4/24 Friday: MOM AND RACH HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I woke up at 6 like I planned and I helped Wandi paint his lamp to look like a bumble bee. I made sure to give myself enough time since Tolo was giving me a bola again. I was ready by 7:15 and wouldn’t you know it, he showed up at 7:40- 20 minutes early but I was prepared this time. He said he’s going to pick Rach, Mom and I up in Navarrete on Sunday so we’ll see if he’s early then…
On the way to Navarrete today Tolo and Minga discovered that I still hadn’t met their son, Nolasco. He lives in Ohio but has been here since December. He has to go back to the states this week though until next December so they wanted to make sure I at least met him. This required a detour on the way to the bus stop in Navarrete to his house. So, we stopped by his house for a little bit, then stopped by the bank (so I could get out $5000 RD to pay the workers for my wall… which I don’t think is even all of it:( and then they dropped me off at the park.
When I arrived in Santiago I had two missions: get seeds from the Dept of Ag and get condoms from the Health Dept. I happened to see the Health Dept when I was on the guagua so I knew where to go. I first went to the hotel that Mom, Rach and I would be staying to secure a room for two nights but it was full. Thankfully there was one right across the street that had just one room with two beds left. It was on the 4th floor (no elevators of course) but better than nothing. Luckily the chick at the front desk told me we could leave the majority of the bags in a closet on the first floor. After I paid the $2000 RD for the two nights ($60) I headed off to the health dept for what I thought would be an easy mission.
When I arrived to the health dept I was sent on a goose chase. “Go to this door, go to that door… we can’t help you, go to that office…” Finally I arrived at the door of someone who seemed to have some authority. She asked for the name of the doctor in my clinic and I didn’t know it. She seemed like she was going to help me until that moment and then she said that I wouldn’t be able to get condoms from them, that I need a note from the doctor. I told her I was a PCV but she said that she can’t just give out condoms to anyone off the street, that people would come in, get free condoms and then sell them. Ok, so I need to go back to my campo where there are no condoms, ask the doctor for a note and then come back here? Or they could just cut out the middle mad and give ME the condoms… errr. I was pretty annoyed but the woman stood her ground. Feeling defeated I left.
I was outside, kicking myself for not putting my PC ID tag on while inside to look more official when I decided to try another tactic. I felt a little underhanded, like after one parent says no and then going to ask another, but it was for my community so I justified it. I remembered that there was another girl looking for condoms for a class she was giving and I didn’t see her discarded outside with me. I walked back up there, found the girl and asked if she got condoms. She told me not yet but that she was told to talk to another woman. I found the woman and explained my cause. She said it would be no problem and lead me back to the very first room I had been sent to. She told the woman at the desk to give me the condoms I needed and that it was no problem. Success! I left with my condoms and a little more poise. The fear of my limited Spanish being a handicap is finally going away.
Next stop was the seed shop. I went to the Dept of Ag and found them to be much easier to deal with than the Health Dept thanks to the fact that they are very familiar with PCVs. I introduced myself and didn’t even have to ask for seeds before they got me a chair and set off to get some weird seeds. I asked what the seeds were and they tried to explain what they were but they’re just too bizarre I guess. They didn’t even have pictures of them among the charts of fruits and veggies they had up. I’m not sure how I’m going to do garden projects with only 4 types of seeds (and uncommon ones at that) but it’s a start.
After my productive morning I piddled around. I went to the grocery store and then to use internet for free for a few hours until I headed back to the hotel to watch some tv. Finally 8 pm arrived and I got a taxi to the airport. It was soooooo great seeing Mom and Rach. I though that I would cry when I saw Mom but surprised myself. I am so glad that they are here with me. I wish that they could stay for longer but I will take what I can get gladly! It’s amazing what a difference a year makes; on this day last year I was miserable, getting my wisdom teeth out. And it was cold too! This year for my birthday I won’t be eating Friday’s soup (which I looooove) with a baby spoon but I’ll be partying it up at the discoteca, eating habichuela con dulce!! Yum yum!! Who would have ever thought!? Here I am in the DR!!!! :)
4/23 Thursday: Escojo part2, still preparing the house…
Yesterday I was writing the definitions of the body parts in my class again (since the boys were complaining that they couldn’t read the parts that one of the girls wrote for me) when Wandi came in and asked if I was going to help Ernie. I guess she took it upon herself to straighten out the hammock area. There was a pick ax and a machete. She used the machete and I went to help and used the axe making steps. The pick axe handle was broken at the end and before I noticed what I had done, I had a big, ripped open blister on the palm of my left hand. Fantastic. I was literally dripping sweat by this point so I decided it was as good of a time as any to stop. Later Ernesto saw my hand and when I told him what happened he told me I should have waited, that I knew he was going to have some muchachos do it. I told him they were all busy working on the wall and so I just did it. Not those muchachos, the little ones who are like 8… well I guess that makes a difference.
Today Ernesto had a migraine and so he stayed in bed all day. Poor guy, I would hate to have a migraine here in the DR- the noise is obnoxious when I don’t have a headache! Another bad thing about this is that he was going to put the shelves up today (since I’m a girl I can’t do it you know, and they’re not my tools) and disconnect the tubes from my water tank so I could clean it! So much for that, I just made some marks with chalk where I wanted the shelves and I guess we’ll see about the tank. I haven’t had running water all week though, something I’m not sure how Mom and Rach will respond to when they arrive.
The wall is really coming along. I have faith in this one, although I had faith in the last one as well. Even though they’re working really hard I don’t think that they will be able to get it finished by Sunday. If they do it would be great but on the other hand… that would mean that I have been waiting since Feb 7th for them to finish a wall that could have been completed in 5 ½ days. There are worse things in life I suppose.
In the morning I went to the clinic in my town to get some condoms for my next class. It’s the condom charla and it will be the most fun I think. I was disappointed to find that not only does a person have to go to the doctor and ask for a condom but there were only 22 condoms!! To make it worse, I took 20 of them and of the 20, half expired in 2004!! They were giving those out to people! Aye aye aye! The doctor told me he would stop by the Public Health office on Monday and pick up some more condoms but I’m not sure I want to put the fait of my class in his hands so I’ll stop by there tomorrow when I’m in Santiago. Although I’ll have to find it first.
Later in the day I had my Escojo class which was markedly different from the exact same class the week before. Don’t get me wrong, Wandi still fought a little, Ernie fought a lot and so did Vanji. I thought that if I gave them more responsibility they would act better, not the same. Then, Ernie, Karina and two guys who were there the week before just sat in the corner and talked. I get the feeling that Ernie is getting mad that she doesn’t have the same level of responsibility as when the class started. Aside from that, I didn’t think the class was as fun as this week either. It went well though. I need to rethink it a little is all. Better luck next time maybe.
Even later in the day I told Wandi I would help him with a school project. He made a light out of a gourd shell and I told him I would help him paint it. He tried very hard to just get me to do it but since it was homework I told him I was only there to HELP and lend some of the paint I just bought. Turns out the paint I bought was more like water and sucked really bad. I had a small container of orange so I told him I would help him paint something on it in the morning when the other “paint” dried. Ugh, that means I have to get up at 6 tomorrow!! But, YAY Mom and Rach get here tomorrow!!!!!!!
4/22 Wednesday: Escojo… think positive think positive think positive…
Today’s topic was Family Planning. I think I’m finally really getting used to this whole teaching thing. I’ve gone in stages from terrified to not so terrified but incredibly uncomfortable and kind of a doormat to mostly comfortable to teaching on my own and being stern (well you know, stern for me). Today when I had class only 11 kids were there which is much more manageable anyways. When they were talking amongst themselves I asked them to repeat what was just said. Or towards the end of class I would just announce in class that we had to wait to continue until whoever’s conversation was done. It worked really well. I was proud of myself that I even explained a somewhat complicated game. It took about 5 full minutes of explanation but after they understood they had a lot of fun. Yep, today’s class went really well.
There were 5 students in the class who weren’t in the last one. Since I plan on offering last weeks class again, I told them that I would be having class tomorrow, repeating the topic, since so many people missed it. BUT I said this would be the only time I was going to do this and it is the responsibility of the student to remember to go to class. If school gets out early they need to either wait for class or come back. Then there were a few students (the ones who weren’t at the last class even!) who were throwing a fit saying that the kids who missed today and last week shouldn’t be able to come back due to the attendance policy. I told them they didn’t have to worry themselves with that since it was a decision I would be making. And what do you know but that response worked! I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that. Maybe I’ll stick to it but I always forget to collect the attendance sheet from who was supposed to write it and so I doubt that they’re all still floating around. I told them that there was going to be an exam at the end and the people who don’t go to class will have a harder time with the exam. You have to pass the exam to graduate. Wandi was worried about this. He’s gone to each class but still is worried about failing. I don’t think that will be a problem because guess who is going to be grading the exams? :) Not that I would cheat for someone but I may pull them aside to clarify things. Escojo isn’t a hard topic and it’s not meant to make people feel bad and fail. I want as many people to pass as possible but of course if they completely fail the exam, it will be a problem.
Tomorrow I was supposed to go to the med mission but they ended up not needing me (bummer). It works out though since I’ll be teaching the body parts topic again. This time I have 4 peace keepers, one for each group and I’m not nervous at all. I know I can handle it. I’ve instructed the other students, the peacekeepers, of their jobs. The great thing about this game is that the participants are the ones who stand up in front of the class and read the definition of the parts and what they do. I don’t have to do any of it! Why didn’t I think of this game before so I didn’t have to freak out about the topic so much?!
4/21 Tuesday: Getting ready and doing repairs
Aside from the scramble to work on the wall (Ernesto has other people helping now so there are 8 in total) there are other things to fix up before the visitors arrive. Today I went to the hardware store to get some stuff to move my tinaco on my roof. I am very pleased about this. The problem was that the kids always play behind my house and they break the tubes leading from my tank to my house thus empting out the tank very quickly. This way the tubes won’t be on the ground for the little monsters to break and as an added bonus, the big, black tank will be in the sun where the water may actually heat up! I have to clean the empty tank out today and Ernesto said that we would move it later today.
Another thing we did was hang my newly purchased hammocks. When I went to John’s site, there was a guy who sold hammocks that he made out of rice sacks. Ernesto and Wandi think that 250 pesos a piece was a rip off but I don’t think so. They’re sturdy hammocks! I told Mercedes that I would need to clean up the area where they are and she said that she would have a kid go over there, clean it up, and level out the ground with a pick axe. Sweet, sounds good to me. I’ll wait until the afternoon and if they’re not doing it, I’ll just do it myself which is fine since I have so much practice using a pick axe at John’s site.
Yesterday evening Ernesto cut up the planks I have had in my house for the last few weeks. I bought them to make some shelves and I bought some paint from the hardware store today. I have been collecting seeds since the beginning of the month, end of last month to decorate the edges of the shelves and I think it will be fun to paint and decorate them with Mom and Rach. I want to hang them before Mom and Rach get here so we just have to worry about paint but I’ll see about that tomorrow maybe since we have to move the water tank and hammock-area cleaning today.
So, as you can see, having visitors is a BIG deal here. Ernie made sure I bought special cleaner for my floor and her and Mercedes insist on cleaning my entire house while I’m in Santiago picking up Mom and Rach. I have gotten really lucky here and still haven’t had to mop even once. Despite that my wall crumbled before my eyes, I won’t let that get me down. No one was hurt and the earth my (an under) my house still seems the same. I was a little afraid there for a minute that I was going to lose my house but nope! I am really grateful for that.
4/20 Monday: Encache? Adios…:(
This morning I thought that I would wake up nice and early and do my walking in the morning instead of after school gets out. While I was out I decided to take my sweet time and went really far again. After all, what did I have to get back for? Watching the guys work on the encache? Make them coffee? Buy them breakfast? No thank you, I will take a pass. So, after I had gone about 6 miles of running and walking I decided to take a break and I sat under the comforting shade of a mango tree and watched the clouds move. It was nice. When I got back, I went to Minga’s house in search of her delicious batata y coco flavored ice. It’s like sweet potato kind of and coconut. Delicious!
When I finally got back to my house it was about 11. I was on the porch talking with the guys for a while before finally going inside to shower. While I was picking out my clothes Ernie began yelling my name. I went outside to see what was going on and she pointed to her dad, Ernesto who told me that the wall had just had another little landslide. It looked the same to me but on closer inspection I realized that all the walls had cracks throughout. DANG IT! And they were almost done too. They were on the last wall of the 6. They got the tools out of the way and stood back. I asked if they could fix the cracks on it and Ernie said it didn’t look like it.
About 10 m minutes later, as we were all watching, the earth at the very top of the wall cracked and a big portion of it slid down, knocking the newly built, still wet, wall down. As that one fell, the next one fell and the next one and so on. It was a big bummer but I’m not going to lie, it was really cool looking. I felt bad for the guys working because the moral was really low after that. They said that all that work was just gone. So not true, I pointed out that we still had a LOT of rocks. I had jus been discussing other options for my wall with Mark the day before at his site. They do something here to prevent landslides on the roads where they take chain link fencing and essentially make a large pillar out of it, filling it with rocks. This was something that we had been discussing from the beginning so I thought I would mention it to Ernesto.
Ernesto was really upset about the wall. I feel a teeny bit bad because to get them working on it, I really laid on the guilt about my Mom visiting. I said that she would feel like they weren’t taking care of me if it wasn’t done and that she would be really disappointed. I said that she has a hard time walking since she has a bad back and the nice smooth entrance they were building would help her a lot. But at the same time I don’t feel bad. Ernesto told me that he was working in another town last Thursday and Friday but he came home to work on the wall when I was here. Why was he working in another place when the stupid wall wasn’t done still! So, if this lights a fire under his butt, great. Ernesto made an executive decision that my idea with the fencing and rocks wasn’t as good as building another encache out of the same thing, rocks and cement, but instead of having 6 pieces they would build one huge one. I am no engineer but wouldn’t that be worse because it would put more pressure on one singular wall? I have no idea. He said that the other one fell because as separate pieces they are weaker and it was the space between them that was their demise. I guess we will see won’t we?
4/19 Sunday: Getting back from Mark’s site
Yesterday I spent the night at Mark’s house. It was really nice, I love going to other PCV’s houses to see how they look. Mark has been building his house- that’s right, he built one- for a few months now, since January I think. This weekend he finished it and so this was his moving in party. Iain and I got a free ride from Sosúa to Altamira (from the Builders Beyond Border’s group or B3) where we took motors to the entrance of Mark’s site. Then it was a 10- 15 minute hike uphill on a dirt “road” with the type of mud that you helplessly sink in to as it eats your shoes, never to be seen again. And of course, it was raining when we were making the climb. At least it was a light rain.
His house is cute. I think that it looks like a tree house or something for a boy scout, which I don’t intend in a rude or unpleasant way but still it probably sounds bad so I refrained from verbalizing the comparison. The house is small but very efficient. It’s impressive that he was able to build it and the furniture. He built everything from the house to the mattresses in the bunk bed. (he made the mattresses by using foam and making a cover for them)
Iain and I got to Mark’s site Saturday around 2. We didn’t do anything at all the whole time. Well, that’s not true, at night there was power so we watched the movie Babel which we all found a little confusing. His site is very tranquil. My house, my site is NUTS compared to his. It got me thinking that it would be nice to have a mix between what I have and what he has. Mine is overwhelming but I have been afraid to send people away for fear that they will stay away and I’ll be completely solo in my house all the time. After Marks (even though it was just for a day) I feel like I could deal with that as well. No wonder others PCVs are shocked when they visit me, they’re used to more alone time. Although I have to say, even though it can be annoying, it’s nice to have so many people want to spend time with me all the time. It’s a good compliment.
I didn’t want to get back to my site too early because I wanted to avoid the discoteca so I went to the internet center for a while. I found out that a good friend’s boyfriend proposed to her Saturday night and I wanted to see if I could get a hold of her. My phone didn’t have service at Mark’s site except when it was in a very strategically placed cup which was nailed to the side of his house. But then there was the rain which made the little service available in the cup very hit or miss. I was upset the next day to see that she had called me to tell me about it and I didn’t’ have service! I was online for a while on Sunday seeing if I could catch her online to talk but no such luck.
I was also very disappointed to find that, for the first time in my life, when I checked to see what the top 10 songs were I didn’t know them!!!!! No, I didn’t say that I didn’t know 1 or 2 or the number 1 or even some of them, I said I didn’t know ANY of them! How did that happen? I knew them all in November. Then I tried to listen to the sample of them that iTunes provides but the internet connection I was paying for was so crappy that it couldn’t process them so I still don’t know!!!!! Ahhhhh!!!!!!
I maybe would have been dwelling on this but I was quickly distracted to find that one of my very best friends who I haven’t talked at all since I left, was online and I was able to chat with her!!!!! It was great and the best part? She bought a ticket to come out and visit in July!!!!!!!!!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s going to be so fun!! Now I’m torn between the excitement of Mom and Rach visiting me for my birthday (they’re getting in on Friday) for the medical mission I was asked to help out with Thursday and Friday (as a translator… again, I’m a TRANSLATOR!!!!!!!! YIPPEEEEEE!) and for Lisa coming in July!!! Ah, life is good when your biggest problem is that you can’t pick what to focus on for being excited. I’m just excited in general:)