Saturday, February 14, 2009

Landslide Drama

2/13 Friday the 13th! Have I gotten all my bad luck out of the way yet?

I was hoping that yesterday was the end of my frustration streak but I was only half right. Today when I went to print my budget, it wouldn’t print. Then it turns out that the thing didn’t save right so I had the budget of an entire aqueduct from the water PCV who helped me instead. The water PCV, Danny, was at the hardware store (for about 4 hours) and so I had to redo the thing by myself. I didn’t have lists of prices of things like the cement or gravel so I ended up just kind of estimating. I remembered the end numbers and I guess that’s what counts.

Before I started that, I began a load of laundry. I love doing laundry at the office because there’s a washer and the clothes smell so nice and are so soft afterwards. I didn’t have room in my backpack for much so I didn’t pack another pair of pants. Because of this I was wearing shorts while my pants were being washed. Well, as I was walking back and forth, trying to get my budget to print, Romeo saw me and told me I wasn’t allowed to wear shorts. Apparently this is a rule that’s not really enforced (since a lot of people wash their clothes here) but today it was being enforced since there was a going away party and people from the Embassy were going to be there. Awesome, I didn’t have any pants.

By this time, after the last few days I had, I was at the end of my rope. I was so frustrated. I walked straight from Romeo to a storage room to have some alone time. After I straightened myself out I went back to the computer room and asked if anyone had some pants I could use. The only person who had any extra pants was this dude named Anthony. I was pretty happy because his pants actually fit me really well. I walked around in them until my laundry was done and no one knew they were dude’s pants… well, they did because I was like, “Hey! Check out my pants! They’re man-pants! Look how they fit, isn’t that cool?!” So, yes, I was pretty impressed that I could cross dress so well. Peace Corps helps Volunteers realize undiscovered talents.

The day began to take a turn finally. I went to the going away party and got another delicious, free lunch. Later I went to a paper store and got some more paper and markers. Its ridiculous- the markers here that I’ve used so far are so crappy. They dry out after one charla. I guess I really took Crayola brand for granted. After that I went to the Embassy and took a hot shower (but those showers aren’t perfect because they don’t drain… ewww). Then I went to the office and used the internet for a little while before being kicked out when they closed. I wanted to go to the Marriott and use their free Wi-Fi but my friend, Iris, who was going to go with me was afraid we would get robbed since it was dark.

For fun at night a group of us bought some beers from Drinks to Go (Which is so weird in itself. It’s a store that sells alcohol but then the people sit outside the store with their stereos in their cars and it’s like an outside bar. Everyone hangs out, drinks and some people dance.) and then went to Burger King where my friends each bought an Angry Whopper and drank their beers (I got water and fries). We stayed at Burger King until 11 when they closed and the store mysteriously began to fill with the stench of sewer. We hit Drinks to Go again and then went to a car wash. I was pretty tired but we ended up staying out until 3 am! I would have gone home sooner but I didn’t want to go alone. I guess it was ok because I needed to work on my dancing anyways. Tomorrow I’m going to the office and working on a grant then I’m heading home. I didn’t have any extra money in my account for the wall for my house today so hopefully it will be here Tuesday. If not, at least I’m going back to the capitol on Friday morning so I can bug Money Man then again if need be.

2/12 Thursday: Another Frustrating Day

When I arrived today at the Peace Corps office around 11, Romeo’s secretary told me he was booked all day and that I would have to come back the next day. I was flustered but figured that it was ok because I had a Plan B. Romeo is notorious for taking PCVs out to lunch that happen to be around when he goes to lunch. So, I sat outside of his office for about 30 minutes and as a result was able to get a very delicious, very free lunch out of it. (This is good because I had to pay for the 4 days I was at the Hub out of my pocket. I’ll get reimbursed but it takes like a month) I talked to Romeo about my problem over lunch and we had a meeting about it after as well.

We talked with a water PCV who studied engineering and a water PCV who worked in construction and they both were so helpful and came up with possible solutions. Sure they’re not experts but they knew a little about the topic. I was so relieved because Romeo told me during lunch that it was definitely a possibility that I would have to move out of my great house. There are only two other houses in my community that I know about that are empty and I don’t think they would pass PC’s minimum living requirements- which is really sad. There aren’t many requirements. (1) Have a door and window’s that are secure and lock (2) Have a latrine (shared with other people in the community or private) or somewhere sanitary (as sanitary as a latrine) to use the bathroom (3) Have a roof and it can’t be made of leaves (4) Has to be somewhat close to neighbors and can’t be somewhere stupid like in a flood plain, …or on a cliff where it may fall off due to a landslide. <- that must have been in the fine print…

So, the two houses are wood and they are CRAPPY. I have a feeling that I would get Leptospirosis from all the rats there. Man, I don’t want to even think about the huge rats- pooping on my stove and food, eating my food, crawling around at night when it’s all I can hear… gross. The two PCVs really thought that it would be ok if we could build a wall like Kevin wanted anyways. Romeo told me to get a budget and turn in it to Money Man and then Money Man would call me when it was all set. Great. I could have done that over the phone! I wasn’t sure what to say since Money Man was in our meeting but Romeo knew that I didn’t want to leave without the money because he told me “You have doubt written all over your face. If you want to stay and wait that’s fine but it’s on your nickel.” Now, that was a bummer to hear since Money Mans incompetence is the reason I was there!!!!! So, I’m going to try to talk to Romeo tomorrow but I’m not sure how to say that I think an employee is inept and I don’t trust him in a non-offensive way and then ask for per diem for being here since I have no money.

I was feeling pretty stressed about the way the afternoon went despite the fact that it was riddled with good things. I got a free lunch, I got a bola yesterday, I can still live in my awesome house… and everything always works out in the end so I need to distress. I wasn’t even sure how to make a budget since I have no training on how far a bag of cement goes or how much it costs or how to build a wall (something that I would need to know to make a budget). I wanted to turn my budget in today but needed to talk to Ernesto. I couldn’t get a hold of him so I called Minga since the only other numbers I had either didn’t have service or were to people in school at the time. Minga told me that she was going to the Club de Madres meeting and Ernesto would be there then but he was out working when I called. She assured me she would be there next to him at 4:00 so I hung up and waited another 30 minutes. When I called her back she said she was in the truck with Tolo and that Ernesto was at the meeting but she wasn’t. Well, that was helpful. I text Wandy and when he got out of school he let me know. I was able to call Ernesto then but by then it was too late to turn the budget it for the day.

So, here I am, in the Pen for the night, wondering how tomorrow will go. I think I’m going to turn the budget in and go home since there’s no way I’ll get the money before Tuesday now. It’s a waste of money to stay here 5 extra days. Plus, I have to be back here on Thursday anyway since its Committee Weekend and I want to get involved with things (its a weekend filled with informational meetings on tons of stuff PCDR offers). Overall, I know I should be happy since things could have been a lot worse but I’m still feeling mildly aggravated about the whole thing.

On a positive note, there are other PCVs here with me from other groups so I’m not alone. Four of us went to the grocery store where I bought a coconut for 20 pesos (remember its 35 pesos to a dollar). At least I was able to eat that and some yogurt for dinner. Maybe I’ll get another free lunch tomorrow, who knows?

Wednesday 2/11: Back to site finally, I hate cats, lots of frustration

This morning I was super lucky that my APCD, Miguel, was in Santiago so I was able to catch a ride with him from the Hub. I originally asked for a ride to wherever he was going, asking for him to just drop me off along the way as close as he was going to my site. He ended up buying me 4 pineapples and told me he thought it was too much to carry up the mountain on the back of a motor along with my normal load of stuff so he took me the whole way to my house! That saved me a lot of money (at least 140 pesos and a lot of wetness since it was raining still), I got 4 free pineapples and we stopped at some of his family’s house on the way so I got some free cake and juice too! What a deal! Plus it was good that Miguel saw my landslide damage since for the first time I was experiencing campo guilt. Having my boss see the damage was somehow vindication for being out of my site 4 extra days. I felt really freaking bad about being out of my site when I was supposed to be getting a move on the stuff I am here for.

After Miguel dropped me off, I went up to my house, around the back way, through Ernesto’s house since my path was covered in dirt (and also not completely intact at the top anymore). When I got to my porch I looked down over the edge and was a little disturbed that right under my front step was a newly formed drop off. Sure it’s only like a 10- 15 foot drop off but hey, I never even liked to go off the high dive let alone fall off of a cliff, I don’t care how little it is. I was a little annoyed because I couldn’t open my door for some reason so I had to go back down the back way and I sat with the colmado man, talking with him about the damage while waiting for someone to come home at Ernesto’s house. Colmado Man was confused why I couldn’t open the door to my house since “el muchaco does it fine” (meaning Wandy). Great, I guess I was confused too.

While I was sitting there, I began to survey the damage. I’m no civil engineer or anything but I really don’t think that it’s such a huge deal. Sure, there was a landslide but I think the way it happened was pretty dang fortunate. No one was in the house thanks to the fact that I was whale watching and I had just told Wandy the night before his happened to take the cat food and cat outside and close the door to the house, not to go in it anymore while I’m not there. So, no one was in the house… probably the first time since Kevin lived there. Also, the land fell away but stopped at my house. It fell and exposed about 3-6 inches under my front side step to the house but that’s it. I decided that I would have to go to Santo Domingo to talk to Romeo about getting some money for it all. I would have rather just called and dealt with everything over the phone but the person who deals with money is notoriously unhelpful. A perfect example of this is how on Wednesday I called Money Man 4-5 times on three different numbers, leaving urgent messages on each one about how I was a PCV who had a landslide and was no homeless and could he please call me back ASAP. Did he call me ever? No. To tell you the truth, the whole situation with this guy really pisses me off. I think that its crap that he sucks so bad.

Anyways, I was waiting at the colmado when Ernesto came home. He opened my door right up, it had just expanded from the rain so it was just stuck again. We sat and talked for a while when I noticed a smell. He left and I looked in my bathroom to discover that the cats had pooped once. Yuck. I was pretty annoyed by the whole situation; the landslide, not being able to get into my house, not getting a call back from Money Man, and then more freaking poop to clean up, when Ernie comes in the door calling me the one name I asked her not to call me: Gringa. They call me Satan Devil and that doesn’t even bug me but for some reason this is so annoying to me. I must have given her a look because when she saw me, she stopped calling me it and went to get some stuff to help me clean- which I thought was really nice of her.

When she came back we were discussing how it stunk over in one corner by the bed Wandy had slept in and we realized that the cats had peed and pooped all over the mattress and mosquito net! YUUUUUCKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS WHY I ALWAYS HAVE DOGS!!!!!!!! We moved the mattress to reveal a TON of more poop and my favorite pair of flip flops fell victim as well mixed in with the feces. I wonder if the cats are smart enough and just don’t like Wandy since one of them pooped in his bed the day I left for training and then at my house they pooped all over the bed he was in but left my bed completely fine. Either way, it took over 2 hours of cleaning to take care of the mess. Before Ernesto came over I had to clean out my fridge thanks to some forgotten food and so by the time I had been home for 3 hours everything in my house had been scrubbed. Ernie did most of the work; it’s amazing how she can mop! She can even dry the floor with the mop.

I was in a pretty foul mood by this point which was a shame since I hadn’t seen anyone in my community for 8 days and had to leave again at 6:30 am to get my bola down the mountain. Ernesto told me that a cable to my house had broken so there were no lights. I must have missed the past tense of that statement because I didn’t realize that he had fixed it already. Although, it’s not that it mattered much since there was only power for about 30 minutes that night.

Before it got dark, I called Romeo and he told me that my situation was a priority so when I come down to visit I would “be first”. I know how Money Man is with getting things done speedy so I wanted to get there before lunch that way I wouldn’t have to stay in the capitol very long. I knew that if I got Money Man to look at what I need on Thursday there would be a chance I would receive the money before the weekend. I didn’t want to stay the weekend in the Pen (the cheapest hostel here in Santo Domingo) or in the Capitol- especially alone. Also, Monday is President’s day so that means that Money Man won’t be in the office then, which of course equals another day in the Capitol for me. Why do I need to wait for the money you may wonder? Well, yes they do have direct deposit here but Money Man is NOTORIOUS for telling people that the money will be in their account a certain day but then an extra week goes by and there’s no money and Money Man’s not answering his phone or returning calls. EVERONE I asked (like 8 people) told me that if I want/need to get something done involving Money Man that I pretty much had to do it in person. It costs me 130 pesos on a good day to get to the ATM from my house. I don’t want to check every day to see if he put funds in when he said he would but then I also don’t want to pay several days to stay here in the capitol.

After I called Romeo, I was a little bummed since Romeo told me I couldn’t sleep in my house that night. That meant I had the pleasure of sleeping in Minga’s house. Ick. I’m fortunate that Minga is so generous and lets me sleep there whenever if I need it but dang, I just got out of there! At least it was easy to get up at 6 since I didn’t really sleep that night between Marvey yelling things during the night and Minga snoring. Also, at least Tolo wasn’t there, it was his night to be in Navarrette I guess.

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