Tuesday, January 13, 2009
12/26- 1/13 New Years and a New house
Hey there everybody!
Sorry it's been so long since I last posted. It's been crazy lately and hard to get to decent internet. Anyways, thanks so much for the comments!! One was anonymous so I don't know who else to thank! But Mary Alice, thanks so much for the updates!! I miss you all there too. How are you Deb and Chris? I hope you guys had a great Christmas!! Good luck with the new intern, I'm sure you'll make them feel right at home. Make sure to never call them by their name, instead always call them intern, that will make them feel all warm and fuzzy:)
Mary Alice, it's so great that you're doing well with the baby! Make sure to take lots of pregnant pictures so I can see when I come home to visit and also keep me posted on the sex of the baby. I bet you have some interesting names picked out, Mertel Janis or Ivan Humphrey... just some suggestions:)
I haven't gotten any package yet but I'm sure it's just taking it's sweet time to build up excitement! I did hear about Costa Confections, that's a bummer. With the Sweetery closed for a few more days what have you been eating to fill the void? I feel for you, I really do.
Well, I think I covered it all, I posted some more pictures on myspace so feel free to follow the link on the right to my page. I hope you guys are doing well there! I miss you a lot!!
1/10-13 Move in Weekend:
Saturday: This weekend was so much fun! I pretty much was moved into my house Friday night so when Sarah, Mark, and Kenzie showed up on Saturday we had the day to ourselves. We went to the store and got some groceries so Mark could make us some delicious meals for the next two days. When we got back we went to this party that was a little awkward since, after we go there, found out that it was invite only and we didn’t have an invite. But, I guess the group of Americanos was enough of an invite since we were all welcomed and asked to dance.
After that we went home and Mark made some great food- a chicken-veggie stir fry that barley fed us since there were 5 extra people in the house at the time (so we had to feed them too). It worked out well though because after that we went to a colmado that I had never been to for dancing before and we got free beers and food. Mark bought a different type of beer, Presidente, which costs a little more and tastes a little better, and I was able to drink like 5 cups of it! I was so proud of myself!
Earlier in the day I had a joke with Noel that he should try to date Kenzie because then she would come and see me more often. Never mind that she has a boyfriend in her campo. Noel knew she had a boyfriend but he was trying to work for the better good and get Kenzie to fall for him so she will pay the 1000 pesos to travel across the country more often and visit! So, Noel was dancing with Kenz and I was dancing with his cousin, Franklin. Meanwhile, Wandy had been amazingly annoying this particular night. It was ridiculous. Sometimes he’s great and other times he tries so hard to be cool that it’s hard to tolerate being around him. He was getting on everyone’s nerves and acting like a 14 year old nearly the whole night.
Sunday: The next day Kelly arrived and all the girls went to get our nails done after we shared some drinks at noon with some neighbors. We ate a very late lunch and Minga told me that I would need to pay her 200 pesos since she bought chicken for us all to eat. I was a little pissed off by this since we didn’t eat a whole chicken and also since when I don’t eat there for a week straight I don’t pay any less. I told her that she would need to tell me before hand next time and then gave her the money.
We were supposed to have some dance lessons that day in my house but we ran out of time. Before we knew it, it was time to head off to the discoteca. We ended up being at the discoteca for about 6 hours that night; it was absurd but so much fun. Wandy was being even worse this night; being annoying and jealous! After about three hours of it I was getting pretty pissed at him and told him just what I thought about how he was acting. He was mad since I told him there was never any chance a PCV would date hi since he was jail bait. I know I was maybe a little mean and incredibly direct but if anything, I’m learning that’s just what is needed sometimes. Talking to him helped a lot but he was drunk so he was still obnoxious. That night he sent me an “I’m sorry” text. I didn’t respond. The next morning he was sitting on my porch, something that I have a feeling will be normal for him and Geraldo (the other boy who were living in the house until I moved in), and I didn’t say much to him. I’m definitely not mad anymore (I can stay mad for about a day and that’s with effort) but I wanted him to know that it’s not ok to be a jerk when your drunk, say sorry and expect things to be ok.
After we got back to the house Sunday night, Sarah’s allergies were so bad (because of the cat we think) that we had to move one of the mattress outside on the porch for her to sleep on! I tried to leave the door open but Mark was sleeping out there with her and said that they would be fine. I just felt bad shutting the door on them! It was a great view for them though:)
In the morning, we ate breakfast, said bye to Wandy and Ernie and headed out. Sarah and Mark went home while Kelly, Kenzie and I went to Santiago to get some things and spend the night at Kelly’s sight. We ate at this great pizza place for lunch and decided to get some ice cream for dessert. I splurged and got a Brownie A La Moda for 125 pesos. I asked for chocolate and dulce de leche ice cream with it and when they handed it over to me, there was no brownie. “Donde esta la brownie?” I inquired and was told that there’s no brownie in the Brownie a la mode, it’s just a name. Also, the price wasn’t 125 like the sign said, it was 150. Kelly and Kenzie got two scoops of chocolate in a cone and it was 40 pesos. Normally this would have pissed me off but since I’m here, it was so outrageous that we all started laughing hysterically. The thing is, I’ve ordered that at another store of that franchise and it had a freaking brownie! Despite this, the ice cream was still satisfying.
Kenz, Kelly, and I headed off to her site after that. I was starting to feel a little bad about how great my house was, like I wasn’t suffering enough since it’s so much better that other water and health PCVs. That is, I was feeling bad until I went to Kelly’s host family’s house! She has her own bathroom, running water, a generator… she even has a sink in her bathroom and a tub! WOW! So, I’m feeling a little better about my house now:)
We watched Sex in the City after eating yucca balls (very tasty fried, cheesy treats) and went to bed. Kenz got up and left around 7:30 and I left to meet Rachelle around 10. Rachelle and I went to Santiago where I got some things I didn’t get before (like a mirror) and now it’s about time for me to head back to Los Ruales. I don’t feel any campo guilt for being out of my site or anything but its weird; when I left yesterday I couldn’t help but miss Los Ruales. I think it’s starting to finally really grow on me. I’ve always liked it but I’m glad that I’m starting to miss it when I leave:)
1/9 Friday: Last night with Tolo!!!!!!!!
Although I don’t know if the music from the colmado down the cliff from my future home will bother me or if my neighbors will wake me up each day, I am holding on to the hope that the grass is greener on the other side. ONE. MORE. DAY. YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I feel like sharing that Marvey peed the couch again so remember that when you all visit (I’m also keeping a hopeful view of that, notice I said when not if you all visit:) steer clear of the couch in Minga’s house. Minga says that Marvey never wet the bed before (yes, the one that I have been sleeping in for the last 10 weeks and seemed damp when I first began using it). It’s so perplexing. To me the child has a problem, there’s no mystery in that.
Something that is perplexing to me though is the school system here. I think I’ve already pointed out how the kids are only in school for about 4 hours a day, which in itself is obviously a problem. However, today I went to the school to return a map to one of the very helpful teachers and walked in on what I guess was a parent-teacher conference. The parents go to the school and talk with the teacher right there in front of the class full of other students while the students are doing busy work. Turns out that Marvey failed his grade this year. He’s in 3rd grade right now and I guess he’ll be in it next year too. I’m no therapist but I think that an 8 year old who whines like no other, pees the bed, and is failing school has some issues (well, the whining thing may be normal…). I feel a little compelled to take some sort of action but I’m at a loss at what to do. I don’t really like kids in general and especially not this one. That’s not even the problem really though, even though I don’t like him doesn’t mean I want the kid to fail in life. I’m just not sure how I can help. When I talked with his Aunt she seemed un-phased that he failed as most people fail two or three times!!
Later that day…
I realized I need to readjust my goal of getting the 93 interviews entered into my computer by tomorrow. I managed to get 15 done by the end of today. Well, ok so it’s not quite 93, it’s not quite half or even a quarter but I’m not deterred. Although it’s a little bit of a downer, while I was finishing up interview number 12, Ernie and Vangie showed up to do some twisty thingy to Ernie’s hair. When I reached my more realistic goal of 15, I stopped for the day and went out to talk. They were all excited about me moving and so we ended up taking all my stuff tonight (minus what Kudbie and I need for the night) to the sweet house on the hill: my new house! At first I thought that we were just going to take some things but, nope, we ended up having some guy take the big suitcase to the house and we took the rest of it. When I got there, Ernie had already unpacked all my stuff that was already there! (Stuff I bought and some stuff I brought earlier with Minga) Some people may be annoyed by this but I think it’s great! This is the fourth time I’ve had to move everything and unpack it (sure it’s not that much but it’s still a pain) since August! She and Vangie seemed to have a heyday unpacking all the stuff that we brought over too, I didn’t unpack anything. I was pretty dang happy.
Another reason to celebrate? Ernesto is on the ball and went to Navarette today for me and bought the stuff to hook up my huge (150 gallon!) water tank. He also already filled the tank so I have running water in my shower and a flushing toilet!!!!! I haven’t had a flushing toilet in my house since the States!!!! I’m sure I’m not going to flush any paper and to tell you the truth, I’m a little afraid to go #2 in it. Kevin never used it (remember he was a water PCV so for the majority of his time here there was no water) I guess and since there was no water hooked up to it until today, it would have just been easier to use the latrine for the kids living in it up until now. I’m afraid… we’ll see how long I keep using the latrine, I’ll be sure to let you all know:)
As far as the shower goes, I think I’m still going to do the bucket bath though because the water is COLD. Ernesto is going to put up some shelves for me in my kitchen sometime too and tomorrow he’s going to hang some tubing so I can have a closet. I’m sooooo pumped! I didn’t even ask him to do all this for me, how nice is that!?
I feel a little bad for Minga since she’s told me how she’s going to miss me so much when I go. I’m literally a 5 minute walk (and that’s walking Minga’s speed: s…..l…..o….o…..o…..w……) up the hill. Plus, I’m going to be eating with her each day for lunch and she’s going to wash my clothes. I’m starting to appreciate her more already and I’m still in her house! Poor Minga, I told her to come to my house and I’ll make her feel better with some hot chocolate when she was feeling down:)
1/8 Thursday: Two more days and a goal
That’s correct: just TWO more days in this house. Although it’s just the start of the day, tonight and tomorrow night are all I have left to suffer with Minga and Tolo competing in the Snoring Olympics, with Tolo using the pee cup at night, waking me up with his nasty, endless farts. Yes, two more days, and only one with Tolo. While I’m sure I’ll miss the little perks (not having to clean anything, a generator…) I’m equally sure the happiness of having privacy at some parts of the day, being able to sleep, and having a Marvey-Free Zone will certainly be worth the trade off. Ahhhh, I feel relaxed just thinking about it; it’s like I’m on a beach:)
You may have noticed the other part of my heading: “and a goal”. That is because, well, I have a goal. I would like to get all my data entered into the computer by the time the PCVs arrive Saturday. This means that I will be spending a LOT of time in front of the computer today, tomorrow and possibly Saturday. Wish me luck (and my neck from looking down at my lap all day long).
Later that day…
After working for 3 hours straight and only getting 4 interviews (out of 93 so far) in my computer I’m starting to wonder how realistic my goal is. Maybe the speed will pick up, we shall see. After my three hour stretch I went to take a shower and was assaulted by the smell of urine. The only reason I can think of that the shower area stinks like urine is 8 years old and peed the couch again last night. Sick.
Looking on the bright side, at least Rach brought me a portion of the insane amount of body washes and lotions I had accumulated as if stocking for Y2K. So, while I had to breathe through my mouth in the shower, at least when I got out and put on some lotion I smelled like an attractive flower that mosquitoes from miles will flock to (despite the fact that they’re not attracted to flowers I think they’re attracted to Cherry Blossom Bath and Body Works lotion).
I’m pretty sure I forgot to mention something interesting that I discovered on Monday. PCVs are supposed to be solicited by the community to show that the community has interest in the PCV and is going to be active in working with the PCV. Since I arrived I’ve wondered what the heck Los Ruales needed a PCV for. It seemed that there were some things that I could help with but for the most part, the community seems to have a handle on it. Well, turns out that they didn’t solicit me. Ernesto called my APCD one day in July to see how he was doing and my APCD asked if they wanted a health PCV. Awesome.
I could see this in a very negative way since I am sure there are other communities were that have more need and who maybe petitioned for a PCV. I hope that my community will be willing to put effort into working with me even though they didn’t put any work into requesting me. Who knows? Maybe Los Ruales will work with me. I hope I don’t end up feeling like a free mosquito net given to people who later just used it to catch fish; after all, they didn’t buy it so why take care of it? Despite these concerns, I feel like there is some good to come of this. Amazingly, all this makes me feel a little better. This sounds bad, but I guess it takes some of the pressure off. I am going to do my best, like I was before I found this out but I feel like, well they didn’t work really hard and wait a long time for a PCV so if I hit wall after wall, at least I won’t be letting anyone down but myself.
1/7 Wednesday: Getting Ready to Move!!!!!
Yesterday when I walked with Ernie back to her house Ernesto told me he was under the impression that we were going to go to Navarrete to buy stuff for my house today. I never met to say that but hey, it sounded good to me! The PCV was supposed to be at my house in the afternoon for the inspection so Ernesto and I had the morning to look for the stuff that I wanted to get. I was pretty excited about this; I even got out of bed early at 7! Quite the accomplishment, I know:)
We went to Navarrete and bought plates (45 pesos each but so worth it, they’re so cute!), bowls, cups (cute clear ones with blue polka dots), silver wear, a water tank so I’ll have “running water” in my shower (Si Dios quiere…) three plastic lawn chairs (for only 100 pesos each! So what if they kind of look like a dog chewed on them and are quite possibly the ugliest colored plastic chairs ever produced?), a box spring, two large bowls to wash dishes in, a toilet cleaner tool thingy (because- that’s right, I have an INDOOR TOILET!!), a plunger (just in case…), a mop, two coffee mugs (for hot chocolate- one for me and one for you when you visit:), a broom, a bucket, a sponge, a hamper (Mercedes said it wasn’t good to just use the floor like I’ve been doing and that a grocery bag wasn’t a good idea either), and dish soap. Minga is adamant I go to a house in the community this Monday (she tried to get me to go yesterday) that sells blankets and sheets and buy some. I guess it’s like 100 pesos for a sheet so that’s not bad. Sure, they’re used and don’t match or anything but I’m sure they’ve at least been washed right?
I bought all that stuff and I still have almost half of the move in allowance left- 5000 pesos! ($143) There are a few other things I would like to get (like a mirror and also a shelf so I have somewhere to put the food I don’t have and the dishes I do have) but I don’t need to get that stuff this month. Whenever is fine with me. I’m not sure how much that wall I need to build will cost (you know, so the house doesn’t fall off the cliff eventually) so I think it’s a good idea to hold on to the extra money I have.
In the afternoon, Neal the Regional PCVL, came to inspect the house. I was afraid that he wouldn’t be cool about me moving in early but he knows about it and even may come to my move-in party on Saturday-Sunday. Sure it’s true that I don’t have that much stuff to move so I don’t exactly need to enlist the help of other PCVs. I mean, really if there were like 5 people who each took stuff probably all of my stuff would be moved in one trip but it’s a good reason to have people over. Plus, I like to show off my site and my house. And I really don’t want to spend the first night(s) alone in my house, even though Kudbie will be there. Let face it though, cats are only loyal as long as they are being fed and even then it’s questionable.
One thing that I don’t have to question is the house. The inspection went off without a hitch so I’m all set to move. I’m soooooo lucky! I talked to Kenzie yesterday and she had to buy a bed, a stove, and a bunch of other things. She’s not going to have enough money to get what she needs. I saved money since I didn’t have to buy that stuff which is partly why I sprang for the water tank. I’m also lucky that I have this fantastic, rent-free house to live in! Sarah is looking for a house in her community still and it’s either a house that is on the edge of town, may flood, and is supposedly possessed by demons or it’s a house that needs a new floor and roof among other things. If she has to make repairs before she can move in, it comes out of the move in allowance or her personal money from home. Not to mention that neither of the houses available to her are furnished so she’ll need every peso for that. The majority of PCVs have to pay rent and don’t have furnished houses. Most people aren’t lucky enough to live in a block house either. Marc is just building his house since there aren’t any available and he doesn’t want to live with his host family for two years.
Something I’m not so lucky about is how much I’m going to pay for my laundry and lunches. Minga and I talked about it and I’m going to pay her 2000 pesos per month starting this month- a 400 peso increase from when I was living with her! Sure that’s a little less than $60 total each month for lunch everyday and hand washed laundry- but dang! I had to do it, Ernesto pretty much told me I had to so that’s that. I’d rather pay it and be in good favor than not and have Minga bitter with me or something.
Anyways, me casita is pretty much set now except that for some weird reason the water tank, chairs and box spring haven’t arrived yet (it’s after 8pm) but I have hope for tomorrow. Minga gave me all kinds of crap this morning trying to convince me to buy two large buckets for water instead of a tank since they’re so much cheaper. While they are cheaper, they’re also smaller and we don’t have water all the time as I understand it. When there’s not much rain the aqueduct can run dry. Also, there is a chance I’ll have running water for my shower with the tank so I think it’s worth it. (By “running” I think it’s more like a gravity-flow system type thing but hey, it’s not due to my arm rotating a bucket) The tank cost me 2,500 of my 12,500 pesos (it’s actually only $357 we get to move in) I received for move in. I’m hoping the water will come out at least lukewarm if I take a shower at the hottest time of the day. If not, well, I’ll be boiling my water and using the good old bucket bath for the next year and 9 months which isn’t so bad really. At least I’ll be doing in inside! :)
PS: I wanted to say Happy 24th birthday to my great friend Lisa!! :) I hope that you had a great birthday!!
1/6 Tuesday: Off to meet the secret boyfriend, you put what in your eye?!
Ernie and I were supposed to do some more interviews and finish up the map but she never came to my house. It’s just as well though because I wanted to get started on entering all the information into Excel so I spent the morning doing that. After lunch around 2 she showed up and we went off to look for the notebook I misplaced that had the entire map I had been working on. We also tried to do another interview but the person was gone at the hospital for an “eye allergy”.
After failing at each thing we needed to do, we headed up the mountain to meet up with her secret boyfriend. We hiked up and over the other side of the mountain to meet up with him at a friend’s house. I figured there would be other people there but there weren’t. So, I awkwardly sat there and actually read my dictionary for a while before realizing that my PC phone had service. I talked on the phone for a while and finally, after about 2 hours, we left. I told her that I don’t want to lose her Dad’s respect, that it was nice meeting her boyfriend but that I didn’t want to make a habit of this. I did find out that her bf knows how to play the guitar and so do a few friends of his so I may be getting some free guitar lessons. They won’t be in secret though.
For the last two weeks or so Minga has been telling me that she has pain in her eye. She’s a bit of a hypochondriac though so I didn’t pay much attention to her complaints. She also tells me often how her eye is swollen but it looks the same as the other eye. So, last night I was in the kitchen when she came in with cream all over her eye. It was globbed on her eyelashes, in her tear duct, and all underneath her eye. I asked what type of cream it was and why she put in on her eye lid or with her eye closed. She can’t read and didn’t know what type of cream it was but figured it was a good idea because it was medicine and her eye hurt.
We went into the house and I read the type of cream it was as she wiped it off. It was anti-fungal foot cream. The next morning she told me that she found another cream and put that on. She showed me the tube and this time it was a used tube of vaginal anti-itch cream. I suggested she go to the doctor and turns out, she has an eye infection! I feel kind of bad for not suggesting it sooner. I don’t understand why she didn’t go herself though. If it was really bothering her, why didn’t she just walk there? When I suggested that she go she argued with me that the doctor’s are never there but she’s the one who took me to the clinic in the first place! I thought that she knew that they were there in the morning! Not to mention that they drive by Minga’s house every day when they arrive and leave- it’s the nice, black, shiny Mercedes. Now she has two types of pain medicine to take and Amoxcillin; a step up from yeast infection cream.
1/5 Monday: Make fun of me, why not? A wipe out and a meeting.
I woke up wondering how I should feel about last night. The way people gossip here I’m positive everyone knows about it (and I really mean everyone). I decided that there’s nothing I can do about it and, who cares actually? It was fun…. sort of. I went into the kitchen and a few minutes later Noel showed up and graced Ming and I with a reenactment of my dancing debut last night, complete with the “Por ya!”, “ Por aqí!”-s. Guess now I’m even more famous and for such a fantastic reason!
A little while later this cute little boy-terror fell on some metal thing and gashed his head. There was a decent amount of blood but really, the cut was nothing. I whipped out the ol’ PC med kit I have and put some antiseptic cleaner on it, some Neosporin and a Band-Aid. Good thing I was there because they were talking about taking him up the road to the chick who is the receptionist at the Clinic to get stitches. She apparently knows how to stitch foreheads, guess their receptionists are better trained here in the DR. Just hope people don’t think that I’m some sort of a doctor now because I have no freaking clue about 90% of the problems people have already been coming to me for. “No, I’m sorry but I don’t know how a swollen eye can give you a fever or what’s causing the shaking…. Maybe you should walk down the road to the Clinic.” I’m sure there’s a pill they’d looooove to give you.
By the way, I would like to announce that I remembered to go to the Woman’s Meeting today. I couldn’t hear anything that was going on thanks to the three dog fights, the children throwing rocks at the dogs, the naked children who were running with squirt guns (where did they get those…?) and the seemingly never ending stream of motors driving by. I seriously have no idea what happened… I think it was something about watching your children though.
Not much else happened today. I got a lot of practice with my Spanish, got hit on, drew some more of the map, did a few interviews, got made fun of more, found a dead spider on my face clothe…. just an average day here.
1/4 Sunday: Discoteca time
Today I began the day with Ernestina. We walked to her house and I sat and talked with Ernesto for a good two hours when I just went there to find out how much I owed him for the ride to Altamira. I like talking with him a lot. There is another guy, Minga’s son-in-law (but he seems kind of close to her age), Tito, who is really fun to talk to. I don’t think I have to worry about either of them putting the moves on me which is a relief.
After lunch at Ernesto’s house I found out that I only owed him 30 pesos and I set off for Minga’s house. Around 3 Tolo, Minga, Ernie, and I were on our way up the mountain. After a lot of discussion, a lot of walking and a lot of time, Ernie and I ended up at the discoteca in town closest to me. It’s the one where I think the most people go to. I really love dancing (this is a new occurrence in my life) but since I’m still learning the dances here I like to go to the one that is a real hike up the hill since there are less people.
I was sitting there with Ernie for a loooong time without dancing. I mean, she was getting asked to dance but I wasn’t. What was the deal here?! Was it the sweater I was wearing? I was starting to think that I must be putting off a vibe or something. After a while some guy asked me why I didn’t want to dance. What? But I do want to! Why isn’t anyone asking me? That did the trick and after my first dance, I think people realized I want to dance so I finally was getting some practice. Yipeeee!
It was all going so well until The Incident. I think the Ernie was upset about something and thus wasn’t being quite as helpful as normal. One of her friends asked me to dance and I looked to Ernie who said it was ok. Great. Well, turns out he was a little drunk. This is something I actually didn’t notice at first. We danced one song and after it was over everyone left the dance floor. I tired to as well but it was too late. He pretty much wouldn’t let me and continued dancing despite the fact that there was NO ONE else out there with us and also that it was a different type of dance I haven’t learned. So, here we were, in the middle of the dance floor with just one other couple who wandered out with us, “dancing” together in the packed discoteca. It isn’t enough that people stare at me when I’m simply walking down the street but add bachata dancing and a big guy trying to “teach” me by saying “Por ya!” “Por quí!” which of course was indicating direction change, and you possibly have a valid reason to stare. Did I mention that the songs people dance to here are loooong? I’m talking like after I dance one song my hips hurt. It was long enough for me to get over the shame a little, make horrified eye contact with several people sitting down and then start to enjoy it. Yes, it was so awkward and embarrassing but hey, I have to learn somewhere, somehow right? Can’t get much worse than that so I guess it’s down hill from now. On the up side, now that everyone knows how great I dance, I think they’ll compliment me on my improvement pretty much no matter how I dance when I leave.
When I got back home Rach called me and I wished her a belated happy birthday. Minga wanted to get in on the fun too so she serenaded Rachael with her own rendition of Happy Birthday. Apparently a lot of people thought that the song was Happy Baby Foo Foo… I had to laugh but of course I can’t really make fun since I still don’t know the birthday song that they sing; it’s pretty long actually.
1/3 Saturday: HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACHAEL!!!
I’m not the only one missing Rach on her 27th birthday; Minga has said several times how she misses Rach and to make sure to tell her happy birthday. It’s the first birthday of Rachael’s I’ve ever missed and the second one I’ve missed in my family (I missed my brother Aaron’s in October:( It’s a bummer but at least I got to see her last week and I get to talk to her as well.
Today has been a slow day. I was so tired from lack of sleep in Cabarete that I thought I would sleep really well last night but nooooo. Part of that is because, beginning at 6:30 am, Minga started the washer. About an hour later I think there was some type of a party or loud game in the street outside of the house with a lot of screaming children. I’m still really tired, despite predicting I would wake up early and thus went to bed early at 9:30. Minga told me I should go to the doctor and get some medicine to help me sleep. Hmmm….
I’ve begun the tedious task of tallying up the interviews. So far I’m just entering all the questions into Excel and man is it boring. I still have to draw out about 1/3 of my community in my notebook and then I can begin drawing the map. I can spend hours drawing the map and the diagnostic with out problem but entering in all the data makes me painfully aware of how long I’ve been sitting in front of the computer. Ick.
One of the many things I did today as an excuse to get away from the task at hand was to talk to Minga about how much I would be paying when I move out. I’m still going to have her do my laundry and eat lunch with her and we haven’t really talked about how much I’m going to pay. A lot of PCVs kind of mooch lunch off of different people in their communities and so they just pay for laundry. Minga was insistent that I eat with her and have her do my laundry. Fine by me.
Well, when I was talking with her about the price, she told me that I should pay the same or more. I pointed out that I will be using less stuff, she won’t have to clean my room (she insists on mopping it every day), and I won’t be here as much so I should probably pay less. I’m not sure how to say “it makes sense” in Spanish but I was trying to get the point across to her that paying less when using less is generally the way it goes. It turns out that the problem is Ernesto asked her how much I was paying now. She told him and he said it was too little. Then he told her that when I move out I need to pay more. I had to admit that I am a little annoyed by this. I told her I would pay 1000 pesos/month for laundry and food but I don’t want her feeling like she’s getting ripped off so we still didn’t pick a price. People here have told me that the guy who lived here before me, Kevin, overpaid for his laundry and lunch so I’m wondering if they expect me to overpay. Ugh.
One other problem I have is that Minga was under the impression Ernestina was living with me. Who would have told her that? This leads me to believe that the day Ernie was drunk and talking about living with me, she was serious. I told Minga I would be living by myself and I’m hoping to talk to the guy who’s going to inspect my house, Neal, and see if he will say something about it being PC policy that I live alone or have to have my own room or something. (there’s only two rooms in the house so I don’t think that she would want to sleep in the kitchen/dinning room) I can only hope. There is no way I want to live with anyone. I even have my doubts about Kudbie.
Kudbie has stopped using the cement under my bed as her toilet. She figured out how to use her box of dirt while I was gone I guess but she still enjoys using the kitchen floor as her bathroom. Mark told me that cats hate baby powder so I bought some and sprinkled it under Minga’s and my bed. The kitchen is next on the list. I figure even if it doesn’t work, at least it smells nice. I also have a backup plan suggested by Mark: hose the cat with a squirt gun when it goes where it’s not supposed to but be stealth about it so the cat doesn’t know it’s you and hate you instead. Well, that’s why it’s plan B.
1/2 Friday: Back to the Campo, goodbye beautiful beaches and PCVs…
Yesterday was a lot of fun, spending allll day at the beach and eating good food at Jose O’Shays. I seriously feel like I’m on a vacation here! I’m having a lot of fun but I’m ready to get back to the campo. A bunch of us met up and ate at a place called Friends. Aside from the fact that the food took for-freaking-ever, it was really good as well. We all went out again last night and there was a little trouble this time. My friend who was really sick, Iris, was over her aliment so that was good but another girl, Jessica (yes, the granddaughter of the Grandma I did a shout out to) was robbed. I guess some woman walked up to her and was telling her to watch out for thieves and stuff then took her wallet off of her lab and took off running! Jess, like the crazy girl she is, took off after her but the chick had too much of a lead and got away. It’s a bummer because the lady got Jess’s bank card and ID but the real tragedy is the fact that she stole her lip gloss!
Some good news: I called the Regional PCV and set up an appointment for him to come and inspect my house! He’s coming next Wednesday and so January 10th (that Saturday) I’m hopefully having a move-in “party” with some other PCVs in the area. I figure it’s no big deal because it’s only 19 days early out of my three months that I’m supposed to live with a host family. Thank goodness though, because I wasn’t sure how I was going to draw my map in Minga’s house. There is no room for the big piece of paper I have.
Yes, that’s right: I have paper now. When Sarah, Mark and I were on our way home we stopped in Puerta Plata to take care of some errands. I needed to get paper so we went on a wild goose chase for paper. Unfortunately we arrived around 1 pm so a lot of the paper stores were closed. We grabbed lunch in the meantime and finally, after trying 3 or 4 stores, we were able to find the paper I needed. It was a great store! It was really nice inside, had everything I needed (tape and whiteout too) and for a good price too! They even had great customer service! Mark was looking for corkboard and when they didn’t have it, they called another store for him to see if it had it! Customer service in the DR, as I’ve experienced, is pretty much non existent so this was amazing.
We stopped at a little place to use internet which was a waste since I couldn’t get anything done I was trying to get accomplished due to several problems with their internet. We left and had walked about 4 blocks when I remembered I left my helmet there! That would have been baaaaaad! I walked back, got it and we continued on our way. We were quite a bit further when I realized that I didn’t have my paper! Not again! I left that at the internet place too!! Arg! I walked back, discovering that people here are weirded out by a power-walking chick, and got my paper. Thanks goodness!!!
I hopped on a different bus than Sarah and Mark and arrived in Navarrete from Puerta Plata in about an hour. It took me another 25 minutes to get to my house which puts me about 2 hours from Cabarete and only an hour from Puerta Plata: something to keep in mind when planning your trips to see me:)
1/1 Thursday: Happy New Year!!!
Before I begin talking about last night I would like to point out that Cabarete is a weird town. There are people here who don’t even speak Spanish. I’m not talking about the zillion of tourists that are here, I’m talking about the people who live and work here! I understand how it’s possible but I still think it’s weird. Although, being in a town with a ton of white people sure has its perks. For instance, people hardly stare and me and I don’t get hissed at very often. It’s beautiful here with the white sand beaches and cool, gentle waves in the ocean but the people selling stuff to tourists are annoying. When we were on the beach yesterday we had to tell a lot of people no. No we don’t want a massage. No we don’t want fruit for 5 times the price of the vendor on the street. No we don’t want our hair braided. Ugh. Cabarete is beautiful but like everywhere else, it has it’s pros and cons.
One pro is has is the restaurant/bar we hung out at a lot; Jose o’Shays. Yum. If you ever go to Cabarete, want good food and don’t want to pay a lot: go there. I suggest the brownie a la mode. The restaurant is open to the beach and is nice enough to let us use their beach chairs for free. Most other places charge for beach chairs.
I wish we had eaten at Jose O’Shays last night for dinner but we went to this restaurant called Casanova. It was my first sitdown meal since sometime before I left the States. It was ok but it was overpriced and didn’t have a lot of choices. I went with the classic, delicious burger. How are we able to pay for all this you may wonder? Well, we received our move in allowance today so we had an extra 12,500 pesos in our account. Yes, I do need the money to get some stuff for the house I’m going to move into (such as a wall to keep the house from one day falling off the “cliff” it’s on) but for now, that burger was worth it.
After we ate we went back to the hostel. I ran with a friend to the grocery store to pick up some crackers and Gatorade for another friend who was sick with food poisoning or the flu. We both had the same thing for lunch at the same time so hopefully it wasn’t food poisoning! By the time we got some stuff for her and we ready to leave it was already 10:30! We tried to find the group but were only able to find about 10 people. That was ok though. The 10 of us spent the night on the beach, dancing and having a blast. At midnight there were fireworks and it sounded like everyone on the beach was counting down. There were a TON of people on the beach and at the bars dancing. It was so much fun.
I was trying to remember where I was last year for New Years and I finally remembered: I was at Niagara Falls freezing my butt off! That was a lot of fun too:) I was with family and we went to a concert at midnight. Hmmm, last year a waterfall, this year the beach… what’s in store for me next year?!
12/31 Wednesday: Off to Cabarete!
When I woke up today I was a little concerned that Minga would think that I threw her “no cats inside after dark” rule out the window when she saw that the cat was happily sitting inside of my net with me. I was going to put the cat outside but every time I did it would meow. The goal was for Minga to think that the cat came into the house after the front door was opened in the morning. So, I had to try to keep Kudbie quiet until then. (By the way, I’m still not sure how to spell her name… any suggestions? Koodbie maybe? ) Why I didn’t think to simply explain that the cat knows how to get inside without using the front door, I don’t know, but I would have gotten a lot more sleep if I had thought of that. Tolo got up at 6 and so did the cat. I appeased her until 7 when Minga finally got out of bed and then put her in her box of dirt. She just sat there. I thought that cats naturally knew the point of litter boxes but I guess I was wrong. She seemed to be eyeing the area under my bed with a kind of scheming expression on her little face so I just tossed her outside to avoid another mess while I made some breakfast.
I took a motor ride to the next town, which was about a half hour away. It was kind of a rough motor ride with a rocky, dirt road. When I got into Altamira I hopped on a bus for about 20 minutes and got off in Imbert to meet up with two other PCVs, Sarah and Mark. I was able to get that bus for 10 pesos cheaper than normal thanks to misunderstanding Mark who told me it was 50 pesos. I thought he told me it was 15 pesos so when I handed the guy 15 pesos he maybe felt bad for me and told me it was just another 25. When I met up with Sarah, Mark, we took a bus from Imbert to Puerta Plata, a city right on the coast; another 20 minute bus ride. In Puerta Plata we had to get on another, smaller and crappier bus from Puerta Plata to Cabarete, which of course since it was the smallest, crappiest ride, it was the longest at about 30 or 40 minutes.
When we finally got to Cabarete we had to find the hostel, Laguna Blue, where we made “reservations” but we didn’t have the address or anything. Once off the bus we began asking people if they knew where it was and it just so happens that we got off of the bus about 3 blocks away from it. When we got to the hostel we found that Laguna Blue didn’t have quiet a few people’s reservations. It works out well though since I’ll be sharing a full bed tonight and tomorrow with 2 other people so the two nights here will only cost me 700 pesos- a great deal for a tourist place.
After we dropped our stuff off we went to a great little pizza place and got the daily special for only 75 pesos each. I used to only like cheese pizza but since living in the DR I’ve had to eat so many different things that I’ve adjusted to trying new things with an open mind. (For the most part. I wasn’t going to eat pig intestines for Christmas no matter how good Minga said they were.) I got Hawaiian pizza- ham with pineapple and it was gooood. Pineapple on pizza is a good idea. So is corn.
After lunch we all went to the beach while other PCVs straggled in. We were at the beach for about 4 hours before heading back to the room to get ready for tonight. We’re about to meet up at 7 to go get dinner. What will we do the rest of the night? Vamos a ver…
12/30 Tuesday: Drawing my map, going to a party
Today I had a fun and interesting day walking around with Wandy, Vangie and at the end of the day, Ernie. I was working on drawing my map which is coming along nicely. I’ve drawn about 2/3 of my notes and so far there are only two people I have found that I still have to interview. There are also a handful of semi-sane or semi-crazy, however you want to view it, people who I can’t interview.
After lunch a random car drove by and invited me to a party later that night. Minga seemed a little pissed that she wasn’t invited. She was going on and on how the guy invited Vangie, Ernie and me but not her. It was because of this that she later told me that I would have to be home by 8. That was too early since the party didn’t even begin until 6 so I negotiated another hour. I feel like I’m 15 again with a freaking curfew only this curfew is way earlier than the one I had when I was a teenager!
After lunch I went out and did some more interviews and map drawing. I was wearing my awesome new rain boots (Rach brought me some that I ordered online from Target. They’re a beautiful blue plaid:) so I was being made fun of a lot. I didn’t care though; I wore them proudly. I also discovered that they are awesome for climbing up to the muddy mountain side to the hard to reach houses. I joked with the girls that I was going to wear the boots to the party and they dropped their jaws and screeched how I couldn’t do wear la botas.
When we finished for the day it was a little after 5, and being the punctual people that we are, we all hurried home to get ready. I arrived to my house to find that Ming had left somewhere with Tolo so I was locked out. Vangie was horrified that I was going to wear my boots to the party but I thought it was pretty funny. Luckily Minga came back around 6 so I changed and was just a little late to the party.
The “party” was at the discoteca. There was a bonfire and we played a game called surprise. A person chooses a paper out of a cup and reads it out loud. Whomever the paper applies to, the person gives a kiss on the check. I kind of felt like I was in junior high but it’s not the first time I’ve felt like that in the DR. Also I was thinking that these are maybe the kids who I’ll be playing lots of games with for my youth groups. I wasn’t sure what the big deal was since people greet with the check kiss here. Despite that, I got three or four kisses and they were embarrassing each time; although it was more embarrassing when I had to pick someone for each thing that I drew.
My group was pretty bummed when 9 came and I said I really needed to go. We were having a lot of fun dancing and stuff. I’m not sure if it was the little bit of alcohol that Wandy was drinking but he was putting the moves on me which is a big bummer. He’s 17! When I got home it was about 930 and Minga had already locked me out so I had to wake her up to get in.
After I got in and packed my bag for my trip the next day, I brushed my teeth and tossed my cat outside. About 15 minutes later I heard an awful noise and looked up to see the cat climbing over the wall into my room! There’s a space between the tin roof and the wall and somehow the kitten that I can’t teach how to use the litter box figured out how to get up the house and into the hole.
I was just going to ignore her but then she started kneading my net and meowing. I don’t need anymore holes in my net! So I let the little flea bag in my net with me and she slept the whole night next to me. At least when she’s in my bed giving me fleas I know that she’ not under it, pooping.
12/29 Monday: More interviews, another run, forgot the meeting again…
Here I am, sitting here in my room and actually enjoying it for once (I have 5 candles burning- two of which are citronella) while Minga carries on a conversation with some guy who’s name I should probably know, in the other room. Of course, with walls that don’t go to the ceiling and a sheet for a door, I can hear the tv and their conversation perfectly. The only problem is that, hopefully just today, my Spanish seems to have regressed to where it was about 6 weeks ago… maybe even more than that! I feel like I can’t understand anything!!!! Why is that? Is it because I’ve been out of my site a lot lately and haven’t been practicing? Is it because it’s been forever since I studied? I’m not sure but I feel the need to crack open the books some more and study study study!
Aside from that little roadblock of communication, today went well. I have 18 interviews left to do- or rather I had 18 left to do this morning. I wanted to do 100 interviews in total to make my statistical analysis easier since I don’t have a calculator and never considered myself to be much of one. I’m learning that there may not be 100 houses here though, which, thanks to Rach, is not big deal since I’m entering all of my results in Excel. Today Wandy and I did 5 interviews and then went through my notes where I wrote the Doña’s names of the completed house and tried to figure out who was who. Everyone gave me their proper name but most everyone uses a nickname here. So my lists of who was done were pretty much useless since my helpers didn’t know what people matched with the names.
Tomorrow I’m going to begin my map. Since I’m leaving Wednesday for Cabarete I don’t think I’ll get all my notes made for the map but who knows. After I have each house marked down and assign a corresponding number to each house and interview completed I should be able to see who I skipped, if anyone. There are three houses still that I know of that I need to do. Even after those that, I’m 12 short of 100 and 37 short of the estimate I was given for how many houses are in my community. We shall see.
After Wandy and I did the interviews and sorted out the names, I decided to try and take a nap. I just don’t understand it: why was it so calm when Rach was here and now it’s back to the normal psycho state? With the tv blaring, Minga yelling from inside the house to people walking by in the street, and the 4 kids in the house screaming and punching each other it’s no wonder I didn’t sleep. Now, I know you all are probably not feeling bad for me. I can hear it now; “Oh, jeesh, you couldn’t take your nap? Here I am working all day while you’re complaining you can’t take your nap. Pleeeease!” And it’s a good argument. The only thing I can say is this: you don’t have to listen to Tolo all night snoring and getting up to use the pee cup while he farts endlessly. It’s disgusting.
After a much needed nap of which I was deprived again (I should expect this now) I went out with Wandy and Vangie to go for a walk or run or whatever you want to call it. We walked down to the river (or bridge as they refer to it) and back. I’m not sure if the way back was a lot slower but it felt like we were sure walking a lot faster. In all it’s only about 1 ¼ mile each way. It took us about 50 minutes to power walk it. It was painful. My right calf is demonstrating its disproval right now and I wonder if I’ll be able to walk it tomorrow without some serious consequences. After all, my legs have a mind of their own.
When I got back home and was talking with Minga, it was mentioned that Minga went to the Woman’s meeting again today. DANG!!! I know that things have been all messed up with the holidays and all but shoot! I need to remember to go to those things! Ah well… hopefully next week.
One good thing happened today, sort of. So, last night I was not about to sleep above the makeshift cat box the cat had created under my bed. I decided that although it would be super disgusting, if I can deal with Tolo each night, I could deal with what I knew I had to do. I semi-crawled under the nasty bed which I don’t think has ever been cleaned and all the spiders scurry to when Minga swats them away. I took my scissors and began cutting the plastic away. I couldn’t get it all but I got most of it out. I was a little concerned since I was doing this in secret and I had to pull the plastic from the corners without pulling the bed off of the paint cans it’s perched upon.
After I successfully removed the plastic with puddles of cat pee and a few piles of cat poop, I took some wipes I had (thanks Rach!) and went to town on the cement. I couldn’t and wasn’t willing to get all the way under the bed to the few lingering dried pools of urine but I planned on swiping the mop from Minga the next day when she cleaned the house. My plan worked except the next day she saw me and took the mop from me. I left to do my interviews and apparently there was either a fresh pile of poop or one I missed because Minga saw it and reported it back to me.
There is now a new rule that the cat is only allowed in the house during the day when the front door is open. Minga must be giving the cat the benefit of the doubt that it just does this when it gets trapped inside. That’s fine and well except Minga doesn’t know that yesterday when I was sitting outside with the cat, it went inside to use the bathroom under my bed. Maybe I should just get a new kitten when I move and start over…
12/28 Sunday: Dude, where’s my paper? Back to the campo and what IS that smell???
As I sit here in my room, trying to enjoy my delicious peppermint bark (thanks Rach!!!) despite the nasty smell of cat excreta emanating from under my bed, I realize how glad I am to be back in the campo. Although it is true that life in PC is a roller coaster I feel that overall it is good. I feel very safe and wanted in my community. Yes, no matter what happens in the city or how anxious I feel, I know that I can always come here and feel better, for the most part.
However, Marvey is REALLY getting on my nerves already. It was really nice last week when Rach was here. Not only because she was here but also because Marvey was not. I don’t like kids and I especially don’t like this one. It seems to me that each offspring produced by Borein, Minga’s son, is a terror on Earth and needs to be at least temporarily institutionalized. Marvey is not the worst but he is the one who lives with me. He whines. He hits. He’s rude to adults. He ignores whomever he wants. It’s like he’s 2 but really he’s almost 9. Ah yes, I enjoy this house but I think I’m back to counting down until I can officially move out. 32 days.
Overall, my day today was pretty good, pretty regular. With the exception of one thing: when I got out of the taxi we all took from the Hub to the bus station I left the paper I bought in the back seat. I was a little upset by this but more upset by the fact that when I called the company, even after talking to about 4 or 5 different people, nobody understood what I was saying. Yes, I know even a PCV who has lived in the DR for over a year has problems on the phone with people but it was frustrating to no end. I wanted to cry. It was only 150 pesos worth of paper but Santiago is so huge, unless someone goes with me I don’t think I’ll be able to find the store again. It’s not like I can just get on a car and drive by the store. Well, I can do that if the car follows its route but I learned this past weekend that they commonly don’t follow their route exactly. They don’t turn in some places and if you know where you’re going and aren’t just looking for a store then its fine. I however, don’t.
When I got on the bus finally after giving up on the paper search, I called my friend Jess. Since I don’t have service much and it’s hard for me to make calls, I’d only talked to her once sine Romeo’s party. I was glad that I called her since she is hilarious and cheered me right up. I also found out that her grandma reads my blog! Yay for Jess’s Grandma!!! :) Hi there Grandma, you rock! :)
When I got home, Minga wasn’t here so I sat outside and chatted with the neighbors (who understand me quite well thank you very much) and Wandy until Minga arrived home. I went inside and tried to find the source of the nasty cat smell and was grossed out to find it coming from under my bed! I cleaned what I could but now what am I supposed to do?! Seriously, if anyone has suggestions that don’t include throwing the cat outside (which is my last option but I’ll do for sure if I have to) PLEASE let me know. It’s a cement floor and the cat is going on a plastic bag on top of it! The problem is that the bag is attached to the bed but is sagging down onto the floor. Sick.
Tomorrow Wandy said he would help me with my interviews. I have 18 I would like to do. Actually I would like to do all the houses for the sake of knowing everyone and also for the sake of my community map but we shall see. I may have done all but a couple after I complete the 100 I want to do. The next few weeks (after my trip to Cabarete) are going to be pretty busy getting my diagnostic completed. I would like to make the optional community map and number all the houses to a correlating number assigned to the interview I do. That will require some help since I don’t remember each person’s name but if I can get it done, then this should help me remember each person’s name!
When I asked Wandy if 9:30 tomorrow was ok he said that was kind of late so Minga piped up, saying we should meet at 8. What are you nuts? I don’t want to meet at 8! Wandy’s on winter break so he told me he could help me during the afternoons too. There’s no rush thus no reason to begin at 8. Wandy had already walked away so I’m not sure when he thinks we’re meeting in the morning. How about 9? Ugh.