeling a little doubtful of my transportation skills, still needed to get to a paper store to buy supplies for my diagnostic, didn’t know where the store was and it was getting late, I decided to spend the night at the Hub. The only problem was that I wasn’t planning on spending the night at the Hub when I left with Rach in the morning so I had nothing with me. We were wearing our matching shirts that day so I had the luxury of basking in the shirt for even longer than expected. A trip to the store to get a toothbrush and an underwear hand washing session later, I was all set to spend another day in Santiago.
Saturday I woke up nice and late, getting the most sleep at one time since I have been in the DR. I still woke up at my normal 7 am so it wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been. It was good that I slept so late since that gave my underwear time to dry on the fan. I went to the paper store with Kevin, another PCV who is here at the Hub, and found that it was closed for lunch. A lot of places close from 12-2 each day for lunch. We walked up the street, through a market and after exchanging a shirt Kevin bought the day before, we got caught in the rain. Luckily we were close to the hotel PC uses for consolidation so we went there and used the free internet until the rain stopped. Next we went to another paper store, which doesn’t close for lunch, so I was able to get hopefully all the stuff I’ll need for my diagnostic presentation. After that we headed back to the Hub.
We were walking through the hospital parking garage when this Haitian man behind us began hissing at us. He was selling phone chargers and stuff and so we told him we weren’t interested. He started singing loudly and continued to follow us to the other side. We were almost to the back of it when I noticed that he was pretty close. We walked out of the garage and he followed, asking us if we could walk back to him and close the door behind him. No way. We both said no and took off. After we walked a little we looked back and he was no where to be seen. Whew. I’m not sure if I’m just hyper paranoid now or what but that freaked me out. I was feeling really anxious and hesitant to get walk down the street and catch a carro alone so I told Kevin I would just leave with him when he left tomorrow. I called Minga to let her know that I guess I would be staying yet another day in Santiago.
Kevin and I had no plans for the rest of the day so we decided to go across the street and check out the mall. It’s a pretty crappy mall and things in there are way too expensive for a PCV. We headed across town to the other mall, the one Rach and I went to, and I got some jeans, another pair of panties, and two new shirts. Mom told me that I got some Christmas money from Aunt Claudia so thanks so much Aunt Claudia! You made it possible for me to not have to wear my matching clothes for another 24 hours straight after already wearing them for about 44 hours.
When we got back from the mall, I washed the used pair of undies (just for kicks) and my socks in the sink. After that, I didn’t have anything to do. We didn’t have much money and didn’t really want to walk around town so we stayed in and did what anyone would do; we watched tv for about 5 hours straight. Hey don’t judge- cable tv, complete with some channels in English is something that should be taken advantage of. Kevin and I stepped up and fulfilled that duty. It’s a hard job, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.