Saturday, July 18, 2009

The 1st half of July. Celebrating and regaining my sanity. Por fin!!!

7/18 Saturday: To Bonao!
Today I have a meeting with the Director of Environment of the entire country. How did I get this meeting you wonder? Well, I signed up for this marine interest group back in May at the all PCV conference and it’s actually the group that has the meeting. I was sent a text on Wednesday inviting me and I figured why not? After all, it’s about the contacts you make right? Well, lucky for me, Ali lives in Bonao and her Escojo dance was moved to this Saturday! So, I get to kill two birds with one stone! I’m going to go to the meeting, and visit Ali in her site (finally) while helping her with the dance. This is another example of me not being in my site but still working. Not to mention, I have a laundry list of stuff to get done while I’m out. It’s a pain planning all this stuff. I have to write notes to remember to read notes that I wrote to remember something! I miss the days of efficiency. Ahhh, imagine how nice it was when I was able to type something up, with out the worry of the power going out, use the internet AND print it all within the same 10 minutes! WOW! 5 weeks and 5 days..:)
7/17 Friday: “And what a hard worker you are Elizabeth!!”
Today I have been sneaky but it was not premeditated. I went to Minga’s with my computer because I am preparing an English class (not super excited about this but figure it has to be better than my nutrition class) and needed the computer and her generator thanks to no power. Well, I did what I needed, talked to Minga and sorted out yesterday and then decided to write in my blog. Only, I didn’t feel like writing in my blog and so I sat, watching episodes of Heroes in secret. Everyone is like, “Wow, what a hard worker you are, sitting there for so long!” and while I nod my head in agreement, I’m eyeing the screen of my favorite television show. I got all my work done, watched three episodes, didn’t bathe, hid out from Wandi all day, and man do I look like a hard worker. The worst part of today is that there are a lot of mosquitoes in Minga’s house that were feasting on me all day. Is it a curse or a blessing that I can’t feel their bites? I’m not sure but if that’s the bulk of my problems, life is pretty good.

7/16 Thursday: Veloria and of course, more drama…
I find myself always making things more complicated with my indecisiveness. Yesterday I was with Minga and she invited me to go to a vela or a wake. I figured I could go sure but she wanted to leave at 8:30 am and then wait for Tolo to pick us up whenever in the afternoon- aka like 5 pm. Forget that dude, that’s waaay to long to hang out at a wake. So I told her I had some things to do and wouldn’t be able to go that early and that she could go with out me, I could eat a sandwich in my house for lunch. She wouldn’t hear of it though and said she wouldn’t go, which made me feet bad. So at like 10 at night Wandi tells me that Mercedes invited me to go to a vela as well, the same one I assumed which meant that this was no normal wake, this was a big to do. Now I knew I should go or else I would seem antisocial but still didn’t want to go super early and then have to rely on Tolo to pick us up who knows when in the afternoon. Here is where my indecisiveness comes in; I didn’t tell Mercedes yes or no because I figured I should talk to Minga since she invited me first. I thought that maybe I could go with Minga and then leave with Mercedes or something. Since it was late when I found out, I figured I would go to Minga’s the next morning.

The next day, I heard a bus was going to come and pick people up from my community and take them to the wake. It was supposed to be here at 8:30. It was 8:15 when I found out and so I went to Minga’s to tell her to go with the bus and I would meet her there around 11. She refused to go without me and said if I was going to go in a motorcycle that she would pay to go in one as well which was sweet but it was bad too. Bad because when I told Mercedes that morning that Minga invited me already she went off, seemingly upset saying something about me going with Minga and being alone… I’m not sure. My Spanish isn’t up to par yet with ranting women and their slang. The issue is that I like Mercedes less and less as more time passes. This is mean but she reminds me of a toxin or poison, you don’t see it coming and then it kills you- BAM! The woman likes to talk about people, which is pretty common here but she does it in a malicious way and can turn on anyone who’s not her family. It’s annoying that people like to talk here but I can deal with it normally. It’s when they do it to cause harm, that’s when it crosses the line.

So, as I have said before, she isn’t exactly someone I want mad at me and it seems pretty easy to piss her off. Well, I was hoping that I would just go alone but Minga ruined those plans. I decided the next best thing would be to go to Mercede’s house and to tell her I was going to go later in the day and that Minga wanted to go with me. Mercedes acted like she wasn’t mad but she made sure to repeat at least 3 times that if I “wanted to go with Minga…” it was fine. So much for trying to make things smooth.

In June this would have bothered me a lot but now, I’m just like, “Well I guess you can’t make everyone happy.” As long as I do what I think is right I’m not going to feel bad about it. I need to focus on the right choice and not on trying to appease everyone because that’s impossible. I’m not sure if it’s more impossible here where the level of education is so low and people are so unrealistic and irrational or if I’m just more aware of when I offend people here. All this isn’t some type of epiphany or because I have a new sense of clarity. It’s because I had a vacation. I feel so much better after being away from the campo for a week for the 4th. I was tired afterwards and still have that stupid cold but nevertheless I feel refreshed. I realized that I haven’t had a real break from the campo since April and even that was with my mom and sister (which was awesome but not without lots of another type of stress). Really the last time I have had a break, a day off- a true breather, was in January for New Years. No wonder I have been so testy. Peace Corps “gives” two R & R days a month but even when I’m trying to take those I’m still doing some type of work. It costs too much to leave the campo and not do some of the work stacked up that requires resources outside of the campo (like, I don’t know… a printer or internet).

So anyways, when I went to leave the wake there was some confusion with Minga and she ended up leaving, seemingly pretty pissed off at me. I heard later that she told someone she wasn’t going to go out with me anymore. The great thing about Minga is that I know all I have to do is talk to her tomorrow and we can sort it out. And, to make things even better, no matter how stressed I get, I know that I have 6 weeks from tomorrow until I’m home for a 3 week vacation!!!!!!!!!!! WHOOT!!!!:) I can take whatever gossip they want to throw at me with that armor.

7/14 Tuesday: Dog attack, foot in a bucket and not much more
A good indicator that I’ve been here for a while is that I feel like I don’t have anything interesting to write about. Lisa’s visit pointed out that I’m fairly used to life here and the idiosyncrasies of the everyday- which was something I thought would never happen. Today when I went running with Wandi I was bit by a dog. That’s never happened to me before and let me tell you, when someone says they got bit by a dog I swear they never say how it hurt but dude, it stings! It wasn’t even a real bite, nothing to write home about but here I am… Stupid dog. And thanks a whole lot to Wandi who didn’t even stop walking to throw a rock at the dog or anything while it chased after my leg growling. Thankfully there was a woman walking by at the same time and she lobbed a rock at the measly dog. Note to self: don’t depend on Wandi to save my life against a dog attack. Got it.

Later that day Minga’s 4 year old grandson came walking by my house. The day before he fell on a rock and ripped off one of his toe nails and pulled a good piece of skin back on an adjacent toe. His dad was there and I told him to clean it until it looked clean, put a Band-Aid on it and make sure the kid wears shoes for a few days. Well, surprise surprise, here shows up little D, running by me with no shoes on and no Band-Aids. This is the same little boy that gashed his forehead when I got here and everyone was telling me to stitch it up because I’m a doctor you know. Anyways, I was little annoyed that the dad didn’t listen to a thing I said (especially since I’m a doctor) and I took the kid and cleaned him up. The nail-less hole was so packed with dirt I had to have him soak his foot in a bucket of warm water for a good 20 minutes. I sent his brother to get his shoes and had a talk with his mom on how to care for it. The boy is a trooper, he didn’t even cry. I gave him a sucker and Wandi tried to steal it and still he seemed un-phased.

All this I was doing when Rach called me from NY to tell me she’s at this delicious ice cream place that we have here in the DR. “Enjoy your ice cream”, I told her, “I’m sitting here on my porch with a bucket on my lap and a kid soaking his foot in it, performing the great show of the week for the crowd to stare in awe at…” It seems every time we talk we are doing such different things from each other; it’s amazing to think that we pretty much had the same life the last 4 years in college. Although I definitely don’t have enough money in my bank account to get that delicious ice cream this month, I have something to look forward to August 1st- pay day and it just so happens that it’s also a day I will be in a city that has the wonderful ice cream store:) Its meant to be.

7/11 Saturday: Sleep… I just want to sleep…
This morning, as I sat on my porch, trying to cool off, I took a look at my yard. Yesterday, while I was gone, Argeni and Ernesto worked on the stairs again, doing another 4 (so I now have 7 of which just 3 are finished) and I guess Ernie worked on the landscaping. My yard was looking really ugly before. I went and picked up the trash but that’s all the effort I put in and all the effort I really feel like putting in to tell you the truth. I’m not sure if Ernie made it better or worse. Is it better to have a crazy overgrowth of plants or to have chopped them down to bare numbs and dirt? I’m not sure. She replanted the branches she cut and if they grow then they have the potential to look really good. Not that I mind, it was ugly before with no potential and now its ugly with maybe soon-to-be beauty (or something like beauty… in a maybe abstract way, don’t want to get the hopes up too high), that’s better for sure, right?

Today has been a very calm day, which is just what I need. I was supposed to go to Bonao to help Ali with a dance for her Escojo class but it was rescheduled for the 25th so today I spent the day writing my blog and I took a nap. Mono is going around PCVs right now and I’ve got my fingers crossed that I didn’t’ share anything with a sicky. Aside from the skin fungus, bean allergy, a few parasites or what have you, a bout with food poisoning, and a lot of gripe (common cold) I have been really lucky the last 11 months. I have to ask myself, “Do you feel lucky?” Why, as a matter a fact, yep I do. You can’t get me mono, HA!

7/1 Wednesday- 7/10 Friday: Lisa’s Visit!

It sure has been a busy 10 days! I had so much fun these past few days and I’m sure my good friend Lisa did as well. It was a great visit. Lis and I have been friends since we were 8 years old. It’s one of those relationships where we can go for a few years even without talking but as soon as we do, we pick up like we were hanging out yesterday. It’s a strange friendship really, we’re pretty much as different as you can be and in the past have not been able to spend more than 3 days together without honestly needing a break from each other. We were interested to see how the 10 days completely together every minute was going to go and, amazingly, it went well. We each had our crabby moments (but of course she had more:) and we never actually needed a break from each other! It was a thing of beauty. Since it has been so long since I last wrote and there was so much action in the last week and a half, I’ll just write about the highlights.

Day 1 and 2: This was true Dominica style with my cab driver telling me that he was going to be 30 minutes late to get me and me freaking out about Lisa wandering around the airport lost. Lucky for us, her one giant bag took forever so we ended up waiting for her for about an hour. It was sooo funny when she got to the taxi, she thought it was a real terd of a car but I personally thought that it was kind of nice for a taxi. She actually took pictures of it.

For those of you who know me, I generally talk a lot. I like to think that the information I share is of the utmost importance. Lisa seemed to disagree, telling me during the entire trip that I didn’t warn her about this or I never told her about that… beginning that first morning. In my defense we only chatted once before she got here and that was in April. Aside from that, I hadn’t talked to her since July last year and I even tried to help her out and wrote her a suggested packing list (per her request) So anyways, morning one: she went to take a shower. The water was running for a while and after listening for a bit and not hearing any screams I figured that she was fairing ok with the cold water I forgot to tell her about. That was because she hadn’t gotten in yet, whoops. When she did get in, she screamed… a lot. Guess I never told her it doesn’t warm up, in fact it has never even crossed my mind that it would warm up. But really, what do you expect for 175 pesos/night? At least it’s hot here, cold showers are refreshing.

She arrived on Wednesday evening so we had all day Thursday to hang at the ever wonderful embassy pool. She stayed there, relaxing while I went with the Safety and Security Officer from PC, Jenn, to file the police report finally on my iPod. The police told us we would have to pay to file the report, which is crap so we left. Jenn called the embassy and tattled on them and she took care of the report for me. I knew the police station would try to screw me over, I could feel it in my bones… I felt bad because Lis and I were supposed to go sightseeing but I was held up at the police station and the medical office until about 5 pm. No police report, two stool samples and a skin fungus diagnosis later, we were off to see downtown at least a little before it got too late.
***It should be noted that right when I was diagnosed with the fungus the first thing I asked is if it can grow on the face. That’s really the last thing I need you know. So, lucky for me, I got the kind of fungus that only grows on the feet and hands. When she told me that I remembered a few weeks ago asking Wandi what was on his hand (it was peeling weird) and he said he didn’t know, that he had it forever. Nasty! I got Wandi’s fungus!!!!***

Day 3: The next morning Lisa and I woke up really early to try to go downtown to get some sightseeing in before we left for the Dirty South. We had to go to the lab to drop off the samples I had been carrying in my purse since the day before and ended up running really behind schedule thanks to the lab making me take a number before they would let me simply hand them my bag of poop and leave. I tried to be sneaky and hand it off to someone different working like three times but must not be super stealthy at 7 am. But on the other hand, is it possible to be stealthy when trying to pass off a bag with two containers of poop. Anyways, by the time we got back to the Pen (after the fastest sight seeing EVER) we were about to miss our bus. Being a little more accustomed to dragging large, heavy bags long distances than Lisa is, I took her suitcase and booked it to the PC office where all my stuff was still.

By the time we got there I was my attractive deep red color, sweating profusely, and panting some too. Lisa had packed her smaller book bag she brought for the weekend trip but I forgot mine and so just stuffed my stuff for the next few days in a plastic bag. Apparently Lisa was impressed with herself for “packing my life for the next 3 days in a book bag” but then was put off by my plastic grocery bag. (which ripped before we even got there, errr) Maybe I’m just used to it but putting all my stuff in a plastic bag for three days doesn’t seem like a big deal although I would of course accept a prize for it, maybe a cookie or a sticker? We were practically running to get to the bus (which is the worst walk ever, even when you’re not in a hurry) and made it just as everyone was getting on. Thank goodness because the next bus wasn’t for another 4 hours.

The majority of the PCVs went to Samaná for the 4th, which would have been really fun but New Years was a huge group as well and I have already been to Samaná- twice (VERY beautiful by the way). I’m more of a small-group type of person anyways. I talked to Lisa about it and we opted to go south to Bahía de las Aguilas (Eagle Bay) with a much smaller group of 20. We arrived in Barahona around 1, bought some groceries and toilet paper (should always been prepared when it comes to TP, especially when at a beach in this country, fyi) and waited for the others to show up until 5:30. We killed time by taking pictures with the Skim Ice Man (there is almost always someone selling Skim Ice, delicious little popsicles for the right price of 5 pesos) and drinking beer.

When everyone was there we loaded up into a van and headed off to the house we rented. There were 20 people, 1 dog, 1 guitar, a ton of bags and at least 6 helmets packed into the caravan bus. The more the merrier. We arrived to the house and decided to go for a swim at the beach. Lisa and I hung back to search out some filtered water and man were we glad we did since the beach was a loooooong walk and we hopped on a bola to it while the rest of the group walked the whole way. The beach there in San Rafael is beautiful but wow did it mistreat us. After we left, we all felt assaulted in some way. It took my swim suit off twice- once when I tried to get into the water and once when I tried to leave. It was the first time I ever opened my eyes under salt water and that was only because when it pummeled me as I was getting in I opened my eyes as a survival thing in an effort to see where I was going while the water hurled me around as though I was nothing but a piece of sand! After I got myself and my swim suit back together, Marissa and I were enjoying ourselves when we realized we were getting pretty far away. We began swimming back and after about 5 minutes I looked up and asked if we seemed any closer. Nope. Great. I began to have visions of PC sending a helicopter out to find the missing PCV who was floating out in the sea somewhere while wondering how far away I could get before that would happen. I figured I would be beached in Venezuela or Columbia by that time.

After we had been sufficiently abused by the ocean we headed back to the house. We realized then the house, while at first seemingly perfect, had some flaws for a group of our size. The first, most noticeable was that there was one bathroom. PCVs can improvise for any situation and so, not to be deterred, in effort to save time and be conscientious, Lisa, Kelly and I showered together in our swim suits. Next, problem number two: no water. While the water at least lasted through our shower it failed for others. We tried to figure out what the issue was since the water tank was full but we were unsuccessful and ended up spending the night in a very unsanitary way. As PCVs, no water is nothing new but we kind of need to know in advance so we can find some buckets and load ‘em up with water to flush the one toilet. This is why latrines really aren’t so bad and can definitely be much more sanitary than a toilet. (Useful fact: I prefer latrines when doing my poop samples. Here’s why: fill the cup, scoop it into the tube with the handy, tiny, pronged spoon supplied in the lid of the tubes and then what’s left in the cup, toss down the latrine. No trying to scrape the cup clean into the toilet or leaving stinkys in the trash can like when using a toilet.) Not to mention that as the night passed, two water PCVs got really sick with wicked diarrhea and violent vomiting. Speaking from experience, puking in a toilet with diarrhea is enough to make even a healthy person want to throw up but its way worse when the toilet is full of other people’s poop- and I really mean full. We began just going outside if we could.

The house had 2 sleeping spots on thin, little couches, 3 bedrooms and 6 beds so we had 3 people to a bed. When Lisa and I got there, she thought she was being so clever by picking the room with the best view but it turned out to be the room right across from the bathroom… the bathroom with no water and a toilet full of all kids of nasty things, all this in the house with walls that of course don’t reach up to the ceiling. It was a pleasant night. At 3 am I got up to try and help poor Andrew who was hurting me just listing to him and I honestly was sad that I had to go back to bed for THREE MORE HOURS. I just wanted to be on our way to the beach and out of the house with no water. Not to mention the house began to fill with mosquitoes probably right when Justin made the reservations for it and of course none of us brought our mosquito nets across the country (PC doesn’t exactly supply “travel” mosquito nets). It was an all out feast for a million mosquitoes. I haven’t put bug spray on in months but I got out of bed to do it this time.

Day 4: While the house experience sounds pretty bad looking back on it, it really was a pleasant experience. We were lucky that our driver showed up on time at 7 am and so we were off to the beach in the back of a flat bed truck bright and early. I thought that it was like an hour away but it turned out to be like 2-3 hours away. This is a bit of a mystery since it took three hours to get there and about 2 to get back. The two guys who were sick the night before seemed to be doing better and it’s a good thing Lisa and I bought TP because we had to stop along the road a few times for them on the way there.

When we arrived to the national park the guys who take people out on the boat to get to the beach were telling us it was 50 pesos a person instead of the normal 20 to “enter the park”- aka, sit on the beach. Being super cheap PCVs we argued and argued until they gave in and charged us each the 93 cents less. My favorite moment of the trip was before we even got to the beach. We all piled on the boat, life jackets buckled, the two dogs gravely looking over the sides of the boat (didn’t like water), and we all began to sing the Star Spangled Banner. One of the PCVs recently came from the States and she brought some little flags with her so we had those up in the air as we sang, our hands hanging over the boat in the crystal clear water, on the way to our own little paradise. Everything was perfect right then and I think that was pretty much how everyone felt. We were away from our families and old friends but here we were, together with new friends in a new place, really enjoying each other, connected with the song we were singing and feeling like there wasn’t a cultural barrier in the world right then. I always have loved the 4th at home, its right up there with Christmas. I love Dixon’s Petunia Festival during the 4th (however cheesy) and I love the rip-off carnival with the fireworks every year. I love the Taste of Chicago and boat rides in the river. Sure there were no fireworks or petunias but this was definitely a fantastic 4th of July that I will always remember and appreciate warmly.

Day 5: After a day at the beach, with some food that Dominicans shared with us (goat and some type of crustacean) we headed back to the truck for the ride back to the San Rafael house which thankfully now had water. The next morning Lisa and I left around 7:15 to go to Justin’s site, where they mine Larimar. This is the only place in the world where Larimar can be mined and Justin’s site is the place to go to get it; it’s cheap there and you can make your own jewelry. We left his site very satisfied and almost missed our bus back to Santo Domingo. Lisa and I decided that we would spend a little time in SD before heading back to my site. I needed to get my plane ticket for my visit home in August. Despite the fact that we tried to go super fast, we found ourselves once again running up the horrible walk to Caribe Tours. This time we weren’t so lucky and we missed the bus. That was a bummer but I figured we could get the next bus. The problem was that by some fluke, there were a ton of people traveling or something and all the tickets were sold out until the 6 pm bus. That would have put us back way after dark which is not ok. So we had to spend another night in SD.

To make the most of yet another night in SD, we decided to go out with my friend Chris and it was a good time. We went to the famous Rinconcito where they have a free salsa show to watch every Sunday. Thanks to some rain, we missed the salsa but it was still fun to go. It’s a colmado down in the Colonal Zone, right next to some ruins. Then we went to a different, larger colmado and danced, giving Lisa her first dance class on bachata and merengue. It was a fun night but I was still a little bummed Lisa couldn’t go to my disco in my town that night.

Day 6: Monday we got to my site in the afternoon and took it easy. We hung out with some people and walked around a little. We went up to the hill at night but it we couldn’t see the shooting stars because it was cloudy. Normally you can see a lot of shooting stars on any given night. The biggest news I have to share for this day is that the PC doctor called me to tell me that my samples came back and I did indeed have a parasite. I wasn’t concerned until she told me that it was “untreatable”. This is not something a person wants to hear right after they find out that they have a parasite. What she meant to say was that it was self limiting and after it peacefully lives out its life in my intestines it will die. Awesome. How long would that take? Nadie sabe but I was feeling better after a few days so I’m going to guess like 3-4 days, like a fruit fly. I had a fruit fly parasite.

Day 7: Tuesday morning I was an opportunist and decided to use the fact that I had Lisa with me to my advantage. There were a couple of guys throwing themselves at her and so I told them that she doesn’t get impressed by talk (also because she doesn’t speak Spanish), that if they want to impress her they should show her what hard workers they are. And this is how I finished my garden. It’s amazing to me that the guys stuck around since Lisa would help for about 5 minutes and then disappear in my house for 20. It took the whole morning but we were about to finish the garden. It got too late to transplant the already planted veggies so we decided we would have to do that the next day. Another motivating factor? I told the guys we would go to the river in the afternoon if and ONLY if we finished the garden in the morning. Oooo, how exciting seeing la Americana in her swim suit! And she doesn’t wear the panteloncitos either, bikini bottoms all the way! Was this wrong of me? Maybe… but Lisa didn’t know what I was saying to them, besides she has no shame anyways. She didn’t care.

We finished the garden and so we went to the river in the afternoon, going to a new part I had never been to. I think it’s the best part. Not only does it have a huge rock to throw yourself off of (or throw someone else off of) but it has a giant jungle vine hanging from a tree to swing from. When I first went to jump from the rock I was a little (or a lot) freaked out. I mean, I’m pretty sure I never went off the high dive at the pool I worked at for 4 years for crying out loud, and the high dive generally doesn’t cause bodily harm (belly flops aside) and the level of safety isn’t directly correlated with how much it has rained. Wandi, always there to help, decided to throw me off of the rock, making me jam 4 of my toes on my right foot as it bounced off of the rock on the way down. I guess it was partly my fault, I mean I was taking a long time to gather the courage to jump and once you’re up there you sure can’t turn back and climb back down, that would be way worse than a screaming belly flop.

I wasn’t mad that I jammed my toes but- dang it, I just spent like an hour on them making them look so nice! So much for that, now there’s blood under two of the nails. You know it’s the little things in life and my toes are little. Really I haven’t paid that much attention to my nails since I’ve been here but I was just trying to counteract the ugly foot fungus. I guess it doesn’t matter much, my feet are jacked up. I would like to point out that they weren’t perfect before I came here but they were at least 5 times better than they are now. It seems like everything that happens, happens to my right foot. There are 4 cuts, a peely fungus and now 4 jammed toes on my right foot right. I’ll be surprised if I even have right a foot after another year here.

Day 8: Jumping off of the rock was good practice because Wednesday, the next day, Lisa and I went to the 27 waterfalls. It was so much fun! It wasn’t what I expected but it was pretty sweet. I think that the waterfalls in my site are bigger than almost all, if not all of the 27 at the 27 waterfalls but I hadn’t jumped off of a waterfall yet by this point. There were two times where Lisa and I thought we may drown since you have to climb up the waterfalls first. 4 people just died there two weeks ago but that was due to a flash flood. We had two guides to help us and also lifejackets and helmets. My helmet was too big so every time I popped up out of the water it was over my eyes but at least my head was safe right? Advice: if you aren’t in any shape at all (can’t pull yourself up out of water), are afraid of jumping off of somewhat high rocks into water, or are afraid of jumping across areas of water from one rock to another, maybe the waterfalls aren’t for you. If you’re ok with this stuff and are going to be in the DR, then I would recommend the waterfalls to everyone.

When Lisa and I got back to my site Mercedes had some guests over. I was definitely getting the hate vibes from her again and so I was hesitant to hang out but she was inviting us so we sat down and chilled with them, drinking beer and talking for about 2 hours. Lisa was peer pressured into dancing with someone and one other couple in front of everyone. She won some merengue competition a few years ago and when I told everyone they insisted she dance for them. Ha! I tried to tell them she didn’t remember but Dominicans are pushy and next thing I knew, Lisa was up there shaking her little booty. It was funny. Later that night we had a little dance party in my house with Wandi and Noel and Lisa was able to practice even more.

Days 9 and 10: Thursday I said I needed to buckle down and transplant the stuff I planted however long ago in the seed-growing thing (I know the Spanish word for it but the English one has slipped my mind) aka the tree trunk in my yard with stuff growing that Ernesto and I planted. We successfully transplanted and planted new seeds and I have a ton of seeds left. I really hope stuff grows. It looks like the tomatoes already bit the dust which is a big bummer. I’m hoping they come back from the dead.

In the afternoon Wandi said he wanted to go to the river again so after lunch Lisa and I got ready to go (although we were both getting a little sick of the river) and to our surprise, we were the only 3 going! We went to the river up the hill and Lisa started it off right by climbing up the rock stairs I still haven’t done and jumping off into the water. After that she went further and jumped off of the waterfall. Not to be outdone, I climbed up with Wandi and, after trembling for a minute from fear, jumped off the waterfall as well, redeeming myself slightly from the other day, the long delay between when I climbed on the rock and when Wandi threw me into the water. I decided I needed to do it twice to get some respect since I hesitated the last time. I climbed up there and while I was there Lisa began signaling something. I thought that she was saying she was going to climb up to take a picture. She went up through the forest and Wandi and I waited for her. About 20 minutes later we began to wonder where she was and decided she must have gone up too far so we began to walk up to meet her. After climbing up more waterfalls (taller ones than in the 27 and with no rope, guides, helmets or life jackets) after jamming yet another toe, this time causing bleeding outside of the nail that broke off (on the left foot for once) and actually bruising the undersides of my feet, Wandi and I said forget this and we climbed up to the road.

We ended up at a nasty cow farm and there was poop everywhere. I was feeling a little bad since I had no idea where Lisa went. We sent a little boy up the road to see if he could find her but he was unsuccessful. We began walking back when Ernesto came up and told us that Lisa had been at my house for a long time and he gave us a look like he suspected we had been doing something together while we were alone! Are you kidding me, not to mention Raul (an 8 year old ) was with us the entire time. At least Lisa didn’t lock the key in the house again this time like she did on Tuesday. Lucky too because the spare key is lost at the moment. Wandi had it but after I used it on Tuesday it disappeared. Hopefully it turns up.

That night, for the second time, Ernie, Lisa, Me, Wandi and Noel went up to the hill where you can see all the lights from the other towns. It was so pretty. It was a good ending to her time in my campo. The next day we woke up early and Noel and some random guy took us to Alta Mira. Bertico was supposed to take us but he wiped out on his motorcycle the night before and we passed him on the road as he went to the hospital. Don’t worry, he’s ok.

It was pretty cute when Lisa said good bye to Noel because he gave her a little gift of two mangoes. She thought it was adorable. Too bad she’s got someone in the States she likes and they don’t speak the same language, it could be something sweet. But, I enjoyed the mangoes anyways.

Day 10: Lisa and I spent the day in Cabarrete, where I was for New Years. Lisa loved it and was shocked that since I live so close that I had only been there once. If I’m going to use money to travel I like to go to different places. Besides I would be too tempted to eat at the delicious restaurants there and that is not in my budget. Thanks to my bean allergy the plato del día available in lots of places isn’t so appetizing either. Lisa was set on getting tan so she decided it would be a good idea to not use sun block. Bad move. She was RED by the end of our beach time. At 2 we packed it up and headed to the airport. A guy from Ireland got in the bus with us and turns out he is a volunteer in a student abroad thing and he’ll be here for a month, working with communities all over the country. I thought what they were doing sounded interesting and so I stuck around until I could talk to a leader of the group. I was there from about 2:30 when I dropped Lisa off until 5 but in the end I think it was worth it. I talked to a leader and she told me she had worked with Peace Corps in the past a few times. Her group does things with reforestation and builds things like clinics and libraries. I was thinking how this could be applicable to my community and I think a youth center or finishing the library would be ideal. I have her contact information and hopefully we can work together.

I got a bola from the airport to Puerta Plata. The guy dropped me off at the new grocery store which is huge and beautiful. I walked around it for a little while and then decided it was time to head out. Puerta Plata is bigger and more complex than I thought. I got lost and ended up walking around aimlessly for about an hour. I was getting a little nervous because Noel told me he would meet me at 6:30 and I was going to be really late. I was going to try and save some money and bola it back to Alta Mira but was afraid that it would be tough to get a ride since getting the one from the airport to Puerta Plata took a while. Guess the people in that area are too used to white people, dang tourists. Lucky for me Noel was there still waiting for me. I hope that things are better between us now, I feel like they will be.

I feel like I learned some things about my time here with Lisa’s visit. I’ve noticed a lot of ways that I am different and I noticed a lot of ways I can change. I need to loosen up and let go a lot more here if I’m going to really reach potential. Lisa just did whatever and while I don’t think I should quite do that, I recognize that I am way too uptight. I have a cool community, I need to open up more.

I was so tired on the bus from Puerta Plata to Alta Mira I was doing the head bob, falling asleep. Thankfully I was a little more awake on the motorcycle but when I got home I was pooped. I think that the reason I was getting the hate vibes from Mercedes was because it had been a while since I visited, even though she’s my neighbor. After I chilled at her house with Lisa she seemed a lot better with me. So, when I got home last night, even though I was tired, I hung out there for about an hour and a half before heading back to my house. Wandi of course showed up at my house despite the fact I told them all I was going to bed and to sleep well. I pretty much kicked him out and was in bed asleep earlier than I have been since I lived with Minga- 9:30.


Anonymous said...

It seems that you are having a lot of fun in my country :P

btw what's your mail address?
write me at

Anonymous said...

in your wishlist you have phone calls... how could I call you if I don't have your number?

Anonymous said...

I forgot... my number 829-926-1231 ;)