Friday, October 2, 2009

This one is a dooooozy!

Hi everyone. So, I know I haven’t posted in like 2 months but don’t you worry! I have been writing. Its just that while I was in the States Best Buy had my computer the entire time and after that I haven’t been able to post it for some reason. So, here it is. My blog for the rest of August, allll of September and some of October. For those of you who want to keep up but don’t want to read it all, I started my “in a nutshell” part. It doesn’t explain things well but it gives a very quick sum of. Enjoy!

9/30 Wednesday: No money and no electricity= a big bummer. My Escojo group lets me down.
In a nutshell: I am broke. There hasn’t been power. The director of the school made my Escojo class switch to a room with no tables since there’s less stuff to touch. Ernie called the cleaning ladies lazy and liars in front of my class. I had to kick my first kid out of class since he wasn’t being respectful. The class is full of 9 year olds which is weird for me since it’s a SEX ED CLASS!!! They’re supposed to be at least 11 but I feel bad kicking them out after they’ve been participating for 5 weeks. My Escojo promoters decided not to show up for our meeting yesterday for some reason and now I don’t know what they’re going to do for class next week. I plan on laying the guilt trip on thick. I went to Anne’s and got info to get going on a stove project I would like to do here. I put up a bunch of signs advertising my new environmental youth group, Brigada Verde, and now I’m a teeny nervous that the attendance will be more than I can handle. Vamos a ver.

Friday can not come soon enough. Its payday tomorrow but I won’t be going into town until Friday when I go to Santiago for my friend Ali’s birthday. Despite the fact I’ve been keeping plenty busy, the week has never moved so slowly. Let me say that between Monday and Tuesday there was only 4 hours with power; 2 of which I spent at the school giving my Escojo class. So there hasn’t been any blogging or movie watching sadly and it was the first time my phone was dead for about a half day, which may be a good thing since, without the distraction of Harry Potter, I’ve been pretty productive this week as planned.

In my Escojo class Humberto made a new rule that my group wasn’t able to use the classroom we normally use (even though we haven’t had class since he kind of told me that the kids were touching stuff in the other classroom) and we will now have to have class in a room without tables. Then he came into class at the beginning and lectured them about not touching stuff. I agree with that but considering how formal he has been with me about stuff (I had to get a permission from him just to enter the classrooms to ask if I could talk about Brigada Verde- the environmental group I’m starting) I would have expected him to at least tell me that he was planning on doing that. Especially since he had a perfect opportunity when I spoke to him before class that day to get the note to enter the class.

Well, right after his speech, Ernie decided to tell him, in front of the entire class, basically that the cleaning ladies were just lazy and they were lying. That they said we were dirtying stuff in the other Escojo class but really, they just didn’t want to clean it and so they said we made it dirty after they had cleaned. Oh boy.

I had to give the boot to my first student. That’s right, I kicked one out. He was talking a LOT and actually kept leaving the class to talk to his friends and then come back in, how rude! This class isn’t going as smoothly as the last one that’s for sure. I also am aware of the fact that about 1/3 of the class is under the age of 11- which is against an Escojo rule. I’m annoyed that Ernie let these kids in when she confirmed the age rule with me I was in the States, they can join as they are at least 11. So, now I feel bad since I don’t want to just kick them out… I’m going to have to sort them out of the next class and tell them they can be in Brigada Verde or something. It’s not that big of a deal really except that I feel weird teaching a sex ed class to 9 year olds!

Today I was supposed to have a meeting with my Escojo promoters group. Wandi and Argeni showed up. Antonio showed up 30 minutes late. I was pretty dang mad. 1st of all, I was just sitting waiting for them to show up but I needed to go to Anne’s site to get some info on her stove project. I could have gone over there about 2 hours sooner. Also, they are supposed to be the awesome kids and here more than half of them don’t show up?! I was especially surprised with Ernie who was in Navarrete hanging out with her new boyfriend’s family and had her mom so worried sick that Mercedes borrowed the colmado man’s motorcycle and had a friend take her to town to look for Ernie. Well, now Antionio and Jose Luis, who are supposed to present the ONE class that they have to draw out, have nothing to present since they weren’t there! Errrr. We’ll see how this goes. I may just let them present the one I did and pick a topic for them to draw in the future. I know they’re kids but they’re old enough to know better.

Tomorrow I have my 1st Brigada Verde class and I’m not worried about low attendance. On the contrary, I made a bunch of signs (which took forever but I had no money to go to town and print some off so I spent 2 days making them out of construction paper) and I feel like a TON of people are going to be there. I kind of hope not since that’s not exactly the point. I mean I want people to be there but it’s for people who are going to go each week and participate. In hindsight, I should have said not to go unless you can go each week. Or maybe I should have saved the signs for our community service days. Oh well, guess we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

9/27 Sunday: Ernesto clears things up, politicians- bite me.
In a nutshell: Ernesto (my project partner) has been out of town and is only here on the weekends. He is really important to my work since he’s always supportive and well respected in the community. Sunday night he came over and finally sat down to make a list of 30 people who are eligible to receive a water filter while I typed it up. Now the people who weren’t chosen are mad at me since Ernesto’s wife told them that I was the one who made the list. Also on Sunday, my Escojo group and I waited for politicians to show up at the voting polls so we could solicit stuff from them (totally normal to do right before voting here) but they never showed. Jerks.

Ernesto had been out of town since I’d been back in country. He’s working in another PCV’s site, helping finish a water system. Ernesto is my rock. He and I aren’t like best buds or anything but he is super cool. I was going crazy without him here to collaborate with. When I finally got a chance to talk to him, I told him that I needed the list of recipients for the water filters ASAP and I told him about the school director and how difficult I thought he was being. He used computers as an example to explain to me that if we, for instance, get 10 computers and start a computer lab that the government will see that we already have computers and then will take the ones they said they would give, and would sell them. The government already told my community that they would put an internet center here. That means that if I am able to get some computers (something I’m working on with Kenzie) then we would have to put them somewhere other than the school. This is because if there are even computers at the school, the government won’t say, “Hey- wow you got computers; good for you! Let me use this money then to get generators or what have you.” No, they would say, “Oh… computers… well, I guess you can do it yourself and so we’ll just take this money for ourselves.” Then the community doesn’t get the internet center they were promised (although something tells me that was a false promise since we live in the middle of nowhere on the top of a mountain). Way to reward the resourceful!

As I mentioned, the politicians were supposed to show up today at the school where the elections were being held. There are three principle political groups here in the DR and they are known by colors: red, purple and white. Today the people were voting essentially in the primaries; voting for who they wanted in power for white. The guys running for office were supposed to show up at the polling place (the school) to influence people’s voting. They pay people, they give out random stuff… one year (I think for the presidential election) they flew overhead in planes and dropped salami. It was disastrous since people were fighting and scratching to get their hands on the free tubes. Obviously its wrong that they give this stuff out when people vote; in Kenzie’s site they were “helping” people vote by telling them which ones to pick and then they were paying $150 pesos. Well, sure this is wrong but I’m not voting and I figure if they’re putting themselves in this situation well, may as well use it to our advantage. So, my group and I were ready and waiting with solicitation letters for about 6 hours for the politicians, who said they’d be here at 10. We waited until 4:30 and then I left to make some dinner. So much for that.

Later that night, Ernesto came over with the list of the people who have paid their water bill. I told him I wanted the water committee to pick the people and not one person but since he’s the president and he’s never here now (thanks to the outside work) I didn’t bring it up and just typed up the names. Of course, the next day at the Women’s Meeting people were flaming mad that they didn’t get picked. Hello, there are 30 filters and over 100 houses. Doesn’t take a genius to do that math. One woman stopped me on the street and said how houses can share filters and why did I pick who I picked. Apparently Mercedes told the Woman’s Group that I picked the people. Awesome. So, I told a little lie and said that the water committee picked the names, that I just typed them. After all, I don’t want to throw Ernesto to the wolves but I seriously didn’t pick the names. And, I don’t live here. People turn on you quick and that’s the last thing I need since I’ve got to work here for another year. Anyways, we’ll see how that turns out. I said that they can work it out amongst themselves but ANYONE who wants to receive one, shared or not, HAS to pay any outstanding water bill that they have first and then work out a way to split the $500 pesos they have to pay per filter. (Which really isn’t much, especially if three houses are going to spilt it).

9/26 Saturday: A GOOD DAY!!! :D
In a nutshell: Things always work out. We are having politicians come tomorrow and I’m a liaison for my Escojo group to try to get them to donate money to Escojo thanks to my amaaaaazing letter writing skills I acquired somewhere (right Mary Alice, RIGHT?!). I got a really encouraging letter from a top notch guy at San Diego State University who wants to work with me on sustainability projects here in the DR (again thanks to my fantastic letter writing skills?) He has the same name as my one and only brother. It’s a sign. I am extra excited about it because I was researching grad school programs in environmental sustainability while I was home and would LOVE the opportunity to work with someone on a project like that. It’s possible I may be in trouble with the PCDR Country Director himself, Romeo Massy for trying to solicit funds outside of the Peace Corps before talking with my direct boss, my APCD- Miguel. I believe that if you don’t ask, how will you get anything? Guess I need to think about the order of whom I’m asking is all… I’m trying to get a basketball court built but have no where to put it. (I don’t sweat the small stuff, ha!) STORMS ARE SCARY!!! They’re scarier with an unfinished wall (that has already fallen once) which is supposed to keep my house up. They’re also louder with a tin roof, a lot louder. I am going to start my green group and put those kids to work! We may dig two deep holes to put trash in (organic and inorganic). Sounds like fun doesn’t it? I’m doing a good job of staying positive right now but that’s because I won’t be digging the holes, I’m the supervisor- LIFT WITH THE KNEES; PUT YOUR BACK INTO IT!!! Come and visit!!! (bring Luke;)

Yesterday in my Escojo group we were talking about how the new class is going to raise money (since they’re all around 11 I figured I should start thinking about this now) when it was brought to my attention that a bunch of politicians were going to be here tomorrow as tomorrow is an election- something I didn’t know! This meant that I would have to write up a letter soliciting funds from these guys and print them out today. It worked out well since I had to print out some other stuff and also because Humberto told me that before he would let my kids even think about having a mural project (one of the two reasons I went to talk to him yesterday) that I would have to write a formal letter to him asking for permission. That way in case his boss ever asks where the mural came from he can show him the letter. Makes no sense to me but what do I know. It’s ok because I can use the practice wrrriting solicitation letters (and I’m getting a LOT lately).

So I went to town today and printed off a bunch of stuff and decided to use the internet while I was there to check up on some solicitations I had written to outside sources. I told my ride I would be a half hour at the internet center but of course, after he left there were a plethora of issues and I ended up only being able to use the internet for about 20 minutes. No importa, that was just enough time to read my email and copy letters to reply to while at home.

One letter made me a little nervous. I got an email from PCDR’s Country Director, Romeo Massy, because one of the letters I wrote and sent to USAID ended up getting sent to someone he knew who sent it to him. Well, Romeo wanted to know if I had talked to my APCD (my direct boss ) about my projects. The thing is, I have a lot of ideas and there are only so many grants you can get. So, I thought it would be better to take the initiative and seek outside help. Not to mention, I know of some PCVs who have been able to get college or high school groups here to help build whatever is needed during a spring or winter break. And that was more what I was looking for. Actually, what happened was that I had this woman’s name (the one who helps build the basketball courts and libraries) but I forgot the card (or it could be lost but maybe not) and so since I was in the capital I decided to try and find other sources. On one hand, it’s good that Romeo knows that I’m being proactive, right? But on the other… I hope it’s not frowned upon or anything. I guess I’ll find out!

Especially since one letter I got made me super happy! Apparently San Diego State University and the SD Padres (baseball? l think…) teamed up to try and improve the school system in the DR. Initially I thought that I wanted to do something with the school, although that may be harder that I anticipated (I am not deterred, I’m going to talk to the Parents of the School group) so I thought that this would be good. Well, it could turn out better than I thought! I received an email from “the director of diversity in the office of the president” of SDSU who is really enthusiastic to try and work together on something!! I don’t know about you, but I was like, “WHOA!” when I saw that someone high up was contacting me. I didn’t have time to write him back as my motor driver was literally pacing waiting for me (it was lunch time), but I did forward his letter to Romeo (who has internet all the time:) and wrote a response already from my computer. So, I have no idea the process of this or what we can do but, wow, I am sooo excited!!! I can’t wait!!! And I have my fingers crossed that Romeo will be enthusiastic too.

And, to make things even better, although initially I was dismayed that only the 11 year olds wanted to participate in Escojo while I was gone, now I see how it works out well. See, now Escojo is full of kids from the minimum age level (kids who want to be there because they’re actually interested and not because the super amazingly cool fantastic Americana is teaching it) and now there are more kids available of the age group I want to work with for my green group. One could assume that these kids aren’t deserving or aren’t motivated enough but remember, this is a community group. These kids are going to have class but they’re also going to physically work. I plan on beginning the group this week or next and have completely restructured it. Well, truthfully I don’t know how it was structured before but I know that all the PCVs said that Escojo was way better so I’m going to use the charlas provided in my manual for Brigada Verde (the green group) and make the class my own. Like I said, I want to see it more a community service group and so I’m going to try to micromanage a bit and do it on a point system. Each kid gets a point for going to class weekly and also once a month they have to participate in 4 hours of community service. At first I’m going to completely focus it on trash pick up and hole digging. Yes, hole, digging. I need to find a place to dig two holes and one will be for organic garbage and the other for inorganic. I don’t know where the holes are going to be. I have no idea actually. I figure I have a month to figure that out before my first community service day. Details, details…

Speaking of details, now I need to try and figure something out about where I can put a basketball court. Although I have made NO progress on getting this, I have decided to think positive and HOPE that I get one. I have to start somewhere; I may as well start assuming I will get one built right? Think positive!

PS: It’s been raining everyday here for about 30 minutes. I tell you what, I am a chicken. I never used to be afraid of storms but, maybe it’s because I was in houses that didn’t have landslides under their front porches and then the “fixed” wall fell, or houses where the rain still enters the house through the gap of the wall and the tin roof, but STORMS ARE SCARY!!! Everything is louder with a tin roof… I bring this up because it’s about to rain.

9/25 Friday: Desagradecido (a strong way of saying ungrateful)
In a nutshell: This is not very politically correct: I am very annoyed with the school principle and think he sucks and makes my life difficult. He’s stuck in a box of thinking and even though different ways aren’t bad (potentially could get things done better and more efficiently) he does not want to defer from the way things have been done. IE: A bunch of bureaucratic BS that makes people jump through unnecessary hoops until it deters them from what they wanted to do. I don’t get indirect communication which is probably an issue but I couldn’t tell you since I missed the indirect-ness part of the conversation. I am beginning a green youth group (environmental) and I am really excited. When I gave my host mom gifts “from the states” she said thanks but she really just needed a watch.

I was annoyed today as it seemed that being ungrateful was the theme of the day. First I went to the school to talk to the principle or the director as they call him here. That was a total bust. I am no shrink but I decided that the guy has certifiable control issues. I went there and he asked how I was and got me a chair to sit in and acted all nice and normal but in reality he was in a very bad mood. He asked me what projects I was working on now and as I was answering him, about two sentences in, he began talking over me… something about unsupportive kids. I have no clue what he was going off about or what the heck it had to do with me. Does it have something to do with me? I tried to see if he was being indirect and saying something bad about how the kids were acting in my class but I had no clue. I mean for heaven’s sake, I’m freaking clueless in English let alone Spanish!

Anyways, he was still asking me what I wanted to do (in between rants) and so I told him I wanted to try to form an environmental youth group (which I am PUMPED about!!!! :D) and then he cut me short and said surely I must know some medical people in the States. What? Ummmm… yes, I guess I mean I have a friend, a PCV who is a nurse… but what does that have to do with..? A nurse wasn’t what he meant. What he was saying was that there had been two medical missions near our community and he wanted to know when my friends were coming to give out free meds and toys. Well, after I figured that out (which took an embarrassing amount of time) I explained that I could look into some medical missions offered through Peace Corps. In hindsight, I don’t belong to the same church of the group that came so what they heck would I have to do with that? It should be noted that there is a myth that the United States is the size of this campo (and yet magically larger in size) and so I must know everyone who lives in it. This means that I must know the same doctors. Duh. And, I have been checking med mission opportunities and none thus far have been applicable to our community. Furthermore, that dude is JUST as capable as I am (more so since he knew about the med missions when they happened and I was in the States enjoying taco bell, normalcy and houses that have ceilings) to walk his butt over there and see about getting something over here. Ah, hindsight is 20/20. Probably better not to have the school principle hate me anyways.

So then he asks me more about what I want to do. Well, I had already explained the green group and he was giving me the impression that I was falling short of expectations, so against my better judgment, I told him how I was in contact with a woman who has groups come and build libraries and basketball courts. We have a half finished library and I had heard that they wanted to build a half court in the middle of the school yard. I figured it would be perfect. Humberto didn’t share that view. Apparently they just decided to cut one of the classrooms in half and build a wood wall, making the other half the library. My part, as Humberto informed me, was to fill it with books and tables. Great, thanks for informing me of my job. Humberto also told me if we finish the old library they would use it as a bathroom. (The school already has two pretty nice bathrooms).

Then, the basketball court: well, the government is going to build one. Clearly, it looks like they’re on it. Right after they repair the road we have that is. (The last time the road was repaired was about 25 years ago) We don’t know when they are supposedly going to build it, Humberto himself even said they may have to wait years, but hey what are a few more years? So he would rather wait on the super reliable government to build one someday when I’m here possibly trying to hand one over now? Yep, I understood it correctly. This meeting did not go well.

After my Escojo group meeting I went to Miga’s house. I felt like a jerk because I was so busy getting generic gifts to give out to people while I was in the States that I forgot to get something really cool for Minga! So, when I went to the bachelorette party I spent all but my last $500 pesos for the month to get her some total Doña earrings. I also gave her some nail polish (thanks mom!) and a half used bottle of perfume I found in my room. (people “gift” used stuff all the time here) She took it all, liked it and then said, “You should have brought me back a watch. What I really need is a watch.” Ah, cosas de la vida.

9/24 Thursday: Saint Mary’s Day
In a nutshell: This one’s short too! Am I getting lazy or writing with you in mind Deb?:)
Today was jammed packed full of parties. I didn’t go to any of them. I didn’t feel like going. I was being lazy and antisocial. But, I did go for a walk at least to get out of my house. See, after a bunch of guys are at the colmado by my house I get this kind of timidness. I want to go outside but I don’t fell like dealing with them saying stuff to me. Then, the longer I wait, the more show up. Soon I’m contemplating if I can even go to my porch because now there are women there and which is worse?: being inside my house with the door open or being outside on the porch, in plain view of them, clearly not down there. Either way I’m not down there with them and so either way I suppose it’s bad. But which is worse? I have no idea. Well, I was thinking about all this and thinking how stupid it was so I decided since I didn’t know the answer to their question I may as well do what I would like to do. After a few hours I finished sewing all the curtains Sarah sent me back with and promptly went out to sit on my porch and read. A little while later I decided to go for a walk but it began to rain. I waited it out and was about to go when Wandi showed up. We left together but by then it was dark and everyone was drunk. We went about a ¼ mile and saw someone fall off of their motorcycle right next to us (FIY: people get annoyed if you ask if they’re ok) and someone almost hit me in their stupid truck. I mean, really almost hit me. So, we went back to my house and I played solitary until it was time to go to bed. What an eventful day.

9/23 Wednesday: Back to the grind but with a renewed attitude.
In a nutshell: Going home was great, so great I was thinking of finding a way to stay! But, not being able to think of one I have decided to put forth more effort during my time in the DR so I have it to be proud of when I’m done. Easier said than done.

I want to say thanks to BCHD again for my Christmas gift last year, I had been saving the foot mask and soak for a special day and today was that day. I boiled some water, put it in a bucket and enjoyed, thinking of you guys while I caught up on some celebrity gossip reading my US weekly magazines from home. Ahhhh, it was niiiiice:)

My trip home was FANTASTIC!!!! I LOVED it!!!!! It was AMAZING!!! WHOOT!!! I just wanted you all to know how I felt about it. Sum up: It was goooood:) I visited pretty much everyone I wanted to before going out there and ate all my favorite foods. I increased my tolerance to alcohol and cleaned my room (though not at the same time) Yep, it was a very eventful trip. My friend’s wedding was beautiful and I humiliated myself by crying very ungracefully in front of everyone at the church. I don’t know why I feel so strongly about it, but don’t you think weddings are such beautiful events? They’re so moving!

So, I got back to the DR on the 16th after 3 layovers and tearful goodbyes. Well, my first tears of the day began when the woman at the airport told me my bags were a total of 15 lbs over. “But… I’m leaving for the Peace Corps…” I whimpered. She grumbled an “ok” and something about how heavy bags means a passenger gets the boot off of the plane. What?! I was emotional and it was early ok?! Besides, this was AFTER they told me I would have to pay $50 for my bags and well, I don’t have that kind of money… I’m broke! I used the Peace Corps card again and got them on for free. (Which technically they are supposed to be free).

By the time I was in Charlotte, I was thinking of ways to stay in the US that wouldn’t shame me. I was thinking maybe I would try to break my foot… but I didn’t do it. I mean, I have to stay here and finish my service! After all, I was voted Most Likely to Quit by my fellow PCVs (only before they got to know me, of course) and I would be soooo disappointed with my service for my ENTIRE LIFE after this if I quit. I mean, what have I done really? An Escojo group, my own personal garden, a failed nutrition class, and nearly got 30 water filters. Wow. Impressive.

As I was contemplating all this, I realized that I am now half way through my service! And you know what? Things take time here, a LOT of time. Dude, I need to get on the ball. I have officially dropped nearly all shame of my Spanish (except when around someone who speaks both Spanish and English well… that’s why I didn’t say more than “muy bien” to you in Spanish Carmen!) I have all these very plausible ideas but the question is: how to get them from ideas to ACTION? Am I capable of planning so much? And planning it completely alone? I like working in groups, I’m better at it. But if my PC service is going to be something I can look back at and be proud of, I need to give it my all. Even if I don’t get any more projects done, I need to know I tried and put in all the effort I could. So, here I go, going to give it my all, try to maintain effort and push forward with as much persistence as I can muster for the next year or so. Wish me luck.

9/18: Where is my bag?
Today is a short entry, so sorry, no sum up Debbie:) I talked to someone at the airport this morning and she said they COULD deliver the bag to me, that she would give the driver my number and he would call me when he got lost- er, there. She said he should be here at 11. He showed up at 2:30. I supposed it wasn’t that far off. The bag, which is Rach’s, was ripped. She may kill me. Maybe not.

9/17 Thursday: Back in the DR, yuck.
In a nutshell: This one’s short enough, right?

Ok, so I’m sure that’s not the right attitude to have but that’s how I feel. Going home was great but leaving really sucked. It sucked so bad that it may have sucked more than going home was great! I realized when I was there how much it bites here. My attitude is bad. I feel depressed. Ugh. I wasn’t ready for this.

I’m sure this will pass as I am generally happy wherever I land. I also have some good things to look forward to. This weekend is Jess’s bachelorette party and I am 98% sure that will turn my nasty outlook right around. Also, my luggage was lost. Now you may see this as a bad thing but in reality I wasn’t sure how I was going to get my backpack and two suitcases up the mountain. I decided to go back to the campo today to get the hellos and all that over with. I don’t like a big deal but on the other hand, if they didn’t do anything I would feel bad too since that’s just their culture. So, the bags. One was lost. Ok, not lost but left in Miami. When the guy told me it would be at the airport the next night I asked him if they were going to compensate me for another night in Santiago and he told me that they would deliver it TO MY HOUSE!!! Yeah right, my house with no address? Ha! I told him I live in the campo and he said it didn’t matter. If it didn’t get lost again this could be a very good thing.

The next day (today) I called the airport when the plane got in and they said that they had the bad there and couldn’t deliver it to me since they needed an address. I was annoyed. I asked to talk to the manager and was told the manager would be in at 11:15 am the next day. Weird I know.

9/15 Tuesday: A sum up of my trip home
In a nutshell: I had a great trip home which included a trip to Chicago, a wedding, a visit to you all at BCHD, my dog rocks (yes, still), 10 days in NY state, corn picking with my nephews and niece, nearly didn’t get my computer repaired and returned to me in time, and loved being home:)

I didn’t realize how much I missed home until I went through customs. The guy stamped my passport and said welcome home. I just stared at him and suddenly I realized how happy I was. I just grinned big and said THANKS! I felt like a moron but I was soooo ecstatic! How great, I’m home!

I spent the 1st half of my trip in Illinois. The 1st two days were in Chicago with Lisa which were really fun. We went out my second night there, and to save money took a couple shots before we left. Ironically we took shots of the Dominican rum, Brugal, which Lisa bought while she was visiting me in the DR. So here I was in the great US of A, drinking Brugal. Ah, life.

On Saturday Becky’s fiancé came all the way to Chicago to pick me up. He was going to just go about an hour and a half away from his house to pick me up but I missed my train so he drove the entire way to Chicago!! It was nice to finally meet my best friend’s soon to be husband (the wedding was why I went home in September and not for Christmas). He is a great guy and I’m glad to see her so happy.

When I got to my Dad’s house finally I was nervous that my dog, Booker, wouldn’t remember me or would favor my Dad over me. When I walked in he barked like I was a stranger for about 3 seconds, paused and then realized it was me and began doing the “happy bark”. He stuck to me like glue and I loved it. In payment, I took him to the groomer. I’m sure he saw it as a treat as all dogs would, like going to the vet. When I had to leave the 6th to go to NY I cried. I love that dog.

One day during the week I went to the health dept where I used to work as Chief Inspector (ok, well… maybe I was an intern sometimes but, I was promoted! And then somehow was an intern again. Who does that anyway?) I loved seeing everyone and at first was a little apprehensive but my fears disappeared right when I walked in to Chris and Debbie. The people who work there are so marvelous and are great to work with or just plain be around.

That week I went to Becky’s bachelorette party and her wedding. Both were fun. The next Saturday, Karen threw me a party at her and my Uncle Greg’s place at Woodhaven Lakes. It was sooo great and the food was wonderful! I loved being able to see my family since I had to fly out the next morning for NY.

When I got to NY my mom and sister, Sarah, were waiting for me. We went out to eat and met up with my other sister, Rachael. Over the week I spent a lot of time with my nephews and niece. We went corn picking which was fun. I helped my mom with some job related stuff, went to Dave and Busters with Mom and Rach, and went running with Sarah. Sarah made me a ton of home made granola and some curtains to hang in my front windows so I actually have some privacy! There was a fiasco with a mystery computer sent to me at my mom’s house that turned out to my one of my PCV friends in the DR. I sent my computer in to be fixed and nearly didn’t get it back in time. (thanks again dad, I would have dropped dead I swear)

Overall, it was a lot of things; fun, sad, happy, depressing, relaxing, strange: complete. Even though I had been gone over a year it felt like I had just left for the weekend and was just going back to life. That’s how you know you have good friends and family. Thanks guys, you don’t know how much you mean to me.

8/24- 8/26: Celebrando el Cibao!!!
Finally, after all the preparation, it is time for camp!!! It was two days of sleepless chaos but I really enjoyed it. Since I am actually writing this afterwards and am a little lazy… I mean, busy I’ll give the highlights and that’s all.

Ernie was able to go. One of the CeC coordinators called me on Friday and asked if I had any extra stellar kids who deserved to go since a few spots opened. Sure Ernie went to the Escojo conference but none of the other kids in my group wanted to CeC and she is fantastic. She went and had an absolute blast. I was glad I brought her.

The place we stayed at had hot water. I feel like it was preparing me for my trip home:) It was hilarious when I told Vanji and Ernie there was hot water, they screamed! In the States it’s opposite: if you tell a teenager (or probably any aged person) that there WASN’T hot water they would scream! HA!

The charla went fantastic. I was really proud of the kids. They really nailed it and didn’t seem too nervous. A job well done. Also, I think they were really proud of our Italy presentation since we had faaar more than each of the other PCVs. Everyone called us overachievers but the truth is that we really didn’t have anything else to do in our Escojo meetings each week. Although it did get a little out of hand since the last week we were scrambling to get it done, meeting twice a day nearly each day. Whoops, my bad.

Wandi was a total flop. He completely embarrassed me. I had to tell all the other PCVs to watch out for him and cut him no slack because he was having such a crappy attitude. Long story short: by the last day I had it and wasn’t going to give him his T shirt that all the other kids get. I didn’t feel he earned it and his mind-set that he deserved it really made me peeved. I told him that if I had cell service I would have called his dad right then. When all the kids were wearing their shirts and he found out there was going to be a picture with everyone together wearing the shirts he was pleading to talk to me about it. I finally sat down with him and we talked about how he could have been better and not given in to peer pressure. After he apologized and promised to be better I gave him his shirt and he was able to take the picture with the group.

I am one of three coordinators for CeC’10. We took notes and made a reservation for the place for next year. Hopefully we can run it as smoothly as it seemed to be this year. I’m excited about it but also dreading the amount of unnecessary stress I know the Dominican culture is going to give me while we try to plan this. Ying and yang I suppose.

8/17 Monday: To Ane and Tim’s!! Nuts, do I have dengue???
This morning I woke up and felt significantly better but still really sore. I was a little worried I had dengue and so I called the PC doctor who told me I should go to the lab in Santiago to get tested. The thing was, I was already booked busy for the day: I had to get my act together because I had an Escojo meeting to lead in the morning and another meeting in the afternoon. I told the doctor that if I felt bad tomorrow still I would go then and she consented.

After that conversation, I went to my morning meeting, late since for some reason I thought they were meeting at my house, and tried to be enthusiastic. We’ve been preparing for our presentation at Celebrando el Cibao where Vanji and Wandi will be giving a charla on different ways rivers are easily contaminated and the group has also been working on the country we are supposed to represent: Italy. Wandi was mopping around at the meeting and when I asked what was wrong he told me he didn’t feel well, that he felt like he had a bone disease or something. I laughed out loud at the description since that’s exactly what I would have described how I felt. Apparently he was really sick the day before as well.

It didn’t help that we had to walk to Ane and Tim’s site to give our charla for practice that afternoon. Wandi objected but I pointed out that I felt sick too but I was still going. Also that Vanji, who had been trying to learn how to drive a motorcycle the weekend before and was tossed off and then somehow run over, was also walking with us. She wasn’t too happy about the idea of it but, I told them it was an obligation (our ONLY time to practice) and so we set off for our 4 mile round trip walk to Ane and Tim’s.

We were all very annoyed to find when we got there that the kids who were supposed to be there at 4 decided it would be a better idea to go to the river. They told Ane that they would be back around 4:30. I told Ane that it really didn’t matter to me if those kids were there or not, that we would wait 15 minutes and give the freaking presentation to her host mom if we had to. There is no reason to wait when those kids KNEW we would be there at 4. I am so glad the kids in my group aren’t buttheads like that.

We gave the charla and it went very well. The kids showed up at 4:30 and we made sure to point out that we walked 2 miles and yet still managed to get there on time, showing our annoyance. Hopefully those kids felt at least a little bad about it. I am sure that my kids will do great at Celebrando.

8/15-16 the Weekend: No dancing but Harry Potter!!!!
Well this weekend didn’t go how I thought it would, there was no pool and no dancing but there were brownies and Harry Potter. Here’s what happened; I went to Santiago on Saturday morning and met Kelly and some friends at a Chinese place for lunch (which was DELICIOUS!!) and then we went to this amazing little bakery place and each got something different to share. After that I went with one girl, Laura, to price out guitars. It was slow going because, as I found out, everything closes Saturday early afternoon and doesn’t open again till Monday. That would have been nice to know before lunch but hey, live and learn.

After not pricing out a single guitar but walking about 3 miles, we met up with Kelly and headed to Kelly’s house. We decided to watch a movie and I got so excited to see that Kelly had one of the Harry Potter movies!!!! She seemed equally excited that I was excited and she came up with the amazing idea that we would go to the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (that’s right, NUMBER 6!!!) the next day! We invited Rachelle but she doesn’t share our enthusiasm for Potter. Go figure.

Sunday Kelly and I woke up and went running. I forgot my running shoes so I borrowed Rachelle’s, thinking that it wouldn’t be an issue. Two miles later I was barefoot and walking back to Kelly’s with a large blister on my right foot, which is apparently larger than the left foot. Kelly and I planned on going to the pool this day but, after making fruit crepes for breakfast, we decided to take a nap. When we woke up it was Harry Potter time and so we headed to the theater. We had to go to two theaters but eventually we found one that had the movie, un-dubbed but with subtitles. It was extremely satisfying and wonderful.

That night, we picked Rachelle and her puppy up in the taxi we had to take home (thanks to public transport ending at 8 on Sundays, a fact we forgot) and headed back to Kelly’s. Kelly made brownies while Rachelle and I worked on a charla that we would have to give at Celebrando el Cibao. We went to bed around 12 and I thought I was going to pass out I was so tired.

The next morning I went to the artesian in Kelly’s site to pick out a few goodies for friends at home. I headed to Santiago to finish what I began on Sat and began pricing out guitars. As the day wore on, and I walked more and more, I began to feel really sore. I went to the hotel where they let me use the internet for free and sat down for a while. I thought that the longer I sat and took a load off, the better I would feel but instead I began feeling worse and worse. I decided to head home and forget the other things I was going to do in Santiago for the day. It was for the best anyways since Anna or Ann or whatever the name was of the storm was supposed to hit the DR. As a result I was supposed to be in my site at 3 pm, along with all the other PCVs in the country.

I got back to my site a little late, at 4 pm and went right to bed. I have never felt so crappy from a cold or whatever I had. And wouldn’t you know it, no one calls me for like three days and all of the sudden people can’t get enough of me! But I felt so awful that I literally had no energy to even sit up and answer the phone. After about 7 hours laying the in guest bed (so I would be hidden from view from any Dominicans who would want to stop by and say hello) I decided to suck it up and brush my teeth at least. I got ready for bed and tucked myself into my normal bed for the night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Bets,

Go me, I'm all caught up again. Ha ha you cant out write me!
Love ya